Poetry by Hana Kobayashi Shapiro

When stone can’t be burned

Step 1:
Start with the word, in conversation, but beware, the narrowed branches of the decision tree stoops under some towering stone giant — a threat unlike a volcano, but in its standing, sweat-carved original of an effigy. Pocked waves in the enormous, eroded yet parous stone sends a grandiose recoiled imagination into the so called Far Past.” Tremble at that infinite and inimitable aged look inextricable from a Sure progression morphed into a slinky that tangles with a steep set of stairs. What old woman does not have liver spots and frayed fingers.

Step 2:
It does, the proto-effigy, block out the sun; so, for a good untold hours a day we live in shadows. Sunset returns, the squinted recoloration of all the land’s surfaces to us, leaving fragments of wishes in the floating dust invisible in the stone’s shadow. Like assembling a biscuit out of flour, we have lost too much already.

Step 3:
These days, fingers seem to melt into the relative darkness and the body becomes a projection of the stone’s distorted shape. Somehow the eroded space in between the carved stone is crafted by the gentle hand of an individual prided on their hard work. Chipping away unguided towards the core the pick assists the wind.

Step 4:
If we believed in the goodness of Progress, as some believe that they put us here, we would only come to realize they come in the night anyway with heavy cement and color-matching spray paint. Stories always entertain in the dark; light up using the specters of sound: metal chains grinding against a victorious erosion — here and there, we pick up after the storm, humming the tune, chipping away with our feet.

Testimony in defense of memory

The sun flashes
onto the bedroom wall like a
solstice marker chasing known paths
no trail left behind

Heavy clouds end up
in some bucket down the street
swept down Germantown cobblestones
missing its
patch of stinging nettles

Brick is a good kind of
cool now and
skeleton bushes gain
a bit of

summer weight
like the robins.
The litter still remains
and we walk by the

flattened, alien mush
of last year as though
the street was

On one day, we have some
sense of time. On another,
we have another incoming
sack of unrecycled debris

washed up from
the devouring winds of
mass rotation. If only,
the leaf had landed on

the dirt. If only the fly
had flown into the web. If
only they had survived.

In the newness of warmth,
the rays that sweeten our
memories digest the lives
of last year’s products.

The tail dried up
on the side
of the road

day in and
out as the
sun moves
across the wall.

One day,
it disappears.

experiments in memory and time

when i was a child, i would drive across town to see the dark side of the moon, or at the very least, the face of the crescent. i unearthed a crystal from the sliver of earth undisturbed by surely steaming pipes. i compressed my body like a worm. our age pared down the possibilities even more so — perhaps the Story lays at the obvious feet of so-called reality: a past and present announced in one way or another; a recognizable, or not, footprint of some known stitch. if ____ remembers with our hand to the ground, it is history. send it down the river with a wildflower tucked in its palm.

Hana Kobayashi Shapiro

Twitter: @hkos72

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