Four Japanese Poets in English Translation



AIZAWA Keizō 相澤啓三    

From The Scissors of the Flesh 『肉の鋏』:

The Boys Recline   「時には雷鳥の肉のごとく白く」  
With flesh sometimes as white as a grouse
With flesh sometimes as red as a turtledove
My broad pillar supports
The table for a feast
My heavy hatchet swings
Into these sacrificial birds
Breaks and scatters their soft feathers
Over unthinking, virginal bodies
The white extract of life
That pours from me in such abundance
Rains in a benediction of mellow wine
Over their rising scent and cries of distress
Though my hatchet glistens with a blinding light
At times it moves as tenderly
As the gentle flesh of a thrush

           Translated by Jeffrey Angles

FUKUSHIMA Yasuki 福島泰樹    

Eight tanka   短歌(八首)  
The woman yesterday
Who in the course of events
Just fell asleep in her seat
Showed her thighs
Brazen and white

Oh Lenin,
Our comrade!
Your pomade has melted
And gotten into
My eyes!

The moonlight
Of late autumn which
Loves your eyes and breasts
Fills every nook of the
Glass windowpane

Cheat the villagers and
Betray your parents
Just like you were
In the moonlight

Just like that…
My thoughts of the flesh
Have been cut off,
Severed so
Absurdly soon!

Ah yes, I remember …
The way the pale light
Of the moon
Struck your breast
With feigned innocence

Your back against the door
You clad yourself
In armor ––
Midnight on November 23,
The month of frost

Dadaism, a dead cat still?
Whatever . . .
The evenings
This autumn      
Pass by without meaning

           Translated by Jeffrey Angles

Yuko Minamikawa Adams 南川優子    

from The way things were with Mr. Pophwell

Up to January 5, 2005   ==2005年1月5日まで==  
Mr. Pophwell

forbids the chameleon who comes every night to lick the painted pinky nails of the old couple canvassing Europe to help aid the search for employees of the cupid who shoots dead center on the egg yolk that wriggles in the sodden vision of the salary man who pokes his horns out of the cabbage that is boiled when the anger of the mop reaches its peak at three am to go out.

Up to September 7, 1998   ==1998年9月7日まで==  
Mr. Pophwell

mends, at dawn, the seams of the tuxedo worn by the biwa minstrel who jams with the water current in the Japanese-style toilet where the daily morning bath is taken by the sparrow who brings a whistle to the police station that was dropped from the pocket of a child-member of the CIA who schemes all kinds of things in the monthly parking lot that supports the retirement of Mickey Mouse who puts a stamp on the sumo wrestler who has entrapped a floating device with a helpless sinking feeling and sends him out in the mail.

Mr. Pophwell   ポフウェル氏は、  
lays the smoke of dry ice in the sleeve of the conductor managing traffic, and irons the snow collecting upon the scent of a Taisho era romanticism that invites for a nap the seat-cushion that hugs Neptune who has been surrounded and threatened by a gang of popcorn that bursts open the suckers of a dropped octopus with the dry chapped lips of a stage mom who gives a Spartan education to her children.

Up to May 15, 2000   ==2000年5月15日まで==  
Mr. Pophwell

confiscates the porn videos from the closet of our Creator who observes with a telescope the school of bottle-nosed dolphins that swim playfully in the wanted ads of the newspaper that thrusts its anger upon the comb that splits seventy-thirty the sea breeze which admires the dissolute lifestyle of the chest hairs that entangle with the concerns of a ladybug meeting someone at a station forsaken by the train.

          Translated by Sawako Nakayasu

TAKAHASHI Mutsuo 高橋睦郎    

Three Poems from Imagines Itineris: Travel Pictures 『旅の絵』

Travel   羇旅  

The landscape has been defiled
Both the Andalusian spring
And the autumn on Mt. Tado
Have lost the purity of their landscapes –
This is the long-standing lament
Of we travelers who come
Carrying canvases on our backs
Easels over our shoulders
And bearing walking canes
If we fail to begin by washing
The surface of the landscape
Like devoted restorationists
If we fail to first find pure water
Will we lose ourselves wandering
In the search for that water
On the path as narrow and dark
As the flow of blood within us?
Will we climb to the source
That spring where shadows copiously overflow?
The source is in the forest of our skulls
A spot just behind our eyes
Where our troubled journey
Will come to a close
And begin again
As we wash our eyes
And our paintbrushes

          Translated by Jeffrey Angles

The Architect's Nephew, The Architect   建築家の甥  

Our nephew, the architect,
Has an uncle who is an architect
He is extremely short yet
His buildings are all extremely tall
After building many tall buildings
He went into the mountains and began building a city
A short city that matched his own stature
A city with extremely short shrines
Extremely short libraries and
Extremely short theatres
During construction, he went to sleep
Got up, pulled a skylight closed
And never showed his short, retreating figure there again
His sister's son came instead since his sister's son,
The nephew of an architect, was an architect as well
Hanging his head, he began to knead the gravel
The architect's nephew, the architect, has not married
Does the unmarried nephew of the architect
Himself have a nephew who is the nephew of an architect?
Must the architect's nephew, the architect who has no nephew,
Forever be the nephew of the architect?
The short architect's nephew is tall
He crouches, shrinks, and makes his way through
The space between the short buildings
Crouching, shrinking, he prepares for bed
We creep into that bed
And dream the dreams of the architect
Who is the uncle of the nephew, the architect
In the dream, he becomes his nephew's nephew
The nephew of the tall nephew of the dreamer who was so short
Is as short as the dreamer himself
For the short dreamer and short dreamer's tall nephew
The short nephew of the tall nephew of the short dreamer
Continues building the short city
That is the destiny of the dreamer, his nephew,
And his nephew's nephew

           Translated by Jeffrey Angles

The Architect of the Philosophical Garden   哲学的な庭造り  

Our nephew, the architect,
Has a friend who landscapes gardens
He came from a continent
Beyond three seas
He believes the seas he traversed
Are three ponds in this garden
That we call the world
He lends a hand
To his friend, our nephew the architect,
And also to his friend's uncle,
Another architect whom he has not met
The garden that he must complete
Is nothing other than
The three seas and the world he crossed
The largest things are the smallest
And then again
The smallest things are the greatest
In the world there is a garden
And within this garden is the world
He stands in the middle of the garden
At the same time
He stands outside the world

          Translated by Jeffrey Angles