Friday, April 29, 2011


E-Book – Available for 24 Hours, May 1, 2011

Perishable and other poems from Japan, April 2011
--Kitty Jospé

poems inspired by the various disasters that have happened this spring, a trip to Japan and a call to all to consider each action as having consequence.

“All things shall perish from under the sky.
Music alone shall live, music alone shall live,
Music alone shall live,
Never to die.” – round I learned when I was seven.

What parable are we ready to hear?
What ear wants to know
How the real might be?
A figment is a way to
Shape the
Here and now,
Whatever ails man
Or beast, truth-teller
Or liar does not leave
The ship of fools.
In disaster,
we pale, our energy sapped,
A bier of shale waiting.
Even without earthquake,
hurricane, tornado, flood,
our stars remind us:
we are to perish.

Who is there to bear us?

We seek to pair,
seek to ask, who are you,
you now, and which you later.

And we see, survival is to stand
with another, under-
stand one cannot st-st-stammer
stand alone.

note: If you make words out of perishable you will see that many in the poem come from combinations of its letters and that the word perishable spells it a letter at a time each line, refusing an orderly vertical or diagonal as if each letter depends on others for its existence, without which, it waits, as a sort of perishable part of a sound.

A Haiku, inspired while visiting Japan in April, 2011

cherry petal boats
nudge a brown willow leafcurl
in the brook's spring song

Changing from Rise to Set

Beginning of May, lilac
will burst in the East, linked
to dandelion fire in the West
not by seed, stalk

nor wind-link
of tornado in the Midwest
a typhoon in the Pacific,

invisibles chaining,
chiming, raising their chin
in a blaze of purple, yellow.

We are buds
wallowing in floodplain
swallowed in this morning’s mist
along with the sunrise.
Whatever allowed the sunset,
bloomed us to appear in shadow.

On Television
(a month after the Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan)

We saw spring drown
without a burial;

We saw flames, rubble,
blackened branch just before

blossom-viewing season.

In the wilderness of disaster,
we might not hear your cry,
nor you hear ours.

It is not given to find another’s
hand. But for one quiet beat
in a poem, if only for that length,
against all reason,
if you were to cry out,
another of us,
might hear.
Tokyo Spring: early morning in Shinjuku district

We pass the Cocoon tower,
cherry bloom
in half-fluttered petal
reflected in beetle wing of glass,
swaddled by steel bindwork .

By the shrine and branch’s weep
wind scatters blossom—
a man in a black suit
puts down his briefcase,
claps twice in front of the shrine,
shakes the thick rope, bows,
the tips of his fingers press
together, prayer stretching
to the clear sky.

The wind sweeps the space
between us.
Near the Cocoon Tower

At night, you see neon switched off
and on the 20th floor,
it is unsettling to feel things shake.

But then I think of the railing,
by brick steps
near the cocoon tower:
instead of simple bars,
bronze figures hold out their hands
and touch: lovers, mothers,
fathers, children, link into a living fence.

How we incubate hope.

How in the mountains,
unbudded branch
and a patch of snow will trade
places: snow to melt
blossoms to snow.
Swaying in the Bus from Koyasan to Riyujin

The sign says,
“swaying from left to right may be expected”

like willow, cherry,
in spring breeze threading needles
of tufted cedar.
unbloomed spring

Branches of knobbled joints,
thank you for framing temple gates,
raked white pebbles
around the rocks conceived as dragons
rising up from the mist.

I thank bare branches for holding buds—
invisible packages offered to the sun.
It gives me time to see
light painting the naked bark
with the pond’s reflections.

The wind shakes a parasol
of fresh bamboo,
a spider spins ribbons of silver.

We listen to the heavy scent of incense.
Frog Singfest

In the roots of the upended cedar,
spring drips through the moss
and deep throated bullfrog,
a mid-range chorus and high-pitched solo.

Love overture!
Hanami (flower viewing)

Blossoms offered
to the river,
floating coins,
for the sun.
Mock Mountain Poem Tracing Poem Monument Calligraphy between Koguchi and Nashi Falls

Forgive me ancestors as I trace my hand in your calligraphy and compose English words.

mountain air blossom
heart with mountain breeze catkins,
spirit carved on stone.
Japanese “ai” means love

It waits the way kin hides in
kindness, muted eyes
hide in fiddled fern,
silent stones;
layers of mountain pale
into waves.
Teahouse Ruins on the Kumano Kodo from Koguchi to Nashi Falls

The old signs said
We have tofu!
The deer and monkey have not eaten up
The vegetables!
Bath is ready!

On a steep path, the idea of such announcement
helps the imagination hear Shinto gods
chatting over tea with Buddhist entities.

Tofu squares of mercy, medicinal roots,
soothing heat of compassion.
Slipping through Tenses
(reflecting on Shikibu’s poem about not being able to enter the temple because of her monthly obstruction and the reassurance of the reply that welcomes her.)

What I had not done, would have done,
have done, or not,
do or not,
would do, or not
will perhaps do
tipping the lense like menses,
collecting, waiting, dispensing.

Now, by a high waterfall, white
tumbles to leap into a shower of
dragon mouths. A sudden wind
gusts the sound into veil.
Bowing to a Great Book

Between its pages
a garden,
distant intimacy of hands.

The eye, a sparrow pen
resting long enough to sing
words flitting from branch
to branch to string intent
transformed to reverence.

Grave wrappings

of words, able yet liable.
We wait, not knowing beginning,
not knowing if passing ends,
scattering bones of “if”
si, si, that leading tone
in the oldest stone.

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