Archive for April, 2012

Netsuke [ mask ]

April 28, 2012

A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds…
—W. B. Yeats

Illumination as found in each mask,
as light  is formed anew by its  rainbow:
fish, like stalks of sun swimming in a glass,
rise up to look at us: largemouth bass, pike,
sunfish. It’s more a liaison of wills,
than an endorsement of spring’s prism,
it’s more a mark of the sun above
what surely must be invisible: the  density
of hydrogen. But breath can be a burden too.
Despite our icy efforts of illusion, the mask about
to be our companion starts to shout. This mask
of ivory and wood,
it says, can’t speak of this task of ruin.
This Hog-as-Cloud, this Hog-as-Sun, this liar.
I won’t trust its lips; my ribs are on fire.

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Netsuke [ octopus ]

April 14, 2012

It seems the sea can be a silent voice.
The fisherman’s wife feels the waves extend
her presence, so she kneels as if the choice
were hers alone. We watch her pretend
that the wedding is hers to consummate.
For while she has our skin, we know she hides
our tiny self so deep inside her she must wait
alone, alone  like  us inside the tides.

Our tentacles and beak can bring her back
to the sea again. She kneels and spreads her legs.
Look at Hokusai’s woodcut. Look at the lack
of perspective in each wave. Being begs
forgiveness. I would spare you this, she seems
to say. But loneliness is found in dreams.

Netsuke [ Buddha ]

April 9, 2012

It’s like tea strained through silk,
so pure, so like a tabula rasa
constrained for us to use amid our doubts.
Stay, carrion, stay and sit beside me.
For we must carve the lines of
a language into ivory conventions;
we must starve out the demons when
they cry out their so-called interventions…
Why are they here when we are not?
Too easy the simile; too easy the regret;
too easy that we are not majestic,
that our life ends in rot.

His face an ivory façade,
the Buddha smiles, unlike our God.

Netsuke [ lizard ]

April 2, 2012

(For Thomas Davis)

A reptile carved, a breath of language, one
That one imagines to be real, like
A lizard given life, pretend for fun,
Perhaps, a supervening thought, so like
A kite, but not airborne at all: We hold
Its substance in our hands and come to think
That this is all there is. We even hold
It in our thoughts, still nameless, and we think
That its vital beauty make it a part
Of God. Soft, small, patina-rich, handmade
From stone or bone, rhinoceros horn: its art
Is in its existence, perfection paid
For by its half-life in our hearts and hands.
So reptilian, what poetry demands.