dream by priscilla ahn

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.

catmaSutra cat art

I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell.
I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to
fly from the highest wing.



The opium den of remembrance

"In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: 
all the exaltation and joys came in the moment of preparation 
for living. They took place in solitude. 

But with action came anxiety, 
and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, 
and with it came weariness, discouragement, 
and the flight into solitude again. 

And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, 


the possibility of pleasure again."

~ Anaïs Nin


Maybe baby

"...maybe if I could have lived more peaceably… 
maybe if I’d met the right person years ago, maybe...
Maybe, baby, the promised land was there and I missed it

Look at it glittering in the light.
But the truth is I am inventing the maybe. 
I can only make the choices I make, 
so why torture myself with what I might have done, 
when all I can handle is what I have done.

The Maybe Islands are hostile to human life.

Photo by Marta Cernicka

Much of what I have done is left unfinished- 
not because I left it too soon, not because I was lazy,
but because it had a life of it's own that continues without me. 
Children, I suppose, are always unfinished business: 
they begin as part of your own body, and continue as seperate 
as another continent. 

The work you do,
if it has any meaning, passes to other hands.
The day slides into a night's dreaming.True stories
are the ones that lie open at the border,
allowing a crossing, a further frontier.

The final frontier is just science fiction - don't believe it.
Like the universe, there is no end."
~ Jeanette Winterson

 catmaSutra cat art: Wishing



It won't happen again...

I keep thinking of you, you're on my mind.
For the fifty seven thousandth time this morning.
I keep seeing you in sheets of white.
I can't change anything, I can't change aaannyything.

I was out on my own, for the first time.
It was here all along, that I cracked.
Now it won't happen again till the next time.
Yeah I think I can do this all by myself.

I've been thinking of you a lot this morning.
For the fifty seven thousandth time today.
I will see you in pictures dressed as I am.
I can change anything, I can change aaannyything.
Ooohhh aaaaaaannnnnyyything.

I would like to tell you, where I'm going to.
I've seen it before, I've seen it before.
I would like to tell you, this is not about you.
I've seen it before, I've seen it before.

I keep thinking of you, you're on my mind.


Divine Chaos

"Life is divine chaos. Embrace it. 
Forgive yourself. Breathe. 
And enjoy the ride"
~ Solbeam

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; 
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;
and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."
~ Audrey Hepburn




"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"
~ Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

"We all need someone to look at us. we can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under. the first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public. the second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. they are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners. they are happier than the people in the first category, who, when they lose their public, have the feeling that the lights have gone out in the room of their lives. this happens to nearly all of them sooner or later. people in the second category, on the other hand, can always come up with the eyes they need. then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category. one day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark. and finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. they are the dreamers."
~ Milan Kundera



Love Song

"In different degrees, in every part of the town, men and women had been yearning for a reunion, not of the same kind for all, but for all alike ruled out. Most of them had longed intensely for an absent one, for the warmth of a body, for love, or merely a life that habit had endeared. Some, often without knowing it, suffered from being deprived of the company of friends and from their inability to get in touch with them through the usual channels of friendship—letters, trains, and boats. Others, fewer these... had desired a reunion with something they couldn’t have defined, but which seemed to them the only desirable thing on earth. For want of a better name, they sometimes called it peace."

~Albert Camus

"The Marquis De Sade said that the most important experiences a man can have are those that take him to the very limit; that is the only way we learn, because it requires all our courage. When a boss humiliates an employee, or a man humiliates his wife, he is merely being cowardly or taking his revenge on life, they are people who have never dared to look into the depths of their soul, never attempted to know the origin of that desire to unleash the wild beast, or to understand that sex, pain and love are all extreme experiences. Only those who know those frontiers know life; everything else is just passing the time, repeating the same tasks, growing old and dying without ever having discovered what we are doing here."

~Paulo Coelho


Foolish things...

A short story about nothing
from a long time ago ...


Take my hand...
to a rain of dreams
to get away, I can
get away, I can
be home again.
touch? Love
you? Oui.


"It's raining again," says Cat. She pulls the covers over herself. Traces of an impending storm  float in through the open window. A scent of rain triggers something inside me. "Want some coffee?" I ask. My mind withdraws and expands. The smell of rain tickles my nose. I breathe it in - this air, this life, blown in from somewhere else. I look at Cat, as if I am apart from her reality. Cat is different from me. She doesn't complicate her life with superfluous dreams. She doesn't let foolish things depress her, and she hates coffee. How can anyone hate coffee?  And there is something about her that irks me - she feels more comfortable sleeping on my bed than I ever did or will. She says my bed gives her dreams to dream about. A flash flashes. A recurring dream: there is liquid in the air. Lightning cuts the air in a million places. The air breaks to the sound of thunders. The liquid fall, and I see myself in another life. I am kneeling in a desert. I raise my arms and ask for my salvation.

   The scent of rain pierces and converges at a point between my eyes. I cough desperately to rid of the tainted air, the whiff of another life. Cat asks if I'm okay. I say yes. The room door creaks as I leave to make myself a cup of coffee, and a cup of tea for Cat, and a cup of milk for Angel, a silver-coloured cat from Tibet. They make such a lovely pair together, you know, Cat and Angel. They seem to have perfected the art of  sleeping (When one sleeps, time loses its grip. The concepts of past and future vanishes. Peace only happens when one is not eager to move forward or fall behind. Time becomes a friend). "Mmmmm, you're back..." Cat purrs as I stroke several strands of her hair over her ear. "Do you know what I like best?" I ask. Angel decides to drink her milk. A cold wind escapes into our room. "Rain," she replies at the very moment the drizzle erupts into a full-fledged storm, sending mystical vibes through my body. "You don't have to close the window..." Cat says as she gets up behind me and peers outside. Rain... it feels so good to be exposed to its touch, so free, so wild, and yet, it inevitably makes me sad.  Rain makes me remember clearly. It makes me remember the words that used to reverberate inside my head. Now those words and even those years seem so meaningless, so distant.

    "I do not have enough space."
    My voice is soft, almost lost in the rain and the music from the radio. Another recurring dream: Land becomes sea. Rain falls but I'm not wet. I wear a robe so white and soft that I feel like I'm wrapped in a cloud. I walk the waves and they walk me.  The sky is inside me. The sea is inside me, but when I get to shore, my legs collapse beneath my abominable weight. I kneel in the desert, alone and abandoned. And then I'm here, staring out into the window, unable to make sense of my life. The window seems to open a second time. I breathe in its reality.  I see myself working day and night, trying to make more money. I see rats in shirts and ties, stealing my dreams from under my nose. Anguish rises and squeezes my heart in his palm. Silently, from amongst the images, a cat jumps out and sits on the table beside me. It gazes at me with its sapphire eyes. I stroke its silver fur. Then the cat begins to speak inside my head. It says, as if in response to my anguish:

    "Space is a matter of perception."
     "I do not have enough freedom"
     "Freedom is a fool's concept"
     "I do not have enough time."
     "Because you make time your enemy"
     "I need money to buy freedom."
     "Freedom has no price. You are buying the wrong thing."

    The cat, having said her piece, jumps away to pursue her dreams of sleep on my dirty laundry. How easy it was when I was studying in the States. How easy it was to believe, to criticize, to dream, to hope, to be inspired, to change the world, to make a difference, to feel the power in one's hand. "Foolish things..." I let the words slip easily out of my lips. "Nobody bothers, nobody gives a damn - so why should I care?" Cat lowers the volume on the radio. The music fades and merges with that of the pouring rain. Sometimes, I haven't the faintest idea what's going on in my head any more.

    "Hey, you're okay?" Cat's voice invades my thoughts, and her face, my vision. I watch her quizzically, tilting my head as a dog would when spoken to in a tone that it does not recognize. "Don't do this to me..." she says, "I hate it when you are in this mood. You get so damned depressing and you will drag me down with you." I laugh and snap out of the cloud that I was in, and crack a stupid joke. The cat looks at us with a knowing look on her face as she circles my pile of laundry, exercises her claws, and settles in a circular sleeping position. I vow to try the ritual the next time I can't get to sleep…

Sometimes I do go walking in the clouds 
but it's just cold and wet and empty. 
But when you look out of a plane it's a special world...
and I like it."
~ Neil Gaiman

"You will receive everything you need
when you stop asking for what you do not need"
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj



One Short Trip

Life: One short trip

Do not let your fire go out,
spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swaps of the not-quite,
the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero
in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life
you deserved and have never been able to reach.
The world you desire can be won.
It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours."
~ Ayn Rand



The Reason Why

"His talent was as natural as the pattern 
that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. 
At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did 
and he did not know when it was brushed or marred.

Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and 
of their construction and he learned to think and 
could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone 
and he could only remember when it had been effortless."
~ Ernest Hemingway

"I should feel the air move against me, 
and feel the things I touched, 
instead of having only to look at them. 
I'm sure life is all wrong because it has become much too visual - 
we can neither hear nor feel nor understand, we can only see. 
I'm sure that is entirely wrong."
~D.H. Lawrence

"Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why."
~William Edgar Stafford


We are dancers

"The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. 
The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. 
The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. 
They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. 
They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. 

They are as familiar as the house you live in. 
Or the smell of your lover’s skin. 
You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. 

In the way that although you know that one day you will die, 
you live as though you won’t. 
In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, 
who finds love, who doesn’t. 
And yet you want to know again. 
THAT is their mystery and magic."
~Arundhati Roy



To love. To be loved. 
To never forget your own insignificance. 
To never get used to the unspeakable violence 
and the vulgar disparity of life around you. 
To seek joy in the saddest places. 
To pursue beauty to its lair. 
To never simplify what is complicated or 
complicate what is simple. 
To respect strength, never power. 
Above all, to watch. To try and understand. 
To never look away. 
And never, never, 
to forget."
~Arundhati Roy


Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

Are we ever ready to abandon our whole life for something else? To alter everything that makes sense to us and to move into a different world...? Such a sacrifice must be the result of love... or is it that the life itself was already worn out?

Perhaps we are finished with one aspect of our life, but could not admit it, being stubborn or afraid, or perhaps just clinging on to the habit, the routine. We start looking for escape routes, take the leap of faith, and perhaps blame it all on fate.  But it is not fate, at least, not if fate is something outside of us; it is a choice made in secret within ourselves. The pain is when the dreams change, as they do, as they must. "Suddenly the enchanted city fades and you are left alone again in the windy desert.

As for your beloved, she didn't understand you.
The truth is, you never understood yourself."
~Jeanette Winterson



Edge of the world

Beyond the edge of the world there's a space
where emptiness and substance neatly overlap,
where past and future form a continuous,
endless loop.
And hovering about there are signs no one has ever read,
chords no one has ever heard."

Lovely Bloodflow from BATHS on Vimeo.

Humans by necessity must have a midway point
between their desires and their pride.
Just as all objects must have a center of gravity.
This is something we can pinpoint.
Only when it is gone do people realize it even existed"
Haruki Murakami

there are some things one remembers 
even though they may never have happened...




"Although the rhythm of the waves beats a kind of time, 
it is not clock or calendar time. 
It has no urgency. 
It happens to be timeless time. 
I know that I am listening to a rhythm 
which has been just the same for millions of years, 
and it takes me out of a world of relentlessly ticking clocks. 
 Clocks for some reason or other always seem to be marching, 
and, as with armies, marching is never to anything but doom. 
But in the motion of waves there is no marching rhythm. 
It harmonizes with our very breathing. It does not count our days. 
Its pulse is not in the stingy spirit of measuring, 
of marking out how much still remains. 
It is the breathing of eternity, 
like the God Brahma of Indian mythology inhaling and exhaling, 
manifesting and dissolving the worlds, forever. 
As a mere conception this might sound appallingly monotonous,
until you come to listen to the breaking and washing of waves."

  — Alan Wilson Watts


Tin Soldier

'What is it that you contain? The dead. Time. Light patterns of millennia opening in your gut. Every minute, in each of you, a few million potassium atoms succumb to radioactive decay. The energy that powers these tiny atomic events has been locked inside potassium atoms ever since a star-sized bomb exploded nothing into being. Potassium, like uranium and radium, is a long-lived radioactive nuclear waste of the supernova bang that accounts for you.

Your first parent was a star."
~ Jeanette Winterson


- Tin Soldier-
© paul koh. All rights reserved.

A designated waste area for military manoeuvre. The sun blazed the orange ground to an incredible hardness. The rain took its turn, melting the hardness down into soggy mud. Mosquitoes, wild with anticipation, infested this wasteland when the soldiers were unaware, fast asleep in their tiredness. At night when the mosquitoes feasted, wild diabolical creatures appeared and preyed upon their unconscious world. Soldiers were no longer waking up; it was easier to sink inside their impenetrable armour, inside the darkness. At least, it was warmer there. They have spent almost 40 days in this wasteland and their time was almost up. This was where they were supposed to find God… 

            "A solitary soldier stood on the orange mud in sector 12. Soldiers were genetically engineered androids, frontline troops and very expendable. They were there to make up the numbers. They did not need a reason to live. In sector 12, only one soldier stood on the orange surface. He had sunk deep into the dark void like the rest of them but there was something that nudged him, a spark that rekindled a memory. He held out his hand towards the little light. It swayed in the still air and dropped gently onto his palm. It was a snowflake.

The heat dissipated. The soldier stirred and struggled to his feet. He removed all his armour, and arose from the thick orange ground on the last day of the mission. He forced open his own tightly clenched his fist, and there it was – the snowflake still intact in his palm. There were no soldiers to be seen anywhere. The air was heavy, like quick sand, but he felt better, much better without all the amouring, without the wiring. He released the snowflake. He had only to follow the snowflake. He would find God.  He was not supposed to be there. S19876 was not supposed to be there.


            Commander 'Archangel' Low came out of the tranquillizer chute into the main control site. The computer's voice resonated inside the chamber:
            "Good morning, Commander. Year 2145, third day of September, 1800 hours. Time of sleep during journey, 36 hours.  Time of waking process, 68 minutes. Time..."
            "Thank you S1. Get me S19876 and quickly. I need to expedite proceedings -"
            "I am afraid that will not be possible, Commander. S19876 has abandoned the space craft. He said he has gone to look for God. It seemed he wanted to 'take care' of you for a change."
            "What the hell?  I'll recall this product and I will personally rewire his 4 gigabytes standard-issued brain. It's impossible that he's already malfunctioning -not when he's guaranteed to me for the next two years." 

            Archangel Low fumed bitterly at the product he received from base control but the sight of his suit distracted him momentarily and filled him with a sense of pride. It was decorated with rows and rows of medals - Red for best Reconnaissance unit, Purple for best Assault unit, Green for best Sabotage unit, and Gold for best 2nd Elite Commander. He had done well for himself. He had destroyed many of his enemies to get this far, and he was too near the top to afford any miscalculations. He had promised his wife and his five-year old son that this would be his last expedition. This mission would earn him a double promotion, that is, if he succeeded...

            "That damned tin-head! What happened to the good old-fashioned soldier? What does he think he is anyway?!" Archangel Low cursed again. He was sure S19876 would give him trouble or worse, ruin his reputation and his chance at getting the promotion. His lips curled at the thought of his rival, 3rd Elite Commander Gabriel taking his place as the new Base Commandant! No! He did not come this far to lose out now. Then something caught his eye, and for the first time in his life, he was paralyzed with fear…


His body had been cut open and sewn back. His skin had become a pale yellow, losing all its colour of health. Deep wide scars lined his body from his shoulder blades down to his chest, across his stomach and down again past his pelvis to his thighs. His yellowish fingers traced the scars upwards to the sides of his face, and upwards to his head. "WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD!  My head has been cut open!"

    "Who did this to me?!" His voice roared in anguish and fear as he turned towards the computer, "Who cut up my body? Who did this to me?"
    "It's S19876, Commander. He said he wanted to exchange places with you. He said it was his time to take care of you, sir."
    "How could you LET THIS HAPPEN??!! Who is this S19876? Damn it! It must be Gabriel! He must have planned this all along, sabotaging me from Earth Command by sending me this soldier."
    "No Sir. S19876 was not sent by Commander Gabriel. S19876 is your soldier. You cut him up and rewired him yourself. "
    "NO! That is not possible. My soldiers are not programmed to disobey me. There must be some kind of mistake - I have to find S19876. I need to know what he did to me. Nobody will take what is rightfully mine. I have too much to lose."

Archangel Low chose his course of action, programmed the Search shuttle and manoeuvred the craft across the orange sands of sector 12. Orange particles floated up and down, one on the other in a continuous flow of circular motion, forming swarms of sand holes that enveloped each other. Archangel Low shook his head and wondered how he got into this mess, 100 light years away from Earth. He remembered the reports from the Scouts Squadron, that they had seen God in sector 12. When the top officers at Earth Command believed the reports, Archangel Low immediately volunteered for this important mission. After all, it was he who planted the reports. Gabriel was the favourite to become the next Elite Commander by virtue of his family background while he had worked all the way up. He was never to stand idly and watched all his efforts gone to waste. He remembered his promise to his wife and his son, but pushed it aside. A deep dark fear was opening up like a black hole in his heart.

The Search Shuttle sped past a pyramid, a sphere, when there it was just as he himself had described it - the rock on which the stairs led to God. But a solitary soldier was already there. Archangel Low finally recognized the soldier - it was S19876. S19876 was the scout he cut up to make the false report. S19876 was the one he transformed into an android soldier.

The soldier inserted the key which he had stolen from Archangel Low, into the slit on his left thigh. He turned the key, removed it and allowed the mechanism to click into motion. Trot... trot... clang... clang, the pair of boots began to march in a pre-established rhythm. Right turn, left turn, up-down, up-down, S19876 began to climb the stairs that led to God.

    "S19876! COME BACK this minute, or I'll have you dismembered, part by part!"
    "SCREW YOU!" S19876 replied with a grin on his face. Taken aback, Commander Archangel Low activated the remote control, stared at the red button, but hesitated. The word "EXTERMINATE" stared back. He punched the numbers 1-9 -8 -7-6. "One last chance, soldier - RETURN TO SHIP!"
    face right,
    face left,
    the soldier continued climbing the stairs. He was oblivious to the threats Archangel Low was babbling in his offbeat voice. 
    Clenching his fist in disbelief, his anger rising to his head, he slammed at the  red button and –

"---_-COMMANDER LOW! --__---"

The computer echoed repeatedly:


The bald head of the Commander ruptured, his eyes popped out amidst a bundle of multicoloured wires, loose circuitry and bad connections.
     "Hahahahaha  HAHAHAHA HAHahaaahha!"
Th e soldier laughed uncontrollably as he reached the top of the stairs. His mechanical smile took almost human form as he laughed from one steel ear to another, and he laughed so hard that he mistimed his next step.


Losing his balance, S19876 fell from the rock, crashing headlong towards the orange sand. There was a pec uliar grin on his face before the orange earth came up to meet him.


His body plummeted against the bottom of the rock and splattered all over the hard orange ground. The mechanism stopped, but blood - fresh, red blood squirted out of his body.



"What is it that you contain? The dead. Time. 
Light patterns of millennia opening in your gut. 
Every minute, in each of you, 
a few million potassium atoms succumb to radioactive decay. 
The energy that powers these tiny atomic events 
has been locked inside potassium atoms ever since 
a star-sized bomb exploded nothing into being. 
Potassium, like uranium and radium, 
is a long-lived radioactive nuclear waste 
of the supernova bang that accounts for you.

Your first parent was a star."
~ Jeanette Winterson



Little Curlique

"It's like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it's dense, isn't it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see?

So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that.

If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you're a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don't feel that we're still the big bang.

But you are.

Depends how you define yourself. You are actually--if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning-- you're not something that's a result of the big bang. You're not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are.

When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as--Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so--I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I'm that, too. But we've learned to define ourselves as separate from it. "
— Alan Wilson Watts



I've written and posted this short story a few years back, and somehow it's been in my head recently. I once toyed with the idea of doing a graphic story for it so I'm gonna cull images from the WWW to see if I can create a new feel to it. Hopefully I can find the time and inspiration to continue the story. I must also find my way back to painting. It's been really trying to find the right balance but I guess that what's life has to teach me at this stage.

Here's the story:
- Samurai -
© paul koh. All rights reserved.

Autumn. Red leaves fell.
                                                                                          Joseph's Art

Winds of dawn cut across her face with a pain that cut even deeper, but she remained impassive, untouchable behind the mask. Still she watched the fallen leaves float on the shimmering lake against the rays of morning light; still the serene bliss of autumn’s dawn mocked her, that this tranquillity would never be hers…

A cool breeze cut a rectangle in the air as her enemies braced themselves for the confrontation. She hardened her heart, curbed her own emotions and her longing to be away from this place. She remembered a famous haiku poet and the words she must not forget –

Shi-zu-ka-sa ya

Such stillness -
The cries of the cicadas
Sink into the rocks

                                                 Old Samurai by Jeff Simpson

Silence before the taste of blood was for the young warrior a physical presence, a black velvet blanket flowing deep into her consciousness. In its darkness, she closed her eyes. She could hear her own breathing, and in a moment felt the depth and rhythm of her adversaries, their tension coming out in waves.She imagined them to be samurais, all seven of them with their traditional hakama, the esteemed divided skirt of the archer and warrior. Only the samurais were allowed to use sword and bow and arrow and yet they were afraid - afraid of her…

                                                                 From the Last Samurai


Arrows pulled and notched against the curves of long bows. Their heads were made of barbless mild steel, honed to a needlepoint for precise penetration. Released by a kyujutsu master, the arrow would pierce right through an adult human being, from breast to backbone. The long bows arched as the samurais stretched the bowstring back to touch their lips. They sighted the masked warrior along the shafts, and one after the other in rapid succession, the arrows flew from their bows.

She heard the sharp buzzing, the sound of a quickening within her own heart, and the terrifying rapidity of arrows shredding through the velvet blanket of her consciousness. Against her own volition, she felt nothing but the pattern of red autumn leaves falling and drifting on the quiet lake. Without will, her body gave in to the spirit of the katana, the long sword bestowed upon her by her legacy. Without will, her body moved down, her blade flashed out of its sheath and slashed against the thrust of the invading arrows. The blade, smooth like an extension of her, glinted with anticipation the taste of blood that was forthcoming.

Red autumn leaves drifted and the beauty of nature remained unaffected, unlike her. She stood up in her warrior’s stance, her armour of gold and red wanting battle just as her blade did the taste of blood. Only her mask hid something, something remotely human.

The sounds of swords released from her enemies’ sheaths only served to fuel the tumultuous emotions that were already raging inside her. She reminded herself once more of her own hatred and in so doing, felt their fear rather than their courage. “Bushido,” she thought, “the way of the samurai, the way of the honourable… the way of the mask!” and she paused, a tear dislodged itself behind the ghastly mask...

“YAAAAHHHH…” The first one came charging, his reflection appeared in the corner of her eye. She stood motionless, her sight fixed on the face of her enemy. He charged with his sword riding the autumn’s wind, his face a contorted expression of strained ferocity. This was pathetic, she thought for she saw fear in his eyes, and fear she would not tolerate from a samurai.

 Her katana speared deeply into the right chest, slid across smoothly to the other side, and into the belly of another behind her. She could taste the corrupting sensation of power as her blade entered and withdrew from living flesh, now dead at her hands. “[Gerrshi, krushi…]” she made the sound as she walked towards the other five, “[this … is the sound when my blade enters your flesh. Ikershiii…]”

The leader of the Kamashita clan, humiliated by her taunts, lashed out in retaliation. “Pride of the great samurai?” She taunted again as she raised her katana to fend off his first blow and sidestepping his opponent, pierced the shorter blade, her wakizashi, into the fleshy part of his sword hand.

She saw the samurai’s face screwed up in agony; his teeth drew back from his lips in a terrible grimace and his long sword cluttered uselessly at her feet. The samurai found himself on his knees, his head jerked up, and the wakizashi touched his neck. “Without will, my body gives in to the spirit of the blade,” and the shorter blade inched into his flesh and slid across mercilessly.

                                                                 By Mike Mitchell

The remaining four watched with stupefaction as their leader dropped without his head. She felt their hearts pounding and their legs struggling to move away from her – away from this demon of death. “Enough!” the face behind the mask screamed in silence. She knelt down and her blades returned swiftly to her side. She had become tired, and she no longer wished to kill or live like this any more. “Red autumn leaves – you fall and you leave,” she cried out, “Red autumn leaves – take me with you, away from this accursed playground.”

“Let it end,” she pushed the seppuku sword deep into the left side of her abdomen and methodically pulled it across to her right side. I saw the water in the lake broke as her memories flashed outwards, like ripples made by a stone thrown into the still lake. And like ripples fading and merging into the lake, I saw her eyes fluttered and closed, her body bending over. And through the faint light from the hibachi, I saw red leaves fall on the shimmering lake but this time I saw red and white koi carrying Auntie Mari with them.

* * *
I was squatting beside the pond and watching the koi again when Auntie Mari appeared with my clothes, now dry and clean, and a Tupperware container of homemade sushi. It was still drizzling but I was in a hurry to feed her Kohaku. Auntie Mari knelt down in front of me, hugged me and kissed me on both cheeks. I returned her affection.

                                                                  By Joseph's Art

“Auntie, why did you pretend with the seppuku sword?”
“It’s time to let go of the past.”

“Because you are here. You make me see things differently with your eyes.”
“Then my name is Jiro Kiyoshi, and you are my sister.”
“Yes Jiro, you are my samurai and my brother.”

                                                             By Ladislav Hubert

“Will you tell me more warrior stories?”
“Yes, but now take this sushi to your mama before the rain starts again.”
“Can I come again tomorrow?”
“If your mama allows…”


We live more than once

                                                                 By Alexander Maskaev