Thursday, October 15, 2009


Close readers of this blog (Constant Reader, I am looking at you) will recognize the similarity of this posting to that of an earlier posting.

The coincidence is not coincidental. The selection of today's title is not due to sloppiness on my part, but because the concept in question, "syzygia," the conjunction of three celestial bodies on a single plane, in one event, I think, is relevant to the development of the story in "Takaaki."

How it is relevant, I hope to establish in sometime in the next few days if, as Bill says, "The Lord be willing and the crick don't rise." For now, I will ask you to take it on faith that there is a connection. And join me for a little walk me from A to B.

Today's contribution, two stanzas, follows at the end.

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 decorate: add 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 servicable, black and bright;
It’s the best room in the apartment for
Stage managing a brief, premptive strike,
Or eating egg salad at night—egg
And bread crumbs are more visible. Pegged
To a corkboard above the phone, two keys
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 the 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.
This Japanese is 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 exercizing 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 calculating how much hurt
He could endure, before his eyes or knees
Collapsed. Maybe I am Japanese.

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—
O, fair conjunction—it was formed in vain.
He never questioned it. I should explain.
He just said, “Huh.” The word he won with: THE.
I hoisted myself up now, in the bath,
With half a mind to go and check his math.

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