“Koto no Yume”

“Koto no Yume”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

In dreamland forests of my soul I hear
What deafened ears in waking cannot know
A yearning in konara groves
That lilts in silent soft-edged shadows calls

The stream conversing with the hart has hushed
Its liquid-silver voice now mute
As herons ankle-deep in currents pause
And reverently bow in pious prayer

The insects cease their gossip in the ferns
And in anticipation preen their wings
As purple katakuri nod
At crimson higanbana through the leaves

And sly kitsune slinks from trunk to trunk
A flash of pale white-flickered tail
To find a seat ‘neath green-leafed momiji
Or ‘neath the needled kuromatsu boughs

And in my dream the forest holds its breath
Eternity descends upon the trees
And all who love and care for them
As gilded god-beams light the mossy stage

Then from the forest depths there comes a sound
That filters through the canopy
A song that renders deafened hearing moot
A song heard not with ears but with the heart

The stirring notes of strings plucked heavenly
By fingers blessed by goddesses above
A visionary eloquence
My koto no yume, my koto dream

Then, riding on the sunlit motes, appears
A glowing form adorned in hues
Of wild flowers, seas of green, sky blue
A maiden of unspeakable allure

This tennyo who deigns to entertain
Floats lithely in her hagoromo garb
Her feathered kimono as fair
And bright as golden taiyoko above

Her voice then whispers softly and with care
And all the world has ceased its spin
As ocean tides and fragrant winds stand still
To listen and to learn and understand

She sings of wondrous beauty as her voice
Begins to rise and fall among the trees
Her lyrics tell a tale of life
And loss and sorrow and redemptive hope

And as her words fall gently to the ground
She spreads her arms and looks at me
Her voice a solemn tone as koto fades
And tears the tinct of summer rainstorms fall

“These woods,” she says, “and all that live herein
And all the earth and sea and sky above
Are gifts to you and in your care
But paradise is fleeting, sunset looms…”

And in my dream I watch the forest fade
As oceans rise and skies turn dark
And animals lie choking on the fumes
Of human hubris, and the figure says,

“The choice is yours, but tarry not…farewell…”
And she is gone and I awake to find
Myself alone in midnight thoughts
And listen for the strains of koto strings

But all I hear is silence in the night
And all I see as I peer through
My open window is the waning moon
As it paints with a sterling brush the trees

Of distant woods and stream and meadowland
And since my ears are deaf, I use my heart
I close my eyes and breathe in deep
To reconnect with nature once again

Then faintly as a forest sigh I hear
The somber song of koto strings
And opening my eyes I see the streak
Of sleek kitsune tail cross the lea

And hart emerging from the sleeping woods
And herons winging slowly past the moon
And in my heart the choice is clear
My koto no yume, my koto dream

“A Few Haiku (17)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


I have burned my hands
In the furnace of the past
Stoking memories



Stars write arias
For the bashful moon to sing
But who will listen



I have made my peace
Sitting under willow trees
In the green shadows



Does the floating leaf
Fear whitewater’s treachery
It has no regrets



Put my ear to ground
Listen to the planet’s heart
Know my place on earth



In the hushed forest
Eternity speaks to me
In jade whisperings


(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

I have bathed in forest’s em’rald essence
I have nestled, secreted away, in
Jade konara copse
I have placed my palms
Soft upon the scabrous skin of giants
Whose slowly beating hearts have shattered stone
Whose deeply delving fingers grip the earth
In lover’s embrace
Eternity is far too brief a time
For such a love as this, for such a love
Trees have for the earth
I have for the trees

Gazing skyward at my green universe
Amid kisses from ubiquitous night
Which fall like star-flakes
Through the canopy
I sense the unheard language of the trees
A faint susurrus welcoming me home
A shush of contemplation on the breeze
Voices of the trees
Quietude enfolds me as, eyes closed, I
Breathe the conversation of konara
Listen with my heart
To all that matters

The living scent of moss and loam, absorbed
Through every pore, a heady, arcane brew
Lulling, as the moon
Lets down her hair and deigns to coyly peek
Through silver-gilded burled boughs and leaves
And shyly paints moon-dapples on the ground
And the trees, amused
Approve with bowing branch and shaking leaf
As midnight sighs and winds begin to waft
Shadows blanket me
As I drift to sleep

And in my dreams I see konara copse
As though I were a bird in winging flight
Illumined by the
Golden summer sun
A living, breathing testament to life
A vibrant beating heart in tune with earth
A mother who gives birth to all that lives
Oh, mamori tai
I will protect you, my konara copse
For you have given me the gift of life
And I owe you a
Debt I must repay