Posts in Category: Poetry

Gone, just gone, 10 years on…

The idea of the kids still haunts me ten years later.

Very infrequently I have nightmares about ghostly green, purple, and burnt orange faces of Japanese children floating above their anguished parents, who are still living bitter lives in tiny yatai-shaped temporary houses scattered throughout a cartoon nuclear meltdown hellscape version of Fukushima.

I know the reality isn’t quite that bad. But ten years on folks in Tōhoku still can’t go home, and in the deep ocean there are the bones of innocent kids from 3/11 that will never be discovered nor buried. For ten years the loss of those lives and their potential has bothered me, and probably always will.

I wrote this poem about the lost children in 2014 for the third anniversary of the disaster. It’s also an ode to the sorrow and horror felt by a man who merely edited other people’s stories from the disaster but didn’t actually experience it himself. So take that for what it’s worth as you read the poem, and I hope you enjoy it…

Gone, just gone

The bubblegum kids no one is ever going to know,

rotting out their lives in the cold of Mishima’s boiling sea.

There’s grace in the truncheons of justice they may have become.

There’s iron will in the blood they will never spill on land.

There’s a permanent school of candyfloss and diamond textbooks

waiting to teach them about the ghosts of great emperors.

It’s the time when they died that will never forgive, and will ever hate itself

for taking them walking to the undersea graves of lost civilizations.

There’s teeny shoes floating in the sea that had warm, happy feet in them.

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There’s a TV somewhere that always shows cartoons only Japanese children can understand.

There’s a tear we cry for strangers who will never grow up to be our friends.

Or invent new light.

Or cure the gangrene in our hateful bones.

There is soil that will never be disturbed, for there is no reason to displace it for graves.

It is fine soil, still, and we should honor it by planting flowers that taste like rice candy.

We should remember that sometimes the bubblegum kids see with both a living and a dead set of eyes.

And we should love them, and we should remember them,

And we should hold what we know of them with a warmth that radiates down into the deepest chasm at the bottom of the sea.

(—For the lost children of Japan after March 11th, 2011. Photograph taken in Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo in September 2013. See my other photo work here and here.)

In darkness…

In darkness
we cannot
shine a light,
so we
undervalue
our own radiance.
We pick locks
we cannot see,
taste foods
we cannot smell,
and gossip about things
we do not know.
We enslave
ourselves
and blame
others for our capture.

Christmas Eve at the 380 offramp, part 1...
San Bruno California, December 2020

We stop loving
our lives
and blame
others for our cold empty.
In darkness
we dance
with the children
we used to be
and wonder why,
now we’ve grown,
we don’t dance
any better
than we used to.

(Photographed in San Bruno, California on Christmas Eve, 2020. See my other work here.)

Saturday, at the edge of the world

My wife and I,
imprisoned with each other these past one million days,
decided on a Saturday morning
to hope in the car and go see the edge of the world.
(I meant ‘hop’ but the effect is the same.)

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When we got there
I looked out
at the crest of the ocean,
the horizon it made,
and I wondered if
there were people in Japan
looking from their edge of the world
who couldn’t see me either.

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It’s probable.
It’s likely.
My wife and I blew
the dreamers on Japanese coasts a kiss,
and laughed because we love
that the ocean is here
at the edge of the world
even though we rarely come to see it.

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And then I thought
in 31 years
of bad careers, drink, and madness in California,
she has been my sun.
My sun more than the actual fucking Sun.
And all the bad
was erased
standing on the edge of the world with her.

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Everything bad
in my life, in our lives,
was all worth enduring
to be able after 31 years
to stand at the edge of the world with her.

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And I told her that.
And she kissed me.
And I knew, once again,
we would be okay.

(Photographed at Thornton Beach, Daly City, California in November, 2020. See my other work here.)

The psilocybin skateboard

He said

he was bored

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and, the day being hot and slow,

I understood that.

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And he said

he was on mushrooms

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and, being a recovering alcoholic,

I smiled quietly at that.

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(Photographed in Brisbane, California in September, 2020. See my other work here.)

And, lo, there was a bird

And, lo, there was a bird

outside the picture window

of the living room

where my father-in-law died.

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It was a day of peace

and happiness.

I was entertaining a friend

with dinner in the living room,

and the bird was

just being its bird self.

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It had nothing to do

with what happened

to my father-in-law

in that living room,

but being there

made me think of him

and whether in some way

he was in the bird

and looking in

on the home of the life

he left behind.

(Photographed in Brisbane, California in September, 2020. See my other work here.)

On New Year’s Eve, 2019

On New Year’s Eve

I always get weird.

I think about my failures,

for there’ve been more of those

than successes.

I think about my wife,

her gentle, enduring beauty,

and about my life

and how it’s going to unfold

in the next 20 or 30 years.

If I have that long.

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I’m closer to death now

than I ever have been before.

So are you.

You know that, right?

Every little day

closer to the big sleep.

And when mine comes

I hope you’ll be at the party,

a big party,

for I will have raged against dying.

Raged hard, obstinate, and fiercely.

Hell, I’m fighting death now.

I mean, aren’t we all?

I’m fighting it all the time.

Because it’s going to be 2020 in about 12 hours,

and, you know, I have shit to do.

(Brisbane, California, November and December, 2019. See my other work here and here.)

Christmas Eve, 2019

The blade runner time

didn’t start this year,

no flying cars,

but we have more artificial people than ever.

Many of them are running our supposed country,

for example.

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So I’m sitting here, smoking,

waiting for the demons and imps,

the ones I usually hold at bay,

to come beating down

the walls of my mind

and demand their Christmas presents.

The bastards, they think

because they have a place in my head

they’ve earned a place in my head.

They think

it’s all about me,

but it’s all about them,

and how I’m going to try again

this year

to evict them by drowning them in eggnog.

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(Brisbane, California, November and December, 2019. See my other work here and here.)

Let’s skip life

It’s how we practice flying…

Some people

are able

Sometimes it's good to skip life...
Brisbane, California, April 2019

to just

skip through life

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and look good

doing it…

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(Brisbane, California, April 2019. See my other work here and here.)

Be the moon…

Nocturnes,
nighttime,

My neighborhood under nighttime sky...
Brisbane, California 2018

short lives,
long crime,

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the moon is the vampire
because the sun is afraid of the dark.

I'm a vampire shadow in a picture of my own house...
Brisbane, California, October 2018

Be the moon.

(Brisbane, California 2018. See my other work here and here.)

Ink jets and heart attacks

She ran the dead’s carpeting
throughout the office supply stacks.
She wanted a toy, not pencils nor tacks.
She was bright, shiny cuteness
in an Office Depot®,
or was it an OfficeMax®?
You know,
wherever the corporate types go
for overpriced ink and free heart attacks…

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(At Staples in South San Francisco, California, February 2016. See my other work here and here.)

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