Tree of Life

Brandon Shimoda

Someday I’ll stand speechless
on a grand, forgotten tree of life.

The ornate order of existence 
will be my partner, and my partner 
will be my shadow 

My shadow will be preaching, will be endowed with 
all I cannot carry
in this life, 

overcome with questions,   The tree of life is 
not but 


Still, some orderly lights 
each resting eyelid

flaming   until 
night melts 


I saw a soldier stacked upon a ceramic tree
He looked forlorn
with his bayoneted rifle 
pointing at his shoe

he was only looking at the boy
who crawled out of the mud
to see the man who gratified the image
of sanctuary   

in killing, between killings

birds flew out of the fist   
the stomach contained 

the mud   The boy threw himself on 
the path. The path was wet


falseness is emptiness
glamor is tyranny
music is the cleaning of the room 

at night   the tree grows   
but does not manifest 
its growth 
except in   Gate of Hell


I put my head on a book, 
The Emissary, Random Family   
Black Reconstruction
poetry   the Caribbean, 
Japan, Asian American history
Life in a Tomb   Life in a Tomb

The poor whites were putting stars on
colorful tigers. like 
a child misplaced 
the object of its song   turning   
and turning on 
a thin branch   box,   A chapel 
could be 
drawn in   could be 
entered, renovated


It is either that the tree, the mother of my childhood 
among the trees, has ceased
to see, or I have
become opaque 
to the laughter languishing inside
the stern expression 
of every tree
inside of me.


The mother of my childhood 
is several mothers   

a rock, a large rock,
in which I became a spider, 

shaped like pie 
or a continent,   the woods, 
the black house in the woods, 
the large rock in the woods
where I sat like I was surrounded 
by mothers,   the seed of several rinds,
the shape between several seeds, alone, 
the bubble   orange and pink
and yellow red
and I was lonely.

I sat on the rock 
each day with the bile 
that made the vantage of expression

frowning   like people
diving off cliffs 
into the jaws of mulched atmosphere

one after the other   another,
son of the autumnal mother


I was a son   my mother’s children were breeches
casting shadows on the spider

and narcoleptic   flowers
hung like earlobes

I thought I was the poet
dragged against 
the soft mud of 
his country   

I thought being a poet was falling through trees
jumping off a low cliff
into a pot of scum

I never paid attention to
the oil that bloomed each second   peppered 
in the poem 

slid off the roof, into the woods

trees do not touch

Not even if hands became sledges or crosses
or fins cutting through The Cut