June 15, 2020・Free Verse
Published Version (EN/JP):
in the face of the evening sun, 今日から夕日の滝へ。。。 which shows itself to no one 君の涙、僕の夢。。。 I catch glimpses of your eyes 二人の想い。。。 pastel reflections in a mirror as we fill the space between us with longing 全部持って行こう、今日も。。。 as we fill the time between us with shame 諦めないで。。。 it was all I could do to watch you 鏡をみないで。。。 as you chased after the orange sky 僕の想いが届きますように。。。 as you chased after your own shadow because now you were living in the future この一瞬だけ。。。 and you can’t turn back expiration dates even if they work in reverse, you tried この一瞬でも。。。 to carry me across borders that didn’t exist 君の命を信じてほしい。。。 and in the end we both knew… 僕の命を忘れてほしい。。。 you weren’t living your life but mine.
Waterfalls of the Setting Sun
in the face of the evening sun, from today to the waterfalls of the setting sun… which shows itself to no one your tears, my dreams… I catch glimpses of your eyes our thoughts… pastel reflections in a mirror as we fill the space between us with longing take them all and go, today too… as we fill the time between us with shame don’t give up… it was all I could do to watch you don’t look in the mirror… as you chased after the orange sky so that my thoughts will reach you… as you chased after your own shadow because now you were living in the future just this one moment… and you can’t turn back expiration dates even if they work in reverse, you tried even in this one moment… to carry me across borders that didn’t exist I want you to believe in your life… and in the end we both knew… I want you to forget my life… you weren’t living your life but mine.
What I was playing with in this mixed-language poem was essentially combining two poems into one – a situation where there is one narrator, and one main poem or story, but also an underlying voice interspersed throughout. That underlying voice is a bit harder to hear – because it is softer, because it is in a different language – but it lends more personality and depth to the main lines. Of course, the full English translation doesn’t read so easily, and even the published version isn’t very polished, but it was an interesting verse to write regardless.
June 16, 2020・Short Story
This very brief, simple story was another interesting write. It chronicles one day in the life of an unknown protagonist in a strange and unknown situation. The protagonist makes a short report roughly every hour of their day, and those notes themselves make up the whole story.
In the first half of the day, each hourly report begins with the time. The story starts with the protagonist waking up at 6:32 and failing to remember the contents of their dream. The next reports are made every hour+1 minute, with the next one at 7:33. The strange starting time and hour+1 succession is a key point. In these first reports, the protagonist frequently mentions clocks. As they go about their day, having breakfast, going to work, having free time, there are a lot of negative words or actions – such as not knowing, or non-existence. A cat first appears at 9:35.
The 12:00 report is the turning point of the day and the story. The reported time goes back to a normal round on-the-hour number, rather than the expected 12:38. The protagonist mentions the song “Happy Birthday” and goes to celebrate the birthday of a friend.
In the second half of the day, each hourly report begins with the artist name and title of a song. There are no more time stamps and no mention of clocks. Instead of the unemotional, negative, mechanical notes made in the first half, the protagonist talks about friends, the girl they have a crush on, smiling and joking and laughing, writing a letter to their mother, and so on. They take a nap and then remember what they had been dreaming about in the night. They become companions with the cat. In the final report, they declare that “I’m happy,” and while there was more that they had wanted to get done that day, “in this case, there will always be tomorrow”.
Songs mentioned in the story // the playlist of the protagonist’s day:
- “Happy Birthday”
- “First Love” – Joe Hisaishi
- “Say Anything” – X Japan
- “Reminiscent” – Yiruma
- “Otegami” – SID
- “Intermezzo in A, Op.118 No.2” – Brahms
- “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” – Sakamoto Ryuichi
All of these songs are available at the time of writing on YouTube and many are on other streaming services such as Spotify.
It would be easy to say that the moral or meaning of this story is just that “music makes life better” – and while I feel that that’s true, I think there’s more to it than that.
In this “modern” world we live in, we are governed by the clock, we are constantly watched and timed, we do so many things to each other and to our environment that would really otherwise be construed as strange or cruel or hurtful. When we become aware of these situations, many of us take solace in art of some kind. Some artists construct their art deliberately to protest things like capitalism and climate change inaction, while others pursue making great art for art’s sake. Whatever the case may be, there will always be people on the other side to consume it. The art itself does not (or should not) destroy anyone or anything, even if it is meant as protest – but it inevitably affects the person who consumes it. The playlists of our lives therefore tell us a lot about who we are, who we were, and who we want to be. They give us meaning when our social situation does not. They inspire us, they give us pleasure, and sometimes they save our lives. It’s something important to pay attention to, I think.
June 17, 2020・Tanka・Compiled in 『because we will meet again』
Rain can evoke sadness, calm, desperation, loneliness, even nostalgia. Thinking about it now, what are your “rainy season memories”?
“Though we cannot see the stars,/their light shines through the downpour”… which means there is always hope, there is always something on the other side, even if we do not believe it.
June 18, 2020・Tanka
Feelings are always feelings. We experience the same or similar feeling many times throughout our lives, but in the moment we cannot say that one experience is any different from the next. At least, in words, we label them the same way. I was happy today when you came home, I was happy yesterday when I ate a delicious dinner… it’s all “happy”. The situation is different, but the feeling is the same. For other feelings, too – nostalgia, pain, tiredness…
June 19, 2020・Tanka
We talk a lot about “selective memory” – which means remembering only the things that you consciously or subconsciously want to remember, and forgetting the things that you don’t. I think we have a form of “selective sight” when it comes to things like climate change, environmental degradation, and war. We frame them abstractly, and put distance between ourselves and the problem. We highlight certain aspects that can be romanticized and marketed, but cover up and refuse to see other less-appealing parts. And why?
June 20, 2020・Serial Prose
This brief final chapter concludes a serial story that has been going on for a long time. Actually, for a while now I haven’t really been happy with this story. It’s flat, so to speak. Maybe that is why I ended it so abruptly. But the story of Katsumi and Tadashi was still something that I wanted to write, and I feel like some good things did come out of it. Even if I’m not itching to reread this work, these characters will still live on in my mind. I hope they will live on in yours, too.