Poverty Is Not A Fault
Poem By MOHAMMAD SKATI
i could walk carefree
in tokyo streets and lanes
in october, november and early december
in my T-Shirt treating it as spring but not january
when the temperature would suddenly take a dip
like an olympic swimmer with fiery ambition
plunging into the pool
the chill bites into the most sensitive parts
near the chest, setting the bodice trembling,
teeth hitting each other the way dad shunts his soroban beads
shaking like the winter breeze on and off, on and off
throughout the lanes and streets
laughters, songs trail the ears
on and off, on and off as the izakaya door
opens to either welcome or sends off some customers
the cold and loneliness of the streets
make these drinking houses
feel like a happy family where children and parents
crowd together for their nightly fun
january in tokyo could either be warm or cold
for lovers to cling closer to each other in their walk
for tired managers to go for atsukan to warm up their nerves
for the homeless, everything feels so colder than they should be
their hearts take a dip each time they hear laughter and songs
from the izakaya
Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.