Other People’s Poetry

“Marilyn” (excerpt)

by Ooka Makoto

Written shortly after the death of Marilyn Monroe

a mirror that
turns the film backward

The sweep of her eye no
longer reaches the dream’s crystal forest.
In the distance,
where the dim flames of death
carry her bed
will she be met by a
gentle white elephant or
a closed lead window?
Hair softly undulating, she
lies now rigid as a washboard
on a dark mirror in which still
quivers a scalpel.

But no scalpel can reach the soul’s truth.

Two Minor Observations While Lying in the Shade at Trinity Bellwoods Park

First, after decades on this planet I still can’t understand why any warm-blooded creature would prefer to sit in the sun and sweat as a mode of relaxation. Make no mistake, those in the park who had chosen to bask in the direct sunlight were in fact gleaming with sweat. How can anyone consider effortless sweating enjoyable? You have simply produced the by-product of an exhausting workday (sticky, sweaty skin) without the satisfaction of having actually accomplished anything. And please don’t tell me you actually want a tan. What is this? 1975? Is George Hamilton making a comeback as a sex symbol? It’s hard to believe that there are people out there who are willing to turn their epidermis into luggage-grade material for a different shade of skin colour.

Second, I think I know why I prefer photographs to paintings. Photographers, those who don’t rely heavily on Photoshop, are faced with the challenge of a large natural constraint: reality. Unlike their painter counterparts who have a whole ‘palette’ of tools at their disposal to interpret the world as they wish, photographers, I believe, have only a handful devices at their disposal. I won’t go into the details now, but I will say that these constraints, for me, produce a certain poignance, a momentary glimpse, if you will, that I have only seen in photography. A good photograph, in my opinion is the visual equivalent of a good Haiku poem. Hopefully, some of the examples here might give you an idea of what I am taking about.


Other People’s Poetry

from With Silence My Companion

I know how worthless this poem will be
under the scrutiny of daylight
and yet I cannot disown my words.

While others fill their baskets at market
I drink from a cup on the table,
utterly idle.

I see through the trees, by the distant pool,
a white statue
its genitals exposed
It is I.

I am immersed
in the past
and have become a block of dumb stone
and not the Orpheus I hoped to be.

Tanikawa Shuntaro

Translation from the Japanese by William I. Elliot & Kazuo Kawamura