Aleppo Falls as Winter Fog Settles on the Chitose River
POETRY FORMAT, 2 Jan 2017
smoke rising from a snuffed-out candle
the heady scent of cinnamon
moments before you come
and fall to earth like bricks
screaming out lamentations
from inside a refugee’s mouth
wild swans cursing the cold all night
ice growing like mold along the riverbank
buttery fog slowly melting in the moonlight’s glare
Japan Air Self-Defense Force jets buzzing low over the river all morning
the letters tucked under sweptback metal wings bleeding
into this prayer for the bombed children of Aleppo
and for floating salmon feasted upon by foxes
their skeletons strewn on terraced riverbanks
toothy jaws frozen wide singing one final song
of the powder snow brushed from uncut greens
a tiny black & white jumping spider both hands up
reciting an identical poem on a frostbit shred of kale—
how the world let an entire city be bombed and massacred
because of elections and gifts to buy and capitulation to power
search & rescue dogs sniffing out spoils of war rotting under rubble
Stephen Toskar is a longtime resident of Japan. His poems have appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, Tokyo Poetry Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, LA Progressive, Hollywood Progressive, Chattahoochee Review, Dissident Voice, Poetry Nippon, Jayanta Mayapatra’s Chandrabhaga, and Cyrano’s Journal. Also in the anthologies Manifestations and Farewell to Nuclear, Welcome to Renewable Energy, the latter a bilingual collection of poems assembled in reaction to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Living on the northern island of Hokkaido with his wife and young son near the banks of the Chitose River, he is a professor in the Dept. of International Language Studies at Hokkaido Bunkyo University.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Jan 2017.
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