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Poetry Magnum Opus

Murakami


dedalus
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Knew this guy was around, had heard about him,

but never got around to reading him until now.

All has changed thanks to audiobooks dot com

and long boring drives to companies in this area

where I fight against the banks by teaching English.

 

No, no, it’s cool. Send no money, relax.

 

Thinking. Even trying not to think

takes time. Time comes down, comes

tick-tick-ticking, bong-bonging on the hour

and seems placidly set to go on forever, maybe

even beyond: tick-tick. Bong.

 

Silence.

 

Stars will still shine when you are dead

having sent out their incontinent pulses of light

when your great-great grandaddy, equipped

with the coarse peculiar clothing of the time was doing

something shameful behind that hedge.

 

It’s all right. The stars see nothing.

They are supremely self-absorbed,

they are galactical Hindus.

 

There is us and then there is everyone else

ran the cosy accepted Japanese view

before Murakami drove a truck through it.

He should be arrested like Julian Assange

for this blatant display of sad soiled linen

 

(in which ordinary people come out looking pretty good.)

 

The thing about Japan you need to know is that

everything works, but you don’t know how it works,

and you’re not encouraged to ask: the buses and trains

run perfectly, so do all the shops and services,

as the government strains to produce consumer heaven

pointing at all the pink and yellow balloons in the sky

while sitting on the lid of a seething stink-ridden cesspit

of foul forbidden secrets. Ho, ho, says Murakami.

 

I love the casual way he goes about it.

He plays a subtle game with Japanese society,

setting up a number of running parallel stories

about everyday life in very flat and easy, almost bland language.

But then the stories becomes stranger, more menacing,

and the themes coalesce. The manically suppressed

secrets of a wound-up anal-retentive nation spill out,

blinking in the light, crouching, eyes darting for the exits,

but by now all the doors are closed. Nobody else in Japan

dares to, or can even think about doing this.

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

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I like how your poem touches upon Murakami's (and the speaker's own -- he uses audio books!) place within the culture. Especially enjoyed the interesting blend of the poetic and the philosophical here:

 

Stars will still shine when you are dead

having sent out their incontinent pulses of light

when your great-great grandaddy, equipped

with the coarse peculiar clothing of the time was doing

something shameful behind that hedge.

 

It’s all right. The stars see nothing.

They are supremely self-absorbed ...

And I like how you subtly raise questions in the reader's mind --

 

There is us and then there is everyone else

ran the cosy accepted Japanese view

before Murakami drove a truck through it ...

 

The thing about Japan you need to know is that

everything works, but you don’t know how it works,

and you’re not encouraged to ask: the buses and trains

run perfectly, so do all the shops and services ...

-- making him want to ask, "How???" and, "Why???" But things are seldom what they seem, as can be garnered from your directness in the last verse.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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