Monday, December 2, 2013


Small tags hang from our bowed heads
Ready to let someone know

We served the emperor, we saw
The shrine, we brought the image

Of the bodhisattva back with us,
And each of us has a real name.

A real name. The reality of names.
There's a conversation topic

For the kind of cocktail party
We haven't survived to attend.

What is the reality of names?
And don't beg off with talk

Of the surreal, the irreal, or
The alternate reality. Don't

Question the question as a dodge.
What is the reality of names?

All words are names, and reverse.
They are the only reality we know

Once we have outlived our bestial,
Wordless infancies, once we are

Dead in any other sense but words,
Echoing after us in other skulls,

Other countries, morituri
Te salutant. We have been

To the shrine and seen the saint,
And we have served the emperor.

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