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Poems in Scotland, 2016

DATE: 3 October — 5 November 2016
PLACE: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Ullapool

Spider of the Night

As the children of the house scream
I wait for the night alone in shadow
On the piano that no one plays are
beautifully intricate picture frames
Each of them is a proof of love
Threading my way through them,
I find myself feeling content
and my body turns a perfect golden brown
Between the closet and the wall
climbing down a cotton dust ladder
I spin silver threads in the afternoon

Sneaking out every night
I count the millions of the night’s dew drops
running down the bay window
Sometimes in my life
I have wished
I could shine whitely and quietly
like the snowberries
I see out of the window
Even though the threads I spin are white
I’m a black spider crawling on the ground
The colour of the deepening misty night

(Felicity&Rolf House, Glasgow)

Golden Ballerina

A young ginkgo,
still yellow green
When will autumn come?
Swinging in a hammock,
its blind master answers
It has already come
Look carefully with your eyes

Autumn comes quietly,
pushing up shirts hanging on the laundry pole
shivering the frostbitten maple trees
rattling the kitchen windows
Like the feeling of love
I had for my wife that day—
autumn comes quietly

Autumn leaves quietly,
from the rotted wooden back gate
with the fading colour of hydrangea
in the festivity of Halloween
Like days and years
we past so long before we notice—
autumn leaves quietly

So, I planted you
Find the autumn that quietly comes and goes
and tell me about it
with your golden leotard
with your shining pirouette
Even my eyes will see
the dazzling signs

(Felicity&Rolf House, Glasgow)

The Fight of a Painting

A painting of a café in Paris
from three centuries ago
is in an empty museum
three centuries have passed today
Though it is already a faded memory,
as it had been just made into a mere painting
it’s not been allowed to fade
and is bathed in a special light

The lady is sitting at a white round table
her profile captured
with her uniformly rosy cheek
with a baron whose face was painted over
She is somewhere far away from here
long since decomposed in her grave
lying in a white coffin
I wonder if she’d seen this painting

What’s the most beautiful is the background
The tall windows reaching up to the ceiling,
the golden lamps colouring the wall, and
the gorgeous table¬¬wares lined up on the shelves
They are still fighting the tide of time
in the strong wind of the brushstrokes
even though they know it is ludicrous to do so

(A Café on the Place de Theatre-Francais by Edouard Manet,
The Burrell Collection in Pollok Park, Glasgow)

James’s Last Word

One day at the end of the eighteenth century, when
the Ripper was rampant in the city of London, and
many socialists and the enraged jobless
raised their voices and fought at Trafalgar Square,
In Glasgow, under the gathering dark clouds
James Scott left a message
at the very moment of his last breath
to travelers in the twenty-first century
just like a merchant of the time would have said

To Do Justly, And To Love Mercy,
And To Walk Humbly With Thy God

James, O James
The time we live in
has burned the dictionary of justice and love
has sold the name of God to the Devil
The road you humbly walked is
now a dirty back street that everyone avoids
There is only a shadow of a wandering dog
What message should a traveler of this time deliver?
I would like to leave at least one of those
in my poems where I have written
countless meaningless things

(Necropolis, Glasgow)

My Hidden Garden

I want to plant a tree in my garden
Little birds peck the red fruits of love,
The wind blows through the treetop of youth, and
A withered leaf murmurs about its regrets—
A tree of spirit standing in a snow field of memory

In the field in my garden, I want to grow
Herbs to sprinkle onto the sadness of the day
Vegetables that go through into the tired hands and feet
Even if your feet get caught, just throw your body
onto the well-cultivated land

A shed should be at the corner of the garden
It is a comfy greenhouse that eases heart,
a tin barn to stuff memories in,
a wooden dog house that sharpens the mind, or
a base to have some secrets

The garden can be hidden
from the poor and lonely world
that is smoothing everything out
Only two know the loophole to it
the cat of freedom and the mouse of diligence

In the garden, I only need you
who is not confused by the light in the mirror,
not afraid of the shadow slowly swaying in the water
and smiles knowing that it’s me
I like the garden with you in it

(The Hidden Gardens, Glasgow)

On A Moor

The grassy field is burning
shining with red
The rocky mountain is freezing
sinking with black

Smoky wind hauls the clouds
together with the sky
Crossing birds
abruptly break their lines

The dazzling setting sun croons
a lullaby from distant days
The moor wells up with tears
which run into the retreating tides

(Little Loch Broom, Highland)

The Red Door

This is something you don’t know
I painted the front door red
Now autumn is covering the land
and thick fog coming down from the mountain
shrouds the town in white
so that the passion running through me won’t be frozen
while I wait for you to come back
despite tonight’s darkness
being that of a night
abandoned by a radiant sky

Though the sound of a boat coming back to the port
reaches to me almost every day
I haven’t heard the sound
of you knocking on my door yet
With a hand frozen in the ocean wind
you won’t be able to knock well
So I’ve put a bell on it
Hurry back and ring the bell
with your white breath
Loudly shake my heart
like a whistle that splits the sea

(Ullapool, Highland)


give me a rest
by the river
just for a while
leaning on you
i can barely

wind blows
strong to the west
fluffy white feathers
i wish every dream
would be airy like them

before the night
when i cross the river
guide me
as one
large stick

behind the bush
a cow
is gazing at me
at last it seems
the time has come

(Dundonnell, Highland)

The Witch

Sitting on a stone wall on which herbs sway
She threads a string through a ragged pillow
Life winds and goes
Yet every one
goes to the shore of death in the end
So we can live feeling at ease
She stitches days together with a silver needle

Ducks waddling through her feet
Misty rain that the passing clouds dropped
Repelled by the jade feathers,
in the air, now it’s turned into gems
They will just vanish even if you collect them
Please let them go back to the night
They will become stars and glimmer

Like the quiet Munro
stretching out in the blustery wilderness
the hut simply gets old
Every time a draft brings a new season
she properly ages
The first cries of the white spores echo
throughout the tall dark juniper forest

(Ullapool, Highland)

Poetry and Wilderness

To tell the truth
I’m terribly silent
I’m not friendly
and full of lies
You know that already
So you strongly pull me close
I can’t stop the true me
from coming out
when you do that

(Dundonnell, Highland)


Turning your wide chest
the colour of the sun
what kind of hope
do you hold?
O brave robin

Singing with
your small shaking throat
whose pain
are you healing?
O kind robin

With your little button eyes
filled with tears
you mourned for me
covering the departed with warm moss
O faithful robin

Your soft wings
flap through the forest
Stay with me quietly
even in the lonely winter
O beautiful robin

(Dundonnell, Highland)

The Silver Birch

The firm ankle
where splashed mud
has dried

The toe is thin
Rooted softly into
the mossy ground

The shin smoothly flows and
the calf is slightly flexed
A healed wound on the knee

And on the round
fragrant thigh
there is a bite mark from a deer

Who danced with you
holding your soft waist
in the dance hall of a moonlit night?

The small breasts where birds sleep
The fresh neck dewy from fog
The golden hair flutters in the wind

Everyone falls in love
when they meet you in the forest
with those pale blue eyes

(Dundonnell, Highland)

Unknown Tales

There was a man covered with oil
who made a ship in this town
to go to the South Pole
with the nation’s pride at stake
There should be a woman
who loved that man
and then there even could be children
between them
No books, no museums
have his name
no one even knows the place of his grave
Just the wind blows
the water ripples
and a seagull flies

On a street in a town
she is young and works
at a fine shoe shop
She was born and raised
and found the job in this town
Even though she is unknown to the world
and shall stay that way
tomorrow and forever,
starting today
I will continue to travel
in the shoes that she recommended
People hurry home
lovers hug each other
and a boy sings alone


The Old Castle

i was watching the sea
for so long
i am staying here
and still
thinking –
my cheeks have become emaciated
from the biting wind
my waist has crumbled
from the crashing waves
even so
is there anything
to save?

i was watching the sky
even after the dark night
had come
and still
i don’t know –
my eyes have gone blind
from the dazzling stars
fingers have become frozen
from the cold sand
even so
what should
i love?

i was watching the hill
a woman quietly
holds a man’s hands and gazes at him
the man whispers and
pulls her body to him –
my lips shake
at a flying falcon
tears flow
at the blooming flowers
i ask again today
as i fight alone
at the cliff

(Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven)

autumn leaves

autumn leaves dance
red leaves
yellow leaves
all in different colours
chase after
the rapidly rolling
white clouds

autumn leaves dance
swirling leaves
waving leaves
all fly differently
in the high and cold
beautiful sky

autumn leaves dance
round leaves
broken leaves
all with different dreams
born and live
their lives fully
and then vanish

(Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh)

the park

a long shadow of a thick trunk
lies on the autumn carpet
and touches my shoes

the rattling rickety stone path
runs after passing footsteps
with sound of a piano

quiet benches lining the path
with the cold morning sun on their back
say, please wait a bit to sit

the bored face of the rubbish bin
i couldn’t abide and asked, hey, can you forgive me?
it just pouted and whined, i’m not angry

the gentle silence of the wet lawn
pulled my hand without saying anything
i can run anywhere

(The Meadows, Edinburgh)

the shadow

the road went on
the night as well
i was almost there
to my house
it was at the last corner
where you were swaying
the orange
town lights
like being tickled
as you were so beautiful
i wavered as to if
i was going to talk to you
but i didn’t want to
seem strange
so i passed by
with my collar turned up high
when i think back on it
it was such a cold night
you might have been shivering
not swaying
which made me think
i should have invited you to my house
and maybe offered you
a cup of tea
i was regretting that
in a hot shower

(Blackford Avenue, Edinburgh)

The end of a journey

Talking about life as a journey
If we can do that
I wonder if
the moment of death
would be similar to
the end of a journey

A feeling of fulfillment for what we’ve done
Lingering thoughts to continue on
Regrets for what’s left undone
They are among the guideposts
along the journey back—

If we can eventually call it
“a good journey”
then we can finish it
That feeling strongly leads
the traveler to the way back

A red setting sun
down on the road ahead
A bed made with fresh sheets
waiting in the room
Towards a warm end


A Falling Leaf

Letting my hands go
not slowly but at once
Only those around me would notice
I’d been quivering just now
As if that were a lie, I let go
With no hesitation
With no word

I don’t fall right away
I float up
full of hope
The air comes
into my empty lungs
With eyes wide open
My cheeks turn rosy

My legs become unexpectedly heavy
My back suddenly starts to sink
My hair gets damp
The bird flies away
The clouds have left me
as if it is not their problem
I notice I’m going to fall

In back of my mind I remember
the face of a flying squirrel leaving their nest
that I saw when I was a young leaf
It was so terrific
that I couldn’t keep
watching any longer
He had accepted his fate

I give in
Arms open in my mind
and ride on the flow of time
I find a soft wind
Sunshine kicks the ground and
comes towards me
I can fly

(The Meadows, Edinburgh)


Hurry hurry
when the bell rings
will be waiting
Even if they get wet in the rain
they don’t care
Nothing in this world
bothers them
But it’s cold outside, so
open now
the heavy door,
warm up with the red lantern
with the pumpkin face, and
let’s get drunk with
ambrosial poems
let’s laugh at
silly jokes
We’ll hand them
the sorrow of this world
mixed with
sweet candies
We have had enough
Delude us out

(the Frasers, Edinburgh)


Jump off
rise high
and flip
Float a while
lost in thoughts
Snap out them
and swoop again

Without looking
to the cloud crossing the sky
like a monstrous ship
Just looking down on
the town that’s quieting
like ripples in the water
With the raging wind
on their side
they showed
me clinging
on a steep cliff
their flight feathers
dyed sapphire

For crows don’t cry
They have wings
and they have the wind
They never even think
Devoted to performances,
they walk on a tightrope,
and simply appreciate life

(Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh)