ON ARRIVING

They arrive after a long flight
from tyranny, from oppression
from the nightmare of endless
fear, from hunger, from faith
denied, from the bottomless
depths of poverty, scarred
memories etched in their souls,
hoping for an ending as much
as wishing for a new beginning.
They have been here, a new
generation, raised on the stories,
versed in the painful history,
still residual anger born
of love for those who fled,
without the pain of experience,
who can forget when it is
others who now wish only
to arrive to the freedom they
have known since childhood

First appeared in Circumference, Issue 5, June 2022
https://poetryatpi.wordpress.com/

A QUESTION OF TIMING

Umberto Eco, I believe,
intending to or not,
has found the perfect way
to bring classic plays
back to life, to enable us
to reinterpret these
old works, to hold their
reincarnated selves dear.

All you need do is decide
whether you are one
who prefers beginnings
or finds ends more satisfying.

Go see Hamlet, but miss
the first act or so, and muse
on why he is anguished,
why his familial bonds
have all so badly frayed.

And make the late arrival
a staple of your Shakespeare
dramas, you’ll thank me
later, no one needs
that much bloodshed
and there is bodycount
enough in real life anyway.

IN THE BEGINNING

You so very want
there to be no ending
but there must be, just
as there had to be a beginning
and you had no say about that.
Endings are hard, they remind you
of small deaths, all but one,
but each is also a birth of sorts,
and like you know, they arise
and you have no say about them.
These few lines will
soon enough draw to an end
although that may be one
you don’t so much mind.
But as you put them away
they are the beginning of a thought
you never imagined would arise.

ONCE

There was a time not all that long ago,
he reminds me, when the event of an eclipse
was a certain sign the world was ending.
Prayers were offered in profusion, and
the event proceeded and passed, so faith
in prayer was restored, if not in astronomy.
Today eclipses are viewed as just other
celestial events, like meteor showers
and solar flares, something to see,
something to experience, but always
with the knowledge that tomorrow
will always be right around the corner.
But the eclipse of our freedoms
is something we have never seen,
and many now believe the world
is ending, but we should, he says,
realize that like the slow passage
of the earth across the face of the moon,
we will emerge into the light again
in due time, our prayers having been answered.

KEMBO’S ONE ROAD 鐵笛倒吹 八十四

As you walk along a road
do you know where it begins
or where it will end
and what lies along it.

Perhaps the road
is a twisted loop
with neither beginning
or ending,
but if asked
where you are
on the road
you are always
here.


A reflection on Case 84 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui)