Haiku by Ikeda Sumiko (池田澄子)

little Taku’s
first calligraphy this year
a giant oval

拓チャンの書初め大いなる楕円

fig trees
or gods or buddha
never seen them

無花果や神も仏も見たことなし

moonlit pillar
if you want to bloom
be my guest

月の夜の柱よ咲きたいならどうぞ

under cherry blossoms
if they fall
I do not wait for it

桜の下散るか散るまで待てません

she is prettier
than I am
the tubifex worm

私より彼女が綺麗糸みみず

All poems originally appeared in Japanese at the Gendai Haiku Association Database (http://www.haiku-data.jp/).

死んだらそれでサヨウナラ/When I Die, Then That’s Goodbye by Usagi

When I Die, Then That’s Goodbye
Lyrics: Mariko Goto

When I die, stop the clock
and wind it back to when we were together
Sometimes we fought, sometimes we laughed
I still think about those days we spent together

When I die, turn off the light
so I won’t see you crying,
“It’s cruel being left behind”
so I won’t see you crying alone

The evening sun flickers red on the face of the water
A lonely cat’s corpse–“Found it,” I laughed–and
the light came shining down

When I die, will someone please
swap out that one string on my red guitar?
It’s a good guitar with a few quirks
Could someone swap out that string for me?

The light came shining down

When I die, forget about me
It’s okay if you hold hands with someone I don’t know
but just remember me a little bit
Just remember the day I died

When I die and many years have passed,
I know you’ll forget about me
but just remember me a little bit
Just remember the day I died

The evening sun flickers red on the face of the water
A lonely cat’s corpse reminds me of someone
The light came shining down

When I die . . .

NOTES: Mariko Goto, famous for her work with the Japanese punk rock band Midori, started out as vocalist and guitarist of Usagi (Rabbit). Thanks to Andrew White for pointing me in the direction of Usagi’s album. Great find. Original Japanese lyrics below.

 『死んだらそれでサヨウナラ』
 詩・曲 後藤まり子

 
 僕が死んだら時計をとめて
 君と2人で過ごした時に戻そう
 たまにケンカをして笑いあっていた
 2人で過ごした日々を今も覚えてる

 僕が死んだら明かりを消して
 君の泣く姿を見ずにおこう
 「残されるのはツライから」と
 1人で泣く君の姿を見ずにおこう

 夕方の赤は 水面に揺れる揺れる
 寂しげな猫の死骸 「見つけた」 笑う そして
 キラキラと光って落ちてった

 僕が死んだら赤いギターの
 弦は一体誰が変えてくれるのか
 ちょっと癖のあるいいヤツだから
 誰かあいつをかわいがってやってくれ

 キラキラと光って落ちてった

 僕が死んだら早く忘れて
 僕の知らない誰かと手をとりあえばいい でも
 ちょっとくらいは覚えててよ
 僕の死んだ日くらいは覚えててよ

 僕が死んで何年か過ぎたら
 君は僕の事を忘れてしまうだろう でも
 ちょっとくらいは覚えててよ
 僕が死んだ日くらいは覚えててよ

 夕方の赤は 水面に揺れる揺れる
 寂しげな猫の死骸 誰かに似ている それは
 キラキラと光って落ちてった

 僕が死んだら...。

Six Tanka by Kinoshita Shunsuke (木下竣介)

being alive
a little longer
than I
my clone goes
to the sea today

* * *

when they’re born
I will name my children
whatever names
are most popular
that year

* * *

I am marrying someone
who has carried the burden
of not fitting in with the times,
and the ceremony will be
before the first snowfall

* * *

I’ve often dreamed
that I owned a pet dolphin

but even after
I let the dolphin die
my dreams were very long

* * *

so many
memories are slaughtered
by needs

get me up
in five minutes

* * *

if you come
of course
I’ll be happy
and if you don’t come
I’ll still be happy

ぼくよりも少しだけ長く生きてゆくぼくのクローンが今日、海へ行く

いつか産む僕の子どもの名前にはその年いちばんよくある名前を

時代にそくしていない苦しみを抱えたひとと結婚する、雪が降る前に式をあげる

いるかを飼う夢をよく見た いつだって死なせた後からが長い夢だった

こんなにもたくさんの思い出を屠殺する必要がある あと五分たったら起こして

もし君が来たならもちろん嬉しいし来なかったならそれも嬉しい

Note: Poems originally published in the Japanese literary anthology Musica, vol. 2 (January 2015).

Six Tanka by Sato Manatsu (佐藤真夏)

a drop of water
softly broke
on my fingertip
into my band-aid
loneliness soaked

so that it can
disappear entirely
from this world
inside your breast
the new moon sleeps

the feeling
of touching
a cold window
in the middle of the night
kiss and cry (repeat)

when it’s time to go
my sense of security
is thrown into confusion
this is what we wanted
our ending given shape

just so you’ll
forgive me
I hold up my hands
in the flames of war
I hear a music box

that morning
was fragile like the flame
of a candle
tightly holding on
recklessly flickering

水滴をそっとつぶした指先のバンドエイドに染み込む孤独

この世から消えてしまったかのようにあなたの胸で眠る新月

真夜中の冷たい窓に触れている気がしたキスアンドクライ(リピート)

行くときの安心感にうろたえるふたりが求めた終りの形

許されるためだけに手を上げている戦火の中で聴くオルゴール

それはろうそくの火に似た脆い朝でした抱きしめるはずみでゆれて

NOTE: All poems originally appeared in the Japanese literary anthology Musica, vol. 2 (January 2015).

Eight Haiku by Miki Motoshi (三木基史)

this injury
lets me take a break
from swimming lessons

fireflies
seated
demolition workers

I take a look
behind the crematorium
ladybugs

because of the rain
my true intentions
are not revealed

coffee
mixed only with
amaryllis

spending all day
with the goldfish
thin dust

the palm of my hand
I leave open
for the fireflies

summer moon
from somewhere
the screech of fish

水泳の授業を休むための傷

夏蝶や坐る解体作業員

火葬場の裏見てきたる天道虫

夕立のせいで本音が出てこない

珈琲に付き合うだけのアマリリス

終日を金魚と過ごす薄埃

てのひらを蛍のためにあけておく

夏の月どこかで魚の軋む音

NOTES: Poems originally published in the Japanese literary anthology Musica, vol. 2 (January 2015).

夏蝶, literally “summer butterfly,” seems to be a name that is pronounced “Hotaru,” which is the word for “firefly” (usually written 蛍). I am not sure how Miki meant this to be translated, but I decided to go with “fireflies” because of the pronunciation. It could also be translated: “Hotaru / seated / demolition worker” or, perhaps, “summer butterflies / seated / demolition workers.” My guess is that “hotaru” means “fireflies” in this case, indicating the summer (being the seasonal word, or 季語, in the haiku).

Five Haiku by Kosaka Akira (高坂明良)

people, people, people,
peeling off the thin skin
of autumn

frozen crane
there are nights spent waiting
on one leg

I blinked
and for a moment entered
the cosmos

here’s a box
I wish I could make it overflow
with roses

I forget everything
standing beneath
the cherry blossoms

人、人、人、秋のうす皮を剥き合う

凍鶴の片足で待つ夜があり

まばたき宇宙が少し入った

箱がある薔薇で溢れさせたい

すべて忘れて桜の下にいる

NOTES: Poems originally published in the Japanese literary anthology Musica, vol. 2 (January 2015).