Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Ofunato in Recollected Prose

In 2006, a little sparrow perched outside my motel window,
There, I was in a small town settled during Jomon,
of tall trees, a culture well defined yet subtle to the eye,
inflections and nuance,
There, I stood on the 8th floor and looked out to sea,
I pondered…

In 1896, the Sanriku earthquake and tsunami,
killed more than 27,000 souls,
engulfed in seawater then carried away to oblivion,
I could sense those lost, at the shrine,
cleansing my hands,
they were in the incense,
and within the scrunching sound of gravel beneath my feet,
names, murmured by trees, thousand upon thousand,

After breakfast of rice, miso and baked fish,
I traced empty streets, before the shops,
within 20 minutes, Noddy-like cars trickled
through to nearby destinations,
I heard a boat horn resound, and sensed the hand of the sea,
I remembered…

In 1933, April 1st the salty hand rose again,
a tsunami 28 meters high,
another generation, of sweet families, washed away,
empty spaces in school photos, empty seats in noodle restaurants,
and seaside sake bars,
the incense lit, the priest chanting prayers and ringing bells,

Early afternoon, we traced a meandering path
down to a pristine little beach, sheltered by the wind,
gentle and affectionate waves lapped our feet,
There, we threw a Frisbee, baseballs, bathed in the sun,
and laughed about the intricate details of our daily lives,
I wiggled my toes in the stones, as tiny waves soothed my feet
in coolness, looking out to sea,
I evoked…

In 1960, May 22nd the Valdivia earthquake in Chile struck,
unimaginable shudders and jolts, deep within belly of the earth,
of 9.4 magnitude, it sent a 35-meter tsunami hurtling across the Pacific Ocean,
Modest and defenceless houses, shops, community halls,
standing for a mere 27 years, were once again obliterated,

That night, we played a delicate show in an old sake brewery,
a building that survived them all,
I sung with all the soul I could conjure to those bright faces,
and attuned ears,
In low light, beautiful light, I read poems with Yamaura-sensei,
the custodian of the dying local language, Kesen,
his arms open to his Christian god,
after the show we drank sake and ate seafood,
then a walk in the temperate harbour, and
followed at last by a long and contented sleep within her hands,

In 2011, March 11, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck,
this age of media, traumatized the world,
23.6 meters in height, the wave was funnelled into the narrow bay,
an inward sweep of 3 kms, crushing everything in its path,
the live images, of inconceivable force and power,
tree trunks as battering rams barreled through the industrial zone,
into the docks then beyond into the residential districts,
people embedded in cars, homes and shops,
others washed back out to sea when the powerful waters reversed their course.
I feared for those I befriended, and I recognised places I once stood,
Just seconds before the wave washed in,

Ofunato means
‘Big ship crossing’
a quaint, warm little town,
of gentle and cheerful folk,
the incessant and enchanting call from the seagulls above,
the intermittent blow of the deep horns from
fishing boats, leaving or returning from sea,
the myriad of vessels, collections of colours and sizes afloat,
and the ocean before them,
their ocean,
that feeds them, provides for them,
entertains them, nourishes them,
their ocean,
that destroys them,
rips loved ones from tormented arms,
of unimaginable destruction,
a temper, with no aptitude for pity or mercy,

As we drove out under darkness,
after the show, rising up into the wooded hills,
looking back to the twinkling town lights,
and moonlight reflected over the water beyond,
white light onto, and into heart of the town itself,
I recognised a love affair,
Yes! They love each other!
and the impermanence of their lives is entrusted in the waters before them,
their merciful and merciless saltwater god,
Yes! They love each other,
and nothing will keep the ocean from the people,
nor the people of Ofunato from their sea.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Welcome to Ben’s new website

Hi everyone welcome to this web site!

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

New Album

Our 2nd ‘Papatu Road’ is about to be released over in Australia. The album will be coming through the label, Vitamin. The release date is Nov 2nd, so damn close. Good to finally get that one out on the street. We are aware that the song ‘Frangipani’ has been popping up on a few radio station over there, so about TIME! to get the album out there.