The Adirondack Review
Hikikomori,
or The Gregarious Nature of Words

There’s a romance to it for sure: a generation of Japanese shut-ins
and a lecture on the new edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Think differential axis and brooding music.
You can peel away the leaves of your life until all that remains
is the ambiance itself, a surrounding mood highlighted by
computer-generated music. The food might not be great.
But the madness of the words that make these leaves like
sheets of thin paper would change in your hands.
Not to un-madness maybe, but to something different.
The radio host talks about it with false empathy: the hippest
social phenomenon. Tomorrow it will be in the Times.
Hikikomori, they call them - withdrawal. Their eyes become
the illuminated windows of tall Tokyo buildings and
the name an index in this poem. It happens in the car
in the dark during the story of Noah Webster’s life
and a particularly interesting preface. It happens in
the moment I realize how beautiful one word is, how long
I’ve sought for it, how a strange peace is made.


Clark Chatlain
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
CLARK CHATLAIN  has previously published poetry or has poems forthcoming in Crab Creek Review, Small Spiral Notebook, Boxcar Poetry, Prairie Poetry, Camas, and Stirring. He lives and works in Missoula, Montana.