JapanInland See
by Anca Vlasopolos

was it jet lag, the boat pitching, rolling
upon that peaceful ocean?
the incipient always tremor of that
floating land?
was I literally stupid, like Alice,
plunged down the tunnel
to an enchanted world?

come now, of course I could see the evil orange veil draped
over Tokyo
rooms jutting into air cut by rapid trains
at precise, maddening intervals
most people more or less coughing
the thwarted ambitions of the young

but, but
the ordinary exquisite
of designed meals on pottery and lacquered wood
of walks beneath canopies prodigal
camellias like gambling chips
like coins

seemingly fated encounters
              with guides who take one far
              beyond their selves one’s self
              give with an open hand
              cowry shell carved bird book of hieroglyphs
              all, more, than one dare ask
topple balance of inner ear, sharp eye,
erase recorded evidence
give you footing on swaying surfaces
like a good ending to a perilous dream

by Anca Vlasopolos

about the size of a commemorative stamp
a perspective beginning in white-and-black tiles
hypnotizes you toward the open door.  Nothing
has been left out, although the details are terribly
small:  brass knocker, the fantastically carved knobs
on each side, even the inserted plate with retracting tongue
waiting to click shut later perhaps after she comes in
or later yet when she does not return and the dark deepens
and spreads uncontrolled indian ink from hedge and trees
rising like cyclopean walls on each side of the avenue
that she bare-headed and dressed in white is not
taking away from the house into infinitely
narrowing parallels but instead turning from
to walk toward what on the left side remains unseen
behind the stately doorframe and tall crimson wall

by Anca Vlasopolos
              (Based on Kate Hers’s It’s My World, Acrylic Collage)

I float in a red sun in my red
              skimpy but functional
              functional like cement blocks
no, that’s not what they are
              those manuscript sheets
              hung up, dirty laundry
              I’m airing in public
              after cleansing their thoughts
              with black messy smudges
              in case, well, you know,
              they might talk
but wait
then the
like doesn’t work
here I am though
in my red—that’s it—underwear
inside my red sun
              my feet in a ballet two
              my siamese firmly
              like an old-fashioned fur hat
              on my head
no, the
like doesn’t work
look how the cat stares out at you
it is not in the least dead
this ball, I want you to know, is my personal planet
I leave beneath its pulsing womb
the tombstones, pieties smudged too like
              the leaves hung on the rope
I bequeath expressly to those in love with death
              a comfort spot among graves
              the orange sofa from my old dollhouse
while I
              cheered by omens of good flight
              mariposa azul tortulita tortuga
              and for good measure a snail, reminder for taking my time,
break out of the amber bracelet meant to expose
              my squirms for centuries still
rise rise
into a glowing sun


Anca Vlasopolos is the author of a poetry collection, Penguins in a
Warming World
; two poetry chapbooks, Through the Straits, At
and The Evidence of Spring; a detective novel, Missing
; and No Return Address: A Memoir of Displacement.  
Her historical novel,
The New Bedford Samurai, is forthcoming.  
Vlasopolos has received several awards for her writing, including a
Pushcart Prize nomination in 2006, and her poetry and short stories
have been widely published in literary magazines such as
The Rambler,
Porcupine, Poetry International, Barrow Street, Short Story,
Natural Bridge, Evansville Review, Santa Barbara Review, River
, and Spoon River Poetry Quarterly.  She is a professor of English
at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  

On “Japan
Inland See”:    
In the spring of 2002, I went to Japan for eight days to research a
novel that will see print this coming fall.  I was being hosted by
Hiroshi Hasegawa, a famed ornithologist whose efforts saved a
species of albatross from extinction.  Before my departure, I spoke
with all the friends and acquaintances I had who had been to
Japan.  I was terrified about appearing as the clumsy and impolite
tourist.  Several warned me about the crowding, the pollution, the
rats, the cockroaches.  As I try to express in the poem, I am too
experienced to fall into complete enchantment and see nothing
but the positive, but I was charmed with what I saw of Honshu
and particularly of Shikoku, the island to the south, the birthplace
of my protagonist.  The natural beauty, very different from any
other, made me realize that what we take as highly stylized
landscape paintings in Japanese art are actually fairly realistic
renderings of what’s before the eye.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 1
(Spring 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

On Lynn Shaler’s Etching,
“The Woman in White”
A World, Hers