High flying cicada woodwinds
Soar over the distant roar
Of passing cars beyond the gate.
A soft and pleasant pattering
Of trickling water from the mouth
Of an ever-drooling dragon
Stretching its long cast-iron hide
Around it’s spiritual pool.
Important looking people pass through.
Some stop to breath in the peace,
But most use the rocky path
To cut a corner off their route
And shave a coveted second
From their midday commute.
One leisure old man hobbles by
Unhurried by the pressing of passing time.
He stops at the fountain,
Grabs the ritual washing ladle firmly,
And takes a nice drink from the water,
Slurping loud enough for the spirits to hear.
A quick percussive rasping
Of hands clapping sounds twice
As a woman runs through ritual prayer,
Bowing to the shrines, one after another,
Hardly given a moment to each.
I wonder for what she prays?
He wakes up on top of me
Wearing the same tattered clothes,
As dank and filthy as garbage
On a hot and humid afternoon.
He slips away every day before dawn.
Before they come to check on me,
And clean my worn out skin
And clear my space of thrown out dreams
And rusted needles still dripping
With last night’s cheap thrill. Read More
The rotting corpse of a dragonfly
Hangs over hung-headed commuters
Like a pterodactyl fossil in Fukui,
Forever aloft on calcified wings
For children to look up and wonder:
From what mysterious realm did you come?
But beneath the fossilized dragonfly,
No such wide-eyed adolescents pass by.
This Train Station of Natural History’s only patrons
Are closed-eyed, downtrodden business men:
Too busy catching up on sleep walking
To raise their gaze above the floor.
Dank air, thick and heavy
like gaseous molasses, lazily ferments
In this amber rusted barrel
Of soulful blues and bad tobacco.
Faithful drunks slowly sway,
Inebriated from breathing kill-devil air.
They sing wailing, gospel woes in harmony
With Lucille on the record player.
Faded brown bed sheets hang from the ceiling,
Covering exposed water pipes and mold,
Billowing up like brown dust clouds
Floating over a bustling bazaar
In a back alley of Baghdad.
Youthful patrons bring with them
A breath of fresh and lively air.
Giddy to begin their weekly ritual
Of Bacchic worship this Saturday evening.
These half-hearted, holiday worshippers
Take their place among the devoted regulars,
Who’ve prayed from bar stool pews,
Solemnly consuming a eucharist
Of almighty alcohol and mixed nuts,
Confessing their sins to the barman priests,
All while searching for a salvation I see
In the emptiness of their glazed eyes
And the sadness lurking beneath each bingeing high.
ING is a rock bar near Sanjo station in Kyoto, Japan. It is usually populated with a good mix of Japanese and foreigners, most of whom are faithful patrons of the small establishment. Somewhat hidden on the second floor of an unassuming building, ING is a diamond waiting to be found by those looking for down-to-earth authenticity in the overly commercialized party district of Kyoto. This piece was written on a lonely evening when I found myself at the bar quite a bit earlier than usual. The deep conversations, steady stream of B.B. King, and (of course) flow of booze almost convinced me to become a more serious convert to Bacchus.
Five more skewers are placed on the grill.
The sizzling smell of succulence pervades the air
As red hot, charcoal flames seer through chicken flesh.
A dash of seven spices and sprinkle of soy sauce
Spill into the coals which burst forth in flame
Hungrily dancing to the mouth-watering melody
Of the sizzle and pop of skewers
atop the blackened cast iron grill.
“Sister!” shouts a drunk chasing his chicken with liqour
As he deepens the debt he has taken from tomorrow:
A loan of happiness to be brutally collected
By the shark of a wife he left lurking the waters at home.
But for now the man pays no attention to debt,
Much prefering to let his drunk eyes rest
On the soft complexion of the young waitress
Who graciously enables his addiction to escape.
Another round goes down at the bar
Whose sole occupant slowly succumbs
To the fermented grapes of Bacchus pleasure
And the delerious thoughts as deep as his wine is red
Only to find a box of fanzia behind the bar.
I cast my vote for Ms. Clinton:
A lighthouse guiding our distant ship,
Upon which Captain Lincoln once stood,
Away from the battering of turbulent tides
And decades of battling abroad and aboard,
To safety within the harbor.
I marked my ballot against Mr. Trump:
A mutinous shipmate privileged upon the lookout,
Using fear and lies to conceal the harbor light
From the down-trodden, somber eyes
Of the working class crew below deck
But most importantly I sent my hope to America,
A diverse and estranged extended fraternity
Living under a ship deck doused in oil
Tirelessly we toil to better our vessel,
Yet constantly we fight one another
With swords made from matches.
Though the future of our voyage is uncertain,
A new captain has taken the helm.
We may not have agreed who was to succeed,
But we are in this Great Experiment together.
We are part of the ship just as the captain is.
We will either sail on to clear waters or sink,
But whatever happens this ship is all we’ve got.