Deposit # 28

The poetry you see here reflects
over three decades of work. I have
changed over the years as you have.
If you want to see what I write
currently, visit:

I love and appreciate you all.

Robert D. Wilson

Monday, February 28, 2011

Deposit #13

robert d. wilson's

A depository for over 3 decades of
poetry and haiga art by
robert d. wilson

It is with great sadness that I announce to you that Professor Micheal F. Marra has passed away.

A mentor, and a brilliant researcher, he was one of the English speaking world's leading experts in the fields of Japanese Hermeneutics, Aesthetics, and Interpretation.

I promised him a month ago that I would do everything in my power to keep his memory and the fruits of his research alive and accessible to readers of Simply Haiku and Lousy Mirror.
Michael was a kind, warm hearted, humble scholar who didn't toot his own horn. He taught and did research until he passed away on Wednesday morning. He told me he was experiencing unbearable pain but wasn't afraid of death, that he looked as death the same way as most Japanese do. He also had a sense of humor which few would have considering the pain he was going through and had gone through having a rare form of cancer. When I encouraged him to fight the good fight, he said, "If I don't die, everyone will think I'm a liar."

ESSENTIAL READING: Books by Professor Michael F. Marra 

1. Japan's Frames of Meaning: A Hermeneutics Reader

2. Essays on Japan: Between Aesthetics & Literature

3. Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Reader

4. Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics & Interpretation

The above four books are essential reading for anyone seriously studying Japanese poetics and wanting to improve their art. His scholarship is second to none. Granted they are deep textbooks and not light reading, but one needs meat before they can have dessert.  Studying his works and corresponding with him has changed my view of and deepened my understanding of Japanese short form poetry.

"Makoto [true essence] came to inform the poetics of haiku, culminating in Basho's notion  of the "sincerity of poetry (fuga no makoto), which he considered to be a 'constant' (fueki) in the composition of haiku: 'a style based firmly on sincerity' that does not change with time or fashion, and that stands in tension with the principle of the 'natural.' or 'ever-changing' (ryuko), that is, the natural renovation of haiku within the framework of unchanging sincerity. This tension corresponds to the  strain between the renovation of things during the shifting of the four seasons and the unchanging truth of the repetitiveness of the seasonal cycles."

where are you
now that soil has swallowed
your body . . .
the words you left, searching
for blossoms to inhabit?

Written for Michael F. Marra

poor ant,
ninety days to live
and no mask

your wings, can they 
carry me
through the unsaid
into zoka's heart?

sing for me,.
kami, in the tree limbs . . .
that bore you

your words . . .
again they speak to me
at night
in the whispers
of loose screen doors

sweet wind . . .
teach me how to sculpt
sea cliffs

the surplus
of words burrowed in
spring darkness . . .
a mole eating his way
through the may or may not

cold wind . . 
the fish seller
sits alone

am i a
sperm swimming upstream
in a race . . .
lured by an egg with
a sick sense of humor?

salt me,
vendor, with a lazy
spring smile

even in the darkest

when i learned
that you died, i
the darkness you
saw when words failed

nothing is
static, your breath
cradling stars

unlike alice's
my mirror doesn't
talk back . . . 
a cheshire cat
coughing up pool balls

     autumn moon . . . 
a tumor in my
wife's chest

rose thorns . . . 
i paste one on
my forehead . . . 
pretending to be
a rhinocerous

     this foot hill . . . 
and i, starring up
at winter

and madness,
a windmill slaying
     knights . . . 
in a field of
shattered mirrors

your back
at night, deepens
my winter

    bathe me, wind . . .
in a canyon filled
with stars

     sampaguita . . . 
even in the darkest

in the
darkest corners, hungry
peeing on walls 
their father's built

the same old wall . . .

your visage, a prayer
i too sing . . .
waiting for time to
reunite what is

*Maria Makiling, is a faerie princess, who lived
in a village near where I live. She lived during
a time when gods walked with humans.
Maria fell in love with a human, which was
forbidden. She was stripped of almost all of
her powers and banished to the jungle. Her
lover was banished forever from seeing her.
Mount Makiling, a dormant volcano, is shaped
like a sleeping woman. According to legend,
she is waiting for her human lover to return

      green bamboo . . .
waiting for the flute
player's knife

always changing,
the wind weaving through
      the mountains . . . 
a vagabond poet
carrying thistles

i breathe
your spirit at night, pressed
against walls

chase after
who, the clouds with
dark smiles 
holding up mirrors
for spanish priests?

    where to think . . . 
when night shrinks into
globs of then?

i sense you
in my breath, walking
downstream . . . 
to the spot our son
scattered your ashes

what to feed
      the starling's brood . . .
when rain falls?

our minds
without words to 
assemble . . .
sit on tree limbs
eating termites


Vietnam Ruminations

transplanting new rice
before the cricket sleeps
this humid morning

I had it good compared to the Vietnamese working in the rice paddies. I got
up in the morning, put on a uniform laundered and pressed by a Vietnamese
laundrywoman, and walked with my shipmates to the chowhall on base to
eat an all-you-can-eat breakfast featuring a choice of entrees, fresh fruit, and
pastries. After breakfast, we returned to the YRBM-17, where we did our
regularly assigned chores, complete with breaks, and an ample supply of soda
pop. The Vietnamese villagers we were there to protect, didnʼt have it so good.
For most, the day started before sunrise. Breakfast was scant, if they had any at
all. They worked long hours under a scorching sun. The humidity was 100%.
Breaks were nonexistent. They relieved themselves where they worked. Lunch
was a bowl of rice with, possibly, a piece of fruit, or a duck egg. The water
they drank was polluted, drawn from the Mytho River. Their workday ended
at sundown. Some went home to their families. Others fought with the Viet
Cong. My buddies and I partied with one another when we didnʼt have guard
duty. We knew so little about our they lived, how they thought, and
what they believed. Most werenʼt there because they cared about the Vietnamese.
Many servicemen called the Vietnamese, Gooks...a racially derogatory
term. Most served there either because they had no choice or because they felt
duty bound to oppose communism. It wasnʼt for a love of the country or its

Listen! A duck
complaining to its master
before the cock crows

Coming from middle class America, my culinary experiences were limited.
That was soon to change. The Vietnamese people ate food Iʼd never heard of
or dreamed of eating. One of their favorite delicacies is the Thousand Year
Old Egg. It is a nearly mature duck egg that has been buried in the ground
for a long time, then dug up. The egg is cracked and its contents swallowed
quickly. The smell is putrid.
When villagers ate shrimp, they ate them heads and all. They dined on small
frogs, small birds, and lizards. They chased their meals down with polluted
water. Soda pop was for the rich. Milk was nonexistent. The water buffalo is
not known for milk production. Funny thing. Now that I am older and married
to a fi lipina, I have dined on many of the foods Iʼve just mentioned, including
lizards and whole shrimp. The only one I donʼt like is the thousand year old
egg. I didnʼt like it in Vietnam and I donʼt like it now.

eerie spring night,
mortars walking across the bay --
footsteps of Godzilla?

For three weeks straight, during the TET Offensive in 1968, my base was
hit by mortars six or seven times a night. The mortars were a psychological
tool used by the Viet Cong to deprive us of sleep and to scare us. They
never hit anything. They hurled one mortar after another into the narrow
bay that separated the Navy from the Army side of our base in Dong Tam.
The sound of the mortars reminded me of the footsteps of Godzilla as
he walked through Tokyo on a rampage in the original Godzilla movie I
saw as a kid. It was eerie. A few weeks prior, a team of naval and army
engineers hired Vietnamese citizens from a nearby village to help with a
fi eld survey of the base. No wonder the mortars walked in a straight line
across the bay inching closer and closer to our living quarters and work
spaces with perfect precision. We were overjoyed when the mortar attacks
stopped three weeks later. The lack of hitting a target by the Viet Cong
became a joke. We thought they were blind as bats. We were sure theyʼd
never hit us. Later that year, when we least expected it, they hit again; this
time with deadly accuracy, hitting buildings, ships, and friends.

Dali painted me
into someone elseʼs dream
that Spring and walked away

The Spanish Surrealist, Salvadore Dali, is noted for his wild dreamlike
paintings that fl irt with madness. Nothing in his paintings are like they
seem. On closer look, the viewer sees pictures within pictures, some of
them shocking. I was not prepared for what I experienced in Vietnam
as a teenager just out of high school. I had no idea what the Vietnamese
people believed or how they thought. My only realm of experience
was my own from back home. As servicemen, we were taught nothing
about the Vietnamese. In high school, we learned nothing about
their history. Most of us originally didnʼt come to Vietnam to help the
Vietnamese people. We knew nothing about them. We came because
we were told that communism was knocking at our door and had to
be stopped to avoid a domino effect. I went, I saw, and got my mind blown.

We looked forward to the weekends. This was our time to go into
Mytho for a little rest and relaxation. Mytho is the nearest port city.
Just a few miles from our base. 
It was a half hourʼs cruise by

patrol boat up the polluted 
Mytho River, a tributary of the

Mekong River.  
Ashore, we behaved as typical 
sailors, visiting 

the bars, 
restaurants, dance halls, 
and curio shops. 

In our
was a cloud of children, hoping 
for handouts 

of gum and 
candy. In a way, we were their 

for the weekend.
I remember one child well. 
She was a nine 

year old orphan 
with a bowl shaped hairdo. And

what a mouth! She cussed like 
a sailor and possessed a cocky

personality. She also spoke 
good English. Whenever a certain

noncommissioned officer 
came ashore, sheʼd cling to him

like glue to paper. The NCO 
was the consummate drunk;

weaving in and out of the red 
light district with a bottle of

Crown Royal whiskey in his 
hand. She served dutifully as

his protector, negotiator, and 
interpreter. Where he was, she

was. In return, he gave her special attention, made her feel 
and provided her with food and money. It was as if she 

had a father. 
Then the man was shipped Stateside.




I can
day and night
and still
the clouds
refuse me
entrance into

we shared
once upon a time
when mermaids 
big blue oxen
all the rage

and bambi 

been squashed 
who was 
signing autographs
his own star


hollywood bouevard
in 1954
as a 
black and white 
with a heart 
a bad case
raymond burr
was edited 
the american version
without him,
no one 
would have
what the hell
was going on
the Japanese
the horror
   the A-bomb . . .
shattered teacups
charred babies
school children
no father
no mother
no monk
no mat
sit on and pray
an emperor
didn't answer
and waited 
flying ban'ya






the key



robert d. wilson


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See you in seven days.
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