poetry critical

online poetry workshop

A Step, A Chime-- the monk in Harajuku

Buddhist monk with bowl and bell,
eyes closed amidst the raging current of
bare flesh, bird-of-paradise tee-shirts
and darkly alluring lolita ruffles and lace.
Harajuku, now.
Each step a memory
Each innocent sigh of brass on brass
a transgression
to repent for, accept,
let go, move on--
empty his mind of all worry,
of all thought,
one step, one chime,
slowly he goes toward
   Honto ni sumimasen
        so sorry, I'm sorry
She empties her heart of emotion
her face perpetually
painfully red lips forced
into a promising smirk
and eyes downcast coquettishly.
Kabuki-cho kogal,
red light lady.
She slithers this way
and contorts that
hoping that life might be better than this.
One gray hair
in a crown of onyx.
   Shinjitsu wo shiranai hou ga ii toki mo aru
         it's better not to know the truth
He rinses his hair again,
disguising gray as black
Oh, youthful black,
exuberant black,
college memories
and old friends forgotten black.
Osaka, Kobe, Tokyo.
Numerous flights.
Numerous pretty airline attendants
with acquiescing bows
and soft mouse noises smothered
beneath the crisp hotel bedspread.
Smells like lavender.
A wife, three kids,
a  place at the table he never takes.
Baggage never unpacked.
The black dye runs
in the sink like his youth lost.
He longs for seventeen again.
   Mou iya
         I can't take it
She is seventeen
and paints enlightenment
over her face in milky
porcelain white.
Careful folds of multihued silk layers--
an orchid today,
autumn foliage tomorrow.
She is refined,
poised as a finely tuned koto.
The bare nape of her neck
says much more than her fluttering hands.
No Shibuya for her.
No giggling friends or
schoolyard crushes.
Only a ceaseless demand for perfection.
The nights are oh so long.
Her lips are scarlet and perfectly shaped.
Lotus newly blooming.
   Watashi matte 'ru
         I am waiting
The night fades quickly,
seeping into Armageddon orange.
Dawn, yet again.
He frowns slightly.
No glory of sunrise for him,
not when it means another
day gone by.
It's a race against time.
A race to raise hell
before he is pounded
firmly into the working man's mold.
He squares his shoulders.
He's not some piece of clay,
not an ant among the other ants.
The corporate life be damned,
these eighteen years won't be
wasted working sixty hours for shit.
Rather die than grow up to be like that.
   Wakaranai, nakushita yo
         I don't know, I'm just lost
She sighs,
pulls thoughtlessly at the seam
in her beige silk stockings.
The seam is retro, you know.
Like a hood ornament,
she graces the office
in crimson cotton and
feminine gold bangles.
Smile prettily.
"Hai, Yoshida-san."
Accept the papers,
file them neatly,
answer the calls,
make the coffee.
She screams at night
and rips reams of computer paper
into shreds of pulpy snow.
Countless credit hours,
untold numbers of exams
and cram sessions, strings
of English to translate.
For this?
Damn the corporate life.
She smears her lipstick
on the back of her hand.
How long?
Can she really live this way?
   Ashita wa dare ni mo mienai
        no one can see into tomorrow
One step. One chime.
Brass on brass
like breathing in and out.
His face is hidden beneath
the woven rush hat.
Passerbyes drop a yen or two
into his bowl--
imagine his expression to be
unmarred placidity.
They can't see his veiled smirk,
sardonicism guised well.
It's laughable, this life.
But, one step.
One foot forward, and then the other.
He knows we'll all get there.

Well, I added the rest. I hope you all have the patience to read it through!

4 Oct 04

Rated 9.5 (8.3) by 2 users.
Active (2):
Inactive (7): 1, 5, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10

(define the words in this poem)
(71 more poems by this author)

(4 users consider this poem a favorite)

Add A Comment:
Enter the following text to post as unknown: captcha


Oh, most excellent. This is the best and most enjoyable piece I've read here in a while, I think. There is room for improvement (as with all things) but, before getting into any critique, this is just wonderful.

What I liked:

The ease of transition and continuity between the different characters; I particularly liked the transition from the prostitutes single gray hair (beautiful imagery) to the man dying his hair. The lack of direct connection but similarity is very good.

The imagery, overall, is very powerful, very colorful. Ll.4, 7, 29-30, 33-36, my favorites. Colorful, really, is the most appropriate word, vividness of sight is what I get here. More than with empathy, more than with pity, I simply see with clarity while reading.

What I didn't care for:

Not much, really. ll.16-17 read well, but they seem like an interruption more than anything else. That particular structure isn't repeating again, so it seems more random in a highly rhythmic and flowing poem than anything else. I think you could do without it entirely, really.

Typo l.50 "seventeen". Inconsequential, though.

I'd like to see the rest of this. Long poems don't get as much attention here, certainly, but that doesn't mean they should be artificially cut down for it. My longest poem posted here is over 400 lines, it hasn't gotten as much feedback as I'd like, but still didn't stop me from posting it.

So, Loved it. Just show us the rest.
 — dandy

Hmm, that's two of yours in my favorites now, Rynne. Bravo :)
 — dandy

Dandy-- thanks for the comments. Yes, this needs polishing. And I do want to add in the rest. I'll be working on this for a little while.
 — unknown

Oh god, this is so beautiful...there are no words. This piece definetly speaks for itself.
 — madderhatter

Okay, the poem is all fixed. Just a little on the lengthy side. Oh well. Thank you so much for the compliments!
 — Rynne

parts are excellent.
73-90 seems weak in comparison to the rest as if you only used 1 eye on it

smirk and college appear often and mar the overall effect  (apart from smirk at the end which is apt.)
but not so much the repetition of red lipstick where i can see the intention but still feel had one brush stroke too many around 70.

this needs to be read and savoured. only then do the subtly different voices distinguish themselves.

yes excellent in parts. eyeless people could grow eyes reading this.

 — unknown

i missed corporate. good in 112 but overused elsewhere. the repetitions really feel like labels garishly pointing out that meaning and purpose is here.
the rest has flow and is subtle wherein the marring i feel above.
111 and 112 fit in context the corporate college man is too old 4 that thought. the futility of his life visits other regrets maybe

i have opinions youre welcome to ignore

 — unknown

and it's not on the lengthy side.
now scored
 — kaleidazcope

this should be read.
 — kaleidazcope

Somewhat edited. Still working on it, I think. Kaleidazcope, thank you for your suggestions and comments! As well as yours, dandy!
 — Rynne

This is very well executed. It flows exceptionally well. I skipped lines here and there, but overall I think it's very good. Definitely one of the better ones I've read in a while. I also really like long poems, as long as they're well-done. This is very well-done. Only thing I have is L129: "Passerbyes" I believe should be "passersby." I could be wrong though. Good job Rynne. Talk to me next time you're on AIM: Bovineconspiracy. I think I've talked to you before... This is goin on my favorites. :-) 9.
 — Davezilla

I surely will! And I'll go check into the whole passerby thing. :)
 — unknown

L129--"passersby", that is coorect, but check to see if it may be "passersbys".
I didn't like the use of the word "shit" in l90, I understand what it's supposed to convey, but I think you could have a better word than that.

I didn't find this particularly long, the imagery and thoughts were so fantastic, it captivated me, throughout the whole thing.

"She is seventeen
and paints enlightenment
over her face"

is just so lovely, I really liked those lines, although there is a myriad of others in this that is amazing. I read this as the last segment typing in with the first. If I got that right, what struck me as odd was the "his veiled smirk, sardonicism [dis]guised well.", as it does not fit in with the Buddhist philosophies. Monks are not really supposed to laugh at the common folk, it defies the point of being a monk at all. Or something like that.

I'd suggect "disguises" as opposed to "guises", as I think that "guises" may be used in an incorrect context here. I really, really enjoyed this, a lot a lot. The title didn't drive me wild with joy, I only read this after seeing it on kaleidazcope's favourites list. From memory, you also wrote the one about Shangri-La and Galilei's love story? Those were pretty awesome too, if you did write them. Great, great job here, very well done.
 — unknown

Heh, yes, a little un-monk like. But I couldn't just leave him as a tragic figure. He's got to have a little humor to see the things he sees and hear the things he hears. I didn't mean for him to sound as if he's sarcastic toward PEOPLE, but more like he's a bit jaded and sarcastic toward LIFE. And yeah, I'm not happy with the title either. I'll think of something better. Just takes a bit. :) And yep, those two poems were mine. I'm flattered that you remember! :D
 — unknown

 — unknown

no unknown. yum.
 — kaleidazcope

L 129: "passersby"

Oh, I've missed this. It *is* good. Flawless, except for lines 133 and 134. "Smirk" and "sardonicism" still don't resonate with the rest of this. They are just too bitter, too cynical without being amusing. It's irony instead of wit; cute instead of charm; beating instead of discipline; do you know what I mean? Would you consider new words?

At any rate, the characterisation here is exquisite. Again, well done.
 — wendz

i barely had the patience to read through this because it was so complicated and good. but i'm glad you drew me in enough to where i had to read it. a little bit before line one-twenty-one the reaction i had was awe at how realistic and even funny that little bit was. i see why this got great reviews.

on the other hand i'm going to favorite it, i struggle to do so because as said before this is way to complicated for me. but i favorited it anyway. nice work.
 — listen

Wow, this one brings back a flood of memories - I saw every single person described in this in Japan at one point or another last year.

It's funny, I never felt more like a corporate drone than after 3 incredibly short weeks of freedom and happiness roaming throughout Japan.

I was actually at the temple in Harajuku - thanks for the memories!
 — wendz

Recent Best (expand)