Sardines to Tuna by Yamanokuchi Baku (鮪に鰯 / 山之口貘)

I felt like eating some tuna sashimi
When my wife said it looks like human flesh
And after that I couldn’t help but see it as human, too
But I had been dreaming about tuna sashimi
So, in a fit of anger, I said
It’s dead, so I’ll eat it if I damn well please
My wife got upset and turned away
But husbands and wives are only tuna
Everyone on the earth is tuna
Tuna hate atomic bombs
And are also threatened by hydrogen bombs
They are living in the modern world in a fit of anger
One day, I looked at my plate
And said, It’s covered in the ashes of Bikini
My wife turned around her chopsticks
And poked at the head of the burned tuna
It’s just ash from the grill, she murmured

NOTES:

Yamanokuchi Baku (1903-1963) was the pen name of Yamaguchi Jusaburo (山口重三郎). He is the most famous poet from Okinawa. He moved to Tokyo in 1922 and lived there most of his life. He also wrote stories, such as “Mr. Saito from Heaven Building,” which was translated in Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson (January 4, 2000). The blog One Lost Sheep also has a translation of Yamanokuchi’s poem “A Conversation” as well as his explanation for writing it.

The poem here at Entry No. 1 was found at ポエムコンシェルジュとさがす詩の世界.

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