The Valley Sky
The valley sky takes a deep breath
I drunkenly place a bunch of grapes in my mouth
My eyes collect pools of tears
One day’s journey up a mountain path
Oh, I think of my vanishing loneliness.
I will give you a firework
Though I know it’s not much
It explodes in the sky
It is my soul
A rainbow of color that quickly fades
A wondrous handball
In the snowy winds
of the dark sky
there are eyes
Forced to carry on my back
only broken clocks
A white cat
in the wind
Kawamoto Ryokuseki (1897 – 1933) was the pen-name of Kawamoto Yoshiyuki (河本義行), a Japanese teacher and poet who wrote free-form haiku and free verse. In 1924, he received a copy of Spring and Chaos (「春と修羅」) from Miyazawa Kenji, the famous poet and story writer. The following year, Kawamoto published Dream Fragments (「夢の破片」). In 1932, he published a book of tanka, A Collection of Flowers and Incense (「香花集」). He died in 1933 — just two months before Miyazawa Kenji — saving a colleague from drowning during swimming practice at the coast. He was 36.
The “grapes” of the first poem are 山葡萄 (yama-budou), or Crimson Glory Vine.
A handball (手毬, temari) is a traditional Japanese toy that became a kind of art form.
Information and free verse taken from http://www.urban.ne.jp/home/festa/kawamoto.htm.
More information, photo and haiku taken from http://www.apionet.or.jp/~stfri13b/ryokuseki.htm.