from Lake M


Soul-ships mirage

maiden masts      flood     

larks      the valley



beacons shine
the horned masks

benignant brides cast
by the light of aging men

Sori steamed
on blackened glass
layer the inadvert cenobite



ships turn 

blue fur in the spectral light

animals devouring sailcloth


inspissate       —      waves


the rhythm of the white cloth

lain across corse faith

bunched wharves of breathings’ oil



“and how could the buildings
                           in silhouette     

“surrounded by a vermilion fence

“with sac       —      red stream

“tied to sakaki boughs                 “fail



white aspens


a trace            /

trembling / airy ground
minutely, the impressionable earth


The marks you leave     
      inverted warts on mines

only those on the coast

           on tender arms



Everyone waited for the flowers to rise
through two thousand feet of snow    

towards the vibrating wires     


They waited for a cold century     

levied friend and nation
for the first inflorescence, but     
the flowers did not rise     

snow spread a tumulus     

the flowers curled the bottomland     
stirring the dark, redoubtable weight
of two thousand pacing feet


Wires cast thinly on the field     

slack, untapped and frozen




                                      cut to the oleum                 
                                   gentian in the mud     
                                                            singing insects climb their blades
                                           in the wake  bells, bridle
                     grounds closed for the night, serrated
                                                             stridulating dark
                              fire and observer work     

                                                             a lambent guest
                                                shawling  falls on lag gravel          
                                      tumescent sings                                
                                                           her answer, her answer, her answer is



from O Bon


the Inland Sea


long tress
      let down
    from the ship of war


    to the indomitable wave


    how many blooms per crest

    warming the katana hilt
tapers brush the surface of the water

    the helm by the hair


half faces
    leather and iron


    in the vault
the crests


Brandon Shimoda was born on the west coast and raised on the east coast. He is the author of Lake M, One (Corollary Press, 2007), as well as writings appearing in Practice: New Writing + Art, Xantippe, Aufgabe, Verse, Pilot Poetry, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Montana and curates the New Lakes reading and performance series, in Missoula, where he currently lives.