Self-Portrait with Umeboshi



Self-Portrait with Umeboshi

Our resemblance strengthens each day.

Reddened by sun and shiso,
seasoned with salt,

we preside, finding
comfort in failure. Or does
the subjugation of one’s flavor for another’s

define defeat? The bitter, the sour, the sweet
attract and repel

like lovers separated by distances
too subtle to see.
Filling space becomes the end.
What do you learn when you look through the glass?

Knowing my fate, I say fallen. I say earth.


Ah, simplicity! When I was a child my mother would occasionally serve rice balls in which a single mouth-puckering umeboshi rested at the center. These have long been a favorite, but I admit that umeboshi might be an acquired taste. Commonly called “pickled plums,” ume aren’t really plums but are more closely related to apricots. I cherish them.

“Self-Portrait with Umeboshi” first appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series (August 2014), was included in the subsequent print anthology, Self-Portrait Poetry Collection, and also appears in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.



16 thoughts on “Self-Portrait with Umeboshi

      • LOL In reading this beautiful piece of work I’m absolutely stunned by its simplicity as well as the images it still invokes in so few words – of course, it IS a Haiku so you’d expect that. But I’ve been reading some of your other pieces and the language varies from the seemingly simple but yet that language conveys meanings beyond what one would consider. As I’m a former “I won’t write poetry! I won’t! I won’t!” protester, due to the “rigidity” of rhyme, I’m now realizing it was my mind that was rigid. What do you recommend for someone just getting a grasp of this beautiful form of writing?

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a tough question, as I’ve so many favorites, but you might read some Jane Hirshfield. She’s a master of complex simplicity, of layering meaning with only a few words. Her “Not Moving Even One Step” is a gorgeous example. To look at intricate yet subtle rhymes, check out Willis Barnstone’s sonnets. They truly exemplify how limitation can function to expand. For an excellent book about writing poetry, you might try The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, or Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town. There’s so much out there! But feel free to comment or ask questions. I’ll do my best to answer.

          Liked by 1 person

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