Friday, December 04, 2015

From freehrm

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Silent Giants

Silent Giants
Motionless and calm
The stoic sentinels of the deep

Weathered saints
Ever pointing home
Masters in waiting, fathers of chance

Reserved power
Plotting heavens course
Mindful of the moon's dark wandering

Upright brute
Forsaken regrets
Marking the tide, ever without change

Harbor of truth
Exuberant peace
Ever watching for that cloudless morn
Life Rides a Bus

In between the dark lines
Of ordinary days

Standing at the back door
Of Our practiced actions

Neglecting to whisper
“N’er too young, N’er too bright”

Ready to remind us
Of cause and affected

This night
There woke a young mother
Once of two now of one

There will nap an old man
Not to wake up again

To run
Is the burden of fools
An impossible race

To hide
Is a naive comfort
A blissless ignorance

In rare simplicity
For all but one answer

For there is no control
Blinded by the sublime

Not in the choice of souls
But in the final act

Product of unkept time
And why ever not now?

A rich widow at lunch
A poor man’s son at school

The End
Guides the path of fast cars
And death rides a bus too

Monday, June 23, 2008

Walking Home

Cover my eyes
For these dreams are destructive
Bind my hands
For these deeds are bloody
Tempt me not
For I cannot overcome

These are not the chastisements of an angry God
These are not the machinations of a hungry devil
These are the shadow actions of a woeful soul

Quell my mind
For these winds are zealous
Steady my feet
For the sky is even closer now
Stand as my guide
For this path is lonely

Slow Turning Seasons

It’s a slow turn
And I’m bringing up the rear for you

Getting dark out
But there are no more surprises now

Crossed my fingers
You still thought love was like a wild rose

Thrust out your hand
Yanked it up by the roots and then cried

Please don’t change dear!
A cry, your vow never to love me

There’s where ‘we’ died
Never could truly see in the dark

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to see the film “Only Yesterday.” Once again Studio Ghibli and director Isao Takahata has amazed me with their incredible ability to effectively convey a story nothing short of beautiful and deeply touching. For a film made in the early 1991 it has a certain timelessness that can be relevant to just about anybody living today. I should preface that statement by saying that that is at least how it came across to me. Also I would imagine that for anybody who is has had a time in their adult life when they were not quite sure of their future or their place in the world this film would be all the more meaningful. The story also has a strong sense of nostalgia a lot of that nostalgia is uniquely Japanese. That strong cultural element may be a turn of to some but I feel the story still communicates well. Even though it does takes place in Japan during the late sixties and eighties this tale is one that can touch anybody that can remember being a child.

I will note here that this film is an animated feature with English subtitles. There is no English version and to my knowledge no studio has announced any plans to make an English dubbed version. That said, anybody with some strong prejudice against anything animated or anything that forces you to read subtitles should probably stop here.
The story is that of a young woman named Taeko Okajima who at the ripe old age of twenty-seven is starting to feel pressure from family and society for being so old and still not having a husband. I can only imagine that twenty-seven years old is considered to be nearing spinsterhood in Japanese culture. As soon as the movie starts one thing that you will notice right away is that this, like many other Asian films, tends to jump back and forth in time without any warning or pretext. This is a little jarring at first but you soon get use to the back and forth pace of the film. Then again some people might not get use to the constant back and forth pace. When the story does jump into the past it is Taeko’s when she was in the fifth grade or about ten years old. In the way she acted as a little girl and also the way she remembers those actions as an adult it struck me that by today’s standards she might be labeled as mildly autistic or at least in need of some medication. Of course I have very little knowledge of any psychiatric disorders its just that at times she is portrayed as a perfectly normal little girl she’s into all the things you would expect little girls to be into. Then at other times she comes across as a bit eccentric and we are left wondering what exactly could possibly be going through this little girl’s mind. A little bit of this eccentricity is carried over to her adult self. At times it makes you question her sanity but it also serves to lend this character a depth of personality and lovability that we do not see in most movies. At the same time this fact is not over the top, she is still very believable as a character. She is a young woman who is oddly familiar and all too human.

A short note, this film is not at all an action film. In fact because it is very realistic it might be described as being kind of slow. Unlike most other Ghibli films “Only Yesterday” does not have any element of fantasy. Therefore there is no magic nor are there any talking animals that would easily keep the interest of much younger audiences. That said I feel the story is strong enough to keep you all the way through. Also, uniquely this film really only focuses on one character, Taeko, and goes into extreme detail about her and only her. This fact makes for a very interesting and different story as far as I’m concerned.

The body of the story takes place as she is on vacation from her office job in the city. This will be her second time to visit her brother in law’s family who live out in the country and run an “organic” safflower farm. While they are her family by marriage, she is not going there out of any obligation to the family or because she knows them particularly well, she claims to merely be going for the experience of visiting the countryside and working on a farm. As she first arrives at the farm we are treated to some of the most beautiful and perhaps the most unexpected music I have ever heard in an animated film out of Japan. It is in the form of Hungarian folk music that in a half serious tone one of the other characters, Toshio, claims to understand, not because he speaks Hungarian but because he is a farmer and this is a farmer’s music. To go along with the music we are also shown some very beautiful scenes of the country. Here is where we truly see the value of 2D hand painted animation over the computer generated 3D animation of more contemporary features. As a side note organic farming and farm life in general is a theme that is hit upon pretty heavily in this film, but more about that later.

As Taeko spends more time on the farm we see more and more scenes from her childhood. Sometimes it is just Taeko remembering those times and being nostalgic and other times she is relating these stories to the other characters, mainly Toshio and his little sister Naoko, in order to share some part of her self with them or to just illustrate some life lesson that she has learned or thought she learned. The film is filed with these little glimpses of Taeko’s childhood many of which is quite moving and touches that nostalgic cord that I mentioned before. And the scenes of her adulthood seem to evoke a certain inner contemplation about true happiness and what is really important in life. Despite that description the film does the film does not get too heavy handed or overly philosophical. The life messages are there but they are kept low key and fit naturally into the story.

As I mentioned before the scenes depicting farm life are truly beautiful but there are times when I felt that maybe that depiction of farming and farm life was just a little bit too picturesque and perfect. However I don’t feel that this fact took much away from the overall feel of the film and as a whole it does seem to work pretty well. The narrative of the story is strong enough to quickly pull you back into the story even if you notice something that may not be exactly true to life.

I would not classify this film as a coming of age story since the protagonist is already well into her adulthood at the beginning of the film. However the story does have a little bit of that coming of age element in it. This is more a story of first loves, self understanding and the vast complexity of life. In a few scenes Taeko is forced to come to terms with who she really is what she expects to get out of life. I believe that this is the main thrust of the film, the idea that we often have to make a choice in life between what’s good for us and what’s best for us. Sometimes, as we see, that choice is not a very easy one to make.

There is one scene that takes place during Taeko’s childhood where she and the other girls in her fifth grade class are being teased, somewhat mercilessly, by the ill informed boys in the class about their menstrual cycles. This is the only sequence that I could even imagine that some people might find objectionable for younger viewers. Other than that I don’t think there is anything in this film that would give parents of younger children pause. There is the fact that besides the role that young children play in this film I really don’t think that children are the intended audience. The film really covers some rather adult themes that some children might find a little boring at times. That said there is more than enough child friendly and vibrantly colorful imagery to keep the attention of any child who could grasp the major point of the film. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that “Only Yesterday” is very much a family film and I would have no objection to sitting down and watching this with my little sister or even my parents for that matter. I would also recommend this for anybody with a taste for a warm and passionately moving story.

There was one scene near the very end of the film that was particularly moving for me. It takes place as Taeko is on the train headed back to her life in the city. Suddenly in a way that I can only imagine possible within an animated film she is surrounded by her childhood memories and in one of the films more dramatic sequences Taeko makes a life altering decision concerning life, the future and love. I’m not ashamed to admit that by the end of this film I did feel a very strong compulsion to shed a few tears. However, of course, I did not succumb to such emotional fancies ahum… because I’m a man and uhh… men don’t cry damn it! That’s right!

If you do have the chance to see this movie you should not pass it up, I genuinely believe that you will enjoy it. It is, however, not very easy to find a legitimate copy of this film in this country since it was never officially released in the US and there is no English language version. Turner Classic Films did broadcast this film on TV but to my knowledge that is the only official US release. I know of only one video store in my area that would have this film for rent or sale other than that you can find anything on the internet if you look hard enough. Again, if you get the chance, do see this movie and enjoy.

Friday, December 29, 2006


As the twilight sky
Moves into view
Remind me of love
Quiet and free
With a silent cry
Words piercing through
A chance from above
Heavens decree

Charming a serpent
Bold without fear
Reading his motion
Speaking his name
Lost in a moment
Shedding a tear
Recall that notion
Do it again

In the chill of night
The sun’s quick touch
Fear not your vision
Recall your joy
Remember what’s right
The hearts strong clutch
To cast off derision
Your strength employ

It is the East Wind

A quick and bright mind
And steadily piercing
An overturned heart
Forever embracing
A wish to heaven
That is cast to the skies
An unfinished hymn
The song of our lives

And this, a cold carbon rose

For my warm Radium Sunrise

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Death of a Hero

As every bright light must go out
Every great man will find his grave
So in the day of fading life and waxing light
There is clear reflection of a life fully given
From that first quick spark to that last flare of the pyre

But his heart beats
And with one last breath

He knows that not every man’s prime is in his youth
And it is a rarest hero who can die of old age
As even some giants of heaven are beheld by few
So too the greatest of men will shine in obscurity
And with no cause to doubt immortal devotion nor ageless zeal

His heart beats
And with one last breath

He can clearly see that the measure of great men is not in accomplishment
But in his loyalty his passion and in what it took to make him quit
Now with the swift approach of death he sees what they finally saw
That which one righteous man dies for, lives for let no man call it waste
Can one man live forever, will not every cause someday fade

His heart beats
And with one last breath

We too know that not every great man must achieve, but he must strive
Dreams born of a few bled for by many will be carried on by a handful
As the course of heaven and the ways of man are discovered to a few
So the purpose of life and great life is known only to the one who lives it
So too as ones hero dies who can know the depth of his devotion or the fire of his soul

And his heart fails
And his breath ceases

One hero dies for his God, his country, his home, his truth
One hero dies a deathless death

Saturday, April 29, 2006

One Young Dragon

Broken wings sweeping earth
Unused fangs ground to dirt
A sobering fall with no end
Lofty beginnings ending in sin
With so much to gain so much is lost
So much acquired what was the cost
Whose hands can weigh this lost time?
Whose tongue can stoke this heart of mine?
Conquering land with sword and flame
Forsaking the path of toil and pain
Before this life finds its end
Against what pains must I fend
What love what trust will I discover
Whose lies whose betrayal will I uncover
As one young dragon awaits the tide
One young dragon may finally fly
Tides of Right

Death the end of pain and, opportunity
Left with nothing to mourn nothing to miss
Bring me your danger I’ll go with glee
Sing me your sorrow I want this

Silence to reign in all sorrow
A dark flower that blossoms in solitude
Violence so quiet, my mind’s to borrow
A stark lone call against which I stood

So flames of guilt to quench desire
Razed all help with hope thrown asunder
So only waves of love can quit this fire
Grazed so, by life, lets start this blunder

Saturday, April 01, 2006

So whose will and what forces are these? They come together to form one mans constitution life and passion. The will and the power, two vast conquering armies, or two mangy lost dogs in lifes sprawling streets. How much of a mans will is innate how much of his power is natural, or are these things learned and stumbled upon throughout lifes journeys? I only ask for the sake of my shrunken cold heart for it lacks something in will and more in power. The will-power to turn desire into action is lost almost. I can even see its decline, but I fear not I am not so dead. What is that shrill cry I hear so late in the day? Might it be the death cry of a life spent languishing in the pain of mediocrity? What is that? And what should I fear, save God. Is it that which impedes conquest, that missing part that gives legs to desire strength to the will and power to the forces of man. Not withstanding, I am ever content or should I be content to wallow in the shallow end of life. I hope for more. So what? So what if I can sense the future at every bend in the road? So what if I lack what is needed to put my hand to the wheel and turn? Turn from ignorance from poverty and into something more perhaps something better. So now if I desire all things all knowledge all wisdom if there is no place I would not go for want of experience, thirst and, curiosity if there is no person I would not know for the pleasure of diversity no pain I would flee from for want of passion, what have I to do but seek? Whose will and what force? So there is no pleasure to sate this darkened heart. P.S. Please dont read this.