National Holiday

For Carbon, respect is love. Action is adoration. Direct honesty is opening one’s soul.

For Lithium, love is intangible. An idea or a thought. An action is the manifestation of one’s intent.

For you, it is a dark wave undulating. A space where nothing is and nothing fills in the vacuum of that lack. For you, the unknown, love is space. Open, cold, and vast. An eternity of constant stasis and change.

For me, I only see the relationship of things. Love is parallel to fear. Peace is to pain as hope is to fear. Not opposites of but reactions to or against. Omnidirectional like an explosion or gravity. We can neither dive in nor avoid it. Steeped like tiny tea bags, all of us.

If the earth is a marble and the moon is in its place — we are arm’s length from it. And yet, it pulls my body around. Pulls the ocean up and down. Pulls at the heart of us.

The sun is four miles away, approximately. And it is the only reason I can wake, stand, breathe. It is my force of energy. The hand that strums my body, makes chords of harmony vibrate with chemistry within me. I am a reactor because the sun is my first lover.

First and last. I will naturally return to being no more than a thought of its warmth when all my energy has been dispersed into other things. Nothing created or destroyed. Transference is inevitable and good.

This is my body, take and eat. This is my blood, take and drink. This is my life, take and be.

I am working on morphing my saviour complex into a pattern of what I both give and take. It is not easy because I was brought up to “save”. To sacrifice. To give without end.

I realize the fault of that.

Nothing is created or destroyed. Nothing is saved or lost.

We are beings not with a burden, but with mass and specific gravity. We move in circles around the core of reality. Orbiting with orbitals. The whole of existence moves. Until it doesn’t anymore.

I am learning to accept this before my time comes to fade so I can take that gracefully. I still, probably, need many years to play it cool at my own death scene.

I probably still won’t. But I think I’m trying.

Funny things to think about on American Thanksgiving.

I’m just thankful to be alive and know some scraps of the depth of what that means. And I am happy to do it beside the “you”s that I do. All of you.

One Owl Night

You came upon me from behind and recognized me by the things I’ve kept constant. The parts of me that didn’t change. I didn’t know you by the sound of your voice, but familiar words lifted from my world.

What did you expect in the come down, and does it — I wonder — look like this?

For my part, I’m still adjusting to the bracing. Aiming to gain footing pretty damn quick. Before I slip. To assist, I’ve been making an official copy of myself. One I can risk to pick its way across the brittle ground of this northwest’s bitter winter. I leave it in the mix to learn things about stories I never knew. Only knew I needed to.

Presently, we are side by side for a while. And, of course, I’m taken back to biking moments stolen from another life beside you.

Old friend, even now?

We parted ways because I had another road to go. In metaphors and reality, it always goes up. And yours is straight, easy, flat. I climbed the hill for a moment before an owl circled over head. My bicycle breaks screeched like the cry of the hunter, echoed in a decay that I wonder if you heard in your departure.

We stayed there a moment — owl and I — and watched one another. I considered the rightness of all my decisions. And the owl, stranger wild being, considered me. Threat? Hardly. A fellow being winged by the darkness of the night.

I went on, considering. Naming in my heart the things I wish I could be: cool air in this desert haze, fresh water in this poison rain, stability to the shakeable, fire to the cold and inconsolable.

I never knew it, but I am more life than death it turns out.

But you, stranger being, wouldn’t know.

Along this new road, I’ve made old friends of the stones by which I walk the path others laid out. The clearings by which a new way reveals itself. The thunder from which I count the time. The lightning, my gauge if I am right. The rain I catch to survive.

The hands I grasp when the mud is thick and I slip are those who know my falling is not harm I intend, but adverse affects of our situation.

We are all caught up together, and that is our power, not failure.

Old friends are everywhere.

雪 – Yuki – Snow

I saw a spider sitting atop my candy skull shaped shell this morning and thought of death. In Indiana and on the foothills here, snow already fell. On the doorstep of winter, there is ice on my bike seat when I head for work at 9 am.

It is going to be long and hard, I feel. This winter a frozen representation of my heart. I whispered this across spaces where others were and heard them echo back. Similar sentiment but with a decay of variation that makes me think — I am not the only one. I am not alone.

I am so excited. To need to brace against the cold. It has felt only inside of me for too long. I need the world , the universe, reality to concur.

This winter might be my concurrence. My return to the outside existence. I may be approaching the extrovert I never meant to leave, but had to set down for a time. The me I couldn’t be.

And with this return, I get to dig up all the buried parts of what made that person whole, delve into the depths of what made that person feel, and decide what I want to keep and what to leave.

So that with spring, I will emerge a new shape.

I know now why leaving Nihon didn’t feel like an emergence. Because it was still a descent. And this long, cold, harsh winter — my shelter, hovel, safety blanket from the freeze. I will shed it when the world’s tilt tells me it’s time.

Not waiting, I am preparing. Shredding my old ways to make new bedding. New pillows to rest my head on.

C’mon winter. Show me what you’ve got.

I’m ready.

Winter coming. [冬が来る]

It took me long enough, but I’ve started to not realize the truth — but to own it. To let it be a part of my reality. To wake up from silly dreaming.

We are apart, you and I. And we are going to stay this way. I lost your heart, and I’m not going to find it. I got to love you for 10 years — and that has to be enough. I wove myself into a pattern of us for 10 years — and I’m still getting used to having come unravelled from that. Still untangling the loose threads of myself; still learning which colors were yours, and which were mine. Which ones I like and which ones I’d rather leave behind.

An activity I never planned for, really. But here I am, and it’s okay. Or at least, it can be.

I still find my fingers stained black with charcoal, my knees white from ash, head bent down and fingers in the wreckage of our burned down house.  There were so many things I loved, wanted, didn’t know how to not need. Some of them burned up entirely, some got buried under the rubble of at least one broken heart; maybe two. Maybe more –innumerable others caught in the fallout of me and you. A whole community of protective glass shattered in harmless crystals around us.

I have to tell myself every night that you aren’t coming home, that home is far away now, that the only thing I’m waiting for is to feel myself again.

I didn’t know how used I’d gotten to waiting. I still pause, stop, and turn to look for you — all the time. Ruts dug into the everyday of a painful life. Just because it’s better now doesn’t mean I don’t still act out the old scenarios. I’m used to being a character in constant foil for you. Used to dreams and stories where “we” and “us” come to my lips so easily.

But now when I remember, I’m frowning instead of smiling. There is a way to keep these charred shards together, to make them walk around like a normal person. I just don’t know how yet. And some days, I look down at my chest and wonder — am I still smouldering? Is that the problem?

But there’s no more fuel to keep the fire going. So, one of these days, the heat will fully dissipate. And one day, I’ll get this ring cleared out, squat, and begin laying the twigs of a new fire. Right now, I’m still searching for viable kindling. Stacking up piles of hardwood. Clearing ash. So much ash.

Things I did once, in a house in the country, when we looked out at the sunset and knew — the dark was falling. Winter was coming. The worst of it is yet to arrive. I am still building toward it. Preparing.

The signs of death are on the season’s doorstep. I have some serious work to get done. I only hope I am done before the freeze.

震源 Centre

A-bomb hypocenter, Nagasaki, Japan

The only thing that was left was a concrete pillar. A couple of feet high and a foot, maybe, round. Someone had written “center” on that pillar in charcoal — both in Nihongo and English. The land was flattened black for miles. A church in the far corner, a crumbling piece of a wall still stood. A couple of graveyard guardians. A row of lamp posts. Nothing else.

Where Hiroshima is the well-known, Nagasaki is the silent one. The small port town that holds its scars close to its chest. If you walk around the veins and arteries of its streets, you can happen upon them. Turn a corner and be faced with melted concrete, black dripping down the side of stone like ice cream down a cone. Metal corroded with rings upon rings from where it momentarily blistered and boiled.

There is a museum, a peace park, a statue — all like in Hiroshima. But I was the only white faced person. Little six year olds and high schoolers from the local schools on field trips leave the same braided peace cranes hanging on racks, not in row after row of glass enclosures. There is a rainbow tower with cranes people have taken the initiative to tape to it. A personal sign of promise. Quiet and reserved.

This is the Nihonjin way. The quiet and private path. Nagasaki screams of it — of the everyday suffering. The quiet lives lived under the weight of the second atomic bomb dropped two days after the first.

After humanity knew the horror it could create.

And we did it anyway.

And Nagasaki still, to this day, bears up peacefully under that weight.

I was buried under this quiet pain. I, too, could forget and enjoy the beautiful sunsets, the islands just off shore, the sea breeze. Until I would find a river wall rebuilt from rubble and ruin, standing now with only momentary stones of its original scars.

It would take my breath away in the worst of ways. Tears constantly on the edges of my eyes.

I folded a paper crane from page out of my Hiroshima notebook made of the world’s recycled peace cranes, mashed and pressed flat together. I wrote in erasable ink the words of a useless apology for what can I mend? On the insides of the same crane, I wrote my promise to be better than this, to love peace, to think.

That’s all I can do.

I turned and walked along the sea-line and found my way back to the city. There, I went about other things. Just like everyone else.

原爆ドーム – Genbaku Dome

A-bomb hypocenter, Hiroshima, Japan

There is no humanness to these spaces. No feeling of the suffering of those past. It it a completely blown out place. Destruction so complete it is hollow and vacant. Completely different from the concentration camp I went to in Austria. There, you could feel the death inside the gas chamber and the broiler rooms. Here, I felt nothing but shame. White blank shame.

I highly recommend every person goes to places like this in their life. You can then begin to understand what the word “haunted” means. There are places with the weight of history, of our memory, of our humanity. So many hands of scraped these walls, feet walked these ruts, blood stained these grounds. We cannot scrub them out, and we should not try. To know ourselves, we absolutely have to touch them. We cannot be citizens of a global world without actually knowing the shape of both the world and ourselves. Our potential is in understanding our failures. And committing to be better.

It is all we can do. Stare up into these places: a-bomb hypocenters, the scars of firebombed cities, concentration camps, mass graves and think: never again.

Because in the face of these places, there are no other words. Despite using language to have made these decisions, what language can we use to undo them? To make penance? It isn’t even touchable. It exists on a whole different plane of existence. I don’t know where the connecting wire is between the two. I stare at my reflection in the window of the train as I move closer to Nagasaki, to the second bomb’s site, and what am I to think? There is nothing but blank white. A sheet that will not be writ upon, but one that scorched the mind, burns the heart, chars the bones, and tears whatever a soul is apart. Disintegrated. That’s what it is. And it’s not right.

I have nothing but mute, dumb, numb aching in the face of it. I stand with my hands limp at my side, staring blankly at the sky, because what else should I do? Cry? Yeah right.

My tears are no water on this fire. No balm on these wounds. No healing touch on these scars.
I feel so small.



My old place, returned to. In this place, nothing changes. Nothing but my own heart(心) and head (頭) has changed. Nothing but the real me.

It is good.

I am happy.

Arms of home wrap me up and take me on. I return after a year to find you just as I had hoped to find you, just as I had feared you would not — could not be. But here we are. And here you are. And thank you.

One last step. One last unknown. One last hurdle.

後一週間。One more week.


Wait for me.