Poetry: ‘My Spirit Is Howling’

Celeste Benzschawel is a reporter and social-media editor here at the Peninsula Pulse and a writer for Door County Living magazine. Originally from Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, she moved to Door County in May 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a journalism degree.

Though she enjoys writing news articles, reporting on local education issues and profiling musicians, she also likes to write poetry. This poem is inspired by three classical songs from three Japanese movies: Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

Although Benzschawel has never seen Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, she did some research on composer Ryuichi Sakamoto after an interview with Sturgeon Bay musician pat mAcdonald, who wrote with Sakamoto in the 1990s. The melody captured her attention, and she hasn’t stopped listening since.

Benzschawel also grew up watching Studio Ghibli anime films such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke. Joe Hisaishi, who has composed much of the music for the studio, made just as much of an impression as the films themselves.

Benzschawel encourages you to read the poem below and listen to the songs in order (all are available on YouTube): “One Summer’s Day” by Joe Hisaishi, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” by Ryuichi Sakamoto and “Merry-Go-Round of Life” by Joe Hisaishi

“My Spirit Is Howling”

Joe Hisaishi 
Putting a lump in my throat
One Summer Day
Takes my spirit away

It’s held in a blade of grass
Gently flowing
Sun streaks shining through
Sweeping me along

A simple movement 
Of fingers across keys
A brick wall of emotion
Leaves no more room 
In my chest
Ryuichi Sakamoto says
Merry Christmas to me

Where’s my castle in the sky?
I’ll be looking up always
One hand locked to my chest
Waiting for my turn on the 
Merry Go Round of Life