Monday, 19 July 2010

tinged with blood


Under the plane trees,
young women are passing by,
upon their eyelids
is a colour tinged with blood.
Summer has surely arrived.

Kenkichi Nakamura




Sunday, 11 July 2010

and if i...

none of the roads i knew led to him.
the doors wouldn't open,
they didn't seem to be closed, either.

one of the old masters said:
'To learn bamboo painting,
take a branch of bamboo
and let its shadow fall upon a white wall
on a moonlit night,
then the true shape of the bamboo will emerge.'

and if i took one of his gestures -
those gestures detached of whatever
they were supposed to hold,
for which i was unable to find a name -
and let its shadow fall upon the white skin
of my moonlit night,
would then, oh master Kuo Hsi,
the true shape of his absence emerge?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

a jar

A Jar
I want to love a jar.
O jar, that arises in the calmness of my heart!

You have nothing in you.
Your emptiness!

O jar, my heart
strangely trembles
calling you, “My jar.”

Jūkichi Yagi
Tr. William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura

i had thought 'my jar' in the last line to be suspicious as soon as i saw this translation, and sure enough, going back to the Japanese original confirmed it: there is no 'my' in Japanese, a language which practically never uses pronouns (some linguists argue there are no pronouns in Japanese, at least not what we call 'pronoun' in Indo-European languages) and which values most the qualities of ambiguity/indirectness/indetermination/vagueness.

Thursday, 1 July 2010


i cannot set the sky ablaze for you.
i am neither the sun of poetry nor its mystery
(as for centuries many have claimed).
but i can set my roses ablaze for you
and the word 'roses'
and the silence of its burning
once more
until the emptiness is filled
with all the roses that have ever been
and all the roses that might ever be.
(no emptiness can ever contain the roses
that should have been -
only my body, ablaze).