Saturday, August 17, 2019

Lost Poems and Soul Temples from Tokyo to NYC on the way back home

Images, mostly but not all by Caroline  Shepard,  of a summer in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hanoi, and Cambodia.  Amazing to see the world  from another perspective. 

Sometimes we wake not knowing where we are.
As we’ve made our way this last month.
I wanted, yearned to see the East.
To explore the wreckage of our policies.
Nukes on Japan, followed by a Marshal plan to rebuild.
2.2 billion.
Followed by a permawar from Korea to Vietnam to Cambodia,
Through today’s folly in Iraq,
And hopefully not Iran.
The  kids need us less and less each trip.
We made it back to Tokyo at midnight, our third country in a day.
Which way is up?
Coffee please.
In a haze, we visited a Shinto shrine in Shinjuku,
Juniso Kumao Jinja.
Meandering, getting lost.
Plastic culture expands and expands.
Manicured parks.
Culture, art, clothes, books.
Rotating Sushi,
Better than anything we can find in NYC.
Like Guinness in Dublin.
Walking the majesty of the city.
Once a prohibited spot where people drank after the war.
As the city was being rebuilt.
“…this narrow side street quickly became a prime spot for cheap drinks, yakitori and cabaret-style hostess bars.”
Without, “restroom facilities, patrons would wander off and relieve themselves on the nearby train tracks; it didn’t take long for Piss Alley to earn its name. In those days, the area provided a social space for local residents who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford such luxuries as meat and alcohol in an impoverished, post-war economy.”
Down  Goldin Gay.
Smaller and smaller alleyways.
mismatched, tumbledown bars”
The teenager drops by.
Her cab lost.
She’s in a mood.
A summer on  her own in Tokyo.
Down to Shibuya.
Snapping photos.
The little says I can’t follow her on social media.
You are no longer necessary.
They don’t need you or want you around.
Except for paying.
Can’t say goodbye.
Still drifting,
Past signs of what the city was, is, and is going to be.
Neon light for
Gas Panic
A joke on  World  War II.

Off to the Rappongi Hills to the Mori Art museum,
And a city view on the 50th floor.
It all feels familiar, like the Tama New Town.
Patterns of migration, community formation, and  displacement,
The story of Capital over and  over again.
The story of Pom Poko,
the anime of late 1960s Japan.
Raccoons threatened by a suburban development project,
Tama New Town, in the Hills on the outskirts of Tokyo,
Displacing,their  forests.
Bulldozing forests and homes,
… living space and food decreasing every year,
the raccoons fighting among themselves among their diminishing resources …

We used  to watch the  movie over and over again. 
I will when I get home.
But for now, the little one is chatting with her sister and her friend.
Wanting less to do with dad.

Rappongi is a like a mall,
Albeit an exquisite one,
Lines up to the top.
To the museum.
And the show:
Soul Temples / Shiota Chiharu
“intangible: memories, anxiety, dreams, silence and more…”
Identities blurring across boundaries…
“… threads primarily in red and black strung across spaces…
.. nameless emotions…
large installations, sculptural works, video footage, photographs, drawings, performing arts-related material, etc. …”
“presence in absence”
of living,
and the inner workings of the soul.”

A final oil painting.
Lost objects
Between our internal lives,
Connected to something so much larger.
Stories and spaces,
Between where she was and is.
A model house from East Germany.
From Tokyo to Berlin.
Cities bombed,
Objects existence.
Black expresses a deep universe.
Lost in time.
Threads entangled
Bristling up against one another.
Connecting a mental universe
With the cosmos.
A relationship ever ebbing.
Between cities and creation
And our lives through them.
Growing, connecting, ever separating
Before death.
Suitcases dangling from the ceiling.
Leaving home.
Meeting others.
Models from Paris and Stockholm who know Will.
Mixing and transforming.
Afterwards we are never the same.
Mirroring that new place.
Looking at yourself anew.
I’m proud of myself says the teenager.
Hanging suitcases.
Why’d they leave?
Thinking of the day they left.
Don’t forget your folks.
Let them go.
To new homes from Germany to NYC to Tokyo.
Thirty years after the fall of the wall.
A transforming city.
Bombs and craters,
Cold wars.
Different sides every day.
Disregarded construction sites.
I start to recall.
East and west separated.
Lives estranged.
Which way onward?

Ramen and a final strange stroll through Harajuku.
The little one likes me now that I’m buying.
Making our way back to the Tokyo Stay.

Back in the room.
Wanna watch this Ultraman episode?
I ask the little one.
No Dad.
I know what a vintage anime looks like.

Three people.
Three different screens.

Suitcases packed after  weeks in and out of Tokyo.
Kids growing up and away.
Meeting at Shubya station  at 1140.
Bus to catch the next bus that leaves at 11.
Lets get some bubble tea.
And make our way back.
TO meet the teenager who has been out.
24 hour party people.
Catch the bus to the airport.
Lost in Shibuya.
Its like the castle.
We’re caught inside.
Where our journey began.
Five mins to miss our bus.
There is the building.
Back up over and around,
The crosswalk. 
A panic attack.
But we find our way.
Saying goodbye to majestic Tokyo.
To a lunch an  hour early.

Playing cards.
Drinking beer.
Playing war.
Kids growing.
Writing notes.
Talking Runaways and Rock and Rock.
And Canibal Girls
On our way back home.


Aiuta: My Promise To Nakuhito

Breathe in
Breathe out.
A boy is lost.
Finds a book of poems in the streets.
Starts to cry.
The first time I read it it made me cry to,
Says the owner, leaving him her copy.
Nagi Ito’s poems changed everyone who
Saw them.
Four years ago she died.
I have lost it many times.
Every time I lose it, it comes back to me.
I watched the story about a lost poem. 
Inspired by  Ai Uta’s Love Song,
Read Prageeta’s Grief Cycle,
Writing another blog.
Read about Lina and Elanu
And the story of a new name.
Wondering about what comes of any of us,
Leaving Tokyo,
Hong Kong
A summer of protests from Hong Kong to Praha and back to NYC.
Hopefully we all make it.
Lost poems and all.
Not sure if we’ll see Tokyo again. 


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