Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Break, Broke, Broken

I go through a class with my tongue sliding on

all the textbook words knowing I

will stumble over some

syllable or two

because it takes

all my energy

just to

stand.

The next day I call in with a cold for a cold

is easier to explain than some

twisted up version of a

messy thing I call

my own

soul

is

breaking.

The weight on my chest pushes heavier

into my rib cage to steal away

all the breath I need

to cry, to form tears,

to speak,

to get

help.

There are stories told at meetings.

An ALT went home because

someone found out

about the therapist

and no B.O.E

wants to keep

broken

merchandise.

And so I contain within the apartment walls

these festering abysmal thoughts

praying that tomorrow this

so-called cold

will just

leave me

be.

Two days later, I return to school

with a very big smile

so no one will guess

that I am still

carrying this

sickness

crushing

my will

to

just

stay

alive.

 

 

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Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Enter the Underground

Deck your body in tight black

with high black boots to match,

but throw on crimson eyeliner

and ruby paint on lips

so your lover can find you

on the dim lit dancefloor.

Watch green lasers slice through

the air around the stage.

What a lovely neon halo

around the fallen angels

singing on the stage.

The one drenched in blood

pulls out a heart to eat

for what is art if not

your heart exposed.

A woman in a silken robe

lets a man write kanji

on her skin

from head to toe.

She smiles at the crowd

as she turns to display

the seal against evil

along her spine.

We in the darkness cheer

as the man puts another line

on her inner thigh

set to the shamisen

and fast taiko beats.

Next comes the rock stars

decked in leather.

The one with the operatic chords

and the other with screaming energy

give the fans a taste

of Gothic beauty with a hint

of wrath.

At the end of the show,

your performing friend

comes to hug you.

“Did you enjoy the show?”

Posted in Poetry

Learned Differences

“Four seasons! We have four seasons.”

Summer, spring, fall, and winter.

“Should I tell them?” the American teacher

ponders

as she asks the class

to mimic the lines

again, again, and again.

“Japan is special!”

the Japanese teacher proclaims,

“Other countries don’t have four seasons!”

The American teacher shares a look

with the Chinese exchange student.

He shakes his head.

Maybe next year,

the American teacher decides.

Best not to let them think

that all textbooks have

oh, so many lies.

Posted in Poetry

The Ramen Stand

After over eleven hours scratching

at projects and final tests,

my hands ache too much to hold a pen

much less a frying pan.

I walk over a bridge with empty trees

leading to a hidden stairway.

Past the sketchy doorways

of the riverside haunts,

my ramen stand appears.

Ramen with an egg, yes please,

all the salt you can spare-

No, no miso.

The school lunch included miso fish

which never sits well.

Everyone laughs as they toasts with Asahi,

“Ostukare!”

I eat without a slurp,

too hungry to pause for breath.

As the sun sets the river blazes

in a dance of golden red,

but we drunk fools

take no pictures.

Am I still single? Yes, always.

No, no, don’t set me up with your son!

Jokes, jokes, anecdotes,

sure I’ll take some French fries.

We start to shiver as the street lights

blink on at the bridge.

I receive a service side of yakisoba

to save my stomach from school fish.

Chairs clatter as we all stand up.

The smell of ramen broth is thick

on our clothes and hair,

but we don’t care.

The owner gives me a grin.

“Come again!”

Someday, I say,

someday soon

not just for food

but for friends too.

Posted in Poetry

The Shrine Between Time

The vermilion poles pop up in pockets between

the office and skyscraper sheen.

A long wooden piece on top stretches out father

than the supporting boards under

as if they frame of a door

to something other.

A small white fox sits atop the left pole here

draped with a ring of sacred paper

to match the brother.

These little white creatures

once believed as messengers

for gods who would bring rice,

now are often forgotten

as we farm with mechanical device

to replace prayer with robotic care.

 

An efficient salaryman stops in rain

pausing a conversation on his phone

with his feet directed at the train.

With a solemn look, he taps the call away

and reaches into his pocket.

Nothing keeps the falling drops at bay

as he rings a bell-

once…twice…thrice…

so the kitsune will hear

he is there.

He tosses a coin which clatters

into a rough wood container.

After two claps, he bows his head

and murmurs into his hands.

 

Just behind him lies a road

with cars packed tight crawling home.

The cars honk loud

desperate to get out.

His suit gets soaked in minutes

as people run by on their business

shouting for taxis or

laughing with friends or

stumbling with early drinks or

singing a song.

Still yet the kitsune stand

to listen to this man.

 

Many years ago a priest

in white robes thought to appease

a rice god with his service.

He carves out a place with purpose

meant to last beyond trees or stone

protected by the leaders yet unknown.

And so be it war or strife or peace

the prayers spoken would ease

the worries of mortal souls

trapped in bankrolls.

 

With a final bow, he runs away

briefcase in hand,

leaving the shrine behind

caught between time.

Posted in Poetry

Wandering in Yukata

At a party held in a home in Nara,

my host mother wraps a lilac yukata

around my form.

The obi cuts into my thick waist

so I can’t breathe.

“Too tight?”

“No,” but yes, but too polite.

I smile for cameras left and right.

They pass matcha from one to another to me.

I discover green tea tastes well paired

with Kit Kats and gummy treats.

After an hour playing at tea ceremony,

host mother tells me,

“It’s a gift.”

 

I carry it with me across the sea,

then back again

to the rice fields of Itako.

I arrive in summer at a time for fireworks

and memorials.

I wear the yukata at the riverside

to watch children run with sparklers

and at shrines to light vigil candles.

I walk over Ibaraki’s roads

cracked in the middle

like gaping asphalt wounds.

My clacking wooden shoes tread

with careful steps

between laughter and tears.

 

In summer, we musume walk

together in an iris park.

The blooms of pale purple mingling

with white petals beside them

atop long green stalks

seem brushed by an artist

instead of planted by hands.

When sunshine hits the river right,

all the fields glisten.

We stroll as we chat, as we sing, as we laugh,

forming friendships fast.

Our yukata were vibrant violet iris

patterned to nearly blend in with the scenery

if not for the bright navy

between the dyed flowers.

 

As the leaves fall,

I fold the fabric as instructed.

I place the gifts into a box

reverent as I put them up high.

Next year,

we will wander again

and weave memories

into the seams.

Posted in Blog/Vlog Announcements

The Japan Poetry Series

I’ve been itching to get a bit creative for quite a while. Specifically, I’ve wanted to craft poetry about Japan, but kept talking myself out of it. Poetry and I work well together in private, in scribbles on notebooks on the way to work, with a few selective moments here and there to share with friends. Putting poetry out there for the world to see scares me more than a little bit.

But I want to attempt something small to work my way up to something big. See, I have wanted to be a novelist since I was eleven years old. Hell, I even wrote a massively terrible romance novella when I was in seventh grade. After all these years, it’s finally time to get the finished things published and out there.

Still, I keep getting these haunting voices from past English teachers that I need “more” all the time. More editing, better vocabulary, more humor! In middle school and high school, I never really felt supported by my teachers with my creative endeavors. I was actually accused of not taking my work seriously, which hurt and once again made me really not want to show my work. I was never an English class darling, even though I adored all my English classes.

Funny thing is, I can’t NOT write. I just keep doing it anyway, all the time. I have hundreds of notebooks just sitting around with half-formed ideas and plot lines. In university, I met a lot of like minded people, other English majors who were similar in their drive for writing. I managed to publish some poetry and get my work recognized, but then I moved to Japan.

Even here, I still write all the time! I just get so nervous about sharing it. I’m a terrible critic of my own works. However, I know if I want to achieve my goal I can’t just keep waffling. This series is basically a compromise on my nerves and on trying to achieve my long term goals.

For now, I’m limiting myself to a poem a day for only seven days. I might make poetry a regular occurrence maybe on a specific day if I find I enjoy it, but if not then I’ll just have this one series. Also, if you all enjoy it then I might be more inclined to keep going. If it’s not well received, then I suppose lesson learned.

The first work will follow shortly after this post. I hope you enjoy it and my work!