We looked for a ninja spirit, Japan, 2002


We took the shinkansen from Tokyo
to Nagano, skied on a mountain
where we could just see the ocean.
You saw an old man selling swords
on the side of the road. I thought
I saw blood stick to one of the blades.

We were angels dancing on the head
of a bullet. You did the samba,
I did the mamba as an electric god
spit us across the country.
You said a samurai once rode
across the same distance in a month.

Cartoon people plastered shop windows
and plasma TVs. I paid a boy
to animate you with a spear
lancing its tip through a demon.
You saw me peek as an otaku
battled a shaman in a cyber cafe.
The kid looked liked he’d been there for days.
You said he wouldn’t last the night.

In Hiroshima, we washed our feet
before we entered a temple. It was new
like Tokyo and the rest of Japan. Outside,
burnt silhouettes spattered the concrete.
You said you’d go blind if you saw the crater.
I told you we could never be ninjas.

On the plane, you were a mess, a random pile
of tissue. The artificial light radiated
and made you sick.  We couldn’t sleep.
The aircraft gnashed its sharp teeth, flexed
its heavy metal bones.
We knew we might drop like payload.


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