Autumn by Imai Hakuyou (秋 / 今井白楊)

All the nights and days passed away
and a strange darkness
began to envelop my soul.

Is this sleep? Is it the end?
It seems to me
like a very long rest.

總ての夜と日が逝(ゆ)いた
不思議な闇が
私の魂(たま)を包み初めた。

眠りか? 最終(おはり)か?
そして私には
其れが永い休息(やすみ)とも思はれる。

NOTES:

Imai Hakuyou (1889-1917) was a Japanese free verse poet from Sendai in Kagoshima prefecture. Before he could publish a single volume of poetry, he drowned at a young age while swimming with a friend in Chiba.

Advertisements

Stars and Dandelions by Kaneko Misuzu (星とたんぽぽ / 金子みすゞ)

Deep at the bottom of the blue sky,
Like small stones in the sea,
Submerged until night falls,
We can’t see the stars in the afternoon,
We can’t see them, but they’re there,
We can’t see them, but they’re there.

Dandelions, petals dead and scattered,
Silent in a dried up river bed,
Hidden until spring arrives,
We can’t see their strong roots.
We can’t see them, and yet they’re there,
We can’t see them, but they’re there.

青いお空のそこふかく、
海の小石のそのように、
夜がくるまでしずんでる、
昼のお星は目に見えぬ
見えぬものでもあるんだよ、
見えぬものでもあるんだよ。
 
ちってすがれたたんぽぽの、
かわらのすきにだあまって、
春のくるまでかくれてる、
つよいその根は目に見えぬ。
見えぬけれどもあるんだよ、
見えぬものでもあるんだよ。

To Love Everything by Kaneko Misuzu (みんなをすきに / 金子みすゞ)

I wish I could love them,
Anything and everything.

Onions, tomatoes, fish,
I wish I could love them all.

Side dishes, and everything.
Because Mother made them.

I wish I could love them,
Anyone and everyone.

Doctors, and crows,
I wish I could love them all.

Everyone in the whole world,
Because God made them.

わたしはすきになりたいな、
何でもかんでもみいんな。
 
ねぎも、トマトも、おさかなも、
のこらずすきになりたいな。
 
うちのおかずは、みいんな。
おかあさまがおつくりになったもの。
 
わたしはすきになりたいな、
だれでもかれでもみいんな。
 
お医者さんでも、からすでも、
のこらずすきになりたいな。
 
世界のものはみイ んな、
神さまがおつくりになったもの。

in the dark kitchen by Jikkoku Osamu (くらいくりやの / じっこくおさむ)

i loved to watch my mother
in the dark kitchen
beside the light of the oven

when we were walking down a long road
I would sit down on her geta
to rest

when it was time for bed
she fell asleep holding my cock
mother never held
the other men she slept with . . .

. . . you’re talking too much again
how embarrassing
i’m sure her ghost will be upset

くらい くりや の かまど の ひ を
かあさん と ならんで
じっと みる の が すきだった

とおみち を ゆく とき は
かあさん の ゲタ に こしかけて
やすんだ

よる ねる とき
ぼく の ちんちん を もって ねた
ほかに いっしょに ねる おとこ を
もたなかった おかあさん ……

…… おまえ また いらん こと を いう
と はずかしがって
あのよ で おこって いる だろう な

NOTES:

Thanks to Grady Martin for giving it a second read-through.

Poem from the Jikkoku Osamu Corner.

When I Am Lonely by Kaneko Misuzu (さびしいとき / 金子みすゞ)

When I am lonely,
Strangers do not know.

When I am lonely,
My friends are laughing.

When I am lonely,
My mother is kind.

When I am lonely,
Buddha is lonely.

わたしがさびしいとき、
よその人は知らないの。
 
わたしがさびしいとき、
お友だちはわらうの。
 
わたしがさびしいとき、
み母さんはやさしいの。
 
わたしがさびしいとき、
ほとけさまはさびしいの。

NOTES:

Kaneko Misuzu (1903-1930) was a poet. When her ex-husband attempted to gain custody of their daughter, she committed suicide. She was 26.

Danger by Amano Tadashi (危険 / 天野忠)

In the East, there is a mountain
where old useless people are thrown away
like throwing away an old pen.

Really, it’s the logical thing to do

Everyone
let’s throw away our old rusted pens
But we mustn’t toss them on the mountain
Up there
the old and the useless
shuffle about as they weep.

「危険」

東洋には姥捨山があって
不要な老人は捨てられる
古いペンを捨てるように。

まことに合理的なことだ これは

諸君
古いさびたペンは捨てよう
ただし山へ捨ててはならぬ
山では
泣きながら
不要な老人が歩いている。

March Disappearance by Ura Kanako (三月の失踪 / 浦歌無子)

My older brother choked on the scales of a swallowtail butterfly
and died just like that
My older sister kept eating little bird’s eggs and now her heart
is completely spoiled
My little sister is afflicted with a hunger for purple violets
And you haven’t even heard the half of it
violet
My dead brother ties the chrysalises that continue to multiply in his esophagus to an optical line
and sits facing a rainbow-colored box, solving a crossword puzzle
My spoiled older sister is pregnant with a liquid crystal canary
and has signed over all of her property
My little sister absentmindedly squeezes purple juice
and stores it in a secret folder
violet
My brother, typing on the keyboard with his melting fingertips,
asks us for the answer to the puzzle
“What’s a flower that’s purple, ends in a ‘t,’
blooms in the spring and is six letters long?”
My older sister’s newborn canary was made of rock and it couldn’t even sing,
so she keeps giving birth to countless passwords
My little sister, in a voice hoarse with fever,
says “violet” in answer to my brother’s question
violet
“Application error.
To terminate the program click OK”
Connected to the internet, my brother’s
organs, muscles, nerves, even his bodily fluids, are deleted
violet
“Incorrect password.
If you have forgotten your password answer the secret question”
My older sister keeps clicking Help, but her security is disabled
and her profile is gradually becoming faint
violet
My sweet little sister drinks violets, one spoonful, two spoonfuls
Purple drips from her lips, and again
one spoonful, two spoonfuls
Like a rabbit killed with a shotgun,
little purple drops
spread all over my sister’s body
Down to her heart she is becoming a flower, a flower, a flower
My little sister wishes to be eaten by skylarks in March
Her skylarks cry “violet violet”
as they fly around inside the hard drive
A purple virus, one spoonful, two spoonfuls
(I remember I remember)
“Logging in”
violet
My brother, who has turned to bones,
inputs search options in my head and links to my brain
My older sister, who has turned invisible,
sends my compressed limbs all over the world
My sweet little sister is a violet
Her eyeballs, earlobes, collarbone, the soles of her feet, and even her ankles,
have all blossomed into violets
The violets are being copied and pasted in my cells as purple flower images
violet
“The document has been changed. Do you want to save the changes?”
“Yes”
The violets that were blooming in that little garden,
was that not my own memory?
That little garden where all of us played together,
was that not my own memory?
My older brother, my older sister, my little sister,
were they never really there?
violet
“If you are not a real person click here.”
violet
“Logging out.”
violet
“Welcome, Guest.”
violet
violet
violet
violet
violet
violet
violet
violet
violet
violet

I no longer exist anywhere

NOTES:

Ura Kanako is a poet from Fukuoka. Her first book of poetry, The Lake in My Ears (耳のなかの湖, 2009), was nominated for the Nakahara Chuya Award.

The original Japanese language poem can be found at ポエムコンシェルジュとさがす詩の世界.