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Poetry Magnum Opus

Kanzanji (a Japanese riff)


dedalus

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We got out there with the wind rippling rippling through the rice fields, so frail, so bending, so outstandingly beautiful, light green, dark green, hints of yellow ... Teruo said we needed some sake ... there was a shop by the side of the road with the Noren down, the split curtains across the door, a sure sign the place was open ... we poked our noses in ... Irrashaimase! Come in, come in! ... Mama san grinning behind the counter ... local boys from the Fire Brigade, red-faced, smiling, happy, been there for a while from the looks of them ... paid for the first couple of flasks and that was the last time we put our hands in our pockets ... Gaijin san, the hell you from? ... huh, what, ah who cares? ... pretty soon the place was reeling ... Mama san like a nutbrown berry, three teeth and a battered kimono ... Papa san's feet peeping out politely from where he's slipped under the counter ... the roar and the heat of the lads ... Here for the fireworks are you? ... Well, yes. ... We know the best place to go, we'll take you later, have another for now why doncha? Still early ... won't start till dark ... are you drinking or what? Me, I went out for a piss ... seemed to take half an hour, not pissing just getting there, aww Jayz that felt so good! Trees, woods, where the hell am I? Listen, listen, listen ... follow the noise. Claps and cheers, the prodigal returns, I come through the door, try to do a bow and fall flat on me arse. The lads go into hysterics. Where did you say you were from? ... Have a drink, gaijin san! Thanks, thanks and thanks again ... but then the shades of the Japanese night descended, descended in slow darkening spirals almost as though the freshening wind was bringing the darkness in from behind the mountains. Time to go. The boys rose almost as one and we rose with them ... out into the rapidly falling dark. Sticks were placed in our hands. Snakes! Poisonous snakes all along the narrow mountain trail! The lads were battering the bushes, laughing themselves silly, falling down ... the snakes, being sensible, stayed well away from us ... so up up up the mountain and down the other side ... and then the whole lit-up glory of the lake was there right before us ... people crowded crowded on the other side (not knowing firemen, not knowing our mountain, possibly also terrified of snakes) ... and the fireworks began! Crack -- BOOM! Explosions all over the sky, the oohs and ahhs from the other shore ... red, gold, purple, yellow ... Crack! ... again and again and again. We sat by the water's edge with our mouths hanging open ... holy Jeeeeeeeezus!! Sat by the water's edge jarred into some semblance of sobriety ... and then with a glance and a grin both Teruo and I tore off our clothes and dived into the waters of fierce flickering reflections ... God, it was cold, but so fresh, so pure, so beautiful ... so silent when you went under and so full of colour and explosions when you came up again! Ha - hooh! I think we both went a little bit mad that night and it wasn't just the sake. It was ... it was just something.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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