Neon burns brighter than gas lights, chasing away the terrors that once lurked, hidden in the night.
Gas lamps burned brighter than flickering candle-light, tongues of guttering flame like quiet, whispered protests against overpowering darkness.
Some things that would’ve stayed hidden have been dragged out, into the light – others still skulk in nooks and in corners, where shadows linger and slim fingertips of light dare not to pass.
Ancient cities now a-glow, blazing, basking beneath firework shades, like giant chameleonic explosions.
Kyoto now burns toxic orange, flamingo pink, nuclear green.
An ancient capital, now painted like a whore.
Her solemn temples once echoed with the solemn drone of monks called to worship – now the clatter of pachinko parlours fills the air.
But even in these desecrated streets monsters lurk.
A bat flits
above the plum blossoms.
Footsteps seem to challenge my own, I turn, and witness his approach.
A monk, in saffron robes, his begging bowl cupped in arthritic palms:
I turn to greet him, but he turned away, an ancient insult, in this modern age.
An eyeball staring from his naked arse!
Written as part of my series on Under-represented Monsters, for the A to Z Challenge. Shirime (尻目) literally translates as “buttocks eye.” Surely no name has ever been more apt. Invented by Yosa Buson (a poet, whose haiku A Bat Flits is incorporated into this story), this monster seems content to only terrify its victims, pursuing them on all fours until they find sanctuary. My story/poem is also about my own emotions, whenever I walk through beautiful old cities, all over the world, and see the weight of the modern crushing aeons of history beneath a blanket of sameness. Anyway, comments and criticism always welcome…and if you’re wondering about the sound of a pachinko parlour – click HERE.