Zachary Schomburg



Ichi. You have the Sea of Japan all over your face. Ni, San. I seemed to have left my Sea of Japan on the nightstand at your mother's place last night. When she called me this morning, she was excited to tell me about her new death trap (Sea of Japan). Yon. If floating in the Sea of Japan won't kill you, I will. Go. In last night's ball game, the pitcher was the Sea of Japan. And in the seventh inning it turned its attentions inward. It found everything to be black there. It wouldn't let anyone have the baseball. Roku, Nana, Hati. There was nothing behind the curtain except for some great Seas of Japan and a few thousand Seas of Japan. Then behind the Seas of Japan were giant-sized business executives controlling everything, including laughter. Kyuu, Juu. What I need to pick up at the store: clouds, a few thousand skulls, faces of old ghosts in the clouds, plastic pool-side slide, plastic clouds, human ghosts haunting ghosts of bears, winter ghost clothes, a bigger fridge for T, plastic Sea of Japan, the Sea of Japan.



The entire world was there. The magnetic north pole was there. Prince Patrick Island was introduced to Prince of Wales Island and these were not the only islands being introduced to other islands. One room was completely filled with the space around all the islands. When you asked me if I was an island I told you that I was not. When you asked me to join you in the drawing room, I told you that I could not, that I was in fact an island and that I couldn't join anyone anywhere. Saddened and resigned, you revealed to me that you were not the two things that jut outward into the sea as I had assumed, but the little bit of gray sea between them. Then I told you I was actually the entire Arctic Ocean sometimes.



"Sea of Japan" was the first poem I wrote after getting my friend Tony's book, Invisible Bride (pick yourself up a copy), in the mail. I was inspired by it, and will be for a while. This is where the thousand skulls comes from, maybe some of the baseball, definitely the clouds, and the fridge. Tony may be the T, although you'd have to ask him why he wants a bigger fridge. "The Sea of Japan" came from this old dusty black globe in the room where I write. That globe has inspired a lot of poems. In fact, a good chunk of poems from the manuscript I'm submerged in (tentatively titled Low-Life Pilgrims) have something to do with geography. "The Things that Surround Us" is no exception.