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Published: Thu Apr 15 2010
Art by Jin Suk
For They Are Coming

mono no aware, n_. 1. The beauty (pathos) that emanates from_
all things  2. One’s ability to understand this

The ceremony of insult
_                    kutabare_
_                                         go to hell
_                    shinjimae

_                                         _fuck off and die
_                                                                          _our son in fine form
_                    _ten years short
_                    _of eighteen
_                                                 _now on his toe
_                                       _tips
_                    _red cheeks out
_                                             _a raging
_                    _puffer fish

Year’s end
_                    _time
_                    _to clean the graves
_                                                               _the newest the problem
_                    _the grandfather dead
_                    _the boy
_                                                               _unready
_                    _for what’s implied
_                                                                                 _the ease of it
_                      _present
_                                         _ to represent
_                                         _ a single stone
_                                         _ the hush of winter morning

_Dentatsu                      _lightning in a field
_                      _now communication
_                                         _ the word
_                                                               _incandescent
_                                                                                                _there
_    _among the viburnums in the garden
_                                                                                                _again
_    _the granite stepping stones he set
_                                                               _mono no aware
_                      _meaning
_                      _as energy
_                                                               _how everything now carries
_                      _a charge of loss

Later
_                      _the candles the boy must light
_                      sputter and hiss
_                      hitodama

_                                                               _the death fire
_                                         _ for they are coming
_                                         _ and the wind
_                                         _ brings their message
_                      _the echo answers to the voice
_                      _the heart distant
_                                         _ practices
_                                                               _practices
its common work

See what's inside AGNI 71

Bern Mulvey is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection Deep Snow Country (Oberlin College Press, 2014), winner of the FIELD Poetry Prize. He has published poems, articles, and essays in English and Japanese, including recent work in The Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, AGNI, Poetry, FIELD, Beloit Poetry Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Poetry East. His first book, The Fat Sheep Everyone Wants (2008), won the 2007 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize. He also has published two chapbooks: The Window Tribe (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2005) and Character Readings (Copperdome/Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2012). He lives in Iwate, Japan. (updated 10/2017)

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