Fall 2009

Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 3


Poetry    Reviews    Fiction   

Dan Maguire



How sad, to think that even fire
ends in aimless smoke --- "Shunzei's Daughter"

In a garden filled with plum trees,
lemon and chrysanthemum,
Nagata kneels, adjusting his kimono.

The folds of white and yellow silk
are perfectly arranged to complement
the budding colors of the evening clouds.

He contemplates the blade before him
gathering the waning sunlight,
the ivory handle, carved by Hanshumori,

worth a thousand fortunes---
so delicate!---displayed upon
a crimson pillow at his knees.

All the victories and glory
he delivered to his lord, Yamura,
have brought him to these rites.

It is the peasants that he blames---
as they are blamed for everything---
they cheered him louder than his lord.

“Your seppuku shall be your reward,”
so said old Yamura, presenting him
this dagger he will own an afternoon.

The bright blade’s touch against his thumb
brings ruby droplets gently to the silk.
He turns to his retainer, poised behind,

two hundred year old sword in hand,
and tells him, “Not too quickly;
do not strike until the third incision.”

Two men alone within a garden,
crowded with a thousand year’s tradition.
He stares into the blossoms, seeking clarity,

awaiting inspiration for his death-haiku.
Nagata notes a slight disturbance in a plum tree---
a sparrow, laboring to build its nest...

“Industrious sparrow,
build fast your empire of twigs...
leaves falling”....

His attendant nods in admiration.
The words will be remembered.
And now the clouds are hyacinth and jade,

rose-pink and vermilion. He grasps
the ivory handle, opens his kimono
and thrusts. The unexpected pain

sears him like a firestorm. He pulls
the blade across---the second movement---
realizing that the shock

has robbed him of his strength.
He cannot slant the blade up to his ribs.
A shout, a scream, conceived within his lungs

is crawling up his chest, now running
for his throat---a rush of air behind---
then all is black, the garden gone,

his stillborn scream a murmured breeze,
a slight disturbance of the leaves
of a plum tree, where a sparrow builds its nest.


Somewhere Between

I've seen...attack-ships on fire, off the shoulder of Orion.
I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

---from the film Blade Runner.

between the whisky and the prayers
there comes a time...

although for earnest seasons
you've changed your coat, your colors;
summer sable, winter white...

a time---in spite of all your tyings, your un-tyings---
will come with sword in hand like Alexander,
cut the knots, take your careful fingers with them.

There comes a time you know
grace has leaked out of the reliquary.
Open it and see the spider---dead black button,

once leafy legs now folded up, a dried umbrella,
no longer threatening; no longer real.
It may take a while, may wear a low velocity,

like some green disease boring to the center of the earth;
but, eventually, the cat does not come back.
Eventually even Odysseus knows it's time to go home...

and there you are, standing in the mall,
staring at the young girls in their tight jeans walking by,
like starships bursting into flame off the shoulder of Orion.

There you are, reduced, judged in two dimensions, some
jackal-headed Romeo on a ruined temple wall, the weight
of your soul somewhere between a feather and the world.


© Dan Maguire



Poetry    Reviews    Fiction   

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