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For They Are Coming

by Bern Mulvey


       mono no aware, n. 1. The beauty (pathos) that emanates from
         all things  2. One’s ability to understand this

The ceremony of insult
                    kutabare
                                         go to hell
                    shinjimae
                                         fuck off and die
                                                                          our son in fine form
                    ten years short
                    of eighteen
                                                 now on his toe
                                       tips
                    red cheeks out
                                             a raging
                    puffer fish

Year’s end
                    time
                    to clean the graves
                                                               the newest the problem
                    the grandfather dead
                    the boy
                                                               unready
                    for what’s implied
                                                                                 the ease of it
                      present
                                          to represent
                                          a single stone
                                          the hush of winter morning

Dentatsu                      lightning in a field
                      now communication
                                          the word
                                                               incandescent
                                                                                                there
    among the viburnums in the garden
                                                                                                again
    the granite stepping stones he set
                                                               mono no aware
                      meaning
                      as energy
                                                               how everything now carries
                      a charge of loss

Later
                      the candles the boy must light
                      sputter and hiss
                      hitodama
                                                               the death fire
                                          for they are coming
                                          and the wind
                                          brings their message
                      the echo answers to the voice
                      the heart distant
                                          practices
                                                               practices
its common work

 

Bern Mulvey has published poems, articles, and essays in English and in Japanese. The Fat Sheep Everyone Wants, a book-length manuscript, won the 2007 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize. His chapbook, The Window Tribe, won the 2004 White Eagle coffee store chapbook Prize. New poems are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal and Poetry East. (4/2010)


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