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Telling Fairy Tales to Young Widows (3/7 update)


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Lock the apartment door, summon elevator,

glide down to the lobby and its iffy Picassos,

sing out a cheerful hello to guy with a mop,

then step outside into winter sunshine.


Another day!


I am recovering from an operation

that stopped an illness from getting weird,

so I have a stick and I don't move.

as you might say, rapidly.


Ahead lies the challenge of the traffic lights,

which seem to insist you sprint across,

as cars and trucks with snarling engines

seriously consider running you down.


Safe (again) on the other side,

I approach the spacious park

with its strange collection of reed huts,

and mounds of prehistoric shells.


I walk along the familiar path

to the place of the three benches,

where I can sit at last with my coffee flask

and three forbidden cigarettes.


This is my midday routine

on the days when the weather is fine,

nodding at the passing dog-walkers,

savouring the heady hits of tobacco.


(My darling wife would have my life,

if I tried smoking -now- at home!)


I am a generally pleasant person,

with no scowls or mutterings or smells,

but my space is severely respected

and nobody presumes to join me


until, suddenly, one day,

a young woman, complete with dog,

sits not on the same but separate bench:

“Konnichi wa”, she says - “Konnichi wa”, I reply.


It is today. It is today.

Just a normal, formal Japanese greeting.


“Anata wa gaikokujin desu ka?”

You are a foreigner?

Fuck’s sake, woman , what is your problem?

The sky is green, the grass is blue?


“Hai, so de gozaimasu.”

Yes, this is (very politely) true.

“Shuujin mo gaijin no tomo ippai datta.”

My huband had many foreign friends.


The dog yaps, an evil-eyed wee creature,

and a lengthy silence ensues.

My life, she said, has fallen apart

since March 11 when my husband died


or disappeared, he has never been found,

but at least we had no children,

because I know in my heart, I know

I would kill myself if I lost my children.


And I sit there, suddenly very still,

a silent pair of listening ears,

no longer so foreign, perhaps because foreign,

and wait for her to continue.


I beg your pardon, she says, arising,

tugging at the leash of her ill-tempered dog.

I have shamefully troubled you,

a foreign gentleman alone with his thoughts.


I am honoured, I say, arising also,

and if you wish I would like to talk some more.

I come here, I fibbed, on most fine days.

I really just come every now and again.


Should I come, may l bring some friends,

if you don't mind, if that is agreeable?

And I say, please do, I'd be happy to see you,

exactly here, on this very same bench.


And for three days nothing happens

as I throw peanuts to the ratlike squirrels






OK. It's a start. More to follow. With photos (reed huts, shells, etc)!!


The idea for this poem was inspired by the following article:


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

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Don't you mean 'faerie' tales?

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I like it a lot so far--in these small doses. ;) Eager for more, in small doses. Just kidding. I like your ability to create differences in cultures, and I get a smidgen of language knowledge.

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This is an interesting new way to write poems ... announce what you're going to do before you even know what you're doing or where you're going. So far, so good - no derailment, as yet - but it could turn out rather long (in short episodes).

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

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