Guardian Fox at Night
Guardian Fox at Night

a disturbance in the force

a tremour in the ‘hood

no sleep for me tonight

2:30 a.m.. Restless thought syndrome. Body willing but monkey mind still chattering away, I let my wife sleep in peace and head downstairs. I’ll pay for this tomorrow, I know, when the adrenaline finally wears off and I’m left all raw and jangly at the front of a classroom full of teenagers flush with spring and hours still left on the clock.

the house spirits make room for me

pull back to the shadows

as I pass

This is the best time for writing, though, between the witching hour and dawn, before the early commuter express trains kickstart another workday. My semi-rural neighbourbood in west Tokyo is quiet. The usually busy road at the end of my street is almost completely empty of traffic now save the occasional solitary headlights on their way somewhere else. The stray cats have quit their yowling from the woodlot. Even my neighbour’s goat and rooster must be asleep, and It’s too early in the season for cicadas.

the light from my study window

a beacon for

stray dreams and bedtime stories

Bleary-eyed, still half asleep, I turn on the laptop. I’ve missed a story deadline. Like one of my highschool Seniors, I’ll pull an all-nighter and get caught up (never works!)

hey monkey mind!

can’t we be friends?

I’ll share my toys…

This time of night, the boundary between sleep and wakefulness, between real and unreal, between fact and fiction, blurs.

a cool breeze

a murmur in the night

not cats; people?

Slowly thoughts and images come together, wakefulness and dream-time pulling together on the page.

laughing? fighting?

at 3a.m.

they sound the same

My best work yet! Haha! (But how will it read in the light of morning?) But those voices won’t let go. There’s urgency, insistence, maybe a little desperation… Two of them – check that, three. Two men and a woman. Some of the words start to sound familiar, like the script of a TV drama I watch for language study:



help! it hurts!

Drunk? Drama? I can’t tell from here. Then a figure, a man in white shirt and black pants, lopes down the road. This is no stray dream or story: something’s really happening. I wake my wife. Or rather, she’s already awake, listening to the woman’s increasingly desperate cries. She translates the word I don’t know: “Rape”. My wife calls the police.


flashlights, strobelights

transform the night

3:30am. I try to write, but don’t know where to begin. Fact? Fiction? Rape? Really? Or a domestic disturbance gotten out of hand, gone public? Wishful thinking, that the worst hasn’t come to pass? I guess we’ll never know. The stray dreams and stories have gone elsewhere, chased away by the police cars and ambulance. Stories need closure, endings. But real life so rarely provides them.

walking to the station

neighbours, parks

nothing looks the same


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