Tomoyuki Iino


1. San Francisco, 1981 

Mediocrity in your work is so fascinating
it's a virtue.
(After all, you are Hopper, not Hockney.)
Would you still dare to fly
thousands of miles
and, as the plane lurches,
get overjoyed
just because you rarely see 
the continent quail,
and so cowardly?

From the cool of the Bay
to the heat of the Valley
in the blink of an eye --
but the same eye catches sight
of El Dorado on a road sign.
(Or Fishkill, New York,
or Hazardville, Connecticut.)
As always I'm equally overjoyed
with driving on a freeway,
staring at the tapering lanes,
caressing every mile of it, every
phrase of those tunes on the radio
despite the aggravating lumbago,
but, as a ghoslty guiding companion, 
such a road sign makes you laugh
till you find yourself haunted by it.

The hills were yellow and parched
and the freeway went on and on,
displaying those casualties on the road:
squirrels, raccoons, rabbits.
Some are still warm, twitching,
some are already dots waiting 
to be carried on a wind,
a barely audible prayer.

When I saw a bunch of your paintings
along the corridor,
I didn't even know your name.