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Riding the Yokohama Night Train by John Alex Hebert
published in Volume 1, Issue 1 on January 15th, 1994

Riding the Yokohama night train
vertical elevator vehicle
voyage measured in minutes not kilometers
sit and swallow every breath in silence
looking out window at passing neon wave
of tsunami consumerism.
The invasion is complete.
Gen. Adam Smith is victorious.

People riding bicycles
from ramen shop to video arcade
where electronic digital mah jongg
is played against silicon brain
and human is rewarded with
animated semi-nude Japanese girls
upon victory and the silicon brain
only does its programmed duty.

Fellow passengers sit folded hands
in lap eyes in lap or stand
and avoid glance contact between each of us
no matter how many times I look
trying to establish eye contact
they look away and peruse the ads
plastered on wall of compartment
of smiling geisha bride
or laughing teeth white child
but I need eye contact I want eye contact
to relieve myself of Western guilt.
American guilt born out of two
mushroom clouds rising over
two cities in '45.
Cities untouched by conventional bombing
because war scientists were curious about effects
of dropping little boy and fat man
on unharmed cities.
I'm sorry I'm sorry I didn't want them
to do it I wasn't even born yet
just please let me unload my guilt.

We pull into Shinagawa station
train load of isolated humans
with themselves for company.
Walk out in the quiet crowd
moving to the exits
not reading kanji I go with the flow.
I walk around Shinagawa Eki
trying to figure out
which women have the benwa balls.
Raw emotional feeling like a wound
or maybe my pecker is showing.
See all the lovely madam butterflies
flitting away with tiny steps.
I feel like a bull
in a telepathic china shop.

I must stink of violence and insane depravity.
Nobody wants to look in my eyes.
They just walk around in turtle shells
of ray-bans and walkmans
shut away in shells of self
surrounding them.
My shell broke I'm dripping out want to touch somebody I
don't have to pay to touch.
Want to start yelling in the middle
of all this I'm sorry about the war
and Commodore Perry  giving you that tiny train
infecting you with westernization.
Instead I walk around
feeling like a dirty gaijin
with my tentacled flesh
creeping up their leather skirts
and if I could have only smiled
and meant it I'd have been okay.

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