Tuesday, June 24, 2014


In Kyoto's dry riverbed
The priestess Okuni dances
It is 1596; she is the first woman
To perform kabuki dances.
I must go see her but
I will need good company.
Toulouse Lautrec demurs
"A man a century dead
Needs his rest." "Nonsense!
We will watch Okuni dance
Then tour the pleasure precinct
Two more ghosts? Who will notice?"
"Can you promise we'll see geishas?"
"Yes, and there will be rice wine."

On the frozen Thames
Nell Gwynn dances
With Samuel Pepys.
How far this poem has come
To assure you of this!
Along the way here
Its imagery was lost
The moral, too, died
Of consumption.
Still, there is enough.

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