“A Few Haiku (25)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


whispers of the dead
desiccated teasel stalks
haunt the winter field



fuyu no shika
scornful mountains echo
mournful stag’s lament



in the end
my heart gropes in darkness
on life’s lonely path



jade remembrance
the hitch in my chest
as my heart shatters



barren winter field
this heart of mine
bereft of yours



in silence in shadows
cold earth trembles beneath
blanket of regrets

“The Snow That Never Falls”

“The Snow That Never Falls”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

The snow that never falls cannot assuage
The sorrow of the autumn’s grim defeat
There is no balm
For open wounds
No gilded cup
To slake the dying season’s thirst
No whispered words to quell the fear
Of failing heart
Forsaken soul
Abandoned hope
There is no honor in autumn’s demise
In absence of the snow that never falls

The tears that never fall have silenced me
Left desiccated bitter memories
Of desert sand
And alkali
That sting my eyes
Abrading zephyrs scour my soul
Abrasive hardpan sears my soles
I walk through life
An empty husk
Of what I was
There is no succor for these blinded eyes
In absence of the tears that never fall

The love that never comes has passed me by
And stranded me along the mountain path
The chilly wind
Bereft of warmth
Has sundered life
There is no trace of hart nor hind
Nor shadowed copse in which to rest
Treacherous scree
And empty tarns
And granite bones
Epitomize my solitary life
In absence of the love that never comes

The spring that never comes can never heal
The grievous pain inflicted on the earth
By autumn’s death
And winter’s drought
And dearth of care
For those who walk the silent path
Through torrid flats and frigid slopes
In search of what
They’ll never find
And stumble on
In darkness spurned by sun and moon and stars
In absence of the spring that never comes

“A Tanka Trio (9)

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Old stones squander heat
In the fire pit at night
After flames have died
Wrapped in fading embers’ arms
Love succumbs to apathy



I pick up the eggs
Fallen from a sparrow’s nest
Observing the cracks
There is silence as the earth
Contemplates what might have been



In the summer lea
Fluted vessels spill their mead
Amid buzzing drones
Yellowjackets drink their fill
Humming raucous tavern tunes

“Hana no Niwa (Garden of Flowers)”

“Hana no Niwa (Garden of Flowers)”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

In the restless nights
In the small flower garden
Spider lilies weep
Mournful beneath midnight moon
Dreaming higanbana dreams

They cry in silence
Do they know for whom they grieve
Do they remember
It was you who planted them
It was you who gave them life

They are not alone
In the soil of memories
In their moonlit tears
In my hana no niwa
In my place of remembrance

Magenta sweet peas
Bow their heads and bid farewell
To the one whose hands
Long-fingered and delicate
Caressed suitopi blooms

When the frost has come
Ivory chrysanthemums
Lay to rest your name
In autumnal kiku tombs
In dark chambers of my heart

In the pallid glow
Of tsuki and winter stars
Camellias die
Shed their crimson petals in
Snowy tsubaki lament

In the spring voices
Of sakura sing of you
Cherry blossoms mark
Your fleeting days in the sun
When skies were forever blue

In opposing climes
Doleful daffodils remain
Solemn sunflowers
Suisen, himawari
Pay respects with humble hearts

There’s a hidden place
In my hana no niwa
In my broken heart
Where my love for you still grows
Flowers bloom eternally

You are always there
Kneeling in the fertile loam
Under summer sun
Tending our flower garden
Where skies are forever blue

“Eleven Days”

“Eleven Days”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

The wind blows
Those shadows deeper
Into gloaming recesses
Of pine corridors
As aspens
Denuded and shamed
By autumn’s fickle fury
Huddle shivering
In dim dusk

In my heart
Those eleven days
Of silence tore me apart
Like carrion birds
My soul chipped
Away like frost-cracked
Rock on frigid granite tor
Mind numbed by gelid

How could I
Have foreseen my gift
For you would shatter your heart
Send you spiraling
Into your
Personal abyss
Disrupt delicate balance
Leave you retreating
In the dark

How could I
Have foreseen my love
For you would turn you away
In anger and fear
When all I
Wanted was to say
I would wait for you as you
Sought to find yourself
Once again

I was so
Afraid that you would
Disappear into the void
Of black depression
Lose yourself
Among demons that
Barred you from the healing flame
Of lucid mind and

I was so
Afraid all was lost
All we built on tenuous
Foundations destroyed
Fragile trust
Dashed upon the rocks
Of hopelessness and despair
Fledgling dreams of joy
Now sundered

And how could
I foresee that when
You returned to me at last
Those eleven days
Of heartache
Gone in cautious hope
Never to return were but
A harbinger of
Our demise

That the next eleven days
Would last a lifetime
Without you

The wind blows
My sorrow deeper
Into gloaming recesses
Of my heart and mind
Denuded and shamed
By regret’s fickle fury
Huddle shivering
In dim dusk

“A Few Haiku (5)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Fronds torn by the storm
Willow bathes her wounds in tears
Heaven cries above



In konara copse
Broken axe is silent now
Entombed by the ferns



In my sorrow I
Doubt that even sparrow’s joy
Can restore my heart



In chill autumn rain
Memories of sakura
Memories of you



There is bird-song when
I see my bare-footed love
Smiling demurely



All I wish for you
Is that you are happy and
You’ll remember me

“It’s Not Lost”

“It’s Not Lost”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

It’s not lost on me
How this coral-tinctured eve
Tempers morning’s joy
With sadness and coos of doves
Grieve dying light’s somber end

It’s not lost on me that I
Never got to bid farewell
As sun languishes
On melancholy verge of
Day’s bitter demise

It’s not lost on me
That no matter how I tried
I could not reach you
My arms were not strong enough
To save you from siren’s song

It’s not lost on me that I
Could not give you what you sought
To slay your demons
Could not be your shining hope
In your darkest hour

It’s not lost on me
That I mourn what never was
What could never be
How I wish this night would end
How I wish for you again

“The Footbridge”

“The Footbridge”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

That derelict footbridge
Has finally failed
Stranding us on
Opposite shores
Of the abyss
Like rotted planks
Litter the gorge
Desires and dreams
Upon indifferent rocks
Silence is all
I hear from you
Subdued echoes
Of regret
In opaque mists
To starlight
And hope
The absence
Of closure
Rooting me
In place
Heart seized
By fear
And uncertainty
Did you turn
And walk away
Or did you
Like our words
Into the
Sepulchral gulf
And must I
Remain here
Waiting for
The answer which will
Never come

“A Tanka Trio (2)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley



Northern memories
Chill my heart as bitter cold
Crystallizes tears
Frozen shame adorns my face
Wind howls in my lonely soul



My heart spills itself
Upon the ground like untied
Bags of grain carried
Carelessly upon the back
Thoughtless birds feast on my tears



Can my heart hear what
Deaf ears cannot, can my soul
Sense what eyes can’t see
Can I feel alive when all
I love has abandoned me

“The Daisy Ring”

“The Daisy Ring”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

“I found thee in a faerie copse…”

“Hmm?” she murmured
Her gaze caught somewhere
In the rainy neon night-world
Beyond the coffee shop window
Her fingers weightless
In my hand

“I found thee in a faerie copse
Alighting on each flower fair
And as I ‘proached thee in the hopes
Of snaring thee in lovers’ ropes
Thou disappeared into thin air…”

She looked at me then
A faint smile teasing
Her lips
“Your poetry is terrible,” she said
Her tired eyes regarding me warmly
For a moment before
Returning to the
Pouring rain beyond
Our personal universe
Of rickety little table and
Untouched mocaccinos
Her brown eyes
As she scanned the night
A single tear tracing
The curve of her cheekbone
In the garish glare of the
Outside world

I stared at her hand
Too pale and fragile
Almost transparent
As it nestled idly in mine
Like some sickly dove
The delicate silver band on her
Too-thin ivory finger
Etched with some flowing
Unknown script resembling a
Daisy chain
It was all I could do
Not to look at
The rest of her
But I did anyway
I had to
And it hurt

I closed my eyes
And allowed my
Memories of her
To replace the despairing image
Burned into my mind
As she sat in somber contemplation
On an unremarkable stormy night
In some nameless coffee shop
In an arbitrary world
Where prayers go unanswered
And hope dies on the vine
And nothing is what it seems

The image that settled
In my mind’s eye was
The first time I saw her
As I made my aimless way along
Some mindless city sidewalk
In some pointless other reality
Her face ensconced in a
Breeze-blown mane of
Luxuriant onyx hair
As she peered out the window
Of a passing bus
Looking at nothing
Lost in some reverie of her own
A faint bemused smile
Causing her face to glow
So brightly I had to
Look away or be blinded
And though she didn’t see me
I couldn’t stop seeing her
And was it fate that I eventually
Found her?
A miracle?
Random chance?
I chose fate
But I was wrong
I didn’t find her
She found me
And by that point
It was too late

I opened my eyes
And all pretense fled

She was fading
Before my eyes
Her essence draining
As though her soul
Had been punctured
By some eldritch poisoned dart
She must have known
What I was thinking
(She always did)
And she looked at me
Out of anguished eyes
Drowning in
Dark forbidden pools
And squeezed my hand with
All of her might
Her grip so weak by now
So frail
“You can’t save me…”

I looked at her angrily
About to deny this lie
This horrible, god-awful lie

“No…” she whispered
She reached out and
Touched my cheek
And after a time
All my anger dissolved
Into shame
And ran down my face
She wiped away
My pathetic tears and
Placed her moistened hand
Back in mine
Her sterling daisy ring
Gleaming dully

“Tell me again,” she said
As she tried to smile
“Tell me again of how you found me…”

And I looked at her
A solemn, resigned calmness
Settling over me like
A sheet pulled over the face
Of the deceased
She knew it wasn’t true
She knew she’d chosen me
Not the other way around
And I’d been powerless to resist
But she indulged my silly-sad
Because she loved me
And because she loved my
Puerile poetry

I swallowed hard
Shut my eyes against
What was about to happen
And said

“I found thee in a faerie copse…”

Her hand began to tremble in mine

“Alighting on each flower fair…”

The din of the coffee shop quieted
As the subtle incense
Of pine and myrtle
Wafted delicately

“And as I ‘proached thee in the hopes…”

A distant, stifled sob lilted softly
In the silence amid
The nearly indiscernible cries
Of birdsong

“Of snaring thee in lovers’ ropes…”

Her hand pulled away from mine
As gently as a parting lover’s kiss

“Thou disappeared into thin air…”

There was an almost imperceptible sigh
Like a forlorn forest breeze

When I finally opened my eyes
Her burnished silver daisy ring was
All that was left of her

She was gone