Chapter 1: Aesop: Fox Trade Trick
Fox Trade Trick
The shrewd fox would gladly
trade spiders for the groundhogs,
and webs for molehills.
I’m afraid no one has offered him
such a splendid deal, but a price could
surely be found for a couple
of old grapes, a cheese, and
a nice shriveled mouse,
should a certain grizzled crow present itself.
It pleases him to mock the crow, you see,
in order to gain
a live dish more savory than the straw
scarecrows in the farmers’ fields
or hollow sucked eggs in the coop
(alas, the fanged snake got them first)
that the maid’s daughter forgot to pick up—
nasty, crunchy things with too much calcium!
Chapter 2: Arakawa Under the Bridge: Character Flaw
Yeah, guess which character this applies to. Go on. Guess.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
With each and every minute I am with you
I can feel perfect leaching from my fingers
And I can’t tell you what a relief it is
to lose the golden ichor that bound me
to my father whom I regarded as a god.
Even now a slender thread of gold remains
wrapped around the fragile pinky finger,
but it does not try to choke me anymore
with nervous anxiety and the rasp of asthma.
There is no better thing to have happened to me
than to have dubiously fallen into your debt
and detached the cord that hung me from the sky,
the lifeline that enforced my independence.
Thanks to you, I smell of fish and cod oil
and the rushing river below and not
silk, paper, ink, and musty aging plastic
or that sour red vinegar slash mark, 100%.
I’m sorry my apology fell a little flat.
I am still getting used to the odd idea
that other people don’t think perfection
is the curse of strict adherence to destiny,
a set of rules, lines and demarcations
that left my personality flailing in vacuum
unable to explore the possibilities
that always included what would be wrong.
I am learning to be human again, to mistake
on purpose or by accident and forget
to watch my every step. I will not be nothing,
though you will think my dire earnestness
to reconstruct my self is misdirected folly.
To you, my self will have been there all along.
Even I can see the paradox, the contradiction,
in wishing to be worthy of a woman from Venus
by discarding all my trappings of immortality—
if that is the very flaw in my character, so be it.
It was Ichinomiya Kou / Recruit, talking to Nino.
Chapter 3: Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: The Melody of Nagato Yuki
I ship Kyon/Yuki pretty hard. I just love Yuki's character. I loved Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya so, so much.
Written in 2nd Person Kyon's POV.
The Melody of Nagato Yuki
Feelings lurk behind feathers
Hidden under ponderous piano keys
Fingering lightly the Gymnopédies
Lonely as rain slips window panes
Trails of glass and tender sorrow.
Whither a girl waves,—hello, goodbye,
I love you—huddling in a grey muffler,
someday she must be stopped before
she turns the corner of this page forever.
You hold a worn handwritten bookmark.
She beckons the storm to come down,
and lightning fills the outstretched palm,
pale white like the snow that fell that day
for out of it she will create a new future,
to erase the old: this act is born out of love,
Out of love and lonely misery combined.
She bites to draw blood, submitting to her virus.
It wipes skies clean, sweeps away thought,
emotions apropos of nothing, mistaken for errors.
She was made too simply for this land of clutter.
What is bravery and what is cowardice?
Her courage erases all that came before.
But you must turn her around, steer her back
to the beginning of her journey—flawed, decrepit,
Frigid, inhibited, innocence incomparable.
Come what may,
your finger hit enter.
This time, that she may survive.
Chapter 4: Eccentric Family: "The Frog in the Well Knows Nothing of the Ocean"
This one is the sestina.
Yajirou Shimogamo was my favorite character out of Eccentric Family/Uchouten Kazoku, and inspired this poem. It didn't work until I learned of the proverb. In the end it doesn't apply to Yajirou in particular, but I think it still reflects some of the themes from the anime.
I no Naka no Kawazu, Taikai wo Shirazu : 井の中の蛙大, 海を知らず : (the frog in the well knows nothing of the ocean)
Wisdom knows itself as nothing
compared to what it never knew.
He was that kind of simple frog,
the Zen kind, down in the damp well.
To him the land is just yay-wide;
largish puddles could be oceans.
If large puddles could be oceans,
if earth was not so far and wide,
could heaven dwell in the deep well?
Maybe it was the hell he knew,
or else just a place of nothing,
empty in the heart of the frog.
The hardened heart of the fresh frog
Came from that sad empty nothing.
Once, the organ was open wide
to wishes for peace like oceans
beloved by wishers of the well
weighed down by old grief long past new.
Shallow echoes were all he knew
bouncing off the bottom of the well
until he had become nothing.
sympathy understood the frog
who yearned to see blue oceans
so he jumped brick walls high and wide,
and across the earth round and wide
he found the great, roiling oceans.
He leapt to know what others knew
for himself, rejecting nothing
that dwarfed the diminutive frog
wishing insight deep as the well.
To leave his home had been well
for the very venturesome frog
whose experience grows like oceans
spreading fast and ever more wide.
The journey shapes the heart anew,
filling up what had held nothing.
Frog lets teardrops fall into wide
oceans, grateful for what he knew
in the well, shedding nothingness.
Chapter 5: Neon Genesis Evangelion: EVA Theory of Co-Creation
This is loosely inspired by Evangelion. It's not dedicated to anything in particular.
EVA Theory of Co-Creation
It is certain: there is a beginning, and a middle, and an ending
to all this that came from the voice that gave light to the nothing.
Harried by the nature of time, in our world of lines
each moment murders the next and annihilates itself
in the rush to reach the future crumbling ahead of us,
narrowing to a point so fine it could break before we reach it.
Seers of our generation struggle to read the graphite traces,
so they guess: each year a stroke, each decade a word,
every complete sentence a century, an era per paragraph:
and at the end of the millennium, a page in God’s great book;
but a book so bright with life that it burns at the edges.
Who writes the book? Do we refer to the hero or the author?
The artist draws the cartoon, but the cartoon runs on
forever in search of a purpose that pulls beyond the paper
to squeeze the heart and wing the soul, in attendance
to the wishes of its creator. People of stories and stardust, hail!
Let your fate spread throughout the glory of the universe.
blueness captured by water mirrors
Why is blue righteous? Why is it cold?
Blue flaked from the wings of angels,
an indigo bled from the clouds,
defies the ability of water mirrors to contain.
Rather, attention is drawn to the curvature
of earth and ripples made by feet
stepping into the round basin to retrieve
perhaps a sodden wallet, and abandon
a fishy cell phone.
Loosely inspired by that one scene in Ouran High School Host Club when Tamaki steps in the school fountain and fishes out Haruhi's things, "dripping with good looks." I thought the background animation juxtapositions were interesting there. The color blue was especially striking.
This could probably be more complete, but where my thoughts would take me I have no clue.
Chapter 7: Tokyo Babylon: The Meaning of Your Name, Sakurazuka Seishirou
You bet this is a Subaru/Seishirou poem. IT IS VERY SPOILERY. It is also an attempt at a sestina...that got botched. But no worries. :-)
The Meaning of Your Name, Sakurazuka Seishirou
Since I learnt your ancient, antiquated name,
since I decrypted those ancient syllables,
my thoughts cast aka over them, dark-hued, red.
You heard my feeble concerns, and simply laughed.
Why do you mean little, and sound so profound
it contradicts sincerity in your eyes?
The sakura of my dreams is stained blood-red
when it ought to be pink; though afraid, I laughed,
and my throat constricted with hacked syllables.
It felt like that past moment had been profound.
Somewhere I had made a pact with those hawk eyes,
source of the dejá vù that came with your name.
We had fun together and freely we laughed.
Tokyo Tower shone alternating blue-red.
Sakura barrow guardian, the grave name
contrasted well with your smirking, lively eyes.
Embarrassed, I babbled senseless syllables
to avoid confronting doubt of the profound.
In communicating, speech slurs syllables,
becoming superficial before profound.
Speaking of that, something caught in my own eye.
I checked in the mirror for a speck of red.
Ashes in your mouth was the sound of my name;
but as you found me again, you quickly—— laughed.
And then you shattered all that had been profound.
I do not know why I searched your loveless eyes,
but melancholy took me and no more I laughed
at the oddness of your grave ancestor’s name,
the tree that drinks water wine-dark, iron red.
I shiver at harsh truth in your syllables.
Star chronicle son was written in your eyes,
yet you might forsake the doom of that death name.
Admit what meaning is truly the most profound,
to declare love with only one syllable.
At my foolishness I wish I could have laughed.
From then on, I knew why strings of fate were red.
Red eyes betray love to human horror
as I mouth the syllables of your name.
I will laugh no more at what is profound.
Chapter 8: X/1999: The Trio Climbs Trees
By "Trio" I mean Kotori, Fuuma, and Kamui, of course.
Hand in hand, fingers curled with sureness
Our friendship walked everywhere, climbed anything,
She and her brother and I.
That summer we played with the garden hose
Make-believing a slipshod, splashy tea party,
for the beverage we consumed was of liquid smiles,
encouraging each other ever higher and braver.
Sun through the leaves, rough bark of tree;
she fell from the height of new green-bright growth.
Our hearts jumped into our mouths,
And when we swallowed them again,
They sank the wrong way down.
Fate closed over her; he and I slid down
and stepped into its claustrophobic circle.
Do you swear, he said, if she lives—
Yes I swear, I said, as long as life—
And both of us looked at the girl
with one arm outstretched at an angle
like a bird’s broken wing, still breathing:
and we realized what we might have done,
the impossible penance our souls demanded,
a perfect protection in lieu of this life-debt
that our young guilt could not leave unpaid.
While the red string could not be unwound,
Neither could we back down.
You are my sunshine
when I am your moonlight,
a coldness that leaches your color,
that scrubs you with a chalky pallor
a dry bleached earth salt unobtainable
tumbled from the pure white peaks
My only sunshine,
and I your only sunflower so
my neck turns to watch
you independent of my will
You make me happy
when it ought to be impossible
to bring you these blessings of
abundant golden fortune
but you find them anyway,
just like you keep finding me
When skies are grey
and I keep raining on your parade,
already you are opening your umbrella
and ushering me under its brim.
I am exhausted by your kindness.
You are soaked in my despair.
Yet I bow my head and fall in line,
whispering, “sorry, sorry.”
You’ll never know now, how much I love you
for if I measured your love, if
I should know its exact numbers,
I could not estimate
Please don’t take my sunshine away
and find another girl, another friend, another lover;
please don’t go and find another world;
do not dream of dreams within other dreams.
I may be unable to push you away,
but I would never ask you to leave.
I would hope you stay.
(To find one happiness,
to be your happiness—
it is too much for me . . .)
Himawari speaking to Watanuki, with the first words of each stanza being from the "You are My Sunshine" song. Patently obvious, right? That just makes it more difficult. The ending is inspired by the arc words of Clover, "to be your happiness." I think I started writing this poem a year ago and only just pulled it out yesterday and went, "well half of this is salvageable." And then I reworked it to this form. Enjoy.
Chapter 10: XxxHolic: Of 'Selfless Selfishness'
This is a villanelle—or at least close to being one. Deals with theme that occurs in XxxHolic and actually throughout CLAMP works as a whole. There was a particular pairing I was thinking of when writing this.
Of Selfless Selfishness
If there is but one thing that causes you distress...?
This illicit trade, my pain for yours, is all I think of
that represents to me your very selfleshness.
What irony, that the very quality that you possess,
that brings me ever fonder, closer to your love—
it is also the very thing that causes me distress.
Your eagerness for others' sakes to make redress
as if your fate were—and it is not!—as a sacrificial dove's,
and again that would be your very selfleshness.
I understand why you would not want to confess,
why you still stifle empathic hands with soft kid gloves.
But that is the very thing that causes me distress.
Tell me why it is that you cannot bless
me, without carving yourself hollow thereof!
For I can only call it your very selfleshness.
I would that you followed your feelings to guess
at what would bring you fulfillment well above
the things you do that cause me such distress.
How you smite with gratuitous largesse;
I cannot repay a gift I will never be free of,
and if you receive so little,
I cannot in conscience acquiesce.
This represents to me your very selfleshness,
if there is but one thing that causes me distress.
Chapter 11: XxxHolic: The Same That We See
From Doumeki's perspective, sometime during XxxHolic Rou (in a universe where X/1999 is due to occur in the near future) before Doumeki gave up.
The Same That We See
I live in the jungle
these days. Highways of taxis,
Red lights teeming through Tokyo
draw me downtown, away from you,
but I do not feel that I forget.
I remain in this world to gather
what knowledge I may find to share.
—Such was my intent;
and yet these days,
worn by the tears of this unclean city,
I find myself sharing these discoveries with you
Mold born of rain has infiltrated
days too dark, streets so crooked,
washed with a thin veneer of filth you will never witness
for yourself, and
your garden is so spacious, so generous,
you live in the natural sunlight,
shirking from shadows and storerooms of dust
so that our worlds yawn so far and wide,
You insist this fate is not house-arrest,
though you can never leave;
it is my choice to depart
because I must:
surely you harbor some black thoughts,
some bitterness that envies my freedom,
though self-imposed exile was what you chose.
How long you will hold out, I wonder.
You are weathering
the change of nations,
the ebb and flicker of individual
hearing out their wishes, exacting their price,
and I know—that you, also grim, say nothing or middling
of the hearts of the men that you meet,
but that this much you know:
not the Why, but that they have been on the streets,
and it has tainted them. And still you must grant their need, and I know
we sense a stricken Babylon, She
Who knows not what has happened to Her,
but that She is rotting
as together under the eaves we wait, to stand by, for
Kingdom come, for this slowly revolving world of grey cloud to move,
to change all around—
And then, maybe then when the world
Has been rendered unrecognizable and once again, good,
This life will be a little better, a little more bearable,
Chapter 12: Young Wizards: Another (Apocalyptic) Wizard's Oath
Another (Apocalyptic) Wizard's Oath
Love, the skies may not fall today
Or tomorrow, but the rain of stars
is promised to us by the past
which leads to our future.
Depending, it may not be very soon,
but nothing is going to stop that
which has already been set in motion.
Keep watching the rain leak out
of the sky, unleashed and spilling
energy all over the place, and channel it
so it may leach, purify, replenish.
When this place settles into stillness,
then you will know the end days have come.
Until then, strive against death,
and protect those who yet struggle to live.
I could totally see this as the Oath for a wizard from Wellakh. You may cry now.
Chapter 13: Young Wizards: My Own Oath
My Own Oath (a draft in progress)
In Life’s Name, in Life’s Sake, I assert that I will use that Art
To Protect that Life from the Evil that would do it Harm.
I am the Defender. My Strength
Comes from the One who made me
And the blood of his Sacrifice protects me.
I do not go on this journey alone. I bring the eyes
Of my allies, and through wise words and deeds
Overcome the ignorance and apathy of the human soul, in myself and others;
I patiently turn minds and hearts back to the Glory of the One,
and establish, for a pocket of space-time, the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever and ever,
Amen: and the Darkness Shall Not Overcome It. Nay, the LORD shall rebuke the Dark.