ShutUp30.14: Sensory Overload


Sensationless days,
swaddled in inchoate thoughts –
neither rain nor shine


ShutUp30.8: Do You Hear What I Hear?


Today I was supposed to eavesdrop, but Tokyo folk on Monday are too fragmentary to have conversations. Instead, I wrote about eavesdropping.

We live in white noise;
voices drowning in chatter.
Tenderness declared
in the strictest secrecy
now used to win elections.

Shutup30.1: Jibba Jabba


I usually celebrate April by doing everything at once, starting a new semester at work with a piece of writing a day. This year I’m getting my prompts from Shut Up and Write!

The first prompt asks me to

Fill each line with words, any words, following this pattern:

7 words
3 words
5 words
9 words
3 words
1 word
(blank line)

Eventually you’ll find yourself coming up with phrases. Keep going until you find yourself writing your first sentence, then stop.

I struggled with this because I kept writing sentences from the get-go. Sentences like

Tomatoes like yours don’t grow proud and
tall without hare-brained
schemes and madcap trellis work.


Your totalitarian heart beats ugly with vengeance,
a narcissistic lather
amplified by scathing scorn.

Who knows what any of that means?

In any case, I’m supposed to build up to sentences from individual words, so I tried again.

Whole hole full thick with dead beats,
teeming softly wetly,
grammarless grammaring grammarable grandma, rocking
her chair to dead beats, dead bats, dad bats – 
what a of

Yet again, I’ve inadvertently written a sentence (of sorts).

Turmeric tobacco yellow burned acrid brown fingers
calloused around you
where I hold you, where
you give yourself to me – you lift me up
into the clouds


Disassemble dissembling dissociate, down with
tenebrous tenterhooks, tantamount
terrors vomiting subject verb whatever
I am sociologically hardwired to give you clauses/ causes for
my failure again,

What I learned today: I can’t not write a sentence.



If my pen wrote true,
oh the stories I could tell
through chattering teeth!


This house in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, used to belong to the writer Tokutomi Roka. On a January morning, the interior was freezing, and I struggled to imagine writing there. When I say “if my pen wrote true”, I’m impugning the central heating, not his honesty. Photo by the author.