And Softened Rains

In the garden
where the old tree fell
last winter
I buried the memory
of the carving
we inscribed

What we used to say
to each other
had risen too high
for the echo
to find its way
back to us

Though there are still flowers
they’re waiting for shade
and softened rains
that won’t come
for this year’s bloom
or the next

Jeffrey Yamaguchi

April 2, 2022

Installment No. 3 of The Falling Dream Has Dropped

Read the new installment now, and wander awake through a dream.

About the newsletter: The Falling Dream features the key ingredients for dreams: a striking poem, a flowing image, an artistic/cultural reference, and a fragment of a story-in-progress — all dream inspired. The goal is to explore the literal, literary, artistic, and figurative aspects of the ever-elusive dream — to get you thinking about the dreams you have, having more dreams, and the many ways in which dreams inspire us and flow through our lives, even if we don’t always remember them. Subscribe here.

This Dance of Sleepless Dreams

This poem is part of my reading in Damien Donnelly’s excellent Eat the Storms podcast (so many episodes, so many amazing poets reading their wonderful poems), and a guidepost for a larger project about falling dreams.

High above the city streets
shadows bend to spells
on darkened windows
a pair of tired eyes sparkle
one brown, the other lighter brown
blinking to remember
this dance of sleepless dreams

Jeffrey Yamaguchi

Dream dreamers newsletter: The Falling Dream.

The Lights of New York by Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale wrote many poems about love, longing, and New York City. Here is a poem that combines all three, with the moon gazing down in wonder at the electric, always-on lights of a city that never sleeps. These are lights that inspire and energize, that widen the eyes and keep you seeking and striving and hungry for more of whatever it is your are looking for.

(From Rivers to the Sea, 1915.)

Are you heading towards the lights?

NOTE: This is excerpted from my twice-monthly newsletter The Falling Dream, which features some of the key ingredients for dreams. Subscribe here.

New Year Poem (2022)

I had the thought of a poem today. It was pretty good actually. Something to put on a card and send to people. Something hopeful about the new year. I thought of it while running in the park. All the leaves have fallen. It was freezing. I felt alive.

Later that night, I realized I couldn’t remember anything about it. Not the words, or even the concept.

That poem is gone.

Would you say that the poem never existed?

I trust your answer more than ever, given our shared expertise in distancing.

What can I tell you about the new year? I read aloud once again that Mithridates, he died old. This is a tradition. Each year, it feels like it has more resonance. Perhaps it has nothing to do with the words, just the fact that it’s a poem I was introduced to back in the old days and it has stayed with me all these years (adding a new one now, given the new year).

Things that make an impression in youth and stick with you compound meaning. New grooves weave their way into the marks and scrapes and scars of old.

That old poem, the one I first heard so long ago, is here now, the same as it ever was, but also, telling me something new.

Words will come, words will go. And on that late night subway ride home, staring into the darkness and the hint of a reflection of you, the words will be recalled. Perhaps we’ve shared that moment, but betrayed nothing in our momentary exchange of a glance.

Let the relentlessness of lost time forge the memory of how we express what we share from a distance.

These are the pieces of us that will come together for whatever happens next.

This is what I was thinking about while trying to remember, recalling that all the leaves have fallen, when it was freezing.

This is the poem.

— Jeffrey Yamaguchi, January 1, 2022

Slowly Each Step Until It’s Time to Fall

Thinking back to how it was done before
never mind last year
or the one before that
this time when the moment comes
to think about what happens next
like calculating an exact amount of rain
from a storm in the distance
followed by a generous heaping
of sunlight without any clouds
you will stir from underneath the shelter of
the old tree in the backyard of your youth
and catch the season’s final falling leaf

The Place We Imagined Separately

After sending several telegrams
back and forth
hinting at stories untold
we finally agree to meet

Back to the early days
instead of you being over there
and me having just left
we know exactly where to go

The place we imagined separately
where there’s a light snow on the ground
and our voices are carried by winds
that haven’t yet left the sea

You tell me what’s never happened
I share a story that will someday unfold
this is all in an unwritten letter
that was lost in the mail

Embracing the bond of our silence
we stare at ourselves across the way
watching us take our leave
never to say goodbye

New Project: The Falling Dream