IN ABSENCE

The dawn failed to appear this morning.
There was a slight lightening of the sky,
more a change of grayscale shade
that a shift in time-honored by the sun.
The crows seemed to notice, why else
would they stay silent, so unlike
most days when the first rays of sun
were the call to take up the cacophony chorus.
Even the squirrels noticed, and hid in the trees,
knowing this was not a normal day,
but soon emerged when the siren’s call
of nuts outweighed their fear.
We trod on into the park, picking
our way through the piled snow,
cursing winters cruel approach, our path
lit by our fading memory of summer.

A MURDEROUS CACOPHONY

The crows were at it in the park today,
unable, it seemed, to agree on anything
and unwilling to let any other have the last word.
I asked them to stop, and that bought
all of fifteen seconds of peace before one
decided the debate needed to go on.
It was a cacophony hard on the ears,
and I wondered if the person who decided
that crows in groups were a murder
had ever stopped to listen, for to me
any group of crows is a cacophony.
As I thought this a small gathering
of wrens took up their autumn song,
and in the face of that sweet,
trilling chorus even the crows fell silent.

THROUGH GAIJIN EYES

1.
From the window of the hotel bus
the small, squared fields
are a green that only painters achieve,
deep, intense, unreal.
As the bus inches forward
along the Narita–Tokyo expressway
the green forms neat rows set off
by a shimmer of the gray sky mirror
that bathes the young plants.

2.
Tokyo is a city of great precision
where there are few birds,
and even crows are well mannered.
At Senso-ji Temple, it is left
to the pigeons to give avian life
to a sprawling city.

3.
There are uncountable cars, trucks
in Tokyo, motorcycles
dance among them like small children
grown bored with the wedding dance.
A rainbow of taxis fill the streets,
form unending lines, snake
around the large hotels and office towers.
There are forty taxi companies
in Tokyo, each with its fleet, but all
of the drivers are male.