Poetry / June 2017 (Issue 36: Writing Japan)

Three Poems

by Judy Halebsky


a couple wearing the same shoes
accepting money as a gift without first refusing
calling out of the blue, drunk
daytime TV
sleeping with the TV on
adult children yelling at their parents
pants tucked into socks
sweaters tucked into pants
chocolate cake
promising to translate a letter into English and realizing I don't
have anywhere near the Japanese I would need
driving at night without lights
drinking too much at the top of Mt. Takao
passing out drunk on the trail at Mt. Takao (with the Australians
worried you might be hurt or diabetic) (it's not that this happens
more in Tokyo than San Francisco, it’s just that here one is so
much less likely to be alone) (which brings me back to the
chocolate cake and how small it is and how to get more I'd have to
go to a second café and order all over again or stay at the same café
and be the American that ordered dessert twice alone)

Saitama, April 2017

When one of the undergrads says he doesn’t have a girlfriend,
Yoshi corrects him with not yet as though it’s a one-time thing.
(Yoshi lives in the town where we was born, married to a woman
he met in high school) later I think not yet is a way of not saying no.
(this is better than my first take which was something about men
and virginity) When the same student says he doesn’t want an office
job, Yoshi tells him to find a wild place, not here by the outlet mall
and the semi-rapid express, but to go into the wilderness. They read
American poetry together in English, one poem at a time, line by
line. They spend weeks on the Idea of Order at Key West and years on
Coney Island of the Mind. When I ask Yoshi if he writes his own
poems, he says, I’m a letter carrier for poetry, that's all.


She’s not using it that way, Janine tells me on the 8th floor of Lumine.

jikkan (true) (feeling). I look it up on J-DIC (not a dating site but a
dictionary) Examine the characters in the selected compound:

— Janine, translator and Saitama neighbor, says when Akiko writes
jikkan, she doesn’t mean truth, she doesn’t mean reality.

— Me, on J-DIC out of the wild fury of insomnia, talking to

She means all spirits and voices pulled through the body, not a
picture or a map or a GPS voice, not to measure by what is possible
in this tea cup, gravity limited world, but instead to measure by
pulse rate, by current, by ways to be more or less alive, not kind-of
or so-so but that ice cold lake and the shutter of falling in.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.