Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Vallum

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the kind questions and continuing posts on this humble little poetry blog. I am not lost. I have been ill, dealing with the symptomology of polycythemia vera, and the relentless infections I tend to get from the treatment. For a while, I was just too sick to write; then I spent time making up work for a class, then I just sort of lost my will to write; not writer's block, just writer's angst. These phases come and go, but poetry is always there, waiting for me to come back to my senses.

So I bring you Terayama Shuji in the lovely bi-annual Canadian journal Vallum. The featured theme of the lastest volume is "Japanese Imaginings," and it is a real treat, especially for those of us who study the Japanese language. Many of the authors' original Japanese text is included along with the English translation. I love when editors do that!


Real Tears

She was a liar.
She met a man, a liar, and their love
Was a lie--and reciprocal.
Under one roof, under false pretenses,
Their happiness was a lie.
A story of loneliness and love
And known now to the seagulls who know this.
She was a liar.
Her husband was a man she kept secrets from:
She loved a sailor, a liar,
Abandoned the happiness that was a lie
For a sailor who upped anchor.
And her tears were real enough. Real tears.
But who'll believe them?

Terayama Shuji (v. 3:2 p. 20)
Translation by Marc Sebastian-Jones


This is a great poem. I love the perfect use of punctuation, and the questions it brings up: Why be a liar? Why love a liar? If you're both liars, why not love each other, leaving the honest folks alone? Why leave one liar for another (especially when you've discovered the ability to make real tears)? Is there truly a point beyond which you can no longer prove your ability to be honest, where you've sacrificed any chance for an honest relationship? "But who'll believe them" implies that no one will, but actually leaves the door open, if you're looking at the text with optimistic eyes.

10 comments:

MB said...

Amy!! I tried to comment this morning but Blogger was buggy, as it has been a bit recently, and wouldn't let me. I have missed you here and been worried about you. I'm so glad to hear from you. I'm sorry to hear you've been ill and I'm sending all good thoughts for a speedy return to health. Goodness, you've been through so much. (((Amy)))

This is a very interesting poem, layered with lies and relationships, and it makes me ponder which are real and why do the false ones exist — for they must have some reason for existing. The poem seems convoluted, but in the end, I find myself simply wondering about people's real needs and the (sometimes false) ways they try to satisfy them. Real tears, surely, signify a real need of some sort, yes? That is not being, really, met. Yet. I like the opening that leaves, too.

Some doors are important to leave open in life.

Welcome back, friend.

Amy said...

Thank you, MB; hugs right back to you.

Yes, I do think real tears signify a real need. An honest need.

MB said...

The question, I suppose, really becomes: will she believe them?

Morris said...

I wrote a poem just for you!

I once took a dump
Afterwords I fell into a slump

I forgot to flush
because I was in a rush

The smell was funny
Everyones nose was all runny

Mr. Morris
Ask Morris

Gilbert Koh said...

Amy! Glad to see you back in the blogging world. Thought you'd just quit and forgotten all about us. :)

Hope you are much better now and take good care of yourself.

And a great poem, by the way! Love the repetitions of the word "liar", each adding a new layer of meaning to the poem.

danny said...

I'm glad that you're back Amy.

The poem reminds me of a song by Elvis Presley when he said:
“Honey you lied when you said you loved me and I had no cause to doubt you. But I’d rather go on hearing your lies than living without you...”

Wonderful poem Amy.

Best,

Danny

Amy said...

Hi Gilbert,

Quit: no. Forget about you: never!

Yes, the narrator keeps repeating the word liar. I wonder if we need to question the narrator's truthfulness, as well.

Danny, hi!

Those lyrics are very appropriate. There are a lot of songs about living with liars, and how it's preferable to being alone. I'm thinking of Sheryl Crow's "Are you Strong Enough to be My Man:

"Lie to me.
I promise I'll believe.
Lie to me
but please don't leave."

(I think that's how it goes.)

Robin said...

Hope your health is improving and continues to improve! r

Amy said...

Thanks, Robin, I'll be visiting you soon.

GEL said...

Dear Amy,
I was elated to see a new post a few minutes ago, but I scrolled backwards to older posts in search of what had detained you, hoping it was for reasons other than this post. :(

I hope your health continues to improve. I skimmed two posts, noting many lovely Japanese poetry references, but I like to read your opinions and recommendations more thoroughly. I'll return when art deadlines are not pressing.
If you wish for a writing break, please come see a painting I posted on my writing/art blog. (Although it precedes a poem of mine, it is not an illustration for that poem.)

Thinking of you with warmth :),
SilvermOOn aka GEL