10,000 origami cranes
floated down over Tokyo
each bearing the soul
of one gone in nature’s recent fury.
Each crane cried freely
the tears flowing into the Sumida
forming a wave that washes
back to the sea, replenishing its loss.
We, too, shed our tears
and look skyward
sad in the knowledge
that with each passing day
still more cranes
will fill the sky
more tears seep back
to the still angry sea.


As a child I was quite adept
folding sheets of newspaper
into paper hats and paper boats.
The boats immediately took on water,
and sank like the sodden masses
I made them to be, but I could wear
the hats for hours, until my mother
had to scrub my forehead
to get off the printer’s ink.
You might think I would consider
becoming a reporter or journalist
given my penchant for newsprint,
but I instead became a Buddhist
because I do love folding things
over and over and over again
kirigami requires the use
of scissors, which my mother prohibited.


Origami cranes lumber into flight
and lift into the sky
over the small, back street Temple
somewhere on the periphery of Shinjuku.
They know their flight will be
only temporary, that their wings
will grow quickly tired, that
the rustling sound
of two thousand wings
will soon fall silent
as the breeze bids them
a peaceful night,
and the Temple bell
announces the evening zazen.


A man ran down the street this morning, flapping his arms. It wasn’t clear if he was running for exercise, moving his arms in the bitter cold, or actually thinking they were wings and with enough motion he might take off. There is also the possibility that he was simply crazy and a look at the thermometer, reading 6 degrees did lend some support to that conclusion. He ran up and down the street staring up at the sky. I watched him for the better part of an hour. I grew tired just from watching but he seemed tireless. Finally, unable to stop staring at him, unable to accomplish anything else, I picked up the phone to dial 911, to get him the help he needed or soon would in this chill. The 911 dispatcher said we get them all the time, particularly as the holiday approach. “Keep an eye on him,” the dispatcher asked, as if I could do otherwise. Just as the squad car turned around the corner, carefully approaching him from behind, I looked on in awe. I saw the man lift gracefully into the sky to the surprise of the crows gathered in a neighbor’s gingko tree. As the police officers stood by their car, staring at the sky, I finally looked away and daydreamed of origami cranes.