Koto no Yume by Michael L. Utley

A koto 'Japanese stringed Instrument' lying in the foreground with an abstract face painted in the background
Image Source: Canva

In dreamland forests of my soul I hear

What deafened ears in waking cannot know

A yearning in konara groves

That lilts in silent soft-edged shadows calls

The stream conversing with the hart has hushed

Its liquid-silver voice now mute

As herons ankle-deep in currents pause

And reverently bow in pious prayer

The insects cease their gossip in the ferns

And in anticipation preen their wings

As purple katakuri nod

At crimson higanbana through the leaves

And sly kitsune slinks from trunk to trunk

A flash of pale white-flickered tail

To find a seat ‘neath green-leafed momiji

Or ‘neath the needled kuromatsu boughs

And in my dream the forest holds its breath

Eternity descends upon the trees

And all who love and care for them

As gilded god-beams light the mossy stage

Then from the forest depths there comes a sound

That filters through the canopy

A song that renders deafened hearing moot

A song heard not with ears but with the heart

The stirring notes of strings plucked heavenly

By fingers blessed by goddesses above

A visionary eloquence

My koto no yume, my koto dream

Then, riding on the sunlit motes, appears

A glowing form adorned in hues

Of wild flowers, seas of green, sky blue

A maiden of unspeakable allure

This tennyo who deigns to entertain

Floats lithely in her hagoromo garb

Her feathered kimono as fair

And bright as golden taiyoko above

Her voice then whispers softly and with care

And all the world has ceased its spin

As ocean tides and fragrant winds stand still

To listen and to learn and understand

She sings of wondrous beauty as her voice

Begins to rise and fall among the trees

Her lyrics tell a tale of life

And loss and sorrow and redemptive hope

And as her words fall gently to the ground

She spreads her arms and looks at me

Her voice a solemn tone as koto fades

And tears the tinct of summer rainstorms fall

“These woods,” she says, “and all that live herein

And all the earth and sea and sky above

Are gifts to you and in your care

But paradise is fleeting, sunset looms…”

And in my dream I watch the forest fade

As oceans rise and skies turn dark

And animals lay choking on the fumes

Of human hubris, and the figure says,

“The choice is yours, but tarry not…farewell…”

And she is gone and I awake to find

Myself alone in midnight thoughts

And listen for the strains of koto strings

But all I hear is silence in the night

And all I see as I peer through

My open window is the waning moon

As it paints with a sterling brush the trees

Of distant woods and stream and meadowland

And since my ears are deaf, I use my heart

I close my eyes and breathe in deep

To reconnect with nature once again

Then faintly as a forest sigh I hear

The somber song of koto strings

And opening my eyes I see the streak

Of sleek kitsune tail cross the lea

And hart emerging from the sleeping woods

And herons winging slowly past the moon

And in my heart the choice is clear

My koto no yume, my koto dream

*koto – A Japanese stringed instrument

-MICHAEL L. UTLEY

Mike is a deaf writer/photographer who lives in rural southwest Colorado, USA.  His love of nature shines through his poetry and photography, both of which he uses to make sense of his world.

Please visit Silent Pariah to read and view more of his wonderful work.

We would love to read your work. Interested? Please READ our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.

-MASTICADORESINDIA

30 Comments Add yours

  1. Terveen Gill says:

    Michael’s poetry is a breath of fresh air, straight from the forest. I’d like to thank him for introducing me to the Japanese instrument ‘koto’. Though the internet can offer the sounds of this beautiful instrument, I’d love to hear it in person some day. And the stern warning offered by the lovely maiden of the forests shouldn’t be taken so lightly. Let’s preserve the natural world around us and allow all creatures to thrive. True listening and understanding can only be done with the heart. I hope it remains in the right place always. Beautiful expression and writing.
    Congratulations Michael!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      I want to thank you for this wonderful moment, Terveen. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a teen to be a published writer, and you’ve made that happen. I’m honored and humbled that you find my writing worthy of sharing with the world. Thank you for believing in me, Terveen. I truly appreciate you and your kindness. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaysid says:

    Congratulations! A wonderfully constructed poem with such palpable emotions! Love how tragically it falls apart and how beautifully it picks up the pieces and rebuilds itself! That’s an incredible feat! You are a true artist, Michael!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thanks, Aaysid. This is an exciting moment for me, for sure! I feel strongly about environmental causes and fear that we’ll lose everything due to our own hubris. I hope that’s not the case. Nature will outlast us in the end, but while we’re here, we must be good stewards of our world. Thanks so much for the kind words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully done!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      Like

  4. Daphny Aqua says:

    This is so beautifully written Mike, I love the emotions that flows through this one. Ah, I am so very proud of you my friend. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mike U. says:

    Thank you kindly, Daphny. Your words mean a lot to me, and I appreciate your constant enthusiastic support. I’m definitely proud of you, too! 🙂

    Like

  6. Mike this – I don’t even… ,,, I just love it.


    David

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thanks, David. Your support has always been HUGE to me and I appreciate you and your kindness. 🙂

      Like

  7. Such exceptional imagery and the whole poem come across as informative and nostalgic at the same time. Learned quite a bit and I loved that poignancy. Beautiful writing, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Many thanks, Shobana. Your kind appraisal means a lot to me. I’m happy to know this poem spoke to you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it did. Thank you and you are welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Saima.SK says:

    “As herons ankle-deep in currents pause

    And reverently bow in pious prayer”
    🙂
    So beautiful poem 💕

    Dear Mike, your work is amazing whether it’s poetry, photography and rest of your writing.. you know the language of heart and soul.. and never fail to touch other’s heart and soul through your amazing work.. 🙂 loved this poem too, as always👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thank you, Saima, for your wonderful comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. I appreciate your kindness as always! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. haoyando says:

    “Open window, waning moon, hear the silence in the night…” It’s a wonderful, wonderful line.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Many thanks, Haoyando, for your kind words. My love for nature is deep and profound, so this poem represents a sort of love letter to the forest and all creatures that live there. I’m happy you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. haoyando says:

        Yes, I really enjoy the music in your words that roll in my tongue.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. jonicaggiano says:

    Congratulations on your most beautiful publication. I too am very connected to nature and it brings my heart a sense of peace. Thus your piece here talks to me in every line. Stunning writing and each stanza more beautiful than the next. My favorite is this one:

    “And in my dream the forest holds its breath
    Eternity descends upon the trees
    And all who love and care for them
    As gilded god-beams light the mossy stage”

    Such a treat to read this work. Thank you and congratulations again! Hugs and blessings, Joni

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thanks so much, Joni. I’m grateful for your kindness and delighted that this piece resonated with you. I’m an unabashed lover of nature and it inspires me so much. In my chaotic life, I seek peace and quite more than anything, and I’ve always found it in nature, especially in the forests. There’s something healing and rejuvenating being around trees and I find myself writing about them often. Thanks for your wonderful comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. Much appreciated! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. jonicaggiano says:

        You sound so much like me. The trees are story tellers. You are welcome for the comment your beautiful words speak for themselves. You and your loved ones have a blessed day. Hugs 🤗 Joni

        Liked by 1 person

  11. This is resoundingly beautiful Mike and these words touch my heart deeply:

    “A song that renders deafened hearing moot

    A song heard not with ears but with the heart

    The stirring notes of strings plucked heavenly

    By fingers blessed by goddesses above

    A visionary eloquence

    My koto no yume, my koto dream”

    So well done in imagery and care of the soul.

    Congratulations Again. You are lucky to have Terveen Yes and as I’m sure agrees … she’s lucky to have you. We all are!
    💖💖💖

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Mike U. says:

    Thanks so much for this, Cindy. Your kindness knows no bounds. I appreciate your presence on WordPress so much–you’re such a bright source of light and compassion. I’m glad these words held meaning for you. Much appreciated, my friend! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So lovely. There’s a beautiful tranquility to this entire piece and a oneness with the hush of nature. I love Mike’s poetry and am so glad to see him here. Stunning poem. Many congrats, Mike..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thanks so much, Diana. Your constant encouragement is invaluable, and your kindness is inspiring. Thanks for such a nice comment, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jeff Flesch says:

    A gorgeous poem, Mike. You are very talented, my friend. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mike U. says:

      Thanks, Jeff. Honestly, I’m so excited to see my poem included here among the poetry of those writers I admire so much (like you). Your wonderful support means so much to me, good sir! Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeff Flesch says:

        You’re most welcome, Mike! Oh, that’s so kind, you deserve your moment in the spotlight, my friend. You’re a wonderful writer. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s