“Musashi-san” by Jack Vian

Jack Vian



Who are the ones who awake without hearing
the sound of the sun-filled
dancing upon the edges of an outstretched wing?

And who am I?

To stand alone like a swordsman
without his sword,

a mere figure
in the unresolved distance
like a brushstroke

awaiting a scroll—

an empty bowl
ungrateful for the pleasure
of its emptiness

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms
2016 Neil Postman Award Winner


Jack Vian: “For the incarcerated poet, a poem is more than just a literary construct, it is an ideal given flesh. It’s the difference in wishing that a passing plane will notice the ship-wrecked castaways, and taking the time to carve an SOS in the beach or put a message in a bottle. So I’m always thankful when readers find something worthwhile in my experience. The only Japanese form that I use regularly is the haiku, and my practice of that had fallen into arrears. But I wrote this highly versified almost-haibun while reading a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.”

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