January 11th, 2005


Port of disembarkation

A jet is not poetry
Shooting fire at the lands
Behind it, rejecting them
But Japan, port of disembarkation,
Is poetry. By means of violence
I have arrived at poetry.

Electronic birdsong at the station,
Clear green tea.
British Airways lost my suitcase,
The seatback map at departure showed hell:
Our position over Watford, Clacton-on-Sea
Rising through storm clouds, high wind.

Here, beyond turbulent Siberia
I'm 10,000 kilometers better off.
The sun shines. The suburban train is

'Japan is green', I say,
Because Japan is yellow and I am blue.
'Japan is orange,' says red you.

Reading Sebald's 'Vertigo' I watch my fellow passengers
With the eye of Chris Marker, 'Sunless'.
An elegant ghostlike woman
Drifts towards a stranger's shoulder,
'Regains her composure.'

Tinytidy houses, sunshine on the superlegitimate
City, so endless, so modest.
The electric transmission whines.
The afternoon is restrained, delicate, delicious.
Tinytidy mountains, temples, crossings chime,
The chime bends, fades.
Businessmen austere, schoolkids scruffy-giggly,
The women graceful, or outrageously sexy,
The children indulged.

Advertising seems more self-consciously Japanese
Than I recall: more kimonos, bamboo, plasma screen TVs.
People click at flat tablets - a new model, swivel screen.
But an unemployed man asks me for money:
'I lost my work, even 100 yen...'

I take tea, a hot bath, an afternoon nap,
Far from home, and home.