For Kiborio and Shimaya
Here is paint on the floor
and sound on the canvas.
High rent for a few mat-lengths of contracted land.
Today has been well lived and
the night will be also; we made company in the dark,
severely cold like a cracked frown,
and pulled our scarves tighter.
Over kerosene heat, the studio kettle
rounds out the air with a fullness
neither green nor grey. It has the same
warmth of wood and fits
like a key in the door.
Japan is a tidy country, with few objects
to be found at street level.
Make your own. Walk with no map –
beyond the main arteries it will not help you.
Carry your bag with the plan to wait.
Once I attempted the same but ran out of patience.
I walked there instead of stopping.
Under the portrait lights my hand
has three shadows. I write three words.
Kiborio bows like a bird, sits and eats
like one, but drinks in a manner aquatic.
The brush caught in his hand is excited in flight.
The pieces he collects are to taste;
he takes them and swallows with no
thought of want. That shudder
is the canvas escaping its stand.
A brush has its own pulse to record and amplify.
A pen has its own rust. Paint and beer require
the same thoughtful application.
I think to wet my page the same.
My narrow glance sees his amused watching.
The centre of each iris embeds
perception like a pitted light.
A well deep enough to hear my pen scratching?
He tests a stroke of blue on his hand,
nothing that can’t be blocked over.
Now blue in the white, white in orange.
At the cross of his legs sits the paint still.
Forget the details of Dostoyevsky!
Write like seeing, like painting, write
like lines in hiragana. Borrow this style:
as the paint dries there is time to etch
each character as clean as ivory.
My hand has three shadows;
the brush, another measure.
Kiborio is waiting with an elbow on the chair
and what remains rests on our space
to pick up, press and fold into
the pages of a fresh blank book.