If you drop coin or rice in my small bowl
The Gods will smile on your day-to-day endeavour.
If you pass by and leave my receptacle empty
The Demons of the Underworld will rend you.
Why should it matter to Gods if a dealer in verse is fed?
Poets are the fulcrum on the gleaming scales of balance
That weigh and judge life, universe and all.
You have no idea the cumbrous invisible weight across my back!
Think the scales of balance shift only rarely? no!
They glide as first one tipping pan, then the next, is favoured
By a little extra weight, this is monotonously steady!
Deeds wrong or right, secret or open, even mere featherweight
Shift the balance of the pans and tip the rod they balance on.
The weight in either pan is half all that is, more or less.
Each time it shifts, the muscles in one or the other shoulder tighten
Knot upon knot, callous upon callous, be thankful none of you
Know song, and therefore judgment, so intimately.
Why should the demons care if scales are maintained?
Aren't they in love with dissipation and chaos?
The Gods want our fine-tuned balance, Demons our instability.
They bribe us with Hellfired rice cake to bring this about
(Pours a small cup of Sake out of a tiny serving bottle)
The still haven't learned this only oils our engines of judgment
(Taps side of head.)
Sharpens our knotted muscles' nuance of balance.
We'd fail in our duty refusing such bribes.
We barely succeed as it is, fail a little each way
Perpetually, but if once our shoulders collapsed
Both pans would tip, fling lose and all that is
Scatter itself in the void of all that is not.
Trust me, a coin of substance in my small bowl
Is no act of charity, only self-preservation.
Many would see the universe destroyed to get at a particular enemy
But few would wish themselves overthrown in the same calamity.
Wisest to wish the best even for your enemies
You don't know their place in the tap'stry of existence
What may unravel if they are undone.
(Take bowl up, Examines it mournfully. Shakes it. Nothing)
I see you fairgoers fear neither God nor Demon
Poet nor chaos. (Sighs.) The wind feeds us
Out of her twirling bowl.
Wishing You Were Dead
The world's a stone killer
I think we should just all get along.
Life roughs me up
What did I ever do to it?
I wish a painful death
On very few of the people I know or know of
A statistically insignificant number
But can i get any help from the Cosmos?
The Cosmos says I change my mind too often
As if it were any model of stability!
I've never seen a more erratic Universe
Or a less erratic one either, that's got to tell you something!
What are they hiding from us?
I wouldn't insist on actual deaths
Just watch 'em squirm a little.
Who hasn't wanted to do that?
At today's inflated prices, who can afford to?
Loads of people who aren't me
Or anybody like me, that's who!
Sex is first-rate exercise
Leaves a filmy aura on the skin
Cuts way down on the wishing-people-dead list
(At least it did the last time I checked
A refresher would not be unwelcome).
Sex would be a way to make a Cosmos!
All you'd need's a spray of galactic sperm
A womb made of all empty space
I say let's try it!
Life tricks you so much
You'd think that's its fulltime occupation.
It rubs your nose in the dirt a lot too
Washes out dreams and fades 'em
Frustrates your simplest expectations
Tums you inside out and back again
Wears out your clothes bones joints mojo patience
Life must rack up some pretty impressive overtime!
Many wish for death
But hang on in the hope something improves.
Me, I'll take death when it comes
Not a minute sooner
You can even save my place in line
But there are a few I wish would quit their stalling.
I'm chronicler for General Nobunaga's army.
They fight against great odds to free an oppressed province.
It's a contract position but other work might follow
Almost certainly will if l retain the General's confidence
And he continues to keep his head while those about him Lose theirs
They free a great many from the bonds of life
Others from enslavement to their possessions.
Should a freedom army plunder?
How else can they be paid?
Should a poet reputed truthful sing their heroism
Keeping stumm on its random distribution of slaughter?
Poets must eat like other men
They crave Hellfire Rice Cake and visits when they're flush
To one of the newer girls at Tamago's Boink Palace.
(That woman wouldn't know a euphemism if it bit her!)
What's an honest poet to do
With no other work on offer that pays
No way, now he's taken Nobunaga's coin
To convey himself sufficient distance from sharp avenging sword?
Nobunaga has a horse, I could plod off on ox-yoked wagon only.
Poets may be bold as other men
I hear the swish of dangerous blades in my sleep.
I keep a little book, truth free of charge
In place of the lies I tell under contract that sustain me.
If you outlive me you might read it.
Outlive me a thousand years you might read it still
Though no poet not a fool banks on future fame.
Apart from other considerations the stomach it might fill
Exists in this world as dust and ash only.