ROAD FOOD

In Hawaii I could stare for hours at a Taro field,
the bent back of a farmer, and the same a gentle fold
of spine I saw from the Shinkansen, Tokyo to Osaka
amid the fields of yellow shoots, later rice in
some bowl, perhaps even mine, or in Antwerp as the chef
patiently picked over the trays of mussels in the market
knowing just which would suit his needs, all having
a remarkable sameness to my eye and nose.
On a road just outside San Juan, near the beach
with surfable waves, the woman stood bent in the heat
over a 50 gallon drum turn stove, cooking the pork
tucking it into the dough and placing it in the fryer,
smiling through her few remaining teeth, offering pies
that we dared not resist, knowing the sea
would soon enough be our napkin.
This morning, as I took my slow walk
to the coffee shop, a jay sitting on a resting fence
stared at me for a bit, not unnerving,
persistent, and I imagine him the king
of Taro, rice and fresh pies.

KANSAI

I

droplets torn from cloud bed
cling to edges of windows
wanting to grasp,
torn free by wind
they are pulled
clawing backward.

II

over Osaka pillars of light
rise up through holes
in the cloudbank, it is gray
rain puddling on tarmac
built into the bay.

III

container ships draw
fading wake lines
on a blue gray canvass,
a solitary sailboat
stares longingly
at the seawall
as rain dances on deck.

IV

in the next stall
an in-transit army sergeant
vomits repeatedly
then washes his face
and military demeanor.

V

round eyes
half shut
doze in neat rows
of seats
staring at planes
and rain.

SANCTUARY

The motion begins deep within you,
bleeds quickly outward
until it blankets the web
between your fingers and toes, collects
behind the ears as you hurtle
on parallel steel threads
connecting Tokyo and Osaka.
You are down to the broad fields
of golden-yellow beckoning
the impending harvest, the rice
swaying in the unfelt breeze.
In the furrow, neatly excised,
the water burns with the gold
of the plants and the blaze orange
of the sun retreating
behind the mountain, tired
after a long day battling winter’s approach.
The stream is a deep, intense blue
out-of-place on this golden canvas,
a wound, flowing to the horizon.
The almost perpetual snow cap
of the great mountain casts
a winking glance at the rice,
a lookout for the moon.
In the fields are small huts,
some lit, in this one two men
kneeling before a small altar.
I want to rise from my seat,
step from the bullet train
and wade through the rice
to join them, share a cup
of carefully brewed tea
and settle in the silence
under the watchful eyes
of the guardian mountain

HEAVEN

Joseph said
he once met an angel
on the bullet train
between Osaka and Tokyo.
I asked him if her wings
were feathered, he said
“no, it was her smile”
and it was gossamer.
Joseph said they spoke
only briefly, she through
long black hair, in Japanese,
he in his only language, English.
She was reading Murakami
he Dostoevsky, she
sipped a can of green tea,
he a small bottle of Diet Coke.
I asked if she had
a halo, he said only Mount Fuji
wore a halo that day,
but he knew for certain
she was an angel
or at the least a bodhisattva.