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SEALS (poem) - Mitsuharu Kaneko - Japan - Poetry International
 
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Seals

1
How their breath stinks.
From their mouths, suffocating steam.

Their backs wet, how slimy, like the rims of the hole for a grave.
So repellent as to make you feel nihilism,
oh, melancholy.

Their bodies like mud bags,
their dusky heaviness. Lethargy.

Gloomy bounciness.
Sad rubber,

how stuck-up their minds are.
How banal.

Freckled faces.
Large scrotums.

Being pushed by crowds of these, so raw-smelling as to turn your nose blue, always
was I thinking of the opposite direction.

The streets where they came and went like gathering clouds,
jostling, were, to me,
as desolate as the Alaska
that I saw in old films.


2
Them. Those so-called ordinary folks.

They are the ones
who drove Voltaire out of the country, threw Hugo Grotius into jail.
They are also the ones who churn this globe up
with dust and talkativeness, from Batavia to Lisbon.

The ones who sneeze. The ones who spit bits of food out of their mustaches. The ones who fear, point at those who stifle yawns, show stand-offish gestures, and break rules, and shout, Rebels! Lunatics! and gather together, babbling. Those. They are husband and wife for each other. Mistresses. Sons who inherit their true natures. Toads with dingy blood. Or factions. Or again their connections. And countless matings; the body-to-body walls seemed to block the ocean currents.

Onto the sea they’d been pushed into like a flow, the sleety sun poured down.
Along the boundlessness of the sky they’d look up at, there always was a metal net.

. . . Today’s their wedding celebration.
Yesterday was their Flag Day.
All day, in the slush, they heard an icebreaker hitting the ice.

Constantly bowing, rubbing flippers with flippers, rolling their torsos like barrels, bustling with nothing but their repellence, emptiness, they went on soiling the seawater visibly with the bubbles of their own urination.

Warming one another with their body temperatures, hating the cold they’d face if they left the down-and-out crowd, they searched for commiserating looks, called to one another in thin voices.

3
Oh, they were, each and every one of them, darker than the midnight streets, they weren’t aware in the slightest that the ice block carrying them split quickly, without a scream, and started to slide silently over the abysmal depths.
Opening their obscene-looking tail flippers, waddling,
they crawled about on the ice,
. . . talking about literature and such.

Plaintive gloaming.
Hanging scroll of the setting sun ravaged with chilblains!

In the crowd of those offering prayers, casting long, striped shadows, their heads all lined up as far as the eyes can see,
in a manner utterly contemptuous,
all alone,
a fellow turning the opposite way, nonchalant.
Me.
The seal that doesn’t like seals.
But he is still the seal that he is
except
“a seal
looking the other way”.