Seth Howard


Mid-summer, I remember that Korean hostel where
we stayed, & they blasted the AC over our
bunk beds. Days exploring the old capital,
& nights we chatted over teishoku, quietly
as if we had some sense
of how it all might end. We
that our hour
had come, & yet we had abandoned all concept of time, a moment
so that we could live our lives, the quiet-streets
where we’d stopped to snap a photo with a couple
of Japanese school girls. Kyoto or Nara,
nights walking the temple grounds.
& a silence, amidst the stones, arranged in
the Zen fashion. Temples illuminated
in the evenings that carried with them the slight-sadness
of youth. & the ghost-silences that followed
us in our late journeys.
Mid-summer, looking over the
local beers in Kyoto station.
The cool air of the AC in which we found
some reprieve from the heat.
We had no place
to be
that summer, but returned to
the Korean hostel at night,
where they drank a bit too much Soju.
& were pleased to find
a space for ourselves, in this country far from home.
Had made allies, & a brief-happiness
in which we had forgotten
the evils of the world a moment,
& found this immersive
from our lives. Before we
left, I watched the
birds move across the clouds above us,
a dark-vein in the sky had
seemed an omen,
that we may never
return to this place


Here at the darkened station, you wait for some indiscriminate
interval, & watch the people pass by, fragments
of conversation that drift in, & out of consciousness.
You had waited in the silent interim, where
the amber-light of a street lamp shone, under the alcove that enfolded you.
Umeda, in the after-hours. You
had been here before,
walked through the narrow hallways
in which the ramen shops were shrouded from
the outside world. A word spoken
as if into the air, a breath that begins
some trial,
to lift from the quotidian, into the half-light of this in-between.
The quiet flux of people as they move through
corridors. & the flash of face, as a beautiful girl
slips past. Very much a place
of transition, & yet your only task
was to wait. Those storefronts
you had once entered, & a man in translation, who
had spoken to you in a reassuring voice.
“Ticket please.” The almost
silent gestures
that circle in the cycles that surround.
Such was the vocation you had found for yourself, to enter the pure flux of experience.
It was a night in which the ghost-images of your
past had floated before
you. & yet the air then infused
with the memory of this
timelessness. Some presence that was
slightly outside of you, in the dim-lit hours that burst.
Crosses of light, & the steam that seeped
from somewhere behind. Your hour had come,
you enter the
bus, climb the steps
to find your seat, & in the ghost-darkness, you are welcomed into
the soft surrender of the evening. When
you no longer had to concern
yourself with life, but the sound of
the giant engine starting up, the night-images that
pass before your eyes, like a moth that skims
the fringe of some previous existence. & so, you enter dream.


In the cool autumn sun, I am here or elsewhere in a flux
of the seasons, & am reborn into the full
consciousness in which I am one with the
suchness-of-things. When was it I had returned
to the city? The yellow leaves fringed
with red, the persimmons fallen in the
street before me.
The mind bends to make sense of the image
that floats upon the water. Chill of the autumn air,
& an awareness of a slight
entropy. A slight lag that lingers
from the lightning-flash of her
yesterdays, dream filament that sings
like a moth through the
phantom-light. A beautiful woman
with pale skin smiles at you, with dark eyes.
In business dress, the languid-scent
of her perfume. I had watched a serpent slip through the clouds
that afternoon, approaching year’s end,
the beginnings we come upon, in these intervals.
& yet time was gone.
I had seen her searching eyes,
as she peered into the box
at waves breaking on a distant shore.
Some indeterminate time we
had been here, some distance
we had or had not travelled. It was the purple
sunset that
melted into the primordial in-between.
It was the girl who walked beside you in the street.
“Which island were you…” I asked,
& she laughed as she entered
The Thames Greenery. Here,
& elsewhere, a dream or some
distant past.
It was then in the city, by the construction
sites, a time returned to you, as if
quiet embers rose in an evening-psalm.
I watched a cross lift in the nitrous
light, an eye slip across the waves of the sun.


When it was over, you lean back in your chair, the
day beginning in its pale cloudiness,
& your life hung in this limbo of stillness, a part of some
synthesis that had asked a question, in the
empty-afternoon. Are we to be reborn
from the ashes that swept
across the steps, that evening, when the day had been extinguished?
So, I listened for the silence behind, that had gone
with me in the
& there was some presence that
floated past, the motions which return us
to who we are. I remember
leaving the detention-facility that night. It began to rain.
Words spoken as if to a presence somewhere
distant, to the heart, or anyone who would listen. Words spoken
to that Schizophrenic god of Surrealism,
& a metallic voice you detect, almost in answer.
Walking the maple lined streets, a quiet music begins, broken, somewhere distant.
You glimpse a passerby, find a park somewhere
in an unknown Osaka,
& watch the images of your life float
before you, the insect-voices
that scratch at one’s consciousness.
Still, we must press on.
The night vibrant in its flux of sound, & the filmy-images
that distill themselves in darkness.
You were alone then, or perhaps she
had been with you, a beautiful
woman who had answered her keitai before
you, her business
attire, &
the tap of her heels on the pavement.
It was a night slightly broken,
in which the siren-song of the evening slipped in, & out of focus.
Your reality warped as if by a drug, & yet still
a presence that you had known,
some kernel of a familiar self
that glistens in the brilliant night. & a distant
light that flickers into this stillness.
You come back to that place in
which you are, & long for some semblance of peace.

Seth Howard is a New-London-based-writer, & practitioner of Zen, who greatly enjoys the study of kōans, alongside daily sessions 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, watches K-drama, & in his spare time co-edits CAPSULE Magazine. His work can be found in Otoliths, BlazeVOX, unarmed journal, & Big Hammer.
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