Rice

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Rice

Yesterday’s rain informs me I’m born of luck and blended
strands, of hope and words forged before a common tongue emerged.

Of my first two languages only one still breathes.

The other manifests in exile, in blurred images and hummed tunes.

Rice is my staple. I eat it without regarding its English etymology,
its transition from Sanskrit to Persian and Greek, to Latin, to French.

Flooding is not mandatory in cultivation, but requires less effort.

Rice contains arsenic, yet I crave its polished grains.

In my monolingual home we still call it gohan, literally cooked rice, or meal.
The kanji character, bei, also means America.

Representing a field, it symbolizes abundance, security, and fertility.

Three rice plants tied with a rope. Many. Life’s foundation.

To understand Japan, look to rice. To appreciate breadth, think gohan.
Humility exemplified: sake consists of rice, water and mold.

The words we shape predicate a communion of aesthetics.

Miscomprehension inhabits consequence.

* * *

“Rice” appeared here in June 2015, and in my chapbook, The Circumference of Other, which is included in Ides, a one-volume collection of fifteen chapbooks published by Silver Birch Press and available on Amazon.com.

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Exile

cloudy

 

Exile

Having abandoned one, I claim the other.

Rain speckles the driveway.

Solitude pays its toll with unmet expectations,
thunder receding, clouds shriveling to dust.

The mockingbird chirrs its cricket tune
before flying to a higher perch.

What you call home I call diminishment.

What you surrender, I bundle and mail to strangers.

 

Post

 

Scarecrow Contemplates Pi

 Scarecrow Contemplates Pi

At the moment you snipped away
my reticence, I spoke so eloquently
that even the stones wept at your
indifference. As you arranged my
pose and buttoned the shirt
around the wire and fodder
replenishing my torso, I understood
your roots and mine should never
merge: transcendental, and in
collusion with the irrational, we
circles cannot be squared. And
how must I reconcile my unheard
words? The longer I speak the
greater their magnitude – a balloon
expanding in volume retains its
ratio – one day my words will sift
through your filters and you will
at last receive them. I pull this
particular comfort close – that
patterns and frequencies and
tendencies become law, that the
fleshless and soulless, the mute
and misunderstood, the powerless,
the different, nevertheless will be
heard. But what of love? How may I
contend to feel, to know that which
is your right? A nervous system
conducts electrical and chemical
impulses, yet lacking these, my
coreless heart sags at the thought
of your departure. I am no man.
Is this truly not enough?

“Scarecrow Contemplates Pi” first appeared with two companion pieces in Eclectica in summer 2016.

Palinode (birds)

Palinode (birds)

Simplicity, as in the cloaca. One aperture for all: eggs,
urine, sperm, feces. The majority of birds copulate
by joining the openings of their cloacae (most male
birds lack penises). Nothing is for nothing.

Nothing is for nothing, but the ache of emptiness
bestows its own reward. That movement from outer
world to inner, to anima, to breath, to flight,
approaching heaven. Birds know the way.

Knowing the way, birds express our envy of the
boundless, testament to the unity of earth and sky,
instinct’s voice. We see feathers not as epidermal
outgrowths, but as emblems of what we forever seek.

As emblems of what we seek, crows exploit man’s
folly, exposing hidden truths. Thought and memory
recede, leaving us foundered. Altered consciousness,
flight, the space to believe, simplicity’s forms in one.

“Palinode (birds)” first appeared in slightly different form in Otoliths in fall 2016.

Scarecrow Listens

sax

Scarecrow Listens

These silences I hear, are they not
music? Interspersed with sunlight and
air flowing through fragrant grasses,
insects ticking in the leaves or burrowing
towards moist darkness, and my friends
cawing from their perches, if I arrange
their presence in sequence, perhaps
around the day’s bones, will you
know my spirit? And when I interweave
these tunes, independent and unrelated,
shaping them into one separate melody,
will you recognize its heart and shiver
to the beat? Ornette Coleman freed
his playing, celebrating the territories
of the unmeasurable, the unnamed. The
real is, no matter what you call it. Take
this leaf and place it atop three others.
What have you? And what am I if not
a gathering of the unwanted, scraps
melded to serve a thought-free purpose,
another’s need. Fleshless, boneless,
breathless, bloodless, I know only
that I am; having no ears, still I listen.

 
“Scarecrow Listens” first appeared with two companion pieces in Eclectica in summer 2016.

 

 

Palinode (salt, mask, descent)

mask

 

Palinode (salt, mask, descent)

Tracing the map to the swaying places, she rises
through the interior world, garnering peace by
syllable. Water, clouds and sand mark her ascent.
The expectation is return, renewal. My friend did not
awaken this morning, and tonight I praise her
passage with drink and song. Matter into spirit,
mountain into sky, redemption, freedom. We bathe in
light, reclaiming the liminal. Our tears evaporate,
leaving salt and untrod paths in our wake.

The paths in our wake delimit the future, but
everything falls. Which do we desire more, the grasp
or its release? That instant preceding fear defines a
yearning particular to its course, a cycle of regression
and progress: ancestors descend into human or
animal form, die, depart to the heavens, and return
anew. Distilled power, a bridge to the spirits, the
mask unshutters and conceals the conscious mind.
Opening my eyes, I release the sun.

I release the sun and observe the results. From sky
to soil, from above to below, to solidity. Spirit
acquires matter, disperses and regroups. Rain and
alluvion, flooded homes, the dark night of childish
laughter. Each to her own path, each to an end. Muting
the string, I touch the harmonic into the world, linking
civility to proportion, lowering dissonance. Everything
falls. Everything. From curve to angle, we resist and
rejoice. In this design parabola, she descends.

 

ascent

“Palinode (salt, mask, descent)” was first published in Otoliths in slightly different form.