Monday, April 26, 2010

"Human House" by Ryuichi Tamura

I've decided to post another poem I like. I read this one a few years ago, and I've quoted it again and again for various things. It's by a Japanese poet Ryuichi Tamura and this is a translation. There's another poem by Ryuichi Tamura that I really like, but that'll be for another day.

Human House

I guess I'll be back late
I said and left the house
my house is made of words
an iceberg floats in my old wardrobe
unseen horizons wait in my bathroom
from my telephone: time, a whole desert
on the table: bread, salt, water
a woman lives in the water
hyacinths bloom from her eyeballs
of course she is metaphor herself
she changes the way words do
she's as fre-form as a cat
I can't come near her name

I guess I'll be back late
no, no business meeting
not even a reunion
I ride ice trains
walk fluorescent underground arcades
cut across a shadowed square
ride in a mollusk elevator
violet tongues and gray lips in the trains
rainbow throats and green lungs underground
in the square, bubble language
foaming bubble information, informational information adjectives, all the hollow adjectives
adverbs, paltry begging adverbs
and nouns, crushing, suffocating nouns
all I want is a verb
but i can't find one anywhere
I'm through with a society
built only of the past and future
I want the present tense

Because you open a door
doesn't mean there has to be a room
because there are windows
doesn't mean there's an interior
doesn't mean there's a space
where humans can live and die-
so far I've opened and shut
countless doors, going out each one
so I could come in through another
telling myself each time
what a wonderful new world lies just beyond
what do I hear? from the paradise on the other side
dripping water
waves thudding on rocks
sounds of humans and beasts breathing
the smell of blood

it's been a while
I'd almost forgotten what it smells like
silence gathers around a scream
on the tip of a needle
as he walks slowly toward me
the surgeon puts on his rubber gloves
I close my eyes, open them again
things falling through my eyes
both arms spread like wings
hair streaming out full length
things descending momentary gaps of light
connecting darkness and darkness

I rise slowly from a table in a bar
not pulled by a political slogan or religious belief
it's hard enough trying to find my eyes
to see the demolition of the human house
the dismemberment of my language

My house, of course, isn't made of your words
my house is built of my words

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