Brandon Shimoda


from Lake M

Soul-ships mirage

maiden masts        flood     

larks       the valley



beacons shine 
the horned masks 

benignant brides cast 
by the light of aging men

Sori steamed 
on blackened glass 
layer the inadvert cenobite



ships turn 

blue fur in the spectral light

animals devouring sailcloth


inspissate        —       waves


the rhythm of the white cloth

lain across corse faith

bunched wharves of breathings’ oil



“and how could the buildings
                                  in silhouette     

“surrounded by a vermilion fence

“with sac         —       red stream

“tied to sakaki boughs                      “fail



white aspens


a trace               /

trembling / airy ground
minutely, the impressionable earth


The marks you leave      
        inverted warts on mines

only those on the coast

              on tender arms



Everyone waited for the flowers to rise 
through two thousand feet of snow    

towards the vibrating wires     


They waited for a cold century     

levied friend and nation 
for the first inflorescence, but      
the flowers did not rise     

snow spread a tumulus     

the flowers curled the bottomland      
stirring the dark, redoubtable weight 
of two thousand pacing feet


Wires cast thinly on the field     

slack, untapped and frozen




                                             cut to the oleum                  
                                          gentian in the mud      
                                                                          singing insects climb their blades
                                                      in the wake  bells, bridle 
                          grounds closed for the night, serrated 
                                                                             stridulating dark 
                                      fire and observer work     

                                                                             a lambent guest
                                                             shawling  falls on lag gravel           
                                                tumescent sings                                
                                                                          her answer, her answer, her answer is



from O Bon
the Inland Sea

long tress 
        let down
      from the ship of war


      to the indomitable wave


      how many blooms per crest

      warming the katana hilt
tapers brush the surface of the water

      the helm by the hair


half faces 
     leather and iron


     in the vault
the crests




Brandon Shimoda was born on the west coast and raised on the east coast. He is the author of Lake M, One (Corollary Press, 2007), as well as writings appearing in Practice: New Writing + Art, Xantippe, Aufgabe, Verse, Pilot Poetry, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Montana and curates the New Lakes reading and performance series, in Missoula, where he currently lives.