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from the June 2020 issue


A man wanders through Tokyo’s gay and lesbian district in this poem by Mutsuo Takahashi.

Not lustful Socrates, nor Plato
Not Xenophon, just a plain pederast
I wandered through the nighttime labyrinth of Ni-Chōme’s1 Athens
Sharing with young men encountered there, not dialogues, not sweet nothings
Not delirious ravings, just plain hot breath—however
The wisdom gathered from those wanderings is far deeper
Than that of ancient Greece, or at least, it is filled
With far more tender shadows, or at least, that
Is my excuse now

Translator’s note: With literally hundreds of gay and lesbian bars crammed together in several city blocks, Shinjuku Ni-Chōme has the highest concentration of queer gathering places anyplace in Japan. 

"贈物" from Only Yesterday. © Mutsuo Takahashi. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2020 by Jeffrey Angles. All rights reserved.

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