Category: Poetry

Yeats at 4th & Madison

Girls in small glasses and men in long coats
wait for their buses. Beyond the bank,
behind the courthouse, the highway and hotels,
there are places you and I cannot see.

Stairs lead halfway up a hill. Climb them.
A hedge has no gate. Walk through it.
Leaves spin in the road. Step into the wind.
Piled stones shift in the grass. Stand atop them.

Above the highest step, through the hedge,
carried on the air with the whirling leaves,
balanced on rocks tumbling from beneath your feet,
you’ll find the world that shimmers and glows.

In the space between those buildings and buses,
take my hand and close your eyes. Go there with me now.


You can also read the earlier English version of this poem.














Ray Bradbury reads “If Only We Had Taller Been” at NASA JPL, 1971

My favorite author of speculative fiction, Ray Bradbury, died recently. Where Clarke and Asimov explored what affect technology would have on humanity, Bradbury explored what it is to be human. The literary canon will remember Bradbury for Fahrenheit 451, but I love him for the language he used in books like Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Ever a proponent of science and space exploration, Ray Bradbury was invited to speak (alongside Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan, and others) at NASA JPL just as Mariner 9 arrived at Mars in November 1971. In this clip, Bradbury reads his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been”.

Via Boing Boing.

The Rolling Waves of Home

Long Beach, Washington, June 2012

This is the moment on the sand
     when I see what it is that lies here at my feet
          tangled in the driftwood
     flecked with feathers
          draped with seaweed

Yellow chunks of insulation
     from soba shops and sake stores
          from houses
               upon houses

Shoyu pooled brown in bottles
     mouthwash and toothbrushes
          a television
     from kitchens and living rooms
          from bathrooms and bedrooms

I walk the snaking strandline
     over sandals
          and the soles of rubber boots

I know now each thing has its meaning

This is not trash

Nobody threw these things away

What show was Ojii-chan watching
     that sunny Friday afternoon
          when the alert came on?

What dish was Obaa-chan making
     when the floor bucked and swayed
          when the contents of her cupboards
     fell down upon her
          the shouts
     of neighbors ringing through the streets?

Where could they have run
     as sirens blared
          and the ocean roared behind them
     as she lost her sandal on the stairs?

That night here seven thousand miles from home
     I watched my childhood washed away
          in blackened surf
               in wooden waves

I stand here now and know
     I can never go home again

But borne on blackened surf
     on wooden waves
          home has come to me.

(UPDATE: You can now read this poem in Japanese as well.)