Brandon Shimoda
| from THE GRAVE ON THE WALL

The maids were ordered to descend to the garden, and give some water to the insects. At 1:25 pm on Tuesday, July 22, Kyoto time, we visited the grave of Lady Murasaki Shikibu: a large weed-covered mound of earth with a small stone marker at the head and a small stone altar at the base, one white teacup filled to the lip with water. A small tree was growing, its leaves reflected, without color, in the cup. I still my eyes. I see ants … We had three copies of The Tale of Genji in our house (growing up); I remember one hard cover edition in particular, with torn dust jacket … I can hear it now: bells hanging soundless at the limits of creation. Isn’t the creation a response to what is felt already to exist but as of yet without shape? Lady M died one thousand years ago, though no one knows for sure. Even her name is in dispute, so how can we trust the mound of earth? The mound of earth was growing grass and weeds with tiny, even unsightly, flowers. Maybe it was the influence of the mound of earth next to Lady M’s mound, smaller, more exposed, with fewer weeds and less grass, more dirt … it was the grave of someone who was related to a poet, not Lady M, who/where was the poet? Someone had visited the graves that morning: the white teacups were filled; someone had touched the blue hose. Gods of mercy, with curative powers, what if they, the gods, are obstructed by people; godly power is radiant, sensitive in a penetrating way, to atoms, cells, cell structures, the human body. Someone had watered the cups, the weeds were growing thick over Lady M’s feet, dust on the heads of the gods of mercy. The environment was termites and mold … the gods will know what it means to be sentient: to be forgettable, neglected, to molder on the altar … The stone structure on top of Lady M’s mound resembled a small hat, the pressure centered between the eyes, the sinuses; the voice swampy, pinched, elevated, filled with gas, the body revealing itself to be mysterious to itself as a structure within a structure (pond in a pond). In the sinuses flow one’s dreams as mucus, which, when inhaled, disperse into the mind as a light lifting off the frenetic behavior of the constituents who hold the world in transit. It took Lady M ten years to write The Tale of Genji.


Black ink poured from my navel. Did you get your period? DD asked. She was worried. What is black that pours from the body? There was a pond. I don’t remember where it was or what it was doing. What does a pond do? … The light that reaches into the pond is from the universe; there are no ponds in a pond, unless the pond is space and there are holes … Appreciation and/or admiration: to enter into a third space which is a permanent reprieve made temporary: what are the looks? Being is not always looking up. The gradual blinding of looking up is familiar … But what was the pond? The sides of a pond have ears.


But in the same way the hysterics of hell can be heard just below the horizon, concealed within the lower registers of a photograph are the sounds of hell, the cacophony of the underworld.


As if hell could no longer wait for its patrons to arrive, but sought to expand its dominion into the world, to select its sinners preemptively. Chaos prevailed, and the gates of hell not only widened, but became all-encompassing.


A steamship comes to a stop in the middle of the ocean. The engines, that have been occupying, however faintly, the sleep of young women and children, die. (Emptiness is on the ceiling.) The water settles? The ship … No more white around the ship. Gasoline between continents … I hear the water on the shore: the tide is coming … And birds, positive engines. The ants on Kurosawa’s rose … the rose is young and the consequence of a strange effort at beauty. The ants are compelled: warriors on pilgrimage to the heart (head) of fertility—a break in the war, or the ravages …


No one remembers the adults enough to make use of the trauma in poems or pictures; only children peregrinations and not melancholy but the homesickness of adventure. Homesickness feels home is at the end, melancholy is waiting for not knowing what—dull smoke grows into orange. Or: you have a parasite so must remain then you are homesick for what you do not know. Some children are your siblings you will never know again, something has broken something has been invaded. If you are sick you remain childless, I swallowed the ocean unless you renounce you are a child you can go anywhere but have not trespassed the emptiness so as an immigrant are already forgotten, no trauma’s traced to you. You can carry a parasite into a new country if you renounce the country where it entered your body Or hold a jar of honey in front of your mouth. IMPLANTATION OF A LIQUID ELEMENT: The real diseases would arrive The old diseases were prohibitive The new diseases would be permissive, you have to forswear the old diseases and pledge allegiance to the new diseases. The bible is jingoism


A family lived beneath the floor: in darkness but where daylight penetrated the seams of the house. They never spoke. Thinking was their creation. They were perfecting the memories of experiences from former lives they wanted to make whole and perfect for the next. A lake set into the crater of a mountain, the crater with an island, the blue blood of a horseshoe crab, atmosphere doubled upon itself, a small mound of pink camellias on a rock beside the water, teeth marks in the petals, and when a wind rides up the mountain and down into the crater, sweeping pollen across the water, the air above the lake is charged with a clarity to highlight spinning before the dark green pines rising from the island, a pair of teeth, the suggestion of a mouth bearing the teeth, a face bearing the mouth, a head the face, a body the head, an individual stormed out of the void, the accumulated life of each thought, faces once known, spinning out of the debris, lives spent in the dark beneath the feet of giants thinking of images fashioning into the space shared among the people who will make use of them, children around a fire.


Children are waving long glow sticks and throwing the plastic wrappers on the ground. It is the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. There is going to be a reenactment: at 9:30 (it should be 8:15), a fake bomb will be dropped. It is called a spectacle bomb. Everyone says it is going to be blinding; you can look, but everyone is cautioned not to. I separate from the crowd—there is an amusement park atmosphere—and stand on a hill to take notes. I discover strange sores and welts, abscessed, on my body, especially my arms, as though my body is reacting to the radiation, though the spectacle bomb is fake, and has not yet been dropped. I go back into the crowd to look for something to eat: soda, potato chips. Later, school buses bring people to the bomb reenactment site. It is 9:00.


I hold my hand over the fish’s mouth—its eye grows larger. The fish breathes through its gills, my stomach knows … its condition as the grave


Rice paddies folded out from the center like petals from a single spike. The graveyard was the rice paddies folded in.


Bleeding (flow) of characters moving (bleeding) down the mirrors and the wall try to speak (intone) the characters: arrested speech: You are exposed to a refrain of deep resentment.


Sitting in front of a long rectangular mirror, I heard a woman’s voice talking (speaking) to someone who was not me and was not there (here). The moment I was drawn into the conversation, the woman’s voice disappeared. The mirror, an old, wise animal …