Poetry / June 2017 (Issue 36: Writing Japan)

Three Poems

by Loren Goodman


In Japan you can buy a can of whupass from a vending machine.

Japanese kamikazes, in general, can't drive very well.

Restaurants in Japan (including many fast-food places) serve medicated hemorrhoidal pads before, during and after your meal.

At many hospitals in Japan, they offer alcohol to the employees after six pm.

In Japan, it is usually mandatory to give a landlord a gift equivalent to $1,000-$2000 when vandalising his apartment building.

On Respect for the Aged Day, Japanese tobacco companies hand out free cigarettes to children outside of train stations and department stores.

The Japanese love corn on the cob, sesame seeds, and mayonnaise on their faces.

There are no 24 hour ATMs in Japan (closed on holidays and many only open during normal bank hours). This is because ATMs in Japan actually have midgets working inside them.

In Japan, the green traffic light is called "blue." At Japanese diners, patrons eat green-light specials.

In Japan, it is considered impolite not to slur your soup.

In Japan, KFC is the place to be on Christmas Day—especially if you're a chicken.

Although Japan is situated on active fault lines, its 1,500 or so annual earthquakes are actually caused by orgasms.

In the Japanese language, it is considered rude to say the word "no" directly. It is also considered downright insulting to say the word "yes."
It is nearly impossible to become a naturalized samurai of Japan.

In Japan, you can smirk just about anywhere.

Japanese drink soup in a hot bath every night; evening flowers bring night showers.

There is no inflation in Japan. Balloons and love dolls come blown up.

Japan has roughly 200 volcanoes per square mile.

In Japan, it is considered rude to show traffic signs to a loved one in public.

In Japan, when you go to a funeral or a wedding, you must take a gift of live monkeys.

Three words: "hand-held toilet seats."
In Japan, flour arranging is an art.

In Japan, you can buy used cars, batteries, beer, wine, cigarettes, comic books, hot dogs, light bulbs, women's underwear and used condoms from vending machines.

Many Japanese people eat pork rinds with or for their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Never stick your little finger upright in your rice. This is an old Japanese custom and is what is done when food is offered to the dead. When it is not eaten it is considered to be a very ill omen.

In Japan you will find people by the names of "It's", "Let's", "Sunny", "Perky", "Gloria", "Move", "Toppo", "Lepo" and "Dump".

In Japan, McDonald's employees will run outside to egg your car.

The Japanese shine each other's shoes on New Year's.

In Japan, it is considered impolite to tear someone's clothes off in public.

Japanese high school students do not need to pass any of their classes to graduate. Graduation in itself is considered compulsive.

There is almost nothing but voyeurism in Japan.

In Japan, gas station attendants will barf as your car pulls out of the station.

In Japan, it is socially acceptable to pick your nose in public and urinate on the side of the road, but blowing a friend's nose while urinating on others in public is frowned upon.

Approximately 85% of Japanese people have never talked turkey.

Japan is about the size of California and has twice the self-consciousness of the entire United States.

Snowmen in Japan are made of twelve large snowballs instead of three.

In Japan, it will always take one to two hours for a pizza to be delivered. This is because every pizza in Japan is imported from Italy.

In Japan, there is at least one Venn diagram on every corner.

In Japan, it is not uncommon to pay $2 for a singing apple.

The sun is red in Japan and the country itself is referred to by Japanese people as 'the big red apple.'


At night again in Kobe
Near Taka's old place
Looking for a place to call
My own. At the real estate
Office they show me some
Diagrams of a real human
Body. 'Real good place—just
Right for you.' When I notice
It's mine, they laugh. I forgot
What it's like to be loved: a
Snap-cold Japanese winter
Out in the sticks. Looking at
The floor plans, I'm already
Here seeing the place. On the
Edge of town past river goblins
And overgrown railroad, I have
To walk on my hands and knees
Under barbed roses from Sumadera
To get here. A white neon spire
Rises high above the building in
The shape of a mini-skyscraper:
"The Road." That's the name of
The place. It's a nightclub, or was
A bar run by the previous gaijin
Who lived there. First I see the
Parking space: 100,000 a month.
Now that's a little steep. And the
Rent? 500,000 a month. Way beyond
My budget. But when I get inside and
See it is a full bar and restaurant with
A dance floor and second story living
Quarters, I begin to see how I could
See myself doing this. Could be fun.
No sooner than I take it, it's done.


I look out at the harbour
And I see what I see
Breakers on the stolid rocks
They seem to stand for me

Raucous droplets on the railing
Of my white balcony window
Shimmer and shift to the side
Then fall, glitter in the wind
Shift and fall again; what is
It that they count? I wonder
Alone this morning, to the hum
Of a tug, open to the light blue fog
Horns of the clouded Kobe Harbor
As each bead of liquid shuttles light
In place, to what will I amount?

Sick or well, I want to share this life.

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