Size / / /

I. Usui (雨水): A Thin Rain Falls


On the day you were born

A screaming fell across the sky

That still reverberates down deep passages,

(Deep into the wells that speak your name

In syllables formed with drips and drops and great sluicing


A million years old);

That still resolves on the green buds,

Thrusting out in tiny explosions

From broken ramparts

On the edge of recycled empires,

Into a dew

A malicious dew



II. Shunbun 春分: Vernal, Equinoctial, Primordial


On the day you were born

Petals long-vanished dove headlong into the air

And spread themselves across parks and marble graves

In a pink blanket that

You said

Would never fade;

But it did,


-- Unraveling across vistas and basins and vacant lots,

Rattling in the deadened memories

Of impotent men trapped in dusty hallways--

Until the Angel of History, horrified at what It has seen,

Comes to us

And shows that horror

Back to ourselves, like a mirror,

Shining it in our faces

Until we, tentative sun-gods of a lost pantheon,

Pull ourselves out from the cave

And -- revealing our dis

Figured faces --

Bring light

{Maxwell's light}

Back to the world.


III. Rikka (立夏): Rise, Tsuru, Rise!


On the day you were born

We slid our blackened bodies,

Out from dry riverbeds

To gaze on the skins of shriveled persimmons;

But gravity's pull was too strong for us,

(Though you promised

It would let us float away);

And we stared in envy at the


Soaring above us as it

Spiraled around us

Wider and wider

To join a million others spinning,

Circling the worm


At the epic


That somehow holds them all.


IV. Shōsho (小暑): A Heat Builds


On the day you were born

The moon lit upon our pillows in the open air

And kept us awake with whispers and hints

And threatened to kill the stars with its madness

And sink the paper ships we set adrift

-- Still holding our wishes for the river of heaven--

Until our thoughts abate like a flood leaving


-- Broken walls,

Rusted vaults

Smudged daguerreotypes

Of women wrapped in silk --

All about us

And we awake in its absence

To our own

Traps of darkness.


V. Taisho 大暑: The Great Heat Arrives


On the day you were born

The sun sent out its radiance and

Its beauty hurt more

Than if it had been the power of a thousand-million suns

And it said to us:

<Behold! I am become time>

<Behold! I am become death>

But its yellow-caked light faded in the rain

Falling black upon us,

And we

Like cicadas cracked open

Longed for even half our lives,


Weightless husks,

To somehow

Be filled up again

With just a spoonful

Of that light.


VI. Risshū (立秋): The rending of the veil | Autumn breaks open


On the day you were born,


A gleam of metal fell across the sky

Like the fruit and fire

Of careless gods









Into mortal laps;

And your glass petals that never die but never live were forged

In five fingers of fire,

And your silver fruit unfolds before us like




And we long to hold its heaviness in our hands

And we long to lift that heaviness from our hearts

And we long to fold that breathlessness back into our minds

In the season of the


Silver sakura

Standing scorched in the starlight

Looking out past us

Holding fractaled branches

Upward and outward

At futures without us.

Since 2013, Ryu Ando's writing has appeared in various speculative fiction and poetry journals and has received nominations for the Elgin Award, the Rhysling Award, the Pushcart Prize, and Best Small Fictions. Situated somewhere between L.A. and Saitama, Japan, he finds that you can get lost in translation (and in transition) sometimes, but that is where the really interesting things are happening. He is occasionally online at or @ryu_ando_98.
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