Friday, March 30, 2007


Modern Japanese Tanka, ed. Makoto Ueda. This is a form of Japanese poetry somewhat similar to haiku. Except the scheme is 5-7-5-7-7 and there are fewer restrictions about subject matter. I started writing down a few favorites to quote and then ... I just couldn't stop. So here are a bunch (in no particular order), but there are a lot more in the book. Obviously I really enjoyed it. Different poems by the same author are separated by asterisks.

Tawara Machi
gazing upwards
toward the falling rain
I long to be kissed
in this very stance


"Until age thirty
I'm going to take a stroll"
your words
make me wonder what part
of your scenery I am


cherry blossoms
cherry blossoms cherry blossoms
start blooming
end blooming and the park looks
as if nothing had happened

sakura sakura sakura sakisome sakiowari nani mo nakatta yona koen
Tsukamoto Kunio
like the barrel of a gun
I keep loading her
with liquid explosive
till the night is gone
Maekawa Samio
idiot that I am
I've sent an umbrella
to a bicycle shop
for repairs
Shaku Choku
arrowroot flowers
lie trampled on the ground
their colors fresh

someone has climbed ahead of me
along this mountain path


the grassy ground not shown
in the newsreel
of a victorious battle

I grieve

Okamoto Kanoko
they don't appeal to me
those cherry blossoms
blooming today
as I am far too busy
counting the lies he has told


a flower blooms
showing the natural color
it was born with
while I have never known
in what color I am to bloom


an insect
born too early in spring
had been given
such tender care in a cage
finally it died
Ishikawa Takuboku
as if in water

my body is submerged
in sorrow

that smells a little
of green onions this evening
Yosano Tekkan
To Our Baby That Died

in the dark woods
lying ahead on your road
whom will you call?
you don't yet know the names
of your parents or your own


unlike their father
what happy careers are in store
for all my children
who show absolutely no fear
of algebra or a dog
Toki Zenmaro
where there is neither
a stone nor bamboo

I wish to hear

the sound of a stone
hitting a bamboo

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