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with a kiss

Chris D. Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner - Premium MemberPremium Member Send Soup Mail Go to Poets Blog Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled with a kiss which was written by poet Chris D. Aechtner. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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with a kiss

with a kiss
he tasted the salt
of her tears -
guilt washed over him
at feeling spring in his veins

This was the wrong place and moment
to have such strong lust and longing.

in his periphery,
her oniisan's sen-nin-bari
hung like a limp eel from her pocket

He was filled with the shame of it all.
To hell with this sacred, imperial war.
Two years too young to serve in the munitions factories,
many years too young to join in the fray,
he spent his time
amongst women, old men,
and the dreaded kempeitai.
His thoughts felt as those of a hikokumin.

He loved his ojiichan and obaachan,
who filled in for the roles of okasan,
and an otosan whom he hadn't heard from,
since the infantryman had stormed Rangoon, four months prior.
But spending so much time around mainly women and elderly folk
can become quite depressing for a man-boy.

Juzo and Aki slipped past a crowd of women
pushing against a rations cart,
clawing pathetically for scraps of rice, powdered eggs and salted fish.
This is what Nippon had been reduced to.

The pit in his stomach widened at the thought of dishes
he used to take for granted.
What he would do for some sukiyaki, mochi,
or even a slice of kasutera.

Walking through the streets hand-in-hand,
Aki silent,
he felt the obake of shopkeepers
tending store behind boarded-up windows.

The entire city was brimming with negative thoughts,
probably partly due to the banning of the Joya-no-Kane -
what could purge the ill thoughts, now?
It felt like a pressure cooker of indecency,
steaming over into the gutters,
until even the gutters flooded,
spilling filth into the most private corners of kitchens and bedrooms.


Late at night,
when the blessing of sleep crept in,
he dreamt of food,
and of Aki finally breaching his shyness,
by taking the lead....


*Glossary(in order of appearance)

oniisan - brother

sen-nin-bari - stitched, woven cloth belt used as a talisman of protection by soldiers

kempeitai - military police

hikokumin - traitor

ojiichan - grandfather

obaachan - grandmother

okasan - mother

otosan - father

sukiyaki - sweet rice wine, cabbage, noodles, carrots, tender chicken

mochi - sticky rice with red bean in centre

kasutera - sponge cake

obake - ghosts

Joya-no-Kane - in Buddhist temples, gongs are hit 108 times with a log,
                       to help purge 108 indecent thoughts.

February 28th, 2012

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  1. Date: 3/25/2012 10:39:00 AM
    Good piece :) -edwaard

  1. Date: 3/13/2012 11:13:00 AM
    wonderful poem Chris, and all started with a kiss, love the tanka's at the start and finish, everything ties together here, such an interesting read, p.s like the glossary. harry

  1. Date: 3/7/2012 11:22:00 PM
    my goodness, Chris, so much Japanese lately!!! Really, are you going to Japan? Are you already there? It reminds me of that song, "turning japanese" I think you made a reference to that in another poem. Splendid narrative. And now I shall go see this clam chowder you told me about!!

  1. Date: 3/1/2012 12:33:00 PM
    Wow, seriously impressive piece, Chris. Fascinating glossary too. I had to wonder what would happen if a person had 109 indecent thoughts...

  1. Date: 3/1/2012 10:37:00 AM
    Back here Chris-san ;) haha you mentioning there were other forms made me want to go on a form hunt--aargh! I am failing... haha goes to show what I know-- by other forms, you mean other Japanese poetry forms, right? I am being a cheat and just going by the lines that don't start capitalized, lol-- that 3rd stanza caught my eye even before & was thinking it could be a senryu? & hmm uh-oh not sure what a haibun was? So I looked it up a wee bit, very cool, now I appreciate this poem even more :D!

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 9:48:00 PM

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 9:29:00 PM
    you build this to a crescendo and slowly let the tone waft away in the end.. such wonderful poetic movement here, chris... sad yet beautiful.. i only wished a few nippongo words were used ( had to go back and forth the glossary to understand them, haha).. noetheless, this piece stands on its own... best of luck and huggs! :) kampai!

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 1:00:00 PM
    Chris, your poem is compelling and I'm glad you described the unfamiliar words. I'm flad your "man-boy" was too young to go to war. Now tell me where I can find a "Joya-no-Kane" so I can purge bad thoughts as well. I learned a lot reading this, Chris, but even more, I enjoyed it thoroughly. If it's for Catie's contest, I wish you success. Love, Carolyn

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 12:16:00 PM
    soup mail..

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 10:10:00 AM
    This is very sad. Showed us how war is destructive.. You're so good in Japanese. This is amazingly written, Chris.

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 9:54:00 AM
    Chris outstanding my friend, I do love the way the tanka just floats you into it, then the next two lines line you up for the opposite effect, amazing..David

  1. Date: 2/29/2012 4:06:00 AM
    Nicely done Chris,I like the poem you have created here,always a pleasure to read yours poem.Have a lovely day. - oxox love Anne-Lise

    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:34:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Anne Lise-san, domo arigato gozaimashita!
  1. Date: 2/29/2012 12:28:00 AM
    Is that a tanka for your first part here, Chris? If it is, I find it so cool & fitting that you did that, especially considering the premise of your narrative--This is a wonderfully gripping piece with an interesting ending- I really enjoyed how you put in those Japanese words, I'm mostly familiar only with the food, lol. I liked how we also got to learn a bit about Japan-- You place yourself in that young man's shoes so well. The pitfalls of falling in love during war, this is an awesome write that stayed with me.

    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:32:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    nikko, you are correct about the tanka - great that you noticed. I also humbly embedded/hid a few other forms into the lines as well. Domo arigato gozaimashita!
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:32:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I meant: nikko-san :D
  1. Date: 2/28/2012 11:38:00 PM
    Superb in every way, Chris...Excellent piece!

    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:30:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Christine-san, domo arigato gozaimashita!
  1. Date: 2/28/2012 12:20:00 PM
    Magnificent, Outstanding, Chris I am so happy you put the glossary at the end. I knew some of them but not all. You made this poem so much more appealing to me when I didn't have to look for the meanings. Now this one I will add to my favorites. Thank you. Love, Carol

    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:28:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Carol-san, domo arigato gozaimashita! I am honoured if a poem such as this one is favoured.
  1. Date: 2/28/2012 12:15:00 PM
    wonderful narrative, Chris. Excellent story. hugs, Catie :)

    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:27:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Catie-san, domo arigato(u) gozaimashita!
  1. Date: 2/28/2012 11:25:00 AM
    Wow, what an interesting, educational and heart-wrenching story you tell here Chris. Love the way you weaved the native language of the story's subject into the tale. There are so many lives living a tale like this that we, forunate souls, have no clue about. It is important to be reminded - and your poem does that in a beautiful and compelling way. Thanks. Joe

    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner
    Date: 2/29/2012 9:26:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Joe, I am glad that you didn't get bored and enjoyed this poem. Do(u)mo arigato gozaimashita.