Sunday, November 17, 2013

Excerpts from Bathhouse by Ishii Tatsuhiko

The following tanka are excerpted from Bathhouse by Ishii Tatsuhiko and appear in Partings at Dawn : An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature. Translated by Hiroaki Sato.

Martyr's pomegranate like wounds you say and the bar also turns into a catacomb

Looking for father or for whom? Reflected upside down in a glass constellation

The young ones though male paint eyebrows dazzlingly green the night has deepened

Ask the false moon no less how much is the value of the boy with a pigeon chest

Since I wandered into twilight town my body filled with sleepiness has been dark

All those dreams drowned in wine cups this body too had days it was an innocent child

Satiated and yet starved, starved and yet . . . tonight what kind of pleasure shall I buy

Probably this is madness nay I grow ever more transparent tonight this sanity

Mediterranean nudes! I don't want to boast, no, but we are such an elegant tribe

Pull them a little closer and lift them a young man's eyebrows (oh ocean!) so beautiful

Having exchanged a modicum of money for a key (to my palm this key feels like ice)

Bronze automatic door every soul goes in there in silence (as if wishing to die)

They turn to look, again, they turn to look, as they pass in the hall, souls, so, lonesome!

(Love is just like wrestling) the way they love each other they appear ever so noble

(The throat is another sexual organ) at a faint sound of gargling I prick up my ear

The Kingdom is in this steam now, a man rising from the bath a wandering knight

Smelling like some apocalyptic event in the dark lies the body of a man half asleep

Cursed sleep what the man has on his shoulder is the <head> of someone unknown to him

This body grown thin with no reason these days increasing among the dead the number of friends

A man is a single duct (blocked by the arm of an angel burning like fire)

A man runs pelted by a rain of fire (ah) my heart resembles him more than anything else

Hold tight a young man's innocent nude body . . . else tightly tie it up with a rope

What kind of bird is a cuckoo? On silent tv a video showing a man being dissected

I shall be too late! I chase a shadow that runs away through the midst of my soul

A man possesses (as a means of having himself saved?) a dew-drenched sinful soul

I dreamed of falling unstoppably toward the bottom of a grave my skull covered with mud

The ear is an oyster in a deep sea. It gets sucked by gleaming teeth and scarlet tongue

Snow-white bedsheets and tablecloth all the countless lives and deaths that fell into this throat

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