Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tokiyou ni ikimasu.

After the hideous cold of the last two weeks, the temperature in New York has climbed back into the 40s, and there is the distinctly tangy scent of spring in the air. In fact, and I hope you are sitting down, I actually enjoyed that my train was a little late leaving Stamford this morning. The extra eight minutes of sunlight on my face did me some indescribable good.

Last week, during the depths of the evil cold snap gripping Connecticut, and my insides, I made reservations for a return trip to Tokyo, in late March, to see some cherry blossoms (sakura) and spend a few afternoons soaking in a nice hot volcanic bath with Taka-chan.

Part of the reason why I have been writing such miserable poetry over the last few weeks is that I have been feeling frustrated with myself. I want to find a nice well-paying job in Tokyo, so Takaaki and I can start cooking rice together, but it is proving painfully hard. And why is it so hard? Obviously, I must be doing something wrong, even if I seem to be doing everything right.

Sometimes there is nothing harder to face in the world than your own reflection in the mirror. And when I turn inward, I can turn particulary vicious. Introspection probably should not be performed by an amateur with a deformed soul, but by some sort of detatched and finiky professional, with a gentle but penetrating eye. I really think I need that volcanic bath.


So, here are few quatrains totally unrelated to Japan, volcanoes, romance, or anything else. They are about the most boring subject imaginable: writing.

A Note to Alex
Inserted in his new notebook

One hundred pages occupy this book,
One hundred clouds of suds and rolling thunder,
One hundred sacks of coconut—and look—
A fish fillet. That’s right. I think it’s flounder.

Well, how would you interpret all this space?
Pour fresh foundations for a concrete world,
Or copy something? Sketch some kind of face,
Left earlobe laden with a teardrop pearl?

Our choices can be frightening. Take drug stores:
How do you choose a nice deodorant
Among the dozens of toxic metaphors
Out there? Try everything? Experiment?

Here’s roses and Rottweiler. How sublime.
There’s oxygen for dizziness—and wine—
If you have trouble breathing. Take your time:
Rhyme ‘kiss’ with ‘bliss’ and you should be fine.

There may be more I’d like to say to you;
But I’ve been told—by somebody who knows—
That I am just a book—a blank one, too.
So, fill me with your poetry. (No prose.)

Amateur Hour

When I’m at work—when I have time to think—
I’ll dip a long white feather in my heart,
Concealing how my pen and inkpot clink.
I am not sure this qualifies as Art.

I think a poet should be more profound;
He ought to scream, “Look at me—I exist!”
It also helps a bit to hop around,
Pierce pieces of your tongue, and shake your fist.

The fist establishes your right to speak,
The piercings vouch for your sincerity.
Of course, if I ever began to shriek
Somebody here would call Security.

So, I make do with the odd metaphor
For those emotions I cannot address
With people listening—like that cri de coeur
I spent all morning trying to express…

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