I was cast out into this frozen waste.
The sharp half moon
is swirling round and round.
My feet are freezing
and the farmers’ lamps have just been buried in the snow.
There is no one on this pallid field
but me and my freezing soul.
Searching for the last bit of warmth on earth
we dig deep into the earth’s core
In a frozen, dark cavern
long since abandoned,
an abalone shell, still living,
has been uncovered in the ruins of a blue dream
as we encroach upon our eternal hour
Oh, hurry and prepare the counter-current pump
and begin extracting the last hours and warmth on Earth.
On a placenta of blue flame
Like a fetus swimming in blood
Concealing its strange breath
Oh, the envious toad dances.
Oh, an autumn dragonfly
by a mountain pass
lands on the tip of a blade of withered grass
There is a sorrow in the light of the mountain pass
Flitting here and there, the dragonfly
is a lonely thing
growing old in the mountain pass
Oh, the autumn dragonfly
is lonelier than a dream
fading into far-off reality
Autumn on the Plateau
Every day the cold wind drifts through
I think of the gloomy plateau
Cold creatures stained blood red
Wander beyond the darkening hill
Autumn on the plateau
Time piles up, cold and heavy
In the shadow of a lonely dragonfly
That drifts along without knowing where it goes.
Sunrise on the Mountain
The morning sun spills into the rice fields of the valley
And brightly paints the mountaintops
A glimpse of the deep mountain in the morning
In the motionless, cold morning wind
The hidden cries of insects
Autumn’s wild chrysanthemums briskly swaying
Saku, saku, saku, saku
Oh, the sound of a sickle cutting grass
さく／＼さく／＼, or sakusakusakusaku, could be a play on words. It is clearly the sound of the sickle cutting the grass, but saku (咲く) can also mean bloom. I think it is interesting that the line before mentions wild flowers and that the line after mentions cutting grass. Inbetween swaying flowers and cutting grass, we have this somewhat vague sakusaku, which could mean growing or cutting. This is only speculation on my part, but I think it adds a little bit more to the poem.
For more information about the author, please see the previous post.
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.
I was dead
and living underwater
in a dream
I dreamt that I had died
and was living underwater
There are eyes in the soul
that stare in bewilderment
* * *
I Also am Worried
(From village to village and town to town young men are recruited)
Your young blood does not dance
Your young hearts are not free
On the contrary, you are trembling in fear
Until something breaks, you are kept in fear
You are growing in numbers
You are isolated and lonely
You have no one to comfort you
Your last moments of freedom were taken from you
Your will was broken down
Down to your little finger, you are unable to resist
At times, even justice is taken from you
You share the same worries
You cry in your loneliness
You groan in your anguish
Oh, you who were torn apart from your relatives and loved ones
I can’t bear to look at you
(Upon reading the prison diary of Ohsugi Sakai)