April 30: Ukiyo

by allisonkujiraoka

Is it a pleasure world

floating over all

propped up by cash and change

that cushions every fall?

Is it a leisure world

built on padded stilts

that make us look way down upon

the less-than-fortunates?

Is it an idle world

trying to stimulate

senses that are numbed and dumb

by a never-empty plate?

Or does a sadness reign

since our days are all the same

affixed onto a cycle

that does not defer to name?

Is it a world of sorrow

from which none can seek rescue

a narrowing of fates and

an outlook always blue?

Perhaps just as a homophone

can sound the same but differ

two worlds can co-exist in one

two existences co-suffer.

The pain no one can quantify–

the one bored stiff, well-fed,

the other, scraping by–

Let’s hand it to the Japanese:

they’ve defined the human cry.

**“Ukiyo” means “floating world,” symbolic of the hedonistic lifestyle of the wealthy and/or powerful in Tokugawa Japan.  A homophone of “ukiyo” comes from Japanese Buddhism and means “sorrowful world,”  typifyng the Buddhist belief in the endless cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth from which adherents seek escape.  Special thanks to the Asian History pages of about.com.

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