National Poetry Writing Month 2020, Day 25

Today I went with Chris Jarmick’s prompt for Day 25: ‘This is from Auburn based writer, poet and artist Brendan McBreen:  Include a turtle, two vegetables, three machines, and four colors in a rhyming poem.’ I did not rhyme, but I did fulfill the other requirements. Even included an extra machine.

Late eighties, Tokyo

‘Synch to the bad terrapin rising from the east’*

The stinky odor of bright yellow, homemade takuan
seeped out of the refrigerator
while I poured over the contents of the booklet
that accompanied the disc spinning in the Discman,
the patterns of its hundred million precisely placed pits
translated into the sound coming through my headphones.

I ignored the carrots my roommate did not buy
because he never did the shopping (but then neither did I—
since when have bachelors in their early twenties
ever gone grocery shopping?), and I don’t like carrots anyway.
I was more concerned about the gomi cassette deck
that blasted Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” every morning,
but could not record anything not etched onto its brushed silver surface.

The last item of produce I ever bought in a Tokyo grocery store
was a head of fresh lettuce—so green and fresh that the giant worm,
brown and gross and longer in my memory each year,
was still alive when I got to the center two days later.
For the next three years, I probably had the cleanest refrigerator
in all of Japan—except possibly for the top, but only because
the hose to the vacuum cleaner wouldn’t reach. I should have
saved my money and bought an air conditioner instead.

* ‘Synch to the bad terrapin rising from the east’ was the slogan/motto appearing as part of the logo for Bill Laswell’s short-lived Terrapin record label. Terrapin’s only releases were Ryuichi Sakamoto’s 1987 album Neo Geo and its associated singles.

(24 April 2020—posted April 25)


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