I. The Discrete Fragments of Iris

For Sendai 1  [川内原子力発電所]


"Learn as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die tomorrow."

-- Yuuki Yoshida, hibakusha


Fragment 1

Burn the skin off the trees,

Nip the buds
                                    Stripped clean



That crazy iris is blooming again,
Gone haywire
Up the trellis,

Under skies bleached

Bone dry and stripped bare,
                  Clouds scraped from
The unbearable blue,

The sun
Burns holes in our hands,

                  Bores deeper into
The lattice of skin

There is a rhythm to this,
It seems to say,

In furls unfolding,
In violet flowers uncurling

  In the ash thrown
Careless to the four winds,

And in the violence of expansion:               


It doesn’t know
It shouldn’t exist.


Fragment 2

Maple leaves flare
Like red coals aglow

  Demons of flame,                                
Spiraling on twisted
Fractal branches,

  A spurt of lava
And you’ll dance
To a waking volcano.


Fragment 3

Island pines split by the wind
Dot the ocean, the spray
Hits my lips

  The salt tastes like the sky,
Now oily, blurred and roiling

  In the gray ash and
Turmoil of dreams

In the shaking of the waves
Come to drag us away
                  Lurk the rising tides of grief

The vanishing footprint

Unable to open on a vista,
The horror is in the void                                              

We are cast in burnished glows,

Then you walk away
Shrouded in dusk.

Fragment 4

Edges of cloud,
Like the ends of the earth
At the continental shelf

Hover over me, fringes of
And orange glow

                                                           Explode with light
The sun’s last blast
At the day’s final end.

 As we witness our own
Will we revel in a new awareness?

Or is it just pain and
A snip of the thread?

A quick fade        
                  In a cresting wave


Fragment 5

                  The last time I saw you,
                                    Dripping wet, clinging to life
                                                      In the surging of the tides

I said

There are suns yet to rise, Amida

Those tiny moths will rest again in symmetry
Along these broken stone walls

Brown flutterings in a brief ache of life

Then a pause
Like the stillness before a breeze,
Or in the moments you
Forget to breathe.


Fragment 6

 Curved like the base of a well,
                 Or a collapsed bridge,
Boulders lay tumbled and cracked

                  Look up from its bottom
To see the perfect circle
Of night skies turn above you

Circles within circles
                  Form a rising stillness

Infinite change outside
The walls that hold us

The silent shadows
Open upon pure lands,

Quantum gateways,
Breached like curtains torn

  Our infinite powers revealed
In those intimate, grey
Predations of twilight


Fragment 7 

For amid awakening
There is delusion

  Watch closely

How the thumbnail moon
Digs deep into the
Heart of the earth

Watch closely

How the fire-lotus floats
On the surface of the river

                         Two of us are heading     
To the bottom

One of us is sinking
The other diving

Watch closely

How inside that flower of fire
The flame rises

  Singular and eternal
Burning like my uranium heart 

                  Do we dare touch the sun?

Watch closely


How the river god sighs,
Depleted and spent

Beneath the bridge of heaven
Spanning the milky skies

‘Horror vacui,’ it says, and
We are split in two

                   Time stops on these

                                    Dried out river banks


Fragment 8

But amid delusion
There is also awakening

  Watch closely

  How            Iruka


 Swims on, caught in
The strangest currencies

Thinking merely
Of thought itself,

The endless nesting

{                                      }

She gives birth to the world                                             
At the bottom of an                                             
Ancient well                         

                                                                She sighs as the moon digs
                                                      Deeper into the heart
                                    Of the earth

Ryu Ando lives and works in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared with various online speculative literature publishers, including Strange HorizonsPidgeonholesLiquid Imaginationa...p press, and more. He has been nominated for the Rhysling, Elgin, Pushcart and Best Small Fictions awards. His second volume of poetry,  [零] A Phantom Zero, will be out in 2019 with The Operating System Press. Online at https://ryuando.wordpress.com/ and Twitter: @ryu_ando_98