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Camera & Even After He is Gone, the Cat is Here and I Cast My Suspicions on Him

Camera

You take my sweet sleeping face
You take my innocent smile
You take my large breasts
Even though I asked you not to

You take the mole on my shoulder
You take the blouse I have taken off
You take my dirty room
Even though I asked you not to

You take me when I am angry
You take me when I get hit
You take me when I get kicked across the room
Even though I do not know you have done it

You take my house when it is burning
You take my younger brother when he is falling
You take my younger sister when she is collapsing
You take my older brother when he burns to death
You take my older sister when she kills herself
You take my mother as she is weeping
Is that because I didn’t tell you not to take them?

You take the dry skin on my arms and legs
You take my swollen face
You take my crooked spine
You take my hair that has fallen out
I no longer have the strength to tell you no

This one’s no good, this one’s good
This one’s no good, this one’s good
As you look at the monitor
You choose the photos
The versions of me that survive
The versions of me that are erased
(The versions of me that survive
(The versions of me that are erased
Even if you erase me
It does not mean you didn’t take me
(Even if you erase me
(It does not mean you didn’t take me
You took me
And erased me
(You took me
(And erased me
You took lots of me
You erased lots of me
More of me than what you took
Disappeared with the work of a single finger

 

Even After He is Gone, the Cat is Here and I Cast My Suspicions on Him

This cat, why does he smile now?
While alive, he was so abrupt
Never even smiled even once
Now that he has become a photograph
He shows me his hairy grin

This cat, why does he meow now?
While alive, he was so silent
Never even cried out once
Now that he has become a photograph
He meows with a voice like static

This cat, why does he walk now?
While alive, he was so indolent
Never even took a single step
Now that he has become a photograph
He steps out of the picture for a walk

This cat, why does he eat now?
While alive, he was so set against food
Never even ate a thing
Now that he has become a photograph
He eats tomorrow’s portion too



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


is a prominent Japanese poet and novelist. During the 1980s, she, along with Itō Hiromi, emerged as one of the foremost voices of the so-called 'women's boom' of poetry. Her poetry is known for its directness and black humour. In the last decade, she has increasingly turned to writing novels, which often feature ordinary people in bizarre circumstances that lead them to question the traditional family system and the spots allotted to them in society.

Jeffrey Angles is an associate professor of Japanese and translation at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishōnen Culture in Japanese Modernist Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and translator of Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Itō Hiromi (Action Books, 2009), the award-winning Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Tada Chimako (University of California Press, 2010), and numerous other works of prose and poetry. He also writes poetry in his second language, Japanese.


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