Monday, October 19, 2009

Bath salts

Having taking the weekend off from writing, for no other reason than I was getting a little tired, I have returned today with two more sonnets for, "Takaaki."

Nothing spectacular to report here, or note, except the lucky quarter some of you may remember from part one of the poem makes a cameo here.

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging.

As usual, today's contributions fall at the end of today's post.

Part IV

The crude compartment I created when
I focused on the concrete, glass and steel
Elements of Takaaki place, I meant
Merely as a skeleton. I feel
It’s time to add some flesh: tatami mats
Surrounded by delicate shoji—that’s
The wooden screen (with paper windows) which
Separates our rooms; we’ll open rich
Closets, where futons are found folded, while
Not needed for sleeping, or some other use.
Before you enter, though, remove your shoes.
Shoes ruin the tatami. On the tile,
Out front, a pair of Muji slippers rest,
Quietly, for comfort of the guest.

The kitchen lies left of his bolted door.
It’s small, but serviceable, black and bright;
It’s the best room in the apartment for
Stage managing a brief, pre-emptive strike,
Or eating egg salad at night—egg
And bread crumbs are more visible. Pegged
To a corkboard above the phone, two keys
Will jingle if you pin a note. These
Keys may unlock a mailbox, or padlock,
A fair or frightening future. All I know
Is that I have an aunt Pandora, so
I don’t touch them. Taka-chan will talk
And turn them round, when he is on the phone.
But he’s entitled to. It is his home.

I do not pry or criticize. I lack
Those scholarly instincts, you might say.
I study coffee tables. Here’s a snack:
A bowl of crackers on a bamboo tray
Beside The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Does Azkaban share crackers with nude man
Gyrating on the cover of HX
Or dangle them in front of him for sex?
It’s not clear. Maybe Agatha Christie—
This book—a Japanese translation of
The Body in the Library—would prove
Helpful in solving this—our mystery.
If only I could read it. But I can’t.
These characters are hard to understand.

Takaaki must provide the weirdest clues:
A leather sofa, color of burnt butter,
A TV tuned to Will & Grace, not news,
Chilly cha, a coaster, and another
Agatha Christie, A Pocket full of Rye.
These are the blackbirds baked into the pye
We set before the reader. You are king.
Don’t let these details fly away, but sing,
Caw, croak, somehow illuminate
The mystery of love in ways which men
With tight abdominals, tight asses, ten
Inches don’t: let that sideways figure eight
I kiss, his double vaccination mark,
Slowly begin glowing in the dark.

A lot of information, I suppose,
To keep track of in the imagination—
Especially when the list of variables grows
Exponentially in the equation:
We know that A means Ass and B means Butt
But Double Vaccination Marks mean what?
Do you see a crossed-eyed pediatrician
Or a nation exercising caution?
I see a boy unbuttoning his shirt
At school, as I once did, as a long line
Of kids advanced, some crying, and some grind-
Ing teeth, one estimating how much hurt
He could endure, before his eyes or knees
Collapsed. All are possibilities.

Takaaki closed his contact case. *Snap*
His irises were human once again
Instead of vaguely Aryan. Adapt-
Ing to the fact the Martian invasion
Would be postponed, I suggested we
Play Scrabble. He agreed. He beat me.
The gap between our scores I can’t recall—
Except that I was slaughtered. That is all.
My masterstroke, the word SYZYGIA—
Conjunction of three bodies in a plane—
Did not impress him much. I wracked my brain,
He nodded, “Huh.” The word he won with: THE.
I hoisted myself higher, in the bath,
With half a mind to go and check his math.

I let it go, happy where I was:
His in-most room, his holy of holies,
Floating in a cloud of bath salts—suds—
Slight variation in the Japanese
Clean, simple, uncontaminated soak.
Steam drifted off the water, scented smoke:
Inhaling orange blossoms and hot wood,
I felt divine. And it felt very good
To be a god—if for a moment. Time
Itself slowed to a complete standstill.
Not a single bubble burst until
Takaaki’s body settled in with mine,
His feet supported by my upper thighs.
Heaven is an easy sacrifice

To make, in comparison with love.
“Chutto samui ne?” his lengthy ‘ne’
Seeking confirmation in a puff
Of politeness. “Everyone is cold today,”
I said, rotating the hot water tap.
His right foot trickled down into my lap
To thank me. “Knock it off, you maniac,
That tickles.” “Turn then. I will scrub your back.”
Takaaki pulled his knees toward his chest...

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