for Mioko Watanabe


Basho was a ninja, Mioko says.

Basho an assassin? Ninjas were more

like spies. They worked for samurai.


It would explain his travels:

he moved impossibly fast. But he seems

so frail—  What better mask for a spy?


Christopher Marlowe was probably

a secret double agent,

knifed through the eye, at twenty-nine


& Basho did say that writing haiku

should be like cutting a ripe melon

with a sharp sword.


Rimbaud became a ninja, & dropped

symbolism to run guns in Ethiopia.

Dickinson, the kunoichi (or female


ninja) of Amherst, snuck behind lines

in her father’s house at night,

disguised as an old maid—


She dealt her pretty words like blades.

Moving by stealth, an arcane

agency slips through this world,


observing hidden things, belonging

nowhere, obsessively perfecting

cryptic messages for—we know not whom.


Their opponent never knows

of their existence. Their legendary powers

are charms & incantations,


magic spells & flight.

They can walk on water

in their mizugumo, or water-spider shoes.






Art Source: <a href="Ray’s Web