Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 14 - Yamato

Today's additions and deletions owe much to the kind and candid criticism of a reader in Maine, who has been carefully following the developments of our story.

She pointed out that the noisy vacuum cleaner featured at the end of yesterday's sonnet seems a bit ugly and jarring, out of keeping with the tone established in the poem so far. And I think she was right. Therefore, I have re-written the ending of that sonnet as a lead in to the following sonnet, today's sonnet, keeping her comments in mind.

I am always grateful to receive constructive criticism from readers. Sometimes I re-write things as a result. The truth is, I miss things, and sometimes I don't make necessary connections between images, or the connections I make are not always the most logical or obvious ones. I am always grateful to borrow the thoughts of others.

So, I would like to dedicate today's posting to June, in Maine.

As usual, today's contribution follows at the end.

Takaaki entered my life as a leopard
Belt being unbuckled at the Y.
Until that day, we had exchanged no word
Apart from that perfunctory, “Hi,”
One naturally nods when in the shower—
Never letting eyes fall any lower
Than chin, if necessary, collarbone,
Carefully leaving ‘well enough’ alone—
Lest anything unseemly try to blur
The steely line of bubbles separating
Really clean from curious—creating
Questions about conditioners, and whether
Grapefruit is a proper manly scent—
Even in a Thought Experiment.

I was hooked by how that feline belt
Crept through the four tight loops above his rear;
It filled me with four-letter words, which spelt,
“Don’t ruin your Moon trip.” Although sincere—
Poetic even—this injunction—it
Does not, I think, seem quite appropriate.
We’re not inside a NASA locker room:
We’re here—a cave as moldy as the tomb
Where Romeo is scheduled to meet
His honey, when Miss Fortune intervenes,
Cancelling the dancing in those scenes.
I sprinkled fungal powder on my feet,
Discretely. As my fairy dust descended,
I wondered if his buckle was befriended

By anything besides his fingertips.
I could, of course, conceive of other suitors—
A bedroom floor, those pant hangers with clips
Coated in red rubber, folding doors
With tiny metal doorknobs—all of this
I could conceive—nor was it my business
Where, after leaving his seductive waist,
His buckle might intend to hang, how chaste
These new companions, if they drank, or stank
Of soiled underwear, or socks, or hold
Silk stockings with more reverence, or old
Boas, handcuffs, or dead cats. (I thank
The Lord, this morning, when I dressed, I took
A necktie from my closet hook.) Now, look—

Zip, that leopard softly disappears
Around Takaaki’s narrow, subtle hips.
A poet friend once spent ten thousand years
On hips, neglecting to Chapstick his lips;
So long he labored he dissolved to dust,
Before he could express his love. Or lust.
I trust, the stupid use he made of Time
Will not be copied in your life. Or mine.
With fifty-odd lines written on a waist,
A belt, belt loops, belt buckle, and no ass,
You might suppose your humble Author has
Lost you, Takaaki, and his mind. In case
That’s what you think, permit me now to state,
While you’ve been thinking, we’ve been on a date.

Around a core of elevators set
Twelve tall windows in a concrete sheet
As crumbly as the Parthenon; let
Your panorama start in Brooklyn, greet
The Empire State behind a candle (where
I sit sweating, in a sticky chair),
While your eye continues travelling
Along the glass, skyscrapers unraveling,
Until the pointy tip of the Chrysler Build-
-ing rises from Lexington Avenue,
Piercing a silver nitrate mist. Now you
Must let this scintillating picture fill
The space before your eyes: that is New York.
Here, I transfix a carrot with a fork.

“Introibo ad altare,” I will say,
While blowing on the steaming vegetable,
Adding, “Totemo oishikatta ne,”
Hoping, after five months, I am able
To tell Takaaki I enjoy his curry
Without entangling my tongue in worry.
“It’s okay,” he shrugs, quietly deferring
My compliments—as always—much preferring
A tilted head, a seated bow, the leaner
Show of manners honored in Japan,
Which can seem strange to an American.
I sat there feeling silly, like a wiener,
Looking past my carrot, at the sun:
Before I’d taken two bites, he was done—

Just like those thirty-minute Japanese
Cartoons I used to watch in Buffalo:
Star Blazers was my favorite of these,
(Nihon-go, Uchu Senkan Yamato.)
On rusty orange carpet I would sip
Iced-tea as an Imperial Navy ship,
Resurrected and retooled for space,
Left planet Earth to save the Human Race.
And, later, on Eye-Witness News, I’d see
Toyota windshields being battered
By men from Chevrolet, lives shattered
By something known as, “The Economy.”
One person wore a map t-shirt. Above
Japan it read, “Two bombs were not enough.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...