A skeletal tree stands
too many winters
bones grown brittle, crackling
ashen gun-metal gray,
Tokyo Bay at evening’s onset
a bird perches, staring
at a last leaf clinging
knowing frozen earth awaits.
It is winter, sap pools
in roots seeking
earth’s dying warmth.
We warm our hands
by the fire, as bones
of other trees fall
to the grate in ashes.


He believes he would like the ocean,
imagines standing on the shore watching
as the waves wash up to his feet,
and as quickly retreat, smoothing the sand.
He has never seen the ocean, only
ponds and on large lake, but he
imagines the ocean is just
a giant lake with bigger waves.
He would like to see the fog
roll in erasing the horizon,
shrouding the seas in a deeper mystery.
He recalls standing in the bar
of the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo
late one night as the fog settled
over the city, and only the lights
of the tallest buildings
seemed afloat on endless sea.


When my back was turned,
Corso slipped away
somewhere in Wisconsin
silently, without protest
carried off by Charon
across a gasoline river.
There was no bomb
to announce his departure,
no Queens orphanage stopped
frozen in a silent moment.
In the small park
at the north end
of Salt Lake City
no one lifted a jug
of bad wine to toast him,
the magic bus
just rolled by.
In the City Lights bookstore
Ferlinghetti shed a tear
that dried on the old wood floor
and from above a brief howl
pierced the morning calm.
Outside the small temple
on a back street in Tokyo
a Buddhist monk bowed
before the statue, read
the wooden prayer card
and whispered


You disembark quickly
a small bow to the flight crew,
and walk briskly to immigration.
The young man glances
at your passport and embarkation card
hands flying with the stamps.
The baggage is offloaded
onto the creeping segmented belt
yours the fifth through
the heavy plastic flaps
hefted onto the cart.
The customs agent pauses
as though contemplating a search,
but thinks better of the mess
that is a gaijin’s suitcase
and waives you through.
Cash is exchanged
through the small opening
with a perfunctory bow
and you move through
the silent sliding doors
carried on a wave of memory.
The driver bows
and you slide into traffic
for the slow crawl into Tokyo.
Evening is creeping slowly
over Narita and you
dream only of bed,
and the warmth of her lips
stirring in sleep,
an ocean away.


Tokyo floats on a sea of lights
washing to the horizons,
whitecaps of neon break
the placid surface, golden
arches bob like fishing boats
awaiting the dawn and
the rebirth of life.
The urban sea is manned by sailors
each in his uniform, some scampering
up the rigging, hoisting the sails
of steel, concrete and glass.
Taxis and busses swoop, like
terns plucking their food
from the teeming waters.
Night holds the city in its grip
and sings the lullaby of dreams.


An older, silver-haired woman
in neon green pants, a brown blouse
and black shop apron stoops
and carefully scrubs
the alleyway outside her small shop.

Salarymen fill the tunnels
of Kokkai-gijidomae station
at 6 P.M., 7, 8, and in fewer numbers, 9,
shuffling down the long corridors
to the Chiyoda or Marunouchi Line trains,
where they will sit stiffly, faces in books
or papers, or they will hang from the straps
another day complete, ticked off the schedule.
They will dream of trading polyester suits
for wool, and a desk not pressed
against half-height cubicle walls.

Akasaka-mitsuke Station:
the electronic sign marks
the next train for Shibuya at 17:52.
It is 17:54 and the face
of the stationmaster is a mix
of anger and frustration for
such tardiness cannot be accepted.


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.

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.

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.