Poetry / June 2017 (Issue 36: Writing Japan)

Two Poems

by Yoko Danno


Of the Male Deity:

       He destroyed the ridges
           of the heavenly rice paddies, filled up
               the irrigation ditches with
                  earth, scattered about

           shit and piss in a holy
                   weaving house,

           flayed a heavenly horse
               from the tail up and threw it
                       into the bottomless


He was expelled
    from the Heavenly High Plains
        rich with golden rice ears
           to the Land of Reed Plains,

    carrying within his belly
        faceless hot matter
           expanding, slithering,

        exits through the strata
                            of ancient



You have the map,
I, a compass,

let's get out of this smoldering
land, in haste―night is approaching,
hot gasses thickening, deadly fallout piling―

The dormant volcano, a ferocious god,
awakened from a thousand
years of stone sleep,

is now active―

An overgrown man-beast,
awakened from a long slumber,
           out of confinement,
                        now thrives,

    breathing in the polluted air,
    coughing up toxic gases,
    living in the shadows of war,
    spitting out malignant smokes―

Stone embankments
                by tsunami,
    the earth trembles
                in dismay―

One after the other
holy faces appear,
fluttering about, disappear
from the walls of deserted temples―

The god and goddess,
unified in a single body,
the slender hand holding a crystal
bottle of a merciful

to counteract
the sulfurous poison,

     melts down

          to softly glowing

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