Jet Lag in Tokyo


Flat feet kept Einstein out of the army.
The Emperor’s horse considers its position.
In Akasaka men sit down and weep
Because the night must end.
At Chez Oz I discussed my old friend’s sex change
With a lovely woman who, I later learned,
Had also had one. The second movement
Of the Mahler Seventh on my Boodo Kahn
Above the North Pole spoke to me like you.
Neutrinos from 1987A
Arrived in the Kamikande bubble chamber
Three hours before the light. Shinjuku neon
Is dusted with submicroscopic diamonds.
Our belled cat keeps blackbirds up to scratch
With the fierce face of a tiger from the wall
Of the Ko-hojo in the Nanzen-ji, Kyoto.
You would not have been looking for me,
God told Pascal,
If you had not found me.
What will we do with those Satsuma pots
When the sun dies? Our Meissen vieux Saxe girl
Was fired three times. The car will be OK:
A Volkswagen can take anything.
An age now since I wrote about your beauty,
How rare it is. Tonight I am reminded.
Sue-Ellen Ewing says Gomen nasai.
Perhaps the Emperor’s horse is awake also.
I think this time I’ve gone too far too fast.

from The Book of My Enemy (Picador, 2003), © Clive James 2003; Recording from The Artificial Horizon: Poems from the Book of My Enemy, Vol 2 (Macmillan Digital Audio, 2008) used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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