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Two men pay their tab, for five sticks of yakitori
washed down with a half dozen beers, foaming
because the Japanese love bubbles on their brew.
They exit the bar singing quiet obscenities
about the chipmunk faced waitress that bungles

everyone’s orders. She has a name I can’t read,
and if she has a smile I’ve never seen it.
When I leave the restaurant I see the same men
talking in circles and walking crooked lines
to a hostess bar. The conversations of strangers

are always more fun in fragments, like fingers
chiseled from renaissance sculptures, with wrinkles
from a lifetime of indiscernible tasks. My other
woman - for a price - business meeting
The two men laugh as they skulk up the shadows

of the stairwell. I hear a blast of off-key karaoke
as they open the door. On a summer evening
smiles arrive unheralded and depart only long enough
to drag on a cigarette. A father is helping his son
catch a noisy cicada on the limb of a bare cherry tree,

the creature croaks, and falls into a plastic case
When I stop, the kid runs over, and shows me
his latest trophy. Suggoy When he catches a glimpse
of blue eyes under the streetlight he hurries back
to his father. At a quiet stream I sit down, and open a beer

the moon is hanging in its Japanese way. It is not a crescent
but a cup, filling itself with the light of errant stars.
It is strange for such a brooding country to live under
such a wide Cheshire grin. Is it the moon that’s changed
or has the world twisted beneath it as we slept, unaware

that a smile will run across the Earth
and tap us on the back, sneaking
through the night like death
along the silent trajectory
of a heart attack