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LORD GANRYU DIES

It is morning. The lord and his seconds wait
upon a gravel bar.
Light makes waves of snapping
turtle shells.
No gasp to stir reeds where minnows
race mazes.

The lord waits,
a squatty ash trunk in proper red,
drum belly full of rice cake.
He ponders the sharpness of his blade
how it has skillfully chopped the necks
of two score enemies
how sky ripples blue and white
as the tassels above his domo.
He considers a fly
humming secret intentions. He yawns.

A rowboat draws near the spit.
Within the boat wild Musashi
is garbed in tatters. His eyes bulge
whites glazed, drunken.
He croaks a dirge to the fish,
armed with an oar hastily carved
from a cherry blossom tree.

The lord frowns and wonders
at this foolish young ronin
come to meet death without a sword.
It is morning.

      — Laird Barron