Tokyo Crows


Somewhere inside a Warsaw cement desert of tenement buildings,

so well x-rayed in Kieslowski’s “Decalogue”,

I am editing a documentary from Japan.

Quite proud of myself, working in an intuitive way.

Writing a poem with images. Or so I think.

No talking heads, no touristy places, no banal associations.

No easy judgments, trite observations or pathetic “insights.”

Not even too much philosophy (can’t help myself with this one.)

This Gajdzin (Japanese term for a foreigner)

will finally get something right!

The scenes with the Tokyo crows stand out.

Black, big, fat and mysterious, the birds are everywhere.

Sitting. Watching. Judging. Waiting.

Hitchock would love it.

Parks, poles, wires, streets, rooftops - populated by crows.

Even in a museum a Japanese calligraphy says:

“A black crow cries - I am alone.”

She who offers to translate it to me is dressed in black.

Older. Dignified. Stylish.

I like her slick black hair, elegance and mischievous eyes.

I have videotaped this encounter.

The crows own Tokyo and its psyche.

The editing process intensifies.

The project goes through many versions.

What goes where? Is the pacing right? What’s the theme again?

Identity? Culture? Feeling? Nature?

Nature? Don’t blab about everything.

Less is more. Keep focused!

The birds are great but they stick out.

The museum woman is wonderful but somehow seems too private.

The crows with each pass fit less.

Around cut number 12 they are gone.

They were too strong, too different,

not connected enough to “the emotional through line”

When the project is done (version 16), it is clean, sharp, congruent.

For the first time in weeks I sleep like a baby.

Then, just before wee hours,


springs me upward to a sitting position. It is something


just outside my open window,

or maybe already inside.

My heart pounds with fear. Finally I see:

It is a huge black crow


Hurt! Angry! Menacing!

For a good moment we eye each other

then she shuts up and flies away.

I sit frozen

realizing I have transgressed.

Kieslowski (I only met him once in passing for 5 seconds,

but that was enough) looks at me from above

with disapproval.

I can hear his voiceless questions:

Are you capable of right judgments?

Are your ethics clean?

Can you tell a story and not harm?

Are you fit do make documentaries?

What are you going to do with the Tokyo crows?

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