Poetry by Neil Ellman

Dragon Knows Dragon

(after the painting by Shiryu Morita)








Only a dragon knows another like itself

the brutal heart of it

beating to the rhythm of the same taiko

and sharing vengeful memories of villages

pillaged, burned and laid to ground.


Each can see in each other’s eyes

a murderous intent

and knows the purpose of their tongues

and flaming breath

red with the malevolence of their resolve.


A dragon knows another

as it knows itself

a soldier fighting for its kind

with its sword and lashing tail

like a flag

caught in the winds of war.


There Are Little People Living Inside of Me

(after the painting by Takashi Murakami)










There are too many of them

inside of me, little ones

with eyes and ears like mine

but another’s disposition

all swindlers, murderers

and miscreants, eating

my heart and soul

turning my life to ruin.

iI is as if I have become

a school

for the worst of the worst

of the worst

with me as its student

becoming like them,

learning the crafts of the criminal

and the art of deceit.

Too soon, I will become

a little one

inside of someone else

eating his heart and soul

and ruining his life.


Soul Going Back to Its Home

(after the painting by Yayoi Kusama)

Just as the soul attempts to reach

a home among the stars

or in the hearts of men

before it understands

that home is not a place

and itself no more real

than a constellation’s shape

but an artifice

created by the artist’s hand

and restless mind

to justify the lives we lead

without reason or design

it doubts

it has a home

or purpose in the universe.


Ro (aged; matured and free from worldliness)

(after the painting by Shiryu Morita)










How does it fill the heart

to hold the world

as if it were your childhood  toy?


What is the joy that comes

when you own all things

but your allotted years?


What good is done

when you think you are the world

and your word is all that need be said?


To be free of it and all that it demands

by sacrifice and pain

is the greatest comfort

an old man can enjoy.


Infinite and Finite

(after the painting by Suda Kokuta)







When the infinite meets the finite

the universe, confused, explodes

and alters its course;

time standing still

the constellations realign

black holes release their light

and space is flattened

like a sheet of ice.


All things possible become probable

and the probable becomes as real

as the moons that fill the sky

and the dreams that fill

our hours as we float among the stars.


It is said that it will come to pass

when the dying universe collides

with another like itself

and understands that it is not alone.