Shidax, the karaoke box, the North Star
of Tokuyama, sheds Saturday drunks
like a wet dog shaking itself dry.
The drops scatter and laugh and fall,
but the tributaries converge at Yatai.
On the wide sidewalks in the heart
of town, three Ramen stalls cast
their steam into the streets, hissing
a siren call to we lost sailors.
In summer the humidity can climb
to the high 90’s, we swim through
the air, and find dry land, wooden
benches at Giovanni’s mobile kitchen.
He is not Italian, he’s never been to Italy,
but he loves us like a drunk uncle.
He fills and refills our tiny cups,
from huge glass bottles of Asahi,
until we fall off the bench, or rise
out of it. If he were an anime character
he’d be drawn with a round face, bright red
cheeks, and large bags under his eyes,
this is how they animate alcoholism,
though the Japanese have no word for it.
Before the sun has started climbing,
he’s drunk, “Call me Cappuccino!”
the words escape around a single
front tooth. “Five years ago,” says a Brit,
a refugee from a broken Manchester home,
“Everyone called him Antonio.”
I’ve never changed my name, but I think
about how many times I’ve changed myself,
re-invented, upgraded, adjusted, identity
tailors would probably make a great deal
of money. After all this, I wonder, why
is it that I feel more at home as a foreigner,
in the company of strangers? ”Cappuccino!”
He looks at the bill in my outstretched hand,
“No, no money,” Some of us see home, in a glance,
acknowledging simple pleasures, like falling in love
with a painting, that drifts out of view, distorted
by the last belch of a furnace, simmering
a pile of noodles, food for the stray cats.
See: Tokuyama for further explanation