licensed romrodinka
At Meiji Shrine
by Rick Lupert

Long path from train
through gates, large like trees
A sea of umbrellas come

to visit the enshrined souls of
Emperor Meiji and his consort
the empress.

We wash hands
ritually like before a Jewish meal.
We bow and clap.

We drop coins in box.
People hang votive wood notes
like prayers in a Western Wall.

This is not an ancient place
But it is quiet like history.
Until young boy with his

bird sounds video game
forces us to move to a
more quiet corner.

The soul of the emperor
is broken up by rain drops.
We take him away in our wet clothes.

Young girl with Totoro Umbrella
visits Meiji Shrine. Totoro is
patron saint of umbrellas
and giant bunny as far
as I’m concerned.

I interrupt Addie’s moment to say
I would like to have a beverage with owls now.
Without a word she waves her hand
summoning me to hand her the backpack.
Who who.

There are many places
I’m not allowed entry to.
I’m thinking of converting so
I can get some better pictures.

PHOTO: Imperial Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan, dedicated to the deified spirits of the Emperor Shoken (1852-1912) and Empress Shoken (1849-1914). The shrine was formally dedicated on November 3, 1920. Photo by Rom Rodinka, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write my travel poems on location, typed into the Pages app on my phone while experiencing whatever it is the world has to offer. They’re almost unfiltered notes directly from my brain to the page to the books they show up in.

PHOTO: The author at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan (July 2019). Photo by Rick Lupert.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 24 collections of poetry, including The Toyko-Van Nuys Express (Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020), and Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.

Author photo by Addie Lupert.