The Street Fair

Sagawa Chika
Japanese
1911 – 1936

 

A cloud has collapsed on the pavement
Like the horse’s white struggle for air

Night, screaming and shouting into the darkness
Arrives with the intention of murdering time

Wearing a mask plated with light beams
Lining up single-file from the window

People moan in their dreams
And fall from sleep to an even deeper sleep

There, a stem that has gone pale
Like an exhausted despair

Supports the tall sky
An empty city with neither roads nor stars

My thinking is to escape
That pitch-black metal house

Steal away the glimmer of pistons
And smoldering embers of noise

Retreat into a shallow ocean
Collide, get battered to the ground

Lines Composed while Feasting Censor He on a Day in Autumn

Xue Susu
Chinese
c. 1564 – c. 1650

 

Inside the city walls of stone in the pleasure quarter
I feel deeply mortified that my talents outshine all the others
The river glitters, the waters clear, and the seagulls swim in pairs
The sky looks hollow, the clouds serene, and the wild geese fly in rows
My embroidered dress partly borrows the hue of hibiscus
The emerald wine shares the scent of lotus
If I did not reciprocate your feelings
Would I dare to feast with you, Master He?

The Soundless Girl

We present this work in honor of the 10th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Eriko Kishida
Japanese
1929 – 2011

 

There was a clever boy. When he’d leave off whistling, he would examine the far distance with a pair of binoculars. When he grew tired of the binoculars, he would play with a tape-recorder. Or at times he would examine a girl with his binoculars and record the sounds she made on the tape-recorder, as he whistled the tune “I Love Your Eyes.” Her mind was more tender than he’d expected, and seemed to ripple. Her lips were unopened buds, so nothing ask! And her ears—ah, there was no sound. The clever boy took notes.

One day there was a strange girl there. Let me explain in what way she was strange. Her footsteps were the road’s footsteps, the sound of her running was the sound of the wind running. So when the girl ate an apricot, there was the sound of the apricot eating her. When the girl swam, the sea came for a swim. The boy wondered, then, which was real? Which sound he should tape-record? What if the girl should like me? The boy was suddenly afraid. The boy by then already liked the girl. I think you know what comes next. The boy stopped taking notes. He put his ear to the girl’s ear. And—ah, there was a sound. This ear—ah, it’s my sound! the boy said.

Concerning Wings

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 85th birthday.

Shūji Terayama
Japanese
1935 – 1983

 

When a bird flies
it uses its wings
but when you fly
what do you use?

I think I would stand at the highest point
of a building just as the sun is setting
Could I fly with Alain’s On Happiness?
Could I fly with Mozart’s Jupiter?
Could I fly with
my love for her?

Facing the distant sunset
both arms spread out
I am forever
caught in my own despair

The Keepsake

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 175th birthday.

Yone Noguchi
Japanese
1875 – 1947

 

Love faded away, the keepsake she left me is these children, three or four.
I eat, I sleep… it’s all the same today as yesterday.
The clock strikes one at midnight,
I spring up, I straighten a quilt over the sleeping children by my side.

Love faded away, true love will return to me never again…
Love faded away before I grasped her tight.
But what’s that ?—the clock goes on striking.

Love faded away, the rats in the ceiling gnaw a pillar,
My life too is bitten by a tough chap called Time…
There’s tomorrow, there’s tomorrow, things will be done tomorrow…
I ask myself, what’s that tomorrow you speak about?

The houses stand like the teeth of a comb,
I build in one of them my own nest,
And gaze at the keepsake Love left me.

Life Infinite

We present this work in honor of the Japanese holiday, Labor Thanksgiving Day.

Shinkichi Takahashi
Japanese
1901 – 1987

 

Beyond words,
this no-thingness within,
Which I’ve become.
So to remain
Only one thing’s needed:
Zen sitting.
I think, breathe with my whole body – Marvellous.
The joy’s so pure,
It’s beyond lovemaking, anything.
I can see, live anywhere, everywhere.
I need nothing, not even life.

Under the Lantern

We present this work in honor of the Japanese holiday, Autumnal Equinox Day.

Fumiko Hayashi
Japanese
1903 – 1951

 

If you give me ten cups of King of Kings to drink
I shall throw you a kiss
ah, what a pitiful waitress I am.

Outside the blue window, rain falls like drops of cut glass
under the light of the lantern
all has turned to wine.

Is Revolution the wind blowing north…?
I’ve spilled the wine
opening my red mouth over the spill on the table
I belch fire.

Shall I dance in my blue apron?
“Golden Wedding,” or “Caravan”
tonight’s dance music….

Still three more cups to go
How’m I doing? you ask
I’m just fine
although I’m a nice girl
a really nice girl
I scatter my feelings
generously like cut flowers
among petty pigs of men.
Ah, is Revolution the wind blowing north…”