Tag Archives: Dreaming with the City

Honsen from Enzan

ears pop horn whines
old man across the aisle shouts into his phone
ramble, clack, and sway
on the central line slowly winding
through the heart of Kanto.

I have Miles Davis on over-sized Pioneers
and grit and salt in the creases by my wanderlust eyes.
this is my song: padded seats and old government trains
twelve stations through the mountains, Enzan to Takao.
conductor stops by, smiling, and checks my ticket
I am at peace in this steel carriage.

hello rice fields, goodbye fishermen
hello bamboo camphored skylines
hey Otsuki, hey yellow house, when will I have
a wife and a roof and a small car that goes vreem
along snaking country roads?
where will I be a father and still a poet,
my little girl asleep on the carpet with my head
on arm so gazing, adoring you…

And now, back to home, back to a floor and bathroom to scrub, back to a fried egg sandwich just waiting to be the end of my spirited travel and toil, a bath with tingling salts; laughing fool. It’s as my comrade the cameraman asked last night, has my life been strict or sweet? Oh yes, no mistaking this life is certainly sweet. That most precious of lessons was taught to me by you, Melia.

Looking west from Tama


wheels and metal
wheels and metal and padded seats
why am I here
is this a break
how can I cull the noise from my life
separate the cream from the chaff
life is too grand to be taken asleep
but when will the fighting end?


saffron and sunshine
need to release myself of my expectations?
long, long and light, flowing up over everything


I will be as the water, and the wind. I will fold myself into the world, taking invention and the dreams of men with me. I will be in the temples, behind the trees. I will be alive as a seeker, listening quietly and reflecting the sunshine as a placid lake. With passion I shall bake my bones and make a temple of my body. For soil from whence I came, and soil must be revered and returned as taken.

To take music and rhythm, building from the noble things created by man. A ship on the ocean and a sail in the air. Nimble sewn devices put together in science and driven out to the land. With patience and understanding grow my heart, then reach out calm to the night, breathily.

Known and unbidden, but pulled to the road as I was born, to be and true as possible, for all that I can find is immeasurable.

A path, on a path, moving forward; away and back again, two supple legs and a heart to guide them.

This is me as I am, as I was. I hope you can learn from it someday.

On land, before meditation in Sendagi park

selfless lost
no more cries for support or guidance
a light, then many
slow moving fish in inky black water
and grass
softly ignored breathing
and muscle pains snaking out like
cracks in frost
a can wanders
not so much searching as released
brush unmoved by fur-padded steps
and realization
too late
or on time
whichever makes no difference
to distant traffic

so much northwest summer again at night
thoughts spent as she rose out of the water
a pitcher of daiquiris and the backstroke
how to spend a life in bliss later
submitted for dissection

with flapped mouths, oping
taking in algae with the insects
slow, slow trickling
and closed grey skies shut tight until morning

Chopin, harumaki, wine, and fantasy

droplets and leaves fluttering
lost and found in the evening wind
a harmony of petal and dust swirling around
in little jetties, as cat jumps down from the chair next to me

poor Caroline, crying and playing Chopin
alas, the song ended all too soon and my mood was struck
struck and beat, from jocund gaiety to chilling awareness
of the pain in my wrist and the rat-rat-
rattling of windowpanes

beams and trickling off again
a spring day and a winter night
far from the heat of the gas danbo

away, up spritely, up rickety stairs cat
runs, in leaps and bounds with the furry
tail bobbling after mischief and to see if anything
new has fallen from the kitchen counter where she cooks.
and me in my blissful solitude, blissful without
phones or wires or signals of any kind
only me in the home of a muse again

how long has it been since we met last?
three years; three long years when I was
setting out to the place of your blood you hardly knew

then six storied months falling I was falling
falling through myself and breaking any branch
on the way down
tumbling into darkness black
tumbling through a rabbit hole into another
society from which I may never emerge
no, the languages and foods and customs that
cut me, scared me much more so than they should
until at the bottom of the glade I found my way
into another wood with mushrooms to eat.

wooden chairs and silken pillows
a palanquin of allure moving
just ahead through the crowd climbing
yet climbing upwards and ho,
to see the next ridge in peace

and tripping over waterfalls
slippery rocks in my path set
not by others but
by my own limitations

but Sundays always came and I was fed on omelets and rice
rolling around in blankets and cigarettes
running with you to catch a train

trains roll and sail here, on rails and through the air, through the fancied dreams of men crying for expression through the heart of a money pumping bear, through a place of civility and debauchery, a place I lost a few dollars.

as much as I damn myself the spring forgives me and a winter of bloodied knuckles and stained oxfords are washed away with the cherry blossoms. throwing one small yen at a time and wishing to treat fellow man, myself, with respect.

winding up and down, making such careful strokes on paper, on paper, where things are cleaner and safe, things captured that I’ve longed to chase, for quite some time. around, swinging around, in a vacuum of impatience. so be patient, and let things come. let them come as they should on their own and stop trying to force so many flowers into bloom. if I were to only close my eyes, and let the reins go slack, so we could be one and another, together and as we should. as God intended, men not beasts destroying themselves but noble evolutionary things, majestic stags astride a briskly flowing stream of time. loops and curls, vines so ensnaring but nothing more than so many brushes, so much foliage to take in with the land. the land, the land that has taken me in.

I want to stop speaking of want, to only be and exude serenity. to weep the kind of emotion that is clean and beautiful in men, the kind that leads others to see themselves.

but life is fast paced, it is a rambling machine, gears and wheels long out of control, oh but a wild ride to clutch and to gasp before a crash.

and still, still quiet. still awash ahead of me, overtures of what one may become, preludes to the greatest unfinished things of all humanity. it’s dreams, cranberries, and fried, melted over crackers and honey, delicate stouts lined up for consumption like so many raw materials, refined in the minds of men to be something much more than just sugar heated with water, oh no.

and the plates clattered upstairs, so softly, a time for me to think but not think behave but not behave, as we all should or would under any similar circumstances. I will overcome these weaknesses, they will be ironed and pressed, as shirts prepared by the cleaners for Sunday. for that’s the day I’ll assume to make so much of something out of nothing. something I’m quite famous for. for now, is nothing, but something.

haiku for iwamoto
falling grace over
did I win today? unknown.
God save me from hate.

the simplest pain
is often the most wonderful
please let me die here.

are you so alive?
I wish to be just like you
please tell me your dream.

thinking alone, you
your skin is so wonderful
I hope to be close.

Memories of Green

diodes burst and life expires. current discharges into an open circuit, and the glow fades slowly, a dimming breath of bulb-lit eyes, so damp with three hundred days’ worth of dreaming. rain slips, through fingers, moisture lost in windy asphalt. cold tarmac, slow death on overdue credit long since spent. break and fall.

Life in the suburbs

There is a really good piece by Future Sound of London that captures almost perfectly the way I feel right now. “Domain” is two minutes and fourty-seven seconds long, which I am not sure is a blessing or a curse, for every time that it ends, I am half-wishing it went on longer and I want to loop it, but part of me feels deeply satisfied, as if it served its purpose in full, and we are each complete in having experienced it together. Regardless, it fits a certain kind of mood at a certain kind of time, and that time is now.

My apartment in Sendagaya is fairly close to the business district in Yoyogi, giants like Glaxo Smith Kline and See’s Planning are dark, quiet giants for most of the hours that I am home, so an open wind brings no company to my ears other than the rare cheer of a victorious soccer crowd at the national stadium about a mile to the east.

However, lying in bed here in Kawasaki, I am blessed with a curtain of bubbling warmth from my fellow Tokyoites nearby: children laugh and run down narrow alleys, a car starts in the lot below and meets others in a dull sea of whooshes several streets away. The trains come regularly, and their gentle clacking reminds me of time spent by my window at Lambeth, or the occasional freight deep in the woods behind my grandmother’s backyard.

These are the sounds of suburbia, a place I’ve been away from for too long; buried in stuffy, dimly lit study rooms, or under the weakening fluorescent flicker of the sticky mocap lab. I grew up like most Americans on the outskirts of a city pushing 50,000; the base of a mountain surrounded by cow pastures and horse farms. As a child, some of the most exciting events for the city included visiting The Golden Mile and seeing what sorts of Christmas decorations were up on the outside of Eyerly’s department store.

I don’t think that I begrudge living in the center of a grey slate commercial metropolis, it’s location is prime and not completely without charm. I think as an artist I should like to move as a stray dog, drifting from borough to borough with sporadic pockets of consistency, sampling with vigor each welcome house’s flavors and aromas.

Home for the holidays

It’s the middle of summer, and obon (festival for honoring of the deceased). I’m on my way back to a place that strangely feels like home. This is my first time on the JR Nara line; it’s cheaper b/c my shinkansen ticket is good for a JR ride after my terminal [it was later discovered this is only the case for travel in the bounds of the departing or arriving city]. The train is old and strange. I think I can smell the smoke of 25 years in the upholstery, or maybe its just my shirt. I had to ride in a smoking car on the shinkansen because it was so crowded. People were standing deep into the aisles of the non-smoking cars. I almost wish I had done the same.

This country is beautiful. I feel a sense of serenity from the endless rice fields and blue-tiled roofs. The mountains are always close enough to have their magic make my heart feel cold and lonesome but I’d hurt if they were any farther away. Space is more densely filled and buildings closer together, but there is still a sense of vastness and solitude as nearly every scene is vacant and enchantingly silent. Just looking out the window I know I’ve done the right thing.