Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 16 - A Treat

Most of the time I find writing difficult. I first typed "miserably difficult" but that would not be correct, since most of the time I really do enjoy solving the little prosodic problems a poem presents. It's a way of passing time, like any other hobby--skiing, playing guitar, sodomy. I guess what I prefer about poetry is that it won't get you arrested if you do it on the train.

Today has been a good day: I managed two stanzas again, rather than my customary one. Tomorrow, I am attending a meeting on new develpments in Securities Law at Westlaw, so I might not be able to do a sonnet. We shall see.

One note, the phrase, "Deshiyou-" is Japanese, and it politely means, "That might be..."

As usual, I have changed a few things in yesterday's sonnet and appended today's contribution at the end of this post.

See you tomorrow. (I hope!)

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-
Set over Chelsea. Takaaki was done—

Just like those thirty-minute Japanese
Cartoons I used to watch in Buffalo:
Star Blazers was my favorite of these,
(Nihon-go de, 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 black t-shirt. Above
Japan it read, “Two bombs were not enough.”

Now, the two malignant mushrooms which
Sprouted from the belly of that guy
Returned as two shitakes in my dish
Of curried chicken and vegetables. Why?
(You’ll see.) From a Doraemon candy tin,
Takaaki took a cigarette. A thin
Whisp of smoke and hiss rose from his plate
As his match fizzled out. He seemed sedate.
“What do you want to do,” I inquired,
“Go bowling? I’ll do anything you like:
Get drunk? Get naked?” [Silence] “Steal a bike?”
“I swam forty laps tonight. I’m wired.”
He exhaled, letting out a little laugh,
“Shall we play Scrabble then and then have bath?”

“Have bath sounds good. But Scrabble, I will pass:
You always win, you creep. You clearly cheat,”
I said, “It’s obvious. You won the last
Nine times. And you’re not going to defeat
Me for time number ten tonight.” I put
My fork down like a foot. Takaaki’s butt
He extinguished in the drop of sauce
Which recently had claimed his match. “You lost
Because you play without strategy:
There is no need to cheat on you,” he sighed,
As if I were a beetle on his thigh
Too insignificant to crush. “You see,
You always want to find interesting word—
Not the word that wins.” My fork conferred

A moment with a chunk of chicken dyed
Bright yellow by the cumin in the curry
Before I ate it. “I have always tried
To think of Scrabble with you in purely
Educational terms. It is my wish
To help you in enlarging your English
Vocabulary. And defeating you—
Too easily—as surely I must do—
Would only be embarassing. I know
How sensitive Japanese people are:
Destruction on a Scrabble board would mar
Our beautiful relationship.” “Deshiyou—
Does that mean you don’t want to play?”
“You’re not listening. I’ll kick your ass today.”

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