Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ryuichi Tamura

Human House
by Ryuichi Tamura

I guess I'll be back late
I said and left the house
my house is made of words
an iceberg floats in my old wardrobe
unseen horizons wait in my bathroom
from my telephone: time, a whole desert
on the table: bread, salt, water
a woman lives in the water
hyacinths bloom from her eyeballs
of course she is metaphor herself
she changes the way words do
she's as fre-form as a cat
I can't come near her name

I guess I'll be back late
no, no business meeting
not even a reunion
I ride ice trains
walk fluorescent underground arcades
cut across a shadowed square
ride in a mollusk elevator
violet tongues and gray lips in the trains
rainbow throats and green lungs underground
in the square, bubble language
foaming bubble information, informational information adjectives, all the hoolow adjectives
adverbs, paltry begging adverbs
and nouns, crushing, suffocating nouns
all I want is a verb
but i can't find one anywhere
I'm through with a society
built only of the past and future
I want the present tense

Because you open a door
doesn't mean there has to be a room
because there are windows
doesn't mean there's an interior
doesn't mean there's a space
where humans can live and die-
so far I've opened and shut
eountless doors, going out each one
so I could come in through another
telling myself each time
what a wonderful new world lies just beyond
what do I hear? from the paradise on the other side
dripping water
waves thudding on rocks
sounds of humans and beasts breathing
the smell of blood

it's been a while
I'd almost forgotten what it smells like
silence gathers around a scream
on the tip of a needle
as he walks slowly toward me
the surgeon puts on his rubber gloves
I close my eyes, open them again
things falling through my eyes
both arms spread like wings
hair streaming out full length
things descending momentary gaps of light
connecting darkness and darkness

I rise slowly from a table in a bar
not pulled by a political slogan or religious belief
it's hard enough trying to find my eyes
to see the demolition of the human house
the dismemberment of my language

My house, of course, isn't made of words
my house is built of my words

tranlated by Christopher Drake

My Imperialism
by Ryuichi Tamura

I sink into bed
on the first Monday after Pentecost
and bless myself
since I'm not a Christian

Yet my ears still wander the sky
my eyes keep hunting for underground water
and my hands hold a small book
describing the grotesqueness of modern white society

when looked down at from the nonwhite world
in my fingers there's a thin cigarette-
I wish it were hallucinogenic
though I'm tired of indiscriminate ecstasy

Through a window in the northern hemisphere
the light moves slowly past morning to afternoon
before I can place the red flare, it's gone:

Was it this morning that my acupuncturist came?
a graduate student in Marxist economics, he says he changed
to medicine to help humanity, the anime of animals, drag itself peacefully to its deathbed
forty years of Scotch whiskey's roasted my liver and put me
into the hands of a Marxist economist
I want to ask him about Imperialism, A Study-
what Hobson saw in South African at the end of the nineteenth century
my yet push me out of bed
even if you wanted to praise imperialism
there aren't enough kings and natives left
the overproduced slaves had to become white

Only the nails grow
the nails of the dead grow too
so, like cats, we must constantly
sharpen ours to stay alive
Only The Nails Grow-not a bad epitaph
when K died his wife buried him in Fuji Cemetery
and had To One Woman carved on his gravestone
true, it was the title of one of his books
but the way she tried to have him only
to herself almost made me cry
even N, who founded the modernist magazine Luna
while Japan prepared to invade China
got sentimental after he went on his pension;
F, depressed
S, manic, buildds house after house
A has abdominal imperialism: his stomach's colonized his legs
M's daaf, he can endure the loudest sounds;
some people have only their shadows grow
others become smaller than they really are
our old manifesto had it wrong: we only looked upward
if we'd really wanted to write poems
we should have crawled on the ground on all fours-
when William Irish, who wrote Phantom Lady, died
the only mourners were stock brokers
Mozart's wife was not at his funeral

My feet grow warmer as I read
Kotoku Shusui's Imperialism, Moster of the Twentieth Century, written back in 1901
when he was young N wrote "I say strange things"
was it the monster that pumped tears from his older eyes?

Poems are commodities without exchange value
but we're forced to invade new territory
by crises of poetic overproduction

We must enslave the natives with our poems
all the ignorant savages under sixty
plagued by a surplus of clothes and food-
when you're past sixty
you're niether a commodity
nor human

tranlated by Christopher Drake

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