Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Not perhaps a subject we usually associate with Martians or Alexander Pushkin, but it is the topic of today's addition to "Takaaki."

Part III

Since the worlds already were at war,
Running really made no sense to me.
I buzzed Takaaki gently—prepared for
Another argument—contingency
Chrysanthemums and Dunkin’ Donuts
My auxiliaries. Although he was
Bound to be annoyed that I was late,
I hoped the Martians might consent to wait
Two hours and obliterate New York
Again, at ten-fifteen, since eight-fifteen—
Our time—had passed. Martians can be keen
On sticking to their schedules. They work
Very hard on planning their invasions,
Sleepless, indefatigable. With patience,

I pressed his buzzer harder, wondering
What on Earth was taking him so long
To answer the door, mind wandering
Back toward the movies: what is wrong
With him? Mysterious music swelled somewhere;
A whiff of singed meat hanging in the air
Compelled reflection. Not quite panicking,
I gave the buzzer a one minute ring,
The tip of my thumb glowing bony white.
Frustrated by my absence, had he gone
Off to face the Martians all alone—
Half-crazy—seeking a heat-ray to light
A final Marlboro? No. As it hap-
Pend, I aroused Takaaki from a nap.

He blinked at me and my chrysanthemums
As if presented a bouquet of frogs
Retrieved from one those great pickle drums
For sale in scientific catalogs:
Every specimen in our collection
Formaldehyde free for your protection.

The ads will grin with grisly emphasis.
Takaaki offered me a ghostly kiss
Which missed my lips entirely. “Mars sends
These flowers—and regrets they look so sick.
They did seem brighter in that black plastic
Bucket at the bodega. Cut the stems
And water them, they should perk up,” I said.
“Chrysanthemums are given to the dead

By people in Japan,” Takaaki’s
Jaw yawned, unromantically, I thought.
“Maybe these Martians are not Japanese.
From me. Strawberry frosted donuts ought
To be acceptable, more auspicious.”
He made a fuss about how delicious
These tasted when I brought a couple home
One day. His favorites. Twelve Styrofoam
Rings, of no variety, or beauty,
Now glistened in his blue contacts. “Same?”
He blinked again, “Who buys all of same
Donuts? Who does that?” “It’s my duty
To disappoint you every way I can,
Takaaki. I am an American,

Remember,” I remarked, removing
Saturated sneakers, lead pea-coat,
Wet socks, wet pants, wet everything, including
A pair of foggy glasses. How remote
The possibilities of peace between us
Seemed—until the cold and clammy penis
Shyly shivering in my underwear
Pointed to towels appearing from nowhere:
They had materialized on the tansu
Directly opposite the front door,
While I was peeling off my t-shirt, or
Jeans. (Those Transporters can surprise you.)
Then, from another room, a fantastic
Robe folded in a wicker laundry basket

Arrived. “Please put this on. I will wash clothes
Tonight.” For once, I did what I was told.
Resistance is futile, I suppose,
Confronted by goose pimples and warm gold
Kimonos. I pulled down my briefs
Shedding any lingering beliefs
In Christian modesty in his front hall.
I rolled a lot into that ruby ball
Of underwear—my maraschino cherry.
I used it to adorn the soggy pile
Of garments which I had abandoned while
He was off-stage being busy. Very.
He held up that kimono, like a cross,
His face invisible, his body lost

Behind the fabric. When I stepped inside,
I felt less like Lord and Saviour
Than the actor Peter O’Toole. I tried
Not to become Lawrence of Arabia,
In Japanese regalia, bowing low,
Revolving, all humility, to show
How I was different from the general
Westerner—I was less Imperial—
More liberal—more sympathetic. It’s
A bit disorienting to step in-
Side foreign clothing, like a stranger’s skin,
And find you are identical. “It fits.
It’s silk.” “It’s yours,” he smiled, “It’s polyester.
I got it on eBay for cold weather.”

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