Seth Howard



Work was over, & I made my way to the city station.
In the distance I saw a tower, & as I approached,
it seemed to move further away. There was a scent in the air
of autumn, & the people slipped through
streets in quiet movements. In my bag I carried a
copy of Kafka’s stories I would sometimes
read on the subway going home. This too was part of my work, a way to push on
& make some sense of my life, that retained a certain greyness.
I passed by a ramen shop I was fond of, Mutekiya,
& the streets were getting darker. Those moments
of subtle-distinction, a question that itches
in the mind. This was a place that carried deep memories,
& yet it was all subsumed in the footsteps of those
returning home.


As I entered the station I thought back on her
words, took in my surroundings.
There was a heaviness at times that weighed down of my life,
& it was as if some phantom were calling me
from the distance, a thin-haze. No, my time had not
come yet, I was not ready to enter those
greenish-gates that stood far off, as if some sort of cautionary-reminders.
Images of the day floated before my mind,
a sequence that moved silently as fish leaping
in the distance. It was the bright-light of
department stores, then a seamless transition toward the platform
where darkened tunnels extended into
unknown realms.


This was my life, supported by forces outside of
its control, but subject to their influence,
as if my actions were placed under a lamp of not quite final
judgement, but considered & responded to.
The insect words of Kafka swam on the page in a flux that held me within
their luminous caverns, but as I looked up from the page,
I was in part released from the storehouse
of his words, & floated in the ancient
light a moment before returning to a place of lurid-consciousness.
It was like a subtle drug that pressed upon
the mind a language of ghost-meanings,
& the invisible rhythms of the evening rolled on with
the hours.


At the far end of the road I saw a muted light pulse.
Somewhere underground the train doors
opened & closed to the stream of workers
filtering through the tunnels. Time, that vague abstraction
had somehow become a factor in these final days.
The tepid autumn air had seemed to swim
around me, as I recalled that time we had gone
together, when that ink-like darkness enfolded us in its womb, & we spoke
softly in greenish lamp-light. Returning
to that place of intimacy, I felt then the worlds
within me, those moments of fear that had tormented my nights.
& a distant whistle that called to one, to wake
from the cages
we make for ourselves.


Does one’s head tilt at an angle in the murky light?
Am I to be accepted of my life & drive,
swimming through the mist that shifts in the ripples of a tea cup.
You say there was another way, & I do reflect myself,
but such just wasn’t something we could escape.
In the long strife of attrition, does one break out of one’s shell, to grasp the moment
as it spins? Is one always to be oneself, perhaps
this wasn’t yet the time. I set before us in a porcelain dish.
Does a bird flit through the window as we

In a liquid hall, I asked her name,
they stood before me in the murky glass, aside
a gate that slid into the
ground. I never thought I’d see the light sink back, as candles in
the night, I’d speak to her if she would hear.
Does the world tighten its clamp around you as
you sleep?

So these quiet mornings are as specters that
come & go. I seek nothing outside a
moment in which I can say I am alive, & our resolve
will not have been forsaken.
Why is it we are made to feel this pain?
I slid the dish under a shelf that was melting above the sink,
& skimmed through the pages of a tattered magazine. A word was born.
The faucet dripped, I stood
there for her, patient in the kitchen.

There was something of which she had left to linger,
some closure that I’d yet to find
in that afternoon, or a symbol
left scattered with the fragments
of the dawn.


                coffee in the morning rituals
                of pulsating space, things
                               we regret having done, in some sense
aimlessly to wake, a slight change in your life
your thought, urgencies
                drifting from that place we must
                                              one day leave
                               no longer at home
a murky presence falls from your hand, always somewhat
reluctant to join in on their conclusions
                days searching for who I am to be
                what I will make of life
                               collecting the strength to break out of this cage
                               the quiet mornings in which you reflect
                               pushing past it all
                the synapses snap in flashes of light
heading back home in the after-hours that had not
                                              seemed so late
I search for the heart of things
                               drake-fly that slips past
                               dreams I no longer trust as my own
                subtle flavor of morning coffee
                                              I find myself closed-off to others
                                              don’t think too hard on your life, & it almost makes sense
broken off bough, a light gathers along the cusp
my memories well within me as I ride along the streams
continuing in a quiet remembrance
                               no longer as trusting of my choice
                & world, breaking out of your shell into new illuminations
                                              the snares of language
                               that separate you from
yourself, days open into the crimson air
mornings of calm, in this stage I become someone else
                                              & find myself alongside God, the darkened glass
                                              half tilted on the table
                a moment of indecision
I find my way through midnight-trials
seek a place in which I exist
                swim out beyond, to where I am alone
& watch the trees sway, as if I had been on the shores
                                              of lake Biwa
                it is here I return, to observe
                the muted pulsing of the waves


Orange is the stillness as snow falls in the window...
The flowers poised in a glass, the motions that
we go through to bring ourselves to rest... It was then I felt my words
welling from an unknown-source,
to make a push forward into a separate zone…
There were areas still left to some neglect, like weeds
that litter

an abandoned room…
It was the two of us then, though we had not yet fully grown
accustomed to the fact that we would exist
beyond the times… Some faint-lucence from which I once more wake…
The tenebrous-light that filtered through the screen...
& a faint feeling of fatigue, that perhaps
I did not exist to live in these times, that I was
half-unseen, even by my own eye… These clumsy acts
that separate me from others, no longer do I seek
the recognition of those who are not familiar... Though I am instilled with a sense
of just how late it is…
Maintaining my day’s affairs, seeing those
grey areas in which my life lacks work, & the window
a silent-sheen, in which the snow floats with a gentle-unease…
I see they have come to me at last,
my leg half-wedged in this door that’s
nearly closed…

There are
motions that distract me from myself, before
I come upon a meditative-focus, known
in the glow of a dim-lit-room, & a quiet calm of having lasted out
some minor violence, that displaced me from the eaves
which now release me, my history is animal,
my instincts remain feral, as the
goats that roam the expanse… & now I once more set
forth, open into my ancient-beginnings, as words
gush from a prismic-locus, this star fall reminds one that we are not alone…

Seth Howard is a New London-based-writer, & practitioner of Zen, who greatly enjoys the study of kōans, alongside the nightly exercise of zazen. He focuses his energies on the discipline of poetry, nourishing his spirit with the study of existentialist / phenomenological works, as well as delving into an assortment of experimental writings. Lover of things Japanese, Chinese, Korean & Taiwanese, he keeps up with goings-on by listening to Japanese-Web-Radio, & in his spare time edits CAPSULE.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home