KOU SUGITA.November 2019


Photo by Jeff Sirkin




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A temple in Kyoto famous

For its mosses

Bright        dark        fur-like

Miniature-tree-like       in-between-like

Most of the Japanese       older      dressed

In western collars khakis and long dresses

Were interested in photographing with mosses


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Squatting with feet flat and side to side

With admiration for moss

Looking closely at the beginnings       ends of moss

Its divisions of kind blurring

How spirally arranged its leaves are

The spirals appear

Growing outwards       inwards

To its own source        to extend

The moss has our attention

Is superimposed over its tenders’ voices


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And people have sprouted

In my lapse here and obscured its spread

Again lifted in moss’s time

The flattened

Patches of moss a foot has been

Planted      is planted

The moss is fenced by rocks

Not meant to be flattened but don’t mind it


Human hour      it’s counting      what sight gives available

When it goes dark       closing time       the irritable wind       chime

The temple’s cat is seen by its jingle


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A temple in Hiroshima empty of tourists

Two cats befriending my lonesome for something salty

It’s new here appearing to be old

Wood beams haven’t yet soaked

Summer’s occasional rains


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The temple in Hokkaido near my grandparent’s

Smaller than a suburban house

Children disperse the puddled rain

High school boys      shifty-eyed      who might be in love

Press their hands to their groins       are looking at their ground


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To exist while not fully here is to have no meeting arranged?

If I sit here on this bench       restrain keying

In someone’s sense        the peering is a personal window

No a sliding door

To let the whole of someone in?

Oh I want to wear a bird mask

With a long Vantablack beak

If all who pass wear these masks

Still are eyeballs and lash

Beyond those masks

There are curtains on those sliding doors

If I speak in their language there is only glass between


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Not a memorial a lively place

Passed down      through upkeep     a pay

To engage landmark

The ticket box aged at least fifty      more       more


Suspect:       before

The money ecosystem was there a sense

A sense       of secure

There was yam there was rice there were trees

In a father’s name there is house there is neighbor

Currency as a way to organize the pulses

Currency as a way to mic a pulse


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Kou Sugita
was born in Sapporo, Japan (1994), raised in Oregon, has spent the last several years in the Los Angeles area and Tucson, and currently lives through recurring nightmares he doesn’t remember in Seattle. His work has appeared in TYPO, Juked, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, The Margins, among others, and is forthcoming from The Volta.



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November 2019.KOU SUGITA