Brian Komei Dempster


Eightfold Chant

Church of broken toasters and singed fuses,
church of the dripping roof and chipped chimney stack,
of the flooded garage and its split door,

gas-hissing pipes and sibilant water heaters,
church of piss-poor light and shaky ladders
where I unchoke windows and dislodge chopsticks

from pipes, smooth curled up wallpaper and key the locks,
fix clocks sticking or ticking with different times,
church where wings of dead flies drift like petals


Through darkness they came,
covered in ash, scarred by depths

and distance, they bore salt and fire, breath steaming
at edges of decks, hands clutching

railings, their bodies dizzied by the lurching vessel,

trunks pulled by hand, Where are you from? I unwrapped
my legacy from cloth, the marble Buddha

from my grandfather, ancient
as the sea-stained covers of his sutras, the briny odor