Four Poems by Brandon Shimoda & Lydia Anne McCarthy

Lmccarthy Body

Lydia Anne McCarthy. Black Pyramid, 2011, archival Inkjet Print, 60 × 75 inches, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.


Without forgetting
I am a child

Standing on a bridge in the old
Imperial capital

Looking up at the heads and
Beyond heads the hills

Are on fire———The sun is touching
The earth

With the force
Of attention

And suspended

My feet are no longer
Touching the bridge that
Was earlier

Come on night
Have I really been
Inside you?



The bodies of thousands
Contain me against them

I read fires on the swell
For the first time out loud

I hold my hand above the crowd
Mets Grapefruit or Pocari Sweat

Whistle over burials of hair like
Gripping meats

Between buns
Appearing as offspring from

Divine collision———Having won!
And having each

Concentration of the sun
Completing nerves the fires


To come back I have been talking
About learning to see with learning
To speak I am learning

To perfume the air
With carbonation and meat squeezed
From my eyes

Will I be alert as ion supply? Moving
With a can of fruit tucked inside?
Just taking the sun from one crown to another?

I really don’t know, but I
Will just go



Two women on the slope of a mountain
One coming down the other going up
The mountain eclipsing the sky so briefly
Even the most vigilant miss it

The woman coming down is balancing a dead baby on her head
The woman going up has a dead baby strapped to her back
The woman coming down is wearing a white robe with salmon undergarments
The woman going up is wearing a salmon robe with gray undergarments



Two men are roasting a dumpling
Over a low flame
In a clearing in the woods

Staring at the flame licking the sides of the dumpling
Little malice towards each other being there
Toward themselves not being alone

One man’s head is significantly larger
Than the other man’s head

The other man’s head is the head of a suicide
The one man’s head is swollen three times normal


The clearing in the woods is the perfect shape
Between the man with the head three times normal and
The man with the head of a suicide

Dumplings these days
Made of railroad grass generally



A woman burned into the slope of a mountain
Deposits black eggs up the skirts of women passing
To admire pink pioneers growing cool through wild coal
Feel nothing but what thereafter is shared
Of the burn, if anything, impatient for proof
The pinks are so small, they hardly matter, wild coal
Bright black as respects never stop
Glistening eggs as they roll down the mountain



A woman sweeps weather
From the bridge days

As one among several weathers
Eroding the bridge

A principal monument———Each
Weather eaten
By an appetite wider

Than the width of a weathered
Unremarkable face
———Don’t look

Back, Kensuke says
But in order to be here
I already have

No, you were never, the warning implies
I still have
A chance to go forward



What do you call these?
Flowers? An entire delight?

To make poems, to be a scholar
Study a branch———

Did he say? I don’t know
Words, exactly

Monsters and mute
And married without———

Who dare deny the flower of the field
Its color

Red? I stood on it———I stood
Boldly on

The dare———Wondered

Made making its

It would have to be an army
A professor, a historian, a politician
Japanese poet, Chinese poet

For whom water flowers come
From nowhere known
And go nowhere



To inscribe the name of the weather
On my forehead———To be free
In refuge weather
Will be the handle of my freedom

My freedom comes
To an end, I told
A friend, the coincidence to death
Makes sense

Riding the train from Dazaifu, I thought
I did not touch enough
The buns
Enough the buns———The buns

Were there
They were everywhere
Moving companionably
The conveyor



Then the deer came
To the sea

Came? To touch
The living? Touched
The living

To pulp——Black
Veins no longer
Ran isolated
Deer became

To the advances of people naked
Consequences of very touching

A soft nose, fleshy
Then molded
A wet histrionic

People came?
The deer came
True——The tide was
That fast

Brandon Shimoda is the author of several books—including Portuguese (Octopus Books / Tin House Books, 2013), O Bon (Litmus Press, 2011), The Girl Without Arms (Black Ocean, 2011), and The Alps (Film Forum, 2008)—as well as numerous limited editions of collaborations, drawings, writings, and songs. Born in California, he has since lived in eleven states and five countries.

Lydia Anne McCarthy’s photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2012 she was included in the Humble Arts Foundation’s 31 Women in Art Photography at Hasted Kraeutler. Her work has been reviewed and published in the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Dossier, and the Huffington Post. She received an American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship in 2011. Lydia earned a BFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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