Self-Portrait with Umeboshi (with recording)




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.



Music: “Senbazuru” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

33 thoughts on “Self-Portrait with Umeboshi (with recording)

    • Be forewarned… umeboshi are an acquired taste. There is a very distinct possibility you will find the taste revolting. Now if you are looking for a truly delicious Japan-centric flavour experience, buy some natto – bean curd fermented with a type of bacteria found in the guts of deer. On its own it too is disgusting, but when flavoured with a little bit of soy sauce and yellow mustard, it is the food of the gods (and SUPER healthy).

      Liked by 2 people

        • Worse than snot… snot that sticks to everything with slimy, spider silk-like tendrils that seem to take forever to disengage. It is one of the things people hate about natto, the matter in which it seems to find a way to stick to everything within a 14″ radius. You don’t eat natto as much as you find a way to get natto from its package to the depths of your stomach. It is a chore to eat natto… but what a delicious chore it is when the natto is partially tamed with mustard and soy sauce.

          I used to run to Lawson (Japan’s 7-11) every day for a Okame “Mini-3” pack of natto containers. Okame is the Goddess of Mirth, so you can easily identify her face from the little mask of her on the front of the pack.

          If you can find an Okame Mini 3 at a store near you, buy it immediately! At least then you will know just much you love or hate it! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

                • It is kind of hard, due to the fact that beans are countable and goo is not unless measured into units. So the bean/goo ration must be predefined. How does one define natto goo? A “drop” is 0.05 milliliters, so I would say probably 10 drops worth of goo would be the right amount for the average person. But Okame is really gooey, so I would say they probably include at least a couple of cubic centimeters it is so thick. Okame is the best. If you like it, those Mini 3s will be gone in a single sitting for sure since they are “snack” size.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    • Just the little mustard pack that comes with the natto. It is just “plain” yellow mustard. One could get fancy with natto, but I eat it right out of the pack. Natto also has a particular smell. It doesn’t stink, but it certainly smells like fermented something. Many of the Japanese people who don’t like natto think it has a stink to it… but then again, they seem to uniformly be umeboshi lovers, so maybe it is just as question of taste on some kind of genetic level. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who likes both umeboshi and natto.

                      If you like umeboshi then you may love umeshu, ultra-sweet plum liqueur (though it is usually referred to as “wine”). Umeshu is waayyy too sweet for my taste, but umeboshi lovers seem to really like the extremes of the taste of umeboshi to umeshu.

                      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll never know what I don’t try … taste is a funny trickster … will give umeboshi a dance. Though not exactly a plum, the association with plums ups its appeal. Bean curd? I’ll leave that (for now) for the gods. But thanks for the awareness.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: Self-Portrait with Umeboshi (with recording) — O at the Edges – All About Writing and more

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