Black Petals Issue #90 Winter, 2020

Jizo
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BP Artists and Illustrators
1957-Fiction by Michael J. Moore
Black Dog-Fiction by C. P. Webster
Curse of the Candles-Fiction by Jerry Payne
Death Rattle-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Estranged-Fiction by Alan Trezza
The Return of the Ferryman-Serialized Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Scarlet Bedroom-Fiction by Daniel K. Merwin
The Soul Destroyer-Fiction by James Flynn
The Packing Bay-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Jizo-A four-poem Japanes Theme Set by Dee Allen
Blood-Red Drops-Poem by Chris Collins
The Great Universe-Poem by Hicham El Qendouci
Female Mischief-Poem by Hillary Lyon
Worm-Poem by Hillary Lyon
The Lycanthrope's Lament-Poem by Hillary Lyon
The Sea-Poem by Jason Rice

Jizo

 

Dee Allen

 

Ani-san*

Places a crimson

Cap upon the head;

Oka-sama**

Ties a crimson

Bib around the neck;

Oto-sama***

Lays down pebbles

At the feet

Of the bald

Boyish monk, Jizo.

The child 

They visit

On occasion

Resting within

His tomb

Has a permanent

Gentle companion

Carved from

Impassive stone:

 

He who shields

The defenseless from

Harm after this life.

The six rings

On his staff

Warns the oni****

He’s coming near.

The bright dharma

Light of truth

From his wish-gem

Shines the way

For children to

Follow him across

The Sanzu River,***** 

A waterway none dare travel.

Distance is put

Between his crowded sailing 

Barge and an eternity

Condemned to building 

Endless stone towers

In Hell.

 

It takes

A youth

To save

Other youth

In the arcane

Life after this.

 

(W: Groundhog Day 2017)

 

*JAPANESE: “Older brother”.

**JAPANESE: “Mother”.

***JAPANESE: “Father”.

****JAPANESE: “Demons”.

*****In Japanese Buddhism this is what the River Styx is in the Greco-Roman mythological underworld.

 

Kokuhatsu*

 

Dee Allen

 

Marrying that proper

Hard, selfish, spoiled

Feudal lord’s daughter

Gave one samurai

No happiness or

No children. He

Wouldn’t touch her,

Couldn’t stand her—

Insufferable bitch.

Remorse invaded his soul.

He regretted trading 

His old life in

The peasant village

For the royal palace.

 

The Governor’s term

Ended years later, 

And the samurai

Returned to his

Old village, old cottage

Overgrown with weeds—

Outside, empty

And silent inside,

Rooms and floors

In ramshackle condition—

And, above all,

His first wife, gentle,

Still young, unpretentious

With her long black hair 

And hunched over,

Knitting a blanket

By the light

Of a lantern,

Just as he’d left her.

 

It didn’t take long 

For the beauteous first wife

To accept all her

Former husband’s 

Apologies for his

Past transgression.

He held her,

Caressed her,

Told her there will be 

No leaving this time,

And he has the gold

And the servants to

Properly care for her.

 

An evening spent in

The arms of a virtual goddess

Turned into the harsh 

Reality of morning, when

The samurai awakened

In wide-eyed terror. His arms

Embraced with arms

From a shroud-covered

Corpse. Bony,

Devoid of life—

Her lush, long

Black hair somehow

Changed, grown longer,

Entangling, almost

Smothering him.

 

W: 7.27.17

[Inspired by the story “The Reconciliation,” from the book, Shadowings, by Lafcadio Hearn]

 

*JAPANESE: “The black hair”.

 

Noppera-Bo*

 

Dee Allen

 

His steel katana**

Cleaves its way 

Through air swiftly

Like a dragonfly

Through would-be

Thieves and killers

With their lustful

Eyes set on a

Single woman in a

Crimson silk kimono,

Carnation-pink sash

Around her waist,

Alone and defenseless

But primarily on

Her ribboned purse

Full of ryo***—

 

A stillborn crime—

A bright stream

Of loosened blood—

A scattered mess 

Of dead fools—

 

The lone samurai

On horseback

Rides off, hoof beats

Kicking up dust,

Only to turn

Around and offer

The young woman

A mounted ride home.

As she steps closer

To accept his unspoken

Offer, give her thanks,

The woman takes her

Horsebound protector by the

Transparent hand,

Confronting him face

 

To no face—

 

(W: 5.25.16)

 

*JAPANESE: “Faceless phantom”.

**JAPANESE: “Long sword”.

***A gold currency unit used in Japan before 19th Century American contact.

 

Obasute*

 

Dee Allen

 

Departing from us

Season of fallen leaves

Fast approaching 

Season of barren trees.

 

Obaba** to all the children,

Oka-sama to my family,

Who carried us on her narrow shoulders,

Had just turned seventy.

 

Because of her age, tradition says,

From the village, she’ll be leaving

To be left upon the mountain…

That won’t prevent my grieving.

 

The expected day has come

And Oka climbs on my back

And holds dearly tight to me,

Her sound health intact.

 

We make the steep ascent together,

Though my heartache’s rife;

Like blade through rope, ties are soon cut

From the strong woman who gave me life,

 

And finally, at the mountain crest,

Meeting the gods Oka anticipates.

Desertion, loneliness, snowfall, steady

Decline, instead, awaits.

 

(W: 2.19.17)

[Inspired by the movie & book, The Ballad of Narayama]

 

*JAPANESE: “Abandonment of old people”.

**JAPANESE: “Grandmother”.

 

Dee Allen, deeallen415@gmail.com, who wrote BP #90’s 4-poem Japanese-themed set, is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word scene since the early 1990s, he has 4 books [Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater and Skeletal Black, all from POOR Press] and 24 anthology appearances [including Poets 11: 2014, Feather Floating On The Water, Rise, Your Golden Sun Still Shines, What Is Love, The City Is Already Speaking, The Land Lives Forever, Extreme and Civil Liberties United, edited by Shizue Seigel] under his figurative belt so far.

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