A Thin Needle: Haiku by Sumitaku Kenshin (住宅顕信)

朝はブラインドの影にしばられていた

The morning
was tied up in the shadows
of the blinds

ふと父の真似を子が爪をかむ

Imitating his father
a child chews his nails

深夜の細い針が血管探している

In the middle of the night
a thin needle
searches for a blood vessel

うすい胸に吸い込んだ冷たいレントゲンだ

Breathed into
my thin lungs,
cold x-rays

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A Swing After Rain: Free-Form Haiku by Sumitaku Kenshin (住宅顕信)

どこまでも寒い青空が続く

the cold blue sky goes on
as far as I can see

青空に並んで冷たい墓となる石

lined up against the blue sky
cold graves made from stone

淋しさきしませて雨あがりのブランコ

loneliness
creaks
a swing
after rain

誰もいない壁に近くすわる

there’s no one here
I sit close to the wall

握りしめた夜に咳こむ

in the seized night
a coughing fit

自殺願望、メラメラと燃える火がある

wanting to kill myself,
an all-consuming fire

さめて思い出せない不安な夢

I wake up
and can’t remember
my anxious dreams

手が汗ばんでいる夢を見ていた

my hands are sweating
from the dream I had

聞こえない鳥が鳴いているという

unable to hear
it is said
the birds still sing

春にはと思う心に早い桜

spring is I think
early cherry blossoms
in the heart

窓に病人ばかりが耐えている冬空

the window is full
of sick people enduring
winter sky

冷たい朝をゆく健康な人の背ばかり

going away in the cold morning
the backs of healthy people only

NOTES:

Sumitaku Kenshin (1961-1987) was a haiku poet who practiced free-form haiku (自由律俳句). He died of acute myelocytic leukemia before his 26th birthday. In his lifetime, he only self-published one volume of poetry, but the free-form haiku magazine Kaishi (海市) published a number of his poems. After his death, much of his work was collected in a volume called Unfinished (未完成).

Poems taken from kaishi-haiku.com.

Lonely Sounds: Free-Form Haiku by Sumitaku Kenshin (住宅顕信)

月、静かに氷枕がくずれる

moon,
silently
my ice pack
collapses

病んでこんなにもやせた月窓に置く

sick as I am
thin
the moon in my window

エレベーターの顔の中のひとつの顔

a face
inside the face
of the elevator

面会謝絶の戸を開けて冬がくる

open the door that says
NO VISITORS
and winter comes in

窓に雨がけむる明日への不安

rain fogs up the window
anxiety about tomorrow

病んでいる耳に死を告げられた

I am ill
death ringing
in my ears

一人だけの淋しい物音たてている

all alone
lonely sounds
surround me

ひとかたまりの影を離れる

letting go
a cluster of shadows

病室を出て秋の山呼吸している

leaving the hospital room
autumn mountains
breathing

朝月残る昨日のこと考えている

morning
the moon is still here
thinking about yesterday

雨音、夜の池深く落ちる

sound of rain,
falls deeply in
the night pond

NOTES:

Sumitaku Kenshin (1961-1987) was a haiku poet who practiced free-form haiku (自由律俳句).

Picture and poems taken from kaishi-haiku.com.

Images: Free-Form Haiku by Sumitaku Kenshin (住宅顕信)

ずぶぬれて犬ころ

soaking
wet
puppy

春風の重い扉だ

spring wind’s
heavy door

月が冷い音落とした

the moon let fall
a cold sound

水音、冬が来ている

sound of water,
winter is on its way

一人の灯をあかあかと点けている

one person’s light
brightly lit

立ち上がればよろめく星空

when I stand
staggering
starry night

焼け跡のにごり水流れる

muddy water flows
from the burned out rubble

風ひたひたと走り去る人の廊下

wind rushes
down
the corridor

月明かり、青い咳する

moonlight,
pale coughing

冬の長い影おとして歩く

winter’s long shadow
falls
and
moves

NOTES:

Sumitaku Kenshin (1961-1987) was the pen-name of Sumitaku Harumi (住宅春美).

In the seventies, he read a lot of poetry and books about religion and philosophy, and, interested in Buddhism, he started taking correspondence courses through the Central Buddhism Academy (中央仏教学院) in 1982. After completing the coursework the following year, he became a monk at Nishihongan Temple (西本願寺), where he changed his name to Kenshin.

In 1984, he was hospitalized with acute myelocytic leukemia (急性骨髄性白血病). Four months later, his wife gave birth to a son, but, because her husband’s illness was incurable, she soon divorced him at the request of her parents, and Kenshin took responsibility for the boy and began raising him in his hospital room.

That October, he discovered free-form haiku, and he decided to start writing his own. He was especially fond of the work of Ozaki Hosai.

In 1985, Kenshin self-published The Experimental Notebook (試作帳), but his condition grew worse over the next year.

At 11:23 p.m. on February 7, 1987, Kenshin passed away. He was 25 years old. Although he was a haiku poet for less than three years, he left behind 281 poems. The year after his death, a collection of his work, Unfinished (未完成), was published.

All poems translated here were found at kaishi-haiku.com.