my old jiu-jitsu teacher
used to have a short sword
its blade milled off
it was used occasionally in class
it was from Korea
and had been used
in World War II
so we were told

there were loads of cool things
that we learned all about
the stances and cuts
the formal defences
this was some of the actual stuff
the Samurai would learn

I borrowed it for a while
to practice at home
once the teacher trusted me enough

back in my room I studied it
having the time and quiet
and found seven notches
right up by the hilt

I began to think what they meant
and reality came to stay
I couldn’t sleep
with it there in the room
it gave me a cold shiver
I no longer thought it cool
and gave it right back
at the earliest opportunity
I had come to see
that we had kind of been playing
on the bones

of the dead