“from Salaryman (Umami)” by Michael Mejia

Michael Mejia


Adapted Haiga


Umami or the taste of absence, a fading bell,
like the fraying seam, anticipating the next tie or pair of shoes.
The change of lines.

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms

[download audio]


Michael Mejia: “Salaryman is a sequence of brief prose poems attached to candid photos of Japanese salarymen and -women I took during a recent trip to Tokyo, where I was researching a work of fiction. After a few days of watching these ubiquitous figures of contemporary Japanese business culture heading resolutely toward some destination or other at all hours, I began to envision a sequence of 36 views, echoing those of ukiyo-e artists Hokusai and Hiroshige, their images of Mount Fuji, bridges, and famous places in Edo. Though lineated, I conceived, and still think of the texts as prose. I didn’t intend these pieces to hold to the ‘rules’ of haiku. Rather, they appropriate the form’s concision and often its dicta concerning seasonal references.”

Rattle Logo