You are in the diode archives v6n2




Setsuko grows small when the weather turns
A small head on her hand, she puts a small hand to
Her head, and the small head tugs
Upon her hair, another there
Stuck to the floor
Stands up when she sits down
Rolls like a wet animal made of garbage
Over Setsuko’s season

The season of dreaming of giving birth
To a long white cake in the shape of ghost children
Setsuko washes into abrasions
Rise and pupate double-moons
From the back of her legs
Into a rendezvous
With veins stuck to the mirror
Thereafter the floor and the ceiling

Setsuko draws new water
Into a single, savage bubble
The wet animal bring its nose
Over Setsuko’s season
Bending around
Every bubble each child
To crush just as sweet
The moment before one falls asleep



Fog encircling a mountain
Every eye small, but what is seen
For real? The song
Played at one’s funeral?
A lovelorn feeling? No, the fog
Adult and expanding

One joins a cult
And loses touch
With those who disapprove
But they are lively, or so is said
They barely move
Choke the windows

Masako runs the public bath
Sees everyone without clothes
Takes them all to bed, impressions made of
Loneliness and night, she hands out soap
Razors, the paper
White towels, small things to bite down on


I gave Masako a copy of O Bon, the book I wrote
While dreaming of her, or the version of her
I was dreaming of
That brought me out of the dream
She touched it, said, Has O Bon thrown pain?
Has O Bon tricked anyone into thinking
Pain is not that, but that pain over there
While here I can suddenly move?
The fog has lifted—I can love and be loved?

I sit in the mint. My heart has a bubble
An old man tells me not to go in
Above my heart, I have gone in above my heart
I am white, the fog is judicious, the mountain
A splendor, but who will remember
What I looked like?
The old man
Cocks his head to stare into mine
I stare at his recumbent testicle



A young woman’s voice
Moves through an old man’s stomach
A hole will swallow
The young woman’s body

Two old women fold paper into lips and ears
When the young woman’s voice
Touches theirs becomes flowers
The young woman’s hands on a white synthesizer

The old man slackening beside her
No ruse, but without appetite
There’s serfdom
To keep one held and holding on

A hood taken by the ears
Pulled down beneath the feet
Becomes the path back home
One can walk intoxicated

The young woman’s voice
An authenticated stroke
The old man’s head lolls against
His shoulder tight to the rim of tight flowers

I am most comfortable when drowning by
The hypothermic core of an old man
And a young woman’s voice, both
Disabled with cradlesong


The Grave on the Wall

I burned a bad enemy as though possessed
By a laughing head braced for lovingness
As a witness embraces the distance
Between the thing felt and the thing that is feeling
Bad enemy into being
Turned on, soft and expedient
Removing the influence of a victim
Enshrined in a brutally perfect spark
Like a tattoo manifest in the wind
Is a beach of skin sliding over the world

There is a story, Grandfather rasps
Love for bad enemy is good for bad enemy
When tortures depend on the lord to approve
The fruition of favorable deeds, bad enemy tortures
While Grandmother springs from the powder blue sofa
Panting and bearding the floor, as it were
To deracinate from the powder blue sofa
A bath of black reeds
Choking the leaves, the intestacy
Wet in the mouth

But Grandfather does not speak
He has no mouth
His words catch on the skinned-over hole
I want to eat
You, Grandfather, tight
In your dress, the light effect of your shadow
I need not imagine, the soul
As a vandal liquidating the hemisphere, in order
To complete the entreaty
But there you are anyway

It is late. I am looking for my feet
Each indelicate foot an ulcerated wilderness
As if I took the wrong step
Snapped both at the ankle
An engine whispers through my head
Beyond the brink of my ears, a man without clothes
Crowds the river, his body skewered upon the mud
Moonlight slipping a dress in the dark
After I kick him
I will beg him to stay


The Harlots of Shimoda

The harlots of Shimoda are bright
And they are children
Holding eggs between their legs
When the eggs break neon smoke pours out
Green and yellow black rise up
Their thighs and back, where everything to them
Is a palace

The curtain parts and the harlots of Shimoda
Emerge from a room no larger than a box
A box, they do not wear make-up
The neon lights take care of that
Children on their knees are also
Children on their hands
And feet drag neon through the street

They walk along the beach, or rather
They would like to
Walk along the beach, but they
Are sleeping in the box, preparing music in their memory
To propel them onto the lighted stage
They can also wrap snakes around their necks
And smoke long, unfiltered cigarettes with their vaginas  


Brandon Shimoda is the author of four books of poetry—most recently Portuguese (Octopus Books & Tin House, 2013) and O Bon (Litmus Press, 2011). His poems in this issue are from two series: The Grave on the Wall and Evening Oracle, the former stemming from a series of family ghost visitations, the latter written primarily in the beds of strangers in Japan. He also had poems, with Phil Cordelli, in diode volume 1, number 2, Winter 2008 (see http://www.diodepoetry.com/v1n2/content/pines.html). He is currently in Taiwan or elsewhere.