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.
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,
that picture frame she threw at me, before she could throw it:
those hours picking glass shards from skin i will
never get back.
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-
in a river that knows too
inconstancy of under-
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-
this was never about you ex-
cept that it is.