Frank Polite

The Japanese Consulate (1979)

I’m hurting a lot today.
O.K. I’m 30, not a kid anymore
to pace about quoting Tears from the depth
of some divine despair, or adjusting
my face so as not to scare hell out of birds

that veer off anyway.

So, let’s say I need
tighter control over my emotions, which
translates, Wider Escapes. I need (I know it)
wider escapes. Runaways . . .

Maybe if I knew what’s getting me down
I might . . . (Pain abounds with clichés, ever
notice that? Right down to essentials
But, something must be done . . .

and so I have come to the Japanese Consulate.

I ask Information Papa-san
if any escaped?

He says, it was a religious act, perhaps
fanatical, that Kamikaze means
divine wind, and that we must think of The Bomb
and forgive each other.

I tell Papa-san I agree
not to think of The Bomb. I ask again
if any escaped. He says, yes. One,

Pilot X, chickened over a battleship
at Subic Bay and was last seen racing west.
They figure the fink ran out of gas
and splashed somewhere mid-Pacific. I ask,

what are the chances he made it to Ohio, say
a 1943 summer day I’m taking my bike apart?
Startled look! You crazy, sick, or what?

I don’t see it that way, O my Kamikaze heart.

Frank Polite (b. 1936) lives in Youngstown, Ohio, where he directs the Fallen City Writer’s Workshop. In addition to Letters of Transit (Berkeley: City Miner Books, 1979, in which ‘The Japanese Consulate’ appears), Flamingo (Youngstown, Ohio: Pangborn Books, 1990), and Hyde: A Novella Noire (Pangborn Books, 2000), his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Poetry, the Nation, and many other j0urnals. While in the U.S. Navy he travelled to Japan several times aboard the USS Zelima.

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