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Poetry Magnum Opus

Matsuri


dedalus
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Matsuri, festival, matsuri!


Sipping sake by the side of the road,


25-30 years ago, with a Japanese friend,


who is earnestly teaching me rude words


such as Ba-ka (horse, deer), meaning Fool,


and all this long ago but just as yesterday,


with a gritty sluggish taste in our cups,


and the long grasses waving in the breeze,


when a passing platoon of smiling young men


greet us and gather us in,


and take us to a rundown wooden bar


with more sake and laughter,


dried horsemeat, octopus, squid.



I was happy then, I’ve been happy since,


but this is one day I remember.



I live in a world of distant beginnings,


with sunlight at night


and the stars at noon: one long evening ago


in Lisdoonvarna, the wedding capital


of a rather desperate rural Ireland,


I was facing an array of new-drawn pints,


a custom of ours before closing time,


when an elvish old man sat in the next seat,


with the long pointed ears of his kind,


and the grey yellow-flecked eyes.



Young man, he said, you remind me of a fellow


I once knew well, who threw all things over,


and went to live in Japan. He was marvellously happy


with his Japanese wife and children,


with his garden of bonsai and his flowers a sea of colour,


stone lanterns and an arched curving bridge


over a stream full of carp and trout and sundry other fish,


in which he and the children went fishing,


among jokes and happy peals of laughter,


to make a catch for Sunday lunch.



He was imprisoned during the War


and died, I think, of a broken heart.


He was Irish, of course, and Ireland was neutral,


but the Japanese were vague on such details,


as was everyone, really,


with the bombs and the rockets raining down.


Why are you telling me this, Iasked him.


Because I think you should go and live in Japan,


as you seem to be the type,


but not, of course, under threat of war.



I ignored the old fellow, naturally,


but strangely now I live in Japan,


with my Japanese wife and daughter,


and my garden is full of flowers,


and I have a pond well-stocked with sundry fish


over which runs a curved stone bridge,


and if my hopes are bent on restoring health,


there is a great learning value in sickness,


both mental and physical.



I remember the advice of an older man,


regrettably not my father,


but a sergeant-major in the Irish Army:


accept whatever burden may be laid upon you,


fashion as good a life as you are able, son, and remember,


harsh reality trumps false hope.


Sententious old bollix, really.


I can't go on. I'll go on.

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

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A most entertaining read with philosophical thread, written in your trademark expansive style; which leaves me imagining the N with a persuasive Irish lilt . :smile: G.

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Persuasive or not, you never lose it!

 

Cheers, Bren

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

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I like the atmosphere of camaraderie mixed with cultures and memories. This observation looked into my tiny head: " there is a great learning value in sickness, both mental and physical." Unfortunately the price is high in labor, sorrow and aging.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks, Tink (Judi) - I am anazed you keep reading the junk I write!

 

Best wishes, Bren

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

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