Pearl Divers (Ama)

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(Wikimedia Commons; Fg2 Ama Pearl Diver, 2005)

 

Women of the sea,

you took the world’s breath away!

You plumbed the sea floor,

in order to harvest pearls.

Your slim waist shackle

was an umbilical cord.

You wouldn’t reflect

on the endgame should it break.

You signalled by one small tug

decompression’s squeeze.

One find could buy redemption.

All this for beads to

wreath throats of those who believed

this planet was their oyster.

 

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Ushers

Why are ushers hired?

You can ask for assistance –

they just walk away,

seating less important folk;

ignoring the fact

that you have a reserved place.

They allow large hats

to be worn on the front row;

they don’t check tickets at all.

Sycophants – the lot!

They hope a gratuity

will be slipped to them,

if some Lady So-and-So

can be greased in the side door.

Bed Warfare

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(Wikimedia Commons.  Yoshitoshi Woman Cooling Off)

 

Lovers’ discord will

infuriate a woman.

Restless, she’ll decide

not to remain in the bed.

It is galling if

the man does not dissuade her.

Often it’s too cold

to stand by one’s principle.

Other guests may hear something,

so she crawls back in,

but clings to the very edge.

He’s commandeered the sheets

and pretends to be asleep.

She puts freezing feet on him.

 

 

Duets

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(Wikimedia Commons.  Chen Xianzhang Plum Blossom; Hunan Provincial Museum)

 

 

Crimson plum blossom

often shelters bush-warblers,

as the poets claim.

But The Ninefold Enclosure

never attracts birds –

and I have listened for years.

How inauspicious!

Yet, in many peasants’ yards,

they trill (but not overnight.)

The Insect-Eater’s

a lowly designation

for a divine bird.

Though diminishing in tone,

its call deserves more respect.

Unfortunate Timing

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Image result for Utamaro lovers

(British Museum: Lovers in an Upstairs Room by Utamaro)

 

Delicate moments,

such as marriage proposals,

can be quite ruined

by an inopportune sneeze.

The superstitious

interrupt the proceedings

by shouting, Bless you!

to banish bad luck.

Then everyone looks around,

convinced they’ll catch cold.

Your suitor sniffles

into his paper Kleenex

and changes his mind.

You tell yourself that you

would have said, No, anyway.

 

 

alternatively-

 

Delicate moments,

such as marriage proposals,

can be quite ruined

by an inopportune sneeze.

The superstitious

believe a lie is signalled

by sternutation

and are wont to say, Bless you!

That undermines gravity

and provokes laughter.

Those who may lack confidence

don’t resume their spiel.

They often change the subject

and abandon the issue.

Temple Observations

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Having to focus

on an unattractive man

who is a preacher

tends to detract from his words.

Some sit at the front,

or put things on the first row,

to reserve places.

Those who are retired are worst:

they have ample time to fill;

they don’t pay much heed

to what is actually said;

they love self-exhibition.

As for most young men,

they scrutinise the women.

It wasn’t like this before.

Night Visitation

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Related image

(Utsusemi)

 

Corridor footsteps

will stop outside one chamber:

hopefully your own!

A fingernail scrapes the door,

or you hear a tap,

which may persist for some time.

When the man gives up,

you have to be very quick

and let him know you’re awake.

If you swish some silk,

or stoke the coals in your grate,

you may detain him.

If you don’t want him to shout,

you had better let him in.

First Month Temple Visit

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Still inspired by The Pillow Book (10th century Japan)

(Wikimedia Commons; Third Princess)

At Hase Temple,

there was a vulgar scrabble

to see the Buddha

and to present petitions.

A conch shell would blast

and a bell reverberate.

Your own devotions

could easily be side-tracked

by other pilgrims’ requests.

The devout will pray

practically the whole day;

some even at night,

but a few young men

just go to meet girls.

Lovers’ Leave-Taking

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It is annoying

when a man keeps rummaging,

looking for his keys

and possibly his phone too

and you’re still in bed.

He may not put on the light;

might stumble around,

trying to re-locate socks.

You never get back to sleep.

His e-mails could wait.

Why not kiss you tenderly

and pretend to care?

Bring you a nice cup of tea?

Now that’s a perfect lover!

 

Return to Sender

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It is depressing

if you write a long letter,

filled with juicy news

and you don’t get a reply;

or, if it’s returned

and the envelope is torn;

someone has scribbled:

no longer at this address:

it is most discomfiting.

You check the postage.

Has the seal been tampered with?

You toss it aside

and you cannot be bothered

to set it all down again.