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

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


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

Poem from the Jikkoku Osamu Corner.


then by Jikkoku Osamu (そのころ / じっこくおさむ)

in a city called City
broke melted
washed away
and of course
when they broke
strangely bright
it was very
what didn’t melt


まち と いう まち では
すべて が
つぶれて とけて
ながれて いた

そして もちろん

つぶれる とき
あやしく ひかって

とけぬ もの は


The original Japanese language poem was taken from the Jikkoku Osamu Corner.

The Jikkoku Osamu Corner

Most of the Jikkoku Osamu poems that I have translated here at Entry No. 1 were taken from Saya Mariho’s Jikkoku Osamu Corner (じっこくおさむコーナー), which, with the permission of Jikkoku’s wife, hosts a good sampling of his poetry. Along with Akiyama Jun’s site, this is one of the only Jikkoku resources available on the internet. I hope everyone who is interested in the work of this amazing, under-read anti-war poet will take the time to visit both of these wonderful sites.

endless anger by Jikkoku Osamu

i love this angry boy!

  having screamed with all his might
    his mouth bends down into a へ
and the corners of his eyes arch up
  and look this way mysteriously
    i love those eyes like apricot seeds
jutting over his right shoulder
  is a thick sword, held up in his left hand
    is a thin piece of cut rope

spread out behind him is a sea of flame

  this spoiled child puffs out his chest
    and i can see
  both soles of his tiny feet
    through his impudently crossed legs

but i love him, i love him, i love him

you can find images of mischievous children
  in ancient iconography
    spread throughout asia
the mysterious work of NameLess stonecutters!
  carved on the pedestal here:
    died july 7th, 1924, age 9

  the same age as me,
    we were alive at the same time!

on tanabata night
  separated from your mother and father, you
    were confined within
this small boatshaped stone
  when i was in another country
    passing through flames
you were standing on the bend
  of this hill road
    listening to the wind in the pines
black birds flying behind you
  when flames were rising
    over our hometown —

your sword smashes people’s
  endless desire
    your rope releases slaves
unties sects
  to search for true freedom
    humanity’s prayer

this big dream was left
  in your little hands
    but you will never forgive
the mad dance of the adults
  who kill and are killed, who deprive and are deprived
    puppets in the shadow of their god mammon

  beirut, khorramshahr
  warsaw, kabul, phnom penh
  saigon, nanjing, hiroshima
    and our very own takamatsu
    All Utterly Demolished

i’ve come from far away
  to stand here before you
    and i can’t count the times
i’ve let out a laugh
  because soon
    i will vanish from this earth
but you
  surrounded by moss
  your pupil-less eyes
glaring at everything,
  you will always remain, unmoved

do you know —
  there is a little girl
    standing beside you,
ageless and nameless
  thousand armed goddess of mercy
    nose half broken off
whose hands that were clasped
    at her lovely breasts
    are gone along with those breasts
who is with you, listening
  eyes closed
    to the wind in the pines overhead?

today you can see very clearly,
  beneath the pine branches
    buildings lined up like graves
just beyond our hometown
   the vast black sea.

in the night
  distant altair and vega
    will straight away
descend upon
  both your heads



This is the angry boy (or myouou, 明王) referred to in the poem. It is also the image on the cover of Jikkoku’s 1984 poetry collection Another Experiment, or Counterpoint (「もう一つの実験または対位法」).

Special thanks goes to Yumi Hori, who cleared up several questions I had about the poem. Without her, this translation would not have been possible.

Please see the original Japanese language poem here. Several other Jikkoku poems, some of which I have translated, can also be found there.

after the rain by Jikkoku Osamu (あめあがり / じっこくおさむ)

and then
after a cold rain

the inchworm of time
stops in the shape
of Ω and

the sky is bright frosted glass,
the air frozen into crystals

it will be lustrous winter
until all the colors of spring
scatter their petals on the ground

even the sparrow song
tumbles down
and bounces ting-a-ling
but doesn’t go very far

つめたい あめ の あと

じかん の シャクトリムシ
が Ω の かたち の まま
とまって しまう と

そら は あかるい すりガラス を,
くうき は クリスタル を はりつめ

はる の マルティカラー は
ちりしいた はなびら まで
つやつやした とうき と なり

スズメたち の ことば さえ
ちんちんと はねかえって
どこへも とどかない

blue swallowtails by Jikkoku Osamu (あおいアゲハ / じっこくおさむ)

two blue swallowtail butterflies
tangled up back to back
beat their wings together
without moving

a long
summer afternoon passes
the roots of the deutzia
grow dim

the praying mantis’s
large claws silently

is love
stronger than death?
it is.
but also
death is stronger than love!

あおい アゲハチョウ ふたつ
あべこべに つながり
はね うちかわし

なつ の ごご が すぎて
ウツギ の ねかた が
うすぐらく なる

カマキリ の
おおきな カマ が そっと

あい は
し よりも つよい か?
つよい さ。
そして また
し は あい よりも つよい!

sunday by Jikkoku Osamu (ニチヨウビ / じっこくおさむ)

beautiful sunday
thinking nothing
hearing nothing
letting everything
that floods inside me spill over
little by little my heart
becomes clean

look, sitting over there
that little stone
is having 3 centimeter long dreams

うつくしい ニチヨウビ は
なに も おもわず
なに も きかず
あふれる もの を
ただ あふれさせて いる と
こころ が すこし ずつ
きれいに なる

ほら,あそこ に すわって いる
いしころ も,3センチ ほど の
ちいさい ゆめ を みて いる