My thanks to friend and founding editor
Robin White for including Canvases 927 and 928 in her beautiful Fall
2017 issue of Akitsu Quarterly. I’m deeply moved to see them in
print, and am relieved on their behalf that they escaped my
ever-lengthening parade of lonely-blissful misfits. But there is much
more to Robin’s publication than these two drawings. There is such
a lovely spirit in this collection of haiku from around the world —
an insightful hush and calm, if you will, that restores one’s
balance. Precious brevity, where all else seems a landslide of words.
I don’t believe in war. I am grown
up. I am sixty-one years old. I love all the school children. I love
all the young people in love. I love the leaves as they fall. The
buds as they come on. I feel sad when I accidentally cause the death
of a bug. I’m a tree myself. A rock. The moss. I love the streets.
I love the countryside. I love the little broken-down farm houses and
cemeteries. People, walking. Holding hands. Laughing. Crying.
Millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and if
you want me to agree with this or that justification — well, just
forget it, that’s all. Keep your flags. Your pride. Your borders.
Your frightened bully guns. I know what they represent, I knew when I
was fourteen, I know now, and I’ve seen and had and lost enough to
know that love is the real courage, the real bravery, and I’m not
afraid to say it, I’m not afraid to appear weak, I am not ashamed
to admit that I can’t live without the help of others, or to say
that I love all the people of the world, all of our languages, all of
our kinds, all of our colors, and that I am sorry for any animosity I
may have created during my life, known to me or unknown, any
contribution I have made to unhappiness and misunderstanding, or to
publicly recognize that it was due to my ignorance and arrogance even
though I always meant well. But I was scared. And therein lies a
revealing truth: the stronger you wish to appear, the more scared you
are. Of yourself. Of life. Of love. You don’t want simplicity. You
shun the obvious answer. You demand complication. You are afraid to
stand up in front of the world and take my hand, the hand of someone
you have never met, and say, “We will live this way no more.” All
these powerful people, afraid to lose their money, afraid to appear
weak, all they have to do is stand up and hold hands and say, “No
more.” Then they will know what strength is. Then we can feed the
hungry and care for the ill and the old. And they know this deep
down. That is why their faces are disfigured and cold. You’ve seen
it. You know. Have pity for them. Show them how.
By my faulty, limited reckoning, this
poem is about fifteen years old. It is also as old as the hills. Too
old. New? No. Yes. Painfully so. There is something about fall. The
first rain. Bus loads of school children. Waving tired moms. What
does any of it have to do with cabbages? I don’t know. Nothing?
Everything? And in the end, it really isn’t that much of a poem. Or
a poem at all. Except, what isn’t?