Takanata's Poems

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Book One

The Shadow of the Wall

Two mice jump and tumble
Pale as the moon, brown as a leaf
Yet the same

Two mice freeze beneath the sky
Hearts fluttering in terror
The claws descend

The memory of light moves away from the shadow

The Providence of Coincidence

The journey of a thousand li
Begins with one very bad day

A handful of stones from the river bed
Were not born together
Did not shape each other
But are placed into the wall together
To hold back the storm

Ghost Hunters

Sand stretches in all directions
Footsteps lead south in dashed lines
An arrow pointing into the past
A trail to be followed

The Price of Good Fortune

The web shivers with dancing strands
The butterfly struggles and launches free
Wings sparkling in the sun
Heavy with the golden prize
The bird waits, poised

Ship of Gold

The river runs clean and silver
The golden ship drifts like a leaf
The reflection of the ship shines as brightly
But cannot be touched

Fire and Ice

Ice which does not melt, but burns
A touch of Winter at the heart of Summer (this line has a shadow underneath it)
The truth is in the shadow, the action in the light

Whispered Secrets

A mask is always beautiful
Smiles with perfect grace
But shows nothing
Beneath the mask lies the skin
Beneath the skin lies the truth
Beneath the truth
Lies the secret

Bureaucracy for Beginners

trouble in the foxruns,
from both near and afar,
beyond the watered gate
blankets covering truth
or lies soon to be,
the map reckons secrets,
and lets the Hunter see.
royal spire, and golden reach,
the Marked hand is arrived,
seeking pawns of one who flits
to save the lord survived.
freedom in water, safety in the rain,
when ink runs down the page,
the Hunter's sight will strain,
and the Marked will flee the stage.

Unwelcome Invitation

A seed sown in the north grows to bear a bitter fruit
A seed planted by my hand in its shade grows as well
Corruption seeks to destroy even those not its enemy
But makes enemies of those it does not destroy

Monarch Butterfly

Ravaged by venom,
Salvaged by love.
Far travelled, long sought,
First key is the draught.
Inquisitive and cunning,
though assaulted by all,
Memory's salvation
needs those cross'd the wall.
Peerless connection
twixt body and mind.
Off on a journey,
Its plans to unwind.
Recover the heart of the
Butterfly's pawn,
though spirit and demon
will fight till the dawn.

Book Two

Death Blossom

Origami: a paper flower folded from paper with skeletons drawn upon it.


On the River

A paper chain with raindrops painted on one side, water on the other.

Serpent's Egg

A little puzzle out of folded colored paper - an egg with a serpent patterned in maze-like colors, wrapped around it, and a little heart. The puzzle is how to get the heart into the egg.

Travelling with the Butterfly Prince: Part II

  • Hide Outside
  • Tong Throng
  • Other Brother
  • Fated Hated
  • Girl Whirl
  • Sleight Fight

Phoenix Hearth

Other people have made prophetic art for him
a clay figure of a woman riding a horse, a phoenix painted in

orange, a tiny watercolor of a cherry blossom drifting in mist, a folded paper flower (each petal a different color), a tiny sitar player carved in ivory, and a wooden netsuke of an octopus.

A River Befouled

Redemption blooms as an opening flower
But bears a single seed alone

(the second half of the poem is torn away)

Compass Rose


Fox in Socks

The Eighth Name



Lahjen na murkkya hautuak kanssa on totta.
Ampanen on viholln, mutta ala lo pesa
Jakaa kumalen khydistyi.
A face that has not known joy can only grimace, not smile.
Even if the wasp is your enemy, do not strike the nest.
The split lifedeath united.

Book Three

Whale Hunt

A watercolor landscape of a seaside. There is a fuzzy, smeary town pictured, with three large docks sticking into the water, and a fuzzy picture of a grey boat docked at one of them.

Opening Cages


The Real Inspector Fu

The pellet with the poison
In the vessel with the pestle
For the chalice from the palace
With the brew that is true
So the potion of emotion
Aims a sting at the king
While to spill out the pill
Turns suspense to offense.

Ancestor Spirit

An Offer could be an Opportunity, or make an Enemy
An enemy could be an opportunity, with an offer
An enemy's opportunity opportunes enemies in the offing

Over the Mountains and Through the Woods

  • Might is important, but balance is key.
  • A wall in the wilderness tells you there is something behind it.
  • Metal carries water, but water rusts metal.
  • The journey of a thousand li begins with a single step, if you can but take it.
  • It is easier to fool a good man with a bad reason than a bad man with a good reason.
  • To spurn a fair fight suggests you wish to cheat
  • Watch your step before you become lost, rather than after

Three Ring Yoshi

The hunter may admire the prey;
the man who would buy the pelt
sees only the color, not the life.
The man who sees a paragon
in one mirror
will break another mirror
who shows him a fool
Every boy counts it a victory
to stand in the shoes
of his older brother
and not fall

Children of the Bamboo

She who owned it knew it not
She who wished it owned it not
She who owned it wished it not
He who found it sought it not
He who needs it has it not
He who has it needs it needed
It was what it is not
It is not what it may be