Jōzenji Fallout

by Iain Twiddy Issue: Spring/Summer 2019

Come December, the trees of Jōzenji would bead

with white lights, so the nights prickled with impulse,

and the faintest footfall of snow would delight.

The whole row was aglow, suffusing with ice,

a parade of starlight that could but fold and gutter

through the splitting of spring and summer’s buzzed flourish,

leaving barely a trace of that galaxy of ghosts.


And now loss is blossoming all over, maybe

no ashen zelkova will miss those lost lights,

or pine like the half-life pines east of Sendai,

cold-shouldered by mist, cast adrift,

where even Bashō failed to contain himself,

to stay rooted and pure, and climb like a pine

to look one more day over the bay, then die.

Iain Twiddy

Iain Twiddy studied literature at university and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poems have been published in The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, The Moth, Blackbox Manifold, and elsewhere. He has also written two critical studies of contemporary poetry.