Poetry / March 2015 (Issue 27)

Home on the Range / Beppu, Japan

by Deborah Guzzi

Through the rice-paper shoji screens of the ryokan’s rooftop-room floats the unlikely melody of “Home on the Range.” At the corner stoplight—citizens are warned not to “be a cowboy” and cross against the light by the jarring inappropriate sounds. A productive afternoon of shopping, among Beppu’s Demon banners, porn magazine stores, and girlie bars; garners a new Dean Koontz book.

feet up the wall
blood flows to my head —
tea steams

The crisp white sheets on the futon are cool. I marvel at the contrast between the dingy, damp- stained walls and the immaculate tatami mats on the floor. Late afternoon’s tangerine light sets the room aglow. The ikebana floral arrangement casts long shadows reminiscent of kanji. The blither of small children in hall produces white noise as the inn's guests scurrying across the alley to soak before supper.

evening blues
over the rooftops —
karaoke begins
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