Seth Howard


Mask of the goddess, bough of
the sun. I sip from a fountain
Kyomizu-dera, & sit in stillness
at dusk. Waiting for peace to
come in the linnet light, I evoke
the blessed one.
                               Dreams arise
in summer heat, I remember
her with the bright eyes. Fountain
of youth, & trembling leaf. We
wear masks in the evening light.
In the sun where she sprawls
& a silver stag runs. Quiet for a time
ever patient, & this longing for
the past. I know a Russian girl
with wavy hair who lives for an
                               Sunlight on her
face, this dance we take part in.
The music flows, a quiet warble
& the night is full of laughter
surprises. Fountain of Kyomizu-dera
mask of the goddess. In the cool
air I sit patient for the day, until
night comes. Sleep washes over
our consciousness, & our dreams
                Serene river, & heart
of the mountain. In the city of
light we awaken to a sunset.
Day in its late metamorphosis
a mask that drops in the dust.
We sip coffee when it all ends
waiting for some empathy
from the they, I call to the goddess
of the mask, of the fountains
that promise us redemption.


Persimmons fall in the
street. I see her
inside the mists.
Flower of desire.

A silver moon hangs
over the river, & I
listen to the quiet
murmur of waves.

Night trials, & a reunion
of sisters. I lie
awake, a hive
of bees buzzes

in my head. Plums
fall in the street.
I navigate the lab-
yrinth. Thirteen

coins scatter about
my path. & in
a moonlit hall,
her reflections.

I tread light on
the ceiling, the
Dog Star trails
in quiet rooms.


Sunset on Danshui, fishermen cast
nets. A deep orange on the waters.
                I held a tiny hope
that in this limbo I would be found
by her quick glance in the crowds
of a Sunday evening. Passing lang-
                as the sun sinks down.

I kept a coin I saw glimmer on the
steps dated 1981. Sleepy nirvana
in our lost days, we searched for a
                presence, or a place
to rest, walking the streets, a buzz
evening crowds. I remember that
mythic diver who went down into
the waters to retrieve a pearl.
The night vacant & the dark silhouette
of fishermen on the shore.

I live each day a beginner. Here.
Light pooled in her eye, the sun
a dark globe sinking on the horizon.
What was I seeking in life, in the
slow cycles that drift by, floating
                I saw her in the sun
by the food stands, on the corner
& thought of these gifts, or the
surprise of when she kissed me
on the cheek. Bright eyes of
my partner who I walked with
                in dusky streets.

That summer she was with me.
Afterwards we blasted the AC
at a youth hostel in downtown
Taipei. It was then I woke in
a different room, the dim light
of some
a morning I did not recognize.


Purple strand that
floats across the horizon.
Dream filament I
watch spiral past.

The rains come, &
she waits by the
steps. I wake to
life, another trial

awaits. In the grey
mornings I think
of her. In the afternoons
of iced tea. Cycles.

I picture her there
in Toulouse, a cool
spring. Lightning
storms on the horizon.

I saw her pensive
before the glass.
The skies a dark
purple. Lucid light

inside her mind.
These trials of silence,
& of cherry trees.
Birds’ migrations.

I come back to it.
Glass rose, & the
hope we find in
subtle interactions.

Listless at night
when the moon
hangs vacant, &
she is beside me.

                after Robert Duncan

Night translucent balm of dreams
encased in snow, frail embers
                The immensity of our responsibilities
                late appointments
                Vision of a silver stag,
                               & sun upon
                our faces
                The waters lap upon
lucid shores, as I call to orders
                of ambergris & ash

                Swim in the sun by the lakeside
where the light pools at the edges
                in the linnet light, I find
                her there
fires of the night kept in bottles
in a slow return I remember, stream
of silk & double moon
                limber as a child in a
                distant pool, I enter
hall where the currents pull, wake to the sun
                sinking on boughs

                Kept up in a state of limbo
                listless in the night I listen
She pushes the boat a foot from the
                as if we were half asleep
                & birds perch in
the branches, where the sun pools
                               at the corners
                Night vacant, & the liquid moon
                in its stasis
Careful, I make my way along a
luminous path, & ask the one
                question that matters
                “Who am I?”
I hear the waters murmur as if
in answer, as the sun sinks on the horizon

Seth Howard is the author of two chapbooks: Out of the East, & Waters from a Well. His work has appeared in Otoliths, BlazeVOX [books], unarmed journal, Big Hammer, Oddball Magazine, Chronogram, Saudade, Elephant, & elsewhere. He hosted the Poetry Open Mic at the Washington Street Coffee House for a year, where he shared much of his own work, & has done several featured readings in local bookstores. He graduated from the University of Connecticut, & studied abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo for three years. In his spare time, he enjoys the practice of Zazen, watches K-drama, & co-edits CAPSULE Magazine. He currently resides in New London.
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