Return to Translating Silence (idea)

I ask only that you read the poem once through, the pipelinks correspond to explanations of the lines at the bottom, like a built in author criticism.


When you spend your life bowing,
you find solace in the dirt. In time
Cherry Blossoms become clouds.
The way the petals fall, like rivulets
coloring in the concrete, is more beautiful
than the unbroken balls of pink and white
that grow for two weeks along the street.

A man named Kobi has spent his life
sweeping debris from a gas station tarmac.
His art lies in removing color from the canvas.
When his brush can not dislodge a petal,
He bends down, and picks it up with his hands.
He has been sweeping the love from his life
for forty years, smiling at passersby
with his cigarette stained teeth.

When the area of his watch is lulled back
into black slumber by the bristles, he sits
on a stool and waits for a passing truck,
or a meandering breeze. Satisfied
at the lowest levels, he’s become a voyeur,
his mind an attic, where memories of youth
hide themselves in blankets of dust.

He learns about music from the open windows
of cars at his red light, he learns fashion
from the catwalk of concrete, paved
near the high school. He drinks life
from a leaking cup, which he refills
while waiting for the rain.


Links

1 – This poem is written from a small observation I made stopped at a red light, my second week working in Japan. Bowing, and Cherry Blossoms are the subtle hints I wanted to drop without expressly mentioning Japan in the poem.

2 – Cherry Blossoms are entirely unique to Japan, and are only found in one other place, Washington D.C. The samples in D.C. were given to the US as a peace offering signifying the new cooperation between the two recently warring nations. The Cherry Blossom is such an ingrained part of Japanese culture because it only blooms for a few weeks, almost always less than three, unless there is a big storm, which will rip the petals from the cherry blossoms, and they fall like rivulets of rain themselves.

3 – In most major cities, or small cities there will be a single street completely lined from end to end with Cherry blossoms, when the flowers bloom thickly they appear as giant puffs of color along the street. When the petals fall, the entire sidewalk appears the same color, white with a hue of pink.

4- The poem arises from the observation of this man, the irony of the line is that almost all things done in this small town, are done with such precision and attention to detail that something like sweeping leaves does appear as an art form, even if the result of that art is removing the slightly more beautiful nature from the ugly concrete façade.

5- After teaching a number of housewives in Japan, this line has echoes of the misery caused here by an almost unlimited devotion of Japanese men to their jobs. Even the simplest job can carry an enormous amount of pride, which is why so many here strive for perfection in what most westerners would consider demeaning and menial positions.

6 – This line reflects some of my feelings about how I would feel about my life if within this position. A position any college educated, elitist with a firm sense of his own delusions of grandeur finds repulsive. Essentially this man’s day revolves around a specific series of actions that he has perfected over an ungodly amount of time. When the whole of your life becomes habitual, your mind turns off, or more appropriately goes on auto-pilot.

7 – The idea of this image is an extension of the last stanza. When your life revolves around the habits of practiced motion, your mind can wander, but what it wanders to is things that he sees but doesn’t directly participate in. Which is why the word voyeur is used earlier.

8 – This line is in honor of one of my favorite poets William Mathews who describes memory as drinking from a leaking cup, I’ve always loved the line, and tried to add a slight addendum to it to end this poem. The subject, Kobi, is someone who is only getting half of any given life experience, over the years he sees the changes around him but doesn’t participate in them. If his life is an exercise in futility this way, i.e. drinking from the leaking cup, then he can wait for the rain which will provide constant replenishment, but it will not replace the reason why the cup constantly needs filling. It’s a sort of Catch-22. Those who refuse to participate in making their lives better will never have the opportunity to take advantage of the things that make life worth living, even if those things fall from the sky.


Why I do the things I do

Ok, here is my reason for continually breaking with linking convention. It is in no way an insult, or an affront to everything the community holds dear. It is as a result of my own interpretation of what poetry is, and through various conversations with noders, gods, and editors, what linking is.

Most people have told me that in poetry, linking is a way for the reader to get into the author’s head, and see what they are really thinking. For factual nodes or fiction, the work moves slowly, deliberately, with a lot of details that can be extrapolated, and proper nouns for places or things. For fiction and factuals, I have absolutely no issues with linking the standard way. I think it’s a fantastic use of technology to enhance the medium. With poetry on E2 though, I 100% completely disagree with the current method.

Stephen Dobyns, a man I admire and respect, and whose poetry is law for me, says in his book “Best Words: Best Order” that poetry boils down to choosing between a good word, and the perfect word. I am in no way saying that my words are perfect, but what I am saying is that I completely disagree with using a link, to give you different words to chew on if something is a little obscure. I chose the words I used in the poem for a reason, and if the reader can’t figure it out through context, it is my fault as a poet, and pipe-linking a different phrase isn’t going to change that.

Most poems are also meant to be read more than once. Poetry is a selection of fewer words, meant to reinforce each other in short bursts through the melody we create, whether that be through meter, rhyme, or simple rhythm, or alliteration, or any of the other methods at a poets disposal. So I don’t think its foolhardy to post the links on the bottom of the page, since I wouldn’t want you to check them until you have digested the poem once anyway.

I only say this because I want to make sure that people don’t take this an insult to the intelligence of my readers. In a short time I have developed a profound respect for many of the writers here. If it’s never going to work, continue the downvoting, and I imagine I will eventually be forced to submit to the majority, or reconcile that my time spent here will only be useful for feeding the Klaproth.

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