Seth Howard


Our day begins as if it were some last hour of reflection,
an almost-dissimilar intimation-of-evil, in the
smooth, open hours of the afternoon… So that the snap in our exactness
of justice is somehow overlooked,
that the world would rather revive some
failure in the past, to reinstate, as if decided on its
tedium of repetition.
Is the poet to recover from
such disappointments? To squeeze
in a moment, in which to
depict the slow waves pulsing on a distant-shore…
I take a drag of my cigarette, & am reminded that my life is shielded from their hate.
That even the absences left
in my days, I had filled, in one way or another…
Had found a tenuous-connection
with even those who had left this world.
& so, I begin again, a writer tortured by his own people…
Perhaps it was because of some past sin,
the work you had been absent from, or distracted
from one’s true ikigai
& yet I refused to accept that things
were as bad as they had made
them out to be.
Often an angst, a schism from
another, who walked by slippery as soap,
in the fading light. Always a question of whether life was worth these discontents…
& yet how was it that the world had been so intently against this?
Had they wanted to see us fail,
or had perhaps contrived some fake-court
with which to judge?
At times, it was difficult
to distinguish,
& yet it could be that our current court
had an air of artificiality… & so, you worked with
cash as your symbol, with a surgical
precision, you had found an exactness to match your numerologies,
in which there existed a complete-system, even if it were
where new meanings were coined, as we
moved through mock-trials that had bound you.
A silent agent, who had done what he could with his freedoms…


Behind me, the quiet hiss of the dishwasher is
a subtle distraction this afternoon, that begins
its string of possibilities. In the daylight, you had felt safe in the open
streets, at night you had hurried
past to wherever your destination may be…
& thoughts of unfiltered experience in that Seoul café,
where the urinal was filled with ice.
Late into the night reading A Clockwork Orange, & observing the flux of people…
Your mind slightly out of balance, your past layered with
& yet was this not your home?
You felt, a place which you had been estranged…
In the early morning, the orange & yellow
leaves that lay scattered in the park, the faces, distant or familiar…
“Stay tonight,” she had said, & I knew I shouldn’t
go too far.
We begin with one step
forth, the impetus that leads us
into new experience, & yet the world was imperfect…
At times I chose to remain silent, took a drag
on my cigarette, & felt the cool high of the nicotine slip into my brain.
In this moment I found some repose,
& the realization that I needn’t do anything
other than breathe,
that the daily tasks could wait
a moment while I gathered
my thoughts,
here in the vacuum of this presence, in the opening of a flower…
So, I must continue my life studies, a few ancient
languages mixed in my mind, & fragments of which I would hear as quiet whispers
at times, uninvited, but on occasion
intimations, that had guided me through life…
& then there was a girl, with
willow eyes, who sat alone in the café.
Is one brave enough to approach
her, & say hello? The greenish interior
of a Starbucks,
where you felt strangely at home, the silken presence
that moved through the amber light.
& the realization that you needn’t
be anywhere, but where you were…


Days as smooth as silk drift before me,
I who have gathered my things,
so that I may step back in time, & know myself once more…
These quiet vibrations that move along the fringe, these humble beginnings
in which I trace the page. They had tried to
replace you with some other face, some
inexact duplication, & out of my disquiet I was
drawn back
into the dampened halls, to better know the face of our betrayal…
I heard the rasp of the cicadas’ song, far off the buzz
of some language that resounded in the last embers I’d set
before me in silence. The night returns,
the shadows move, though half obscured, a vein of evil…
& so, I slowly wake from my afternoon languor, as mirrors spin, elliptic resolutions.
Perhaps they had chosen to know me
no more, had sided against one to choose
some separate school of fault, & yet their judgment had not hit home…
The people move towards need & greed, & you who have
nothing, are expected to give more.
A mask half obscures my face, as the moon
slips silently behind a cloud… I speak in crimson symbol,
I dip beneath the sun submerged in pools of yesterdays, journey as a lost sage through the flame.
Return to me then,
& I will reveal to you the blue contours
of a heart, the revolving wheel,
& the rivers of glass that arc across the skies…
Let us use this pulse of time
we are given, to know each other
once more. I take a tiny step back,
as if to retrace my steps, & yet I tire of these
rituals, & strive instead to set forth, to slip beyond the experiences
that hang, as the streetlamps
had, ghostly, in the fog that night, returning
in the green cautions of some tragedy…
Night is no longer familiar,
as I make my way to the door, & recognize the
place in which she is. Somewhere a muted light flickers
in the distance… & you, responsible for what
you had done, in this life or another. & yet, I revoke
my representation, so that I’d appear no longer in their mirrors…


Now I sit still in the entropy of these last days,
return, with no time, to what is known
in the quiet embers that float across the evening of tranquility…
There had been plans to bring
her to Uji, & yet, still I found her somewhere
hidden, in those quotidian-afternoons.
I remember the slow, intoxicating dusks along the lake,
as the waves
lapped against the stones…
Still there were thoughts of the city, with its green & purple
lights that shone, as distant eyes, overlooking the
motions, the mists that hovered above the beginnings of this new life, the Schizophrenic
clicks of the mind, as it grinds down
into some semblance of rest, a repose that walked with
me in the shadows…
I watched the silvery flash of fish
slipping into the depths,
& made my way down the stone steps
to where I was
allowed a moment alone.
No longer as trusting of my world, but an agent of those speech-forms
that drift in from next door, a familiar voice, or a
motion that skims, & remembers me
to myself…
& yet these compulsions
I had somehow learned to resist.
In the calm of a deep-clarity,
one becomes a nexus of the eternal, as the sun sinks,
& the trees silhouette a horizon
that lifts, as if a final
note of the day’s last trials. I had listened to the sick lament of the birds
that moved over the water, & searched for a place
in the world in which there was no hate,
but a silent Noh mask that spoke of someone’s absence…

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.
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