SUSHI

We sit around the Tatami table
thankful for the leg well
redemption for aging knees,
and socks without holes.
We drink the sake warm
and cold, and the Sapporo
from the oversized bottles
each pouring for the other
as a proper host must.
Several recall nights
on Roppongi, or earlier
on the Ginza, moments
lucid in drunken clarity.
One remembers a hostess
with endless legs
but little more,
although it still brings
a childlike smile.
Empty bottles
are quickly replaced
each at increased decibels
until the final uni
ends up on my plate
alongside the quail egg.
The night air
is unsteady
or is it merely
the sea urchin
exacting his revenge.

ARRIGATO, GAZAIMUS

The old man walks slowly
through the opulent lobby
the light of the triple chandeliers
refracted into a thousand spectra
that dance on mirrored walls.
The guard gently touches his elbow
steering him as though he is blind
drunk, while the bellman walks
a step behind, like Charlton Heston
through an invisible sea.
The man wears a shabby sport coat
that was a ghastly green
on the day it was sold
years ago, his sneakers
are from different pairs, linked
only by their once whiteness.
The bellman dashes in front
of the pair, raising his arm
to part the sea of glass encasing
the lobby in a constant chill
from the July furnace of Tokyo.
They exit, pause, a hundred
feet from the doors, and bow gently
one to each other, so many chickens
pecking over seeds of civility.
The guard stands by the door
watching intently as the man
retreats to the welcoming  streets.

WINTER TOKYO

A skeletal tree stands
too many winters
bones grown brittle, crackling
ashen gun-metal gray,
Tokyo Bay at evening’s onset
a bird perches, staring
at a last leaf clinging
knowing frozen earth awaits.
It is winter, sap pools
in roots seeking
earth’s dying warmth.
We warm our hands
by the fire, as bones
of other trees fall
to the grate in ashes.

KANSAI

I

droplets torn from cloud bed
cling to edges of windows
wanting to grasp,
torn free by wind
they are pulled
clawing backward.

II

over Osaka pillars of light
rise up through holes
in the cloudbank, it is gray
rain puddling on tarmac
built into the bay.

III

container ships draw
fading wake lines
on a blue gray canvass,
a solitary sailboat
stares longingly
at the seawall
as rain dances on deck.

IV

in the next stall
an in-transit army sergeant
vomits repeatedly
then washes his face
and military demeanor.

V

round eyes
half shut
doze in neat rows
of seats
staring at planes
and rain.

DISEMBARKING NARITA

You disembark quickly
a small bow to the flight crew,
and walk briskly to immigration.
The young man glances
at your passport and embarkation card
hands flying with the stamps.
The baggage is offloaded
onto the creeping segmented belt
yours the fifth through
the heavy plastic flaps
hefted onto the cart.
The customs agent pauses
as though contemplating a search,
but thinks better of the mess
that is a gaijin’s suitcase
and waives you through.
Cash is exchanged
through the small opening
with a perfunctory bow
and you move through
the silent sliding doors
carried on a wave of memory.
The driver bows
and you slide into traffic
for the slow crawl into Tokyo.
Evening is creeping slowly
over Narita and you
dream only of bed,
and the warmth of her lips
stirring in sleep,
an ocean away.