words taken from the last line of a samurai creed

Ryoan-ji, the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, is known for its Zen gardens. Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion,
was burned in 1950 by a Buddhist priest who had been seduced by its beauty; a replica stands today. Ginkaku-ji,
the Silver Pavilion, stands at the end of Tetsugaku no Michi, the Philosopher’s Path.

in the swirl of shinto-smoke
that reminds me of nothing

so much as my dead mother,
the absence of myself

is a sword undulled by blood or lust
and too bright for eyes

that have not known tears;
like coins thrust for luck

or safe passage; like
dappled morning on Ryoan-ji pond

where cranes stalk salvation
beside the unanswered prayers

of lost fingertips;
like broken glass

on asphalt in a hot Kyoto night;
Kinkaku burning in the sun;

Ginkaku-ji at journey’s end.

they told me this was a poem

the notebook i burned that day i learned hate:
i wish i had those words again.

the one long coat i’ll never wear

and the books i’ll never sell, that sit damply expiring
in the back of the closet beside this box
(since they don’t all fit).

the nights you spend alone, every
one folded tight like an unused rain slicker.

my mother’s wedding ring.

my father’s Saint Christopher, the one
he wore for years after they told his sixteen-year-old self
he had a fourteen-percent-chance.

the Saint Jude i lit for the ones who didn’t, their names
melded to the bottom now.

all the poems i write but that no-one can see, and this one,
tucked underneath.

that picture frame she threw at me, before she could throw it:
those hours picking glass shards from skin i will
never get back.

epitaph for the soulless

there are

wide-eyed whiskey
truths that trace
velocities, backward. this

was never about you,
the unfrozen intensity
of a moment stretched

into a night, a pair
of nights, sub-
aqueous drownings

in a river that knows too
many mornings,
inconstancy of under-

current winter
horizons & jagged
edges below the smooth

dark of summer waters;; an
itch inside my skin i
bury deeper with each

rasping handful of you
and that the sunlight won’t re-
wind; this,

this was never about you ex-
cept that it is.