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The last portrait made me stop to take a second look. Unlike the other monks, this one was gazing directly out at the viewer. His face was painted in the standard Yamato-e style, just lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose, but there was something strangely expressive about the minimalist painting: a slight tension in the angle of his eyes, one hand holding a brush in midair, as if hesitating.
The bald little monk stared up at me out of his portrait, as if he were trying to speak to me. The plaque beneath the painting read:
Monk Anchin (1244-1316)
Collection of Seitokuji, 14th century, artist unknown
There was no background or architectural detail in the plain portrait, but there was a lit candle-stand beside him, a common pictorial convention for depicting nighttime. Why would the artist take pains to portray Anchin, unlike the other poets, writing by candlelight?
The Dream Diary of Monk Anchin – Felicity Drake
The Forest of New People – Thom Connors
Time’s Arrow – C. Heidmann
The Stars Don’t Lie – R.W.W. Greene
Mari Ness spent much of her life wandering the world and reading. This, naturally, left her only able to eat chocolate, snark about popular culture, and occasionally write. She lives in central Florida, with a scraggly rose garden, large trees harboring demented squirrels, and two adorable cats.
Joshua Phillip Johnson writes, reads, and teaches in a small town in Minnesota. His house is 100-years-old this year and probably doesn’t have any ghosts in it. He can be found online at