by Ann Lauinger
Scene: Kyushu. A small garden pavilion.
Time: Early evening, late May, the year 901.
Speakers: Two Heian poets, Sugawara Michizane (845-903) and
Lady Ise (?877-?940)
Affinities, Lady Ise, correspondences:
Blue leaps to blue. This iris is a flame.
Consider their origins, Michizane:
Fire from fuel, flowers from seed.
Consider that the same turf
Feeds flame and bloom.
Eiko's kiss was petaled, Keiko's touch burned.
So you told me.
My soup was hot, my soup grew cold:
You ate up the beans but left the radishes
And if tomorrow I eat the radishes
But leave the beans…?
Tomorrow there may be none.
Everything longs for rain.
Rain falls, ceases, falls.
I know where rain furrows rice-powder
And no peonies bloom.
There, one sows comfort
And cultivates distress.
My friend, not every soil
Will bear all crops.
When frogs jump in a pond,
All make the same splash.
Listen: each frog croaks
Its own note.
The plucked string sounds many notes
But remains the same.
How different the same note sounds
In June or December.
Yet June brings round December,
Still, you sweat and crave snow,
Shiver and dream of roses.
Metaphors, Lady Ise,
And all for the same desire.
Why then, Michizane, do you not
Lay down your brush?
A thousand jackdaws, a thousand poets--
What is one more or less?
Tea every evening, thousands of cups,
Yet how fragrant. Are you not thirsty?
Navigating The Storm
by Barry Ballard
And the dazzle of light upon the waters is as nothing beside the changes
wrought therein, ...
--Mark Strand, "The Next Time"
Our chance at starting over again keeps
staring up at us from the reflections
in the spill-water washing its pitch-like slum
over the sidewalks. And we lean or leap
across its direct path which has puddled
and become difficult to follow,
arranging our bits of cover below
the rains, cautious, sometimes at a standstill.
And our world keeps deepening below its
sheen, changing its meaning or rippling
into the mirage of the fixed structures
beside us. The very boundaries adrift
in a riddle we walk on: the widow sills
broken, glass shattered, searching for the answer.
by Vivian Shipley
A brother I was born to, like the grave, Adolph,
you must have had a roadmap I didn't get.
In interviews, I use sibling, avoid your name.
As a child, I chameleoned, never used I after one
of your lectures: Itâs always about you, Paula.
Be quiet. Listen to me when I speak. I tried,
but I didnât hear the word my heart needed.
I hung on to promises of afternoons together
for so long, they became beans our grandmother
left to dry on Spitalâs fences that rattled in wind,
in my heart. If I sleep, in dreams about you,
my brother, I cry out: Take me to the Berghof,
not Angela, our half-sister. Let me keep house
for you, cook for Mussolini, King Boris of Bulgaria,
brew the Duke of Windsor's tea. Put my picture
by your bed, not Geliâs, your niece who spattered
her blood over your apartment walls, woke up
your neighbors on Munichâs Prinzregentenplatz.
I would have been more considerate, never have
chosen your gun as a way to die. Years accordion,
but mostly they stick together. A few stand out:
Angela calling Eva Braun a stupid goose right
to her face; two weeks I spent at the Berghof
nursing you back to health. You even remembered
how I came to visit you in the hospital after you
were gassed in 1918. I was the proudest sister
in Germany as you received the Iron Cross,
First Class. I still feel heat of August when I
Touch the picture of you, my corporal, my brother,
as I pretended to pin the medal on your jacket.
As usual, my tongue would not stay in my mouth
and I begged you to put your arm around me,
if only for the photographer, for the record.
Will my anger ever lift its weight from me,
a crescent moon rising over Mein Kampf
where you did not mention me, Paula Hitler,
even though you were writing it in your cell
the day I was there? Words you did not say
will not release me, even when I am laid under
Sister cut in stone. What is done cannot be
undone except by my heart which has no teeth
to chew, will not swallow what I cannot digest.