august, 2016

otata 8

Lorin Ford, Jeannie Martin, vincent tripi, John Levy, Scott Watson, Cherie Hunter Day, Andrea Cecon, Hansha Teki, Scott Metz, Tom Montag, Helen Buckingham, Mike Montreuil

Ξ

selections from Haijin Italia, 41

Alberto Baroni, Angela Lombardozzi, Angiola Inglese, Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo, Corrado Aiello, Cristina Zabai, Elisa Bernardinis, Ezio Infantino, Fabrizio Pecchioni, Francesco Palladino, Giovanna Gioia, Giuliana Ravaglia, Kyoko Bengala, Marco Viviani, Maria Malferrari, Nazarena Rampini, Ubaldo Busolin, Vicenzo Campobasso

Ξ

Scott Watson —Two pieces on Santoka

Ξ

otata’s bookshelf

Kim Dorman, After Sankara

Dorman cover

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tokonoma

Color

       Thirty years old, he had for some time been in love with a vacant lot. A ground of moss, on it broken bricks, fragments of roof tile. but in his eyes a landscape by Cezanne.
He remembered his passions of eight years ago. That seven or eight years ago he hadn’t understood color, he realized now.

AkutagawaA Fools Life

Will Petersen, Trans.

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Ξ 

 

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Lorin Ford

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sparrows in the atrium all Vivaldi

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floodwaters rising
the bush nurse’s lamp
in her window

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petrified forest
the long vowels
of my bones

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backstreet shadows
a long-legged spider
climbing my spine

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Ξ 
 

 

Jeannie Martin

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how lonely
a life
without eggs

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crowded subway
the space
between us

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talk of death
we move
into the shade

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Ξ 
 

 

vincent tripi

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Ah! a perfect spring-summer-autumn-winter-day

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no perfect place no perfect place no perfect place to

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park wooden bench woodpecker knows me

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eagle higher & higher & higher who am I?

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Ξ 

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John Levy

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pretend I’m not here time says
time the ventriloquist

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trees
dream
time

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time
dreams
trees

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time’s
dream
trees

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trees’
dream
time

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she holds his hand while he has one
finger on that (his) hand in his mouth in
public they stand under a clock

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childhood’s faucet
led way back to the dark
and brought one bright drop

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above his black polished shoes the professionally
lettered sign the aging man sitting on the curb
holds up reads THE END IS AT HAND while he
looks down we stream past

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young couple leans against the railing that
separates them from the cage in the zoo, their
backs to the pacing animals they chat

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PUSH the little girl downtown who just learned how
to read reads on a door that she stands
completely still before

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thinking he’s alone it seems in the zoo
he finally begins talking through the bars
to the bear

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the panhandler’s pitch
on cardboard to baseball fans outside
Chase Field DEMENTIA PLEASE HELP while within
a star delivers another at 92 miles per hour

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one tree in the middle of the city
one city rising up through the roots
no      leaves

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young guy holds his young girl’s hand on the
crowded city street as he studies his face in
a store’s plate glass while she studies nothing

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unrequited
firmament

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Ξ 
 

 

Scott Watson

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When you can’t
be in the mountains
here’s the wine

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A week under
heavy snow mint
fresh as daisy.

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This love now on
a dark night with
no moon and no
definition but this
dark night’s love.

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Hearing a neighbor’s vacuum cleaner autumn sky

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A universe’s
loneliness is
me too even
asking what’s
for dinner.

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Cupping you
these hands
mountain stream

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Myth is where
we’re all from
a frog croaks no
fabrication.

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Opening
shutters
to dawn.
A thin
snow
smiling
your song
is here.

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Up in the sky radiation
from Fukushima meets
radiation from Chernobyl.
“Hi! How’s business?”

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Reading
poems
I lose
my way
finding

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Ξ 
 

 

Cherie Hunter Day

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twisted cedar protecting our fictions

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blue rubs off words on the page

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the white joinery of whorled wood asters

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rapture—
the cicada shells
left behind

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tidal bay the softer side of us

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wild hive the night not dark enough

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summer within the gears of the lily

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Ξ 
 

 

Andrea Cecon

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Ukrainian vodka the aftertaste of regrets

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longest days
my brother’s
punctuation

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zen garden
my thoughts
secured

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Ξ 

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Hansha Teki

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sanctuary light
my shadow settles back
into itself

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noumenal night . . .
a new moon obsesses
all over me

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changeling child
true blood of my blood
full of night

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all at sea
a wind-tossed path
laid bare

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gathering storm
we birds keep singing
until we wake

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each breath
left justified
in the air

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frost-fresh
the air still to be
breathed into

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filtered light –
yes! I can hardly bear
this world’s beauty

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clouds there
moon-gouged into
the night

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she died
eels slipping through
a grasp
of words

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you are here
where light
ends

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listening
into word-
lessness

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dusk-light still
everything in flow
and ever-go

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Ξ 
 

 

Scott Metz

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could have been
a pinecone
for all i know

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seeking rose
tinted feathers
the gull climbs

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burning the money god a smaller one

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yes you can open the door with a flower stem

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—as if someone burned perfumed letters yesterday,

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and then, at the end,
she discovers
her mother was a robot

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now it’s the rain’s raw meat

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shaped by the rain shaped by the sea child’s hunger

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gulls settling around us ashes from a different fire

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the driftwood mouths a single prayer a single cloud

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the universe expands a little bit more cherry blossoms

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i toss my old teeth into the sea too late words

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flowers
among
the pulled

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weeds
for birds
to use

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for
nests

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she
notes

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i put the wind in a folder and upload it onto a cloud drive

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Ξ 
 

 

Tom Montag

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THIS WISDOM

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One must
engage the stone
to understand.

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Even water
knows what
loss is.

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The heart
of the sun is
a hole

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in the sky.
The hawk dives.
Something dies.

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We all sing
the same song.

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THE MOMENT

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is
the moment,

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no
poet

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in the way.

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LANDSCAPE

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As if our walking
the landscape

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makes a difference,
an empty wind.

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WAITING

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is the place to
put down roots.

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THE SOUND

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If I say my poems
the sound is nothing

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like the wind in them.

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Ξ 
 

 

Helen Buckingham

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repositioning his biopsy smile

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through the cloud a mouthless moon

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poison garden
exits are here
here and here

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Ξ 
 

 

Mike Montreuil

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just like
the old days
shovelling gravel
lit cigarette
dangling

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Ξ 
 

 

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Poets from Haijin Italia, 41

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Alberto Baroni

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Sulla corteccia
di un mandarino in fiore —
segni d’amore

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in the bark
of the flowering orange tree
scars of love

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Angela Lombardozzi

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Solitudine —
la luce del tramonto
nella tisana

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Solitude —
light of dusk
in the infusion

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Angiola Inglese

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Notte di stelle —
sul viola dell’ibisco
la prima lucciola

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Starry night —
the first firefly
in the hibiscus

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Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo

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Verde odoroso
Il piovasco sprigiona
essenze estive

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Fragrant green
the rain releases
summer’s essence

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Corrado Aiello

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Incontri estivi:
frequenti pizzicori
invisibili

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summer encounters:
frequent invisible
tinglings

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Cristina Zabai

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Calar del sole —
le cicale lasciano
il palco ai grilli

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Sun’s heat —
cicadas leave the stage
to the crickets

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Elisa Bernardinis

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Bora di luglio
i rami degli aceri
non si oppongono

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July’s north wind —
the maple branches
don’t resist

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Ezio Infantino

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Schiuma di birra
Chiaro di luna steso
su un campo di orzo

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foam on the beer
the moon’s clarity spreads
over a barley field

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Fabrizio Pecchioni

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Sguardo al cielo —
la tazza vuota del te
nelle mie mani.

Dove vanno a cadere
tutte quante le stelle?

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I look at the sky
an empty teacup
in my hands.
Where are all those stars
going to fall?

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Francesco Palladino

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Occhiali a specchio —
da cetonia a cetonia
nella calura

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mirrored sunglasses
metallic beetle to metallic beetle
in the heat

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* cetonia, the rose chafer

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Giovanna Gioia

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Fiocco di neve
il canto del cuculo
sul ramo spoglio

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A snowflake
the cuckoo’s song
on a bare branch

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Giuliana Ravaglia

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Quiete sul fiume:
il profumo dei monti
sull’acqua chiara

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The river’s quiet —
the mountains’ perfume
on clear waterh

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Kyoko Bengala

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Le primi viole:
torna a profumare
vecchia teiera.
nel vapore che sale
uno spicchio di luna

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The first violets —
again the old teapot
releases its perfume
a slice of moon
in the rising steam

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Marco Viviani

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Rondini e brezza
Lascio la strada fatta
sotto le suole

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Swallows and a gust
I leave the pavement
under my feet

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Maria Malferrari

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Bosco di luna
Il canto del cuculo
lento si spegne

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Lunar woods
the cuckoo’s song
fades slowly

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Nazarena Rampini

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Nuvole scure —
il vento porta in alto
i gelsomini

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Dark clouds
wind lifts up
the jasmine flowers

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Ubaldo Busolin

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Primo mattino.
Un’estate fiorita
scende dall’auto

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The first morning —
flowery summer steps
out of the car

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Vincenzo Campobasso

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Nascoste a tutti
friniscon le cicale
sui verdi agrumi

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Hidden from all
cicadas chirp in green
citrus trees

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Vincenzo Campobasso

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Nascoste a tutti
friniscon le cicale
sui verdi agrumi

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Hidden from all
cicadas chirp in green
citrus trees

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Ξ 

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Scott Watson — Two pieces on Santoka

SantokaZen

Santōka- Towards a Fuller View

 

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Ξ 

.

~otata’s bookshelf~

Dorman cover

Kim Dorman — After Sankara

To order a print copy click here

..

Ξ 
 

..

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Otata will come again
one day
late fall in the mountains

— Santoka as translated by Burton Watson

Otata mo aru hi wa kite kureru yama no aki fukaku

As Watson notes, “Otata was a woman who went around selling fish in the area of Santoka’s cottage in Matsuyama.”

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

july, 2016

otata 7

 

 

Giselle Maya, Susan Diridoni, Stephen Toft, Elmedin Kadric, Christina Sng,
Malcolm Ritchie, Don Wentworth, Adam Rosenkranz,
Malintha Perera, John Perlman, Kim Dorman

 

tokonoma

 

What can I say about the emptiness and freedom into whose door I entered for that half-minute, which was enough for a lifetime, because it was a new life altogether? There is nothing with which to compare it. I could call it nothingness, but it is an infinitely fruitful freedom, to lack all things and to lack my self in the fresh air of that happiness that seems to be above all modes of being. Don’t let me build any more walls around it, or I will shut myself out.

 

—Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

Giselle Maya

 

 

 

old window closed
with tiles and stones
a pigeon’s perch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

early morning my wish to breathe all of it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

invisible now a step not taken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 solstice days      the spring’s slow trickle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stray cat’s loyal gaze      waiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cyclamen blossoms from winter to summer solstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a white poppy lights up the talus midsummer dusk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nowhere a straight line mountain village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cat lingers on window sill bird-watching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

an eye of the earth Walden seen from a cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

old gloves to pick nettles for a summer soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tiger swallowtail finding the yellow iris transplanted

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Susan Diridoni

 

 

 

 

my fingers grow
     lacy-leafed and blossoming
          Hades behind me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the night’s song lullaby-free simmering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

single-file fateful losses flattening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

filial lyrics underlie the walls empyrean deep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer magnolia buds entwined with eulogies

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Stephen Toft

 

 

 

workmen
staring into a ditch…
winter stars

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Elmedin Kadric

 

 

 

the stars the breeze our handouts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thistle seeds
an undisclosed
sum of money

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

because she said so persimmons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

being
a penniless
pocket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

one foot ahead of the other ant

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Christina Sng

 

 

 

forest cottage
a fawn wanders into
the living room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

interconnected the snow and I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Malcolm Ritchie

 

 

 

the best graffiti
make holes in walls

 

the best poems
make holes in time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

two old crows
working the sky
between them

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

these trout
are propelling the river
with their fins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on a tideless beach i found
a tsunami-size tear
containing the salt
of all the
planet’s grief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sound of electricity
like a dead leaf
dragging itself across the ground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siberia (with apologies to William Blake)

 

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
in the forest
of the Taiga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Mer (with apologies to Stevie Smith)

 

the sea is waving
not drowning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the thrush in my ear
has already built her nest
in my heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when the Amazonian man was asked
where is mind
he pointed to the rain forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the daises at my feet
will close tonight
as the stars at my head
will open

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a small bird
like a feathered arrow
straight to the heart
of a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when the saw bites
at one end of the forest
the trees at the other
are already tense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pair of eagles in the glen
like two hands for
this sudden thunderclap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

old windowpanes stained
with the memories
of vanished landscapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

starlight keenly hones
the blade
of this
sickle moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

air within itself
still
like empty mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

heron dipping her kimono
sleeves into the kimono
sleeves of the loch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

why should i care about
my reputation
when even my purse
insults me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hardly any light left
but still the cuckoo calls
and Venus and i
stare at one another

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it may be that when we die
we’ll find ourselves in a field
with all the animals we’ve ever
eaten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when a wise man
remains silent
he can be mistaken for
a fool

 

when a fool
remains silent
he can be mistaken for
a wise man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

could a pine needle playback
the heartbreak song
recorded in the stump
of a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

animals and birds
see right through us
to our deadly human hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the evening sky is
rooking over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my favourite old overcoat
seems to wear it coatness
like a coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heron

 

at the shoreline
all legs and bill
the body
just a rumour of smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politicians

 

men slowly poisoned
through having to eat
their own words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

after the storm
only sky
left standing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Museum

 

two Korean moon jars
each full enough
for a moon

somehow the day
has fallen into the loch
i can see it
lying there

how is it the moon
can resist
this river’s heavy flow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the hare is in the loch again
in her silver-white
coracle

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Don Wentworth

 

 

 

need pulling
up one last time
his socks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

purple iris
bending as it blooms
employee handbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dusting
not polishing his shoes
retirement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rehearsing satori mockingbird moments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

signpost
abandoned town –
3rd star, 2nd right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

drab winter season with curry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clack clack clack
after the puppet show
the old stage trunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hitting my shoulder
with a deepening presence
white pear petal

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Adam Rosenkranz

 

 

 

Angkor Wat

 

Covered by tourists,
Attacked by shadows,
Sold out by mind reform,
A bird fleeing, flying out
Of the huge head,
Looking for less copious
Quarters as summer
Closes down its battles.
How many times
Have we called it a night?
I have to live
With all the books I’ve never read
And the places I’ve never been.
The summer wakes up,
Sings of too much growth!
We all make careers
Of being elsewhere.

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Malintha Perera

 

 

 

to whom
to tell
wild blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

violets and lilies
how many more lives
together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

not caring
       where I come from
              white blossoms

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

John Perlman

 

 

 

June deluge
flattens the tuft of
a titmouse at the feeder
a sunflower seed clinched in
its beak for the urgent flight to
feed its stormbound nestlings
squealing in a tree nearby
in the flooded yard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

white cat trails & and stalks our
stroll thru dark up the sand
lane under pine into
an open field

 

Geminids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

each week with a quarter turn
at the eastern window the

 

jade tree pivots slow
dancer balanced

 

on the braided
beams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sky darkens
with approaching
rain matrix of
bird’s songs
swells

 

each at a just remove the
clockwise soloing reaches
the singer closest
to the porch

 

who plays
a bold new riff on
the general descant  :

 

that One’s
showing
off   !

 

laugh to
hear our
words sing

 

instantaneous

 

duet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in their long
hopeless war with
silence the crickets
feebly chant the
muted dirge of
the doomed
command

 

in the cold
old older
than

 

song

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Kim Dorman

 

 

 

Things return,
unguided. What was
planted, even in
the dark,
grows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[daybook]

 

Five o’clock sun
strikes the balcony, bright
on glass,

 

clothes draped
to dry on the railing,
banana leaves & their
shadows nod.

 

Blue sky.
A warbler’s voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Otata will come again
one day
late fall in the mountains

— Santoka as translated by Burton Watson

Otata mo aru hi wa kite kureru yama no aki fukaku

As Watson notes, “Otata was a woman who went around selling fish in the area of Santoka’s cottage in Matsuyama.”

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

june, 2016

otata 6

 

 

vincent tripi, Hansha Teki, John Levy,
Alegria Imperial, Ivan Randall, Ken Sawitri, Helen Buckingham,
Kim Dorman, Johannes S.H. Bjerg

 

tokonoma

 

As I was desirous to recover the long lost bottom of Walden Pond, I surveyed it carefully, before the ice broke up, early in ’46, with compass and chain and sounding line. There have been many stories told about the bottom, or rather no bottom, of this pond, which certainly had no foundation for themselves. It is remarkable how long men will believe in the bottomlessness of a pond without taking the trouble to sound it. I have visited two such Bottomless Ponds in one walk in this neighborhood. Many have believed that Walden reached quite through to the other side of the globe. Some who have lain flat on the ice for a long time, looking down through the illusive medium, perchance with watery eyes into the bargain, and driven to hasty conclusions by the fear of catching cold in their breasts, have seen vast holes “into which a load of hay might be driven,” if there were anybody to drive it, the undoubted source of the Styx and entrance to the Infernal Regions from these parts. Others have gone down from the village with a “fifty-six” and a wagon load of inch rope, but yet have failed to find any bottom; for while the “fifty-six” was resting by the way, they were paying out the rope in the vain attempt to fathom their truly immeasurable capacity for marvellousness. But I can assure my readers that Walden has a reasonably tight bottom at a not unreasonable, though at an unusual, depth. I fathomed it easily with a cod-line and a stone weighing about a pound and a half, and could tell accurately when the stone left the bottom, by having to pull so much harder before the water got underneath to help me. The greatest depth was exactly one hundred and two feet; to which may be added the five feet which it has risen since, making one hundred and seven. This is a remarkable depth for so small an area; yet not an inch of it can be spared by the imagination. What if all ponds were shallow? Would it not react on the minds of men? I am thankful that this pond was made deep and pure for a symbol. While men believe in the infinite some ponds will be thought to be bottomless.

 

— Thoreau

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

vincent tripi

 

 

 

old stone wall each in our place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

forgiveness —
the compost
close as i can get

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

between windmills
between butterflies
between breaths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eagle     no last names      sky

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Hansha Teki

 

 

 

darkness clings moving into it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nothing
overwhelmed with
more of it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nothing
en-worded
in the flesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

deadened
     low water laps
     old terrors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

without light alone lingers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

autumn leaves
            each day adazzle
      in doubt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by candle-light
words fall further than
                  where we end

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

John Levy

 

 

 

rubber bands close their claws, they
could use blindfolds too, these lobsters
near the Red Lobster’s cash register

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at dusk, quivering above the working frog voice
boxes a black bird rides the swaying
female cattail’s cylindrical spike of white wisp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in the cemetery with
tall evergreens
between which ravens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Alegria Imperial

 

 

 

cross legged

her bare knees attract

a flock of gulls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shortened hem
 a spillover of stargazers


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

through her eyelet wrap his sins for a year

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Ivan Randall

 

 

 

sickle moon sharpens time soon for harvest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

winter moon’s up
new room
tin cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

windowbox orchid orphan’s burgeoning pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

o winter beach her wit beacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the pain
of a red sunset
blood under my toenail

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Ken Sawitri

 

 

 

afternoon tea sipping a twisting world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

billboards
the dawn peeled
at a canned city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

boiled cabbage
I put today’s time on my diary
9:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

orphanage room
the iced glass window
mimics the dew

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Helen Buckingham

 

 

 

remove   last resort
  insert   addiction

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Kim Dorman

 

 

 

After Issa

 

 

 

one rice plot
all our house
can afford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

silent, aloof
he ignores
the flowers

 

Buddha’s Death Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

those moonlit
plum flowers tempt
me to steal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in shade

 

the shrine gathers
coins & a few
scattered petals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

just a warbler
singing to this
suffering world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

swept the garden
just to welcome
a warbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when it rains the
innkeeper also
shelters a horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a willow beckons
at the entrance to
a whorehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tea houses &
cherry trees bloom
overnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

must be a
holiday even
for rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

only a drop
or two—I guess
it’s over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer’s first
melon —the boy sleeps
holding it close

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

come, flies!
share in the year’s
first harvest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mosquitoes gone
now it’s time
for the old folks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that mosquito knows
I’m old & slow—
buzzes in my ear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the mosquito bites
a second time
& is silent

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

Johannes S.H. Bjerg

 

 

 

Lake

 

 

 

breathing
neither up
or down

 

            go to the lake
            watch the lake
            leave the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it was there
it disappeared
it was ploughed
it is there again

 

       and from the graveyard above
              the dead wash
               into the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

returning
by non-action

 

the lake
above
ground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

now it has water
now it has wind
the lake’s there there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at the foot of the holy hill
a body
of water

 

to stick a finger into

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it will float a leaf
      a duck
      a reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the lake
that went away
and came back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

without water
what’s
the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

an eye beneath heaven
full of clouds
of fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

before it had a name the lake was

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

not all the way around the foot path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at night
the lake is probably
there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on a poster
faded
possible
birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in spring
a coating
of hypothetical
trees
and you sigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there’s a bench
on a tongue of earth

 

is that closer
to the water

 

or?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that tongue of soil grass and trees pointing to where the geese feed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lickable
by a tongue
of land

 

the wet half
of the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on 3 sides cultured

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

close to the lake
furrows enlarge
its shape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dirt-snakes
headless

 

that’s
the furrows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the old ruin
bricks
on
bricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

if my navel
was an eye

 

it would see
only bricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

meandering

 

the foot path
for people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

see
the sun
‘s smaller

 

than
the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

throw a stone
into the lake
where the sun is

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on the far side
your shadow will lie
on the lake

 

dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

look at them
they’re light-proof
the coots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the wooden remains
of a house
up through it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

under the clouds
a lakeful
of waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a tooth more or less
that which makes up
a lake
doesn’t care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unleaving your mark
the bench by the reeds
sees you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

perhaps you’re a cloud
you think of buying
new shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in a dream
there’s water
and then
there’s water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cleaning ink pens
you listen
to the drain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lake I could draw you with water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a drop of ink in the water
the opposite
works too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there
and
there

 

vanishing
points

 

around
the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

no matter how hard you look
no place
for a straight line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

leave it as it is
is action
too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sometimes
it’s everything

 

tinnitus
and
lake

 

and
the missing
teeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that blue pill an echo of the lake?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

take that
the pill not
the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

between the ruin and the holy hill a lake again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you put your tongue out
not the earthen one
and stand upright

 

the lake greets you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the man with the dog
you without one
under trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

warm enough to wear Ozaki’s hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

varmt nok til at bære Ozaki’s hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

otata
appears at the end of the month.
Address correspondence to —
otatahaiku@gmail.com

may, 2016

otata 5

Quindici haijin italiani

Fifteen Italian Haiku poets

Andrea Cecon,  Angiola Inglese, Antonio Mangiameli, Francesco De Sabata, Gabriele Stella, Giacomo Vit, Leonardo Lazzari, Luca Cenisi, Marco Riccardi, Maria Teresa Piras, Marina Bellini, Maurizio Arena, Nazarena Rampini, Pasquale Asprea, Pietro Tartamella

tokonoma

IL MISTERO C’È, è in noi. Basta non dimenticarcene. Il mistero c’è, e col mistero, di pari passo, las misure; ma non la misura del mistero, cosa umanamente insensata; ma di qualche cosa che in un certo senso al mistero s’opponga, pure essendone per noi la manifestazione più alta: questo mondo terreno considerato come continua invenzione dell’uomo. Il punto d’appoggio sarà il mistero, e mistero è il soffio che circola in noi e ci anima; ma noi siamo portati a preoccuparci di quegli sviluppi che dànno situazione magari a un albero in un paesaggio; di quella trama di rapporti che non tollera spostamenti se non subendo un cambiamento di carattere. Perciò per noi l’arte avrà sempre un fondamento di predestinazione e di naturalezza; ma insieme avrà un carattere razionale, ammesse tutte le probabiltà e le complicazioni del calcolo: se avessi quattro invece di tre elementi, se capovolgessi l’ordine, se soffiasse un gran vento, ecc. … e se avessi un quinto fattore, succederebbe… in finimondo, forse; ma resteremmo sempre in un campo di precisioni inesorabili.

 

 

THERE’S THE MYSTERY — it’s in us. It’s enough not to forget this. There is the mystery, and with the mystery, together, the measure; but not the measure of mystery, a humanly insensible thing; but such a thing that in a certain sense opposes itself to the mystery, for us the highest manifestation: this earthy world considered as a continuous fiction of human being. Our foothold will be this mystery, and this mystery the breath that circulates in us and animates us; but we are inclined to worry about those developments that place a tree in a landscape; of that web of relations that can’t be changed without undergoing a change of character. Therefore art for us will always have an element of predestination and naturalness; but also a rational character, admitting all the probabilities and complexities of calculus: if I have four instead of three elements, if I invert the order, if a great wind blows, etc, … and if I have a fifth factor, such would happen… pandemonium, perhaps, but we would always reside in a field of inexorable precision.

Giuseppe Ungaretti, Ragioni d’una poesia
Translation, JM

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

Andrea Cecon

 
 

un rintocco striscia nella nebbia l’orizzonte di Kiev
fine autunno nel silenzio in giardino l’altalena

a ringing crawls through the fog on Kiev’s horizon
autumns end in the garden swing’s silence

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Angiola Inglese

 

 

 

carta increspata –
s’illumina di luna
un papavero

 

corrugated paper —
a poppy lit up
by the moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nuvole scure –
una viola e la luna
nella pozzanghera

 

dark clouds
a violet and the moon
in the puddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

la ragnatela –
sull’intrico di rovi
vento d’inverno

a web
in a tangle of thorns
winter wind

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Antonio Mangiameli

 

 

 

un temporale –
il canto dell’assiolo
si sente appena

 

a storm —
one scarcely hears
the horned owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

un cerchio d’ombra –
i rami intrecciati
dell’oleandro

 

a circle of shade —
the tangled branches
of oleander

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

il vento forte –
assieme alle foglie
una farfalla

 

the strong wind —
a butterfly together
with the leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Francesco De Sabata

 

 

 

lattina vuota
solo una vespa ronza
intrappolata

 

empty beer can –
a wasp’s buzzing
trapped inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

orme – la neve
ricorda il nostro incontro
scende la sera

 

footprints —
the snow remembers our meeting
evening falls

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Gabriele Stella

 

 

 

neve sui monti –
si nasconde alla vista
il biancospino

 

clouds on the mountains —
the hawthorn
hidden from view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lunghe radici
ondeggiano nel guado –
a piedi nudi

 

long roots
rippling in the ford
bare feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iris negli occhi –
nubi s’accavallano
sul primo sole

 

iris of the eyes
clouds crossing
the first sun

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Giacomo Vit

 

 

 

Bianca ferita
nell’inverno indugiante
la margherita.

 

wounded whiteness
indulgent in winter
marguerites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cicala spiega
sul verde meridiano
crotalo d’aria.

 

cicada explains
the green meridian —
air’s rattlesnake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cani randagi-
per chi cerca carezze
alta è la neve.

 

stray dogs
for those seeking caresses
deep snow

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Leonardo Lazzari

 

 

 

Soffio di vento –
sull’asfalto due foglie
si rincorrono

 

a breeze —
two leaves chase each other
on the asphalt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stelle cadenti
o fuochi d’artificio? –
Notte d’agosto

 

falling stars
or human fires?—
august night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quadro di giugno –
la luna incorniciata
dalla finestra

 

a painting of June —
the moon framed
in a window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gatto randagio –
tutta la sua attenzione
su una farfalla

 

stray cat
all your attention
on a butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salici in fila –
una foglia sull’acqua
non fa rumore

 

a row of willows
a leaf on the water
noiseless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pioggia autunnale –
le gocce gareggiano
sulla finestra

 

autumn rain
the drops compete
on the window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melodia nota –
sul fuoco lo scoppiettio
di caldarroste

 

a well-known melody —
chestnuts
crackling on the fire

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Luca Cenisi

 

 

 

Stagno notturno —
un’anatra attraversa
la luna piena

 

night pond
a duck crosses
the full moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aggrovigliato tra i denti del pettine sole di maggio

 

tangled in the teeth of a comb may sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neve tardiva –
un bambino impara i fiori
dal suo tablet

 

late snow —
a boy learns the flowers
from his tablet

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Marco Riccardi

 

 

 

Asfalto grigio –
blu non ti scordar di me
tingono il ciglio

 

Grey asphalt –
blue forget-me-nots
dye the edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riparte il treno –
anche questo diventa
flusso del vento

 

the train departs
this too becomes
a movement of wind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ora di punta –
la folla di eremiti
con gli occhi altrove

 

rush hour —
a crowd of hermits
with their eyes elsewhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il vento fischia
e fa cadere gli alberi
dentro il mio sogno

 

Wind whistle –
trees are falling
into my dream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il tuo russare
mentre veglio il tuo sonno –
il tempo scorre

 

Your snoring
while I watch your sleep –
time flows

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Maria Teresa Piras

 

 

 

primo dell’anno –
profuma di limoni
la neve fresca

 

first of the year
the perfume of lemons
new snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

refolo estivo –
si sfogliano i gerani
sul davanzale

 

summer gust —
the geraniums drop their leaves
on the sill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

il lume acceso –
fuori dalla finestra
scorre l’autunno

 

the lamp lit —
outside the window
autumn’s flow

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Marina Bellini

 

 

 

(poems in English)

 

Easter Mass –
the clop clop of a horse
along the canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

forest bathing –
a weightless feather falls
before me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the grass is tall –
villagers forage for nettles
and wild asparagus

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Maurizio Arena

 

 

 

(durante la festa di Hanami in Giappone)
(during the Hanami festival in Japan)

a primavera
i fiori di ciliegio
volano via!

spring
the cherry blossoms
take flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

soffia il vento
i giovani sakura
cadono lievi

 

a breath of wind
the young cherry blossoms
fall lightly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

giorno di festa
tra i ciliegi in fiore
a bere sakè

 

festival day
to drink sake below
flowering cherry trees

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Nazarena Rampini

 

 

 

Pioggia di maggio –
il suono del torrente
riempie il greto

 

May rain —
the torrent’s sound
fills the pebbly shore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Già primavera –
vola via una farfalla
dai panni stesi

 

Already spring —
a butterfly flies from the clothes
hung out to dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schiarisce il cielo –
riflesso di un airone
nella risaia

 

the sky clears —
a heron’s reflection
in the paddy

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Pasquale Asprea

 

 

 

Piccoli insetti nell’erba sovraccarica una speranza

(ispirato dal 5° anniversario del disastro di Fukushima)

 

tiny insects in the grass a hope overloaded

(inspired by the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruma serale –
il canto di uccelli
invisibili

 

evening mist —
the bird songs
invisible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piccoli mondi
chiusi nella corolla
di un crisantemo

 

little worlds
shut in a mum’s
corolla

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Pietro Tartamella

 

 

 

(traduzioni Antonella Filippi)
(translations by Antonella Filippi)

 

fa freddo ormai
e ancora cammino
con scarpe estive

 

it’s cold, now
and still I walk
with summer shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rondine in cielo
il suono dei bicchieri
che si toccano

 

a swallow in the sky
the sound of glasses
tinkling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

otata
appears at the end of the month.
Address correspondence to —
otatahaiku@gmail.com

April, 2016

otata 4

Hansha Teki, vincent tripi, Jeanne Martin, Guliz Vural, Alan Summers, Tom Montag, Shloka Shankar, Helen Buckingham, Chad Robinson, Aditya Bahl, David J. Kelly, Kim Dorman, F.J. Seligson

F.J. Seligson on Ed Baker

 

 

tokonoma

KUBLAI: I do not know when you have had time to visit all the countries you describe to me. It seems to me you have never moved from this garden.

POLO: Everything I see and do assumes meaning in a mental space where the same calm reigns as here, the same penumbra, the same silence streaked by the rustling of leaves.At the moment when I concentrate and reflect, I find myself again, always, in this garden, at this hour of the evening…

                                                                                      — Calvino, Invisible Cities (trans. William Weaver)

 

Ξ 
 

 

Hansha Teki

 
 

a moth enters my waiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

without cause
the sound of water . . .
just the words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

loneliness nestles into listening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in silence
a new moon’s
echolalia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

skylark song
gone now – a bird
unburdened

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

vincent tripi

 

never
just one wildflower
meditation spot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

how roadrunner
how can you possibly?
no path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the chickadee calls the
chickadee who call to chickadee
to call to

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

Jeanne Martin

 

one last ride…
the train whistle
whistles again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

all that we know
is all that we know
spring rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer solstice
all night moonlight
inside the house

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

 

Alan Summers

 

shadows that don’t daffodils belong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sun off stubble a train in its landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

call of geese the heart I eat inside

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Tom Montag

 

And weeds poking through snow.
We cannot know their code.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawk at its watch.
Just enough is patience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to be of use,
the poet;

like the crow,
to be of wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crow
has nothing
to tell me —

it only
looks

that way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing. Again nothing.
What are the odds of that?

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Shloka Shankar

 

second-guessing itself a nightgown billows in the breeze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as an aside i shape-shift into a key

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the sheen on an orange rind negative capability

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Helen Buckingham

 

arterial road
blocked
with snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jaw
dropping
eclipse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

heads crack
together…
the beautiful game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sweatshop city
working the red carpet
she extends a gloved hand

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Chad Robinson

 

prickly pear——
you wake up in
yesterday’s clothes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

prickly pear every weapon drawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

yellow flowers
of the prickly pear——
we choose a china pattern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

late tomatoes
the scarecrow slips deeper
into its waistline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what
rubs off
wild apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clocks turned back in bed we curl up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blizzard wind——
trying to fold
a fitted sheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a pine cone
a music box
ballerina

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Aditya Bahl

 

   gathered
at the shrine gate
counterfeit crocs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eat
pray
love
xerox

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

David J. Kelly

 

Quattro Stagioni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

searing until midday’s madness ends rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and under this unblinking moon narcolepsy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

winding into nothingness the earth’s return

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

such perfect renaissance in natural greens

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

Kim Dorman

 

 

 

After Sankara

 

 

Ignorance
is darkness.

 

Knowledge
is like the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignorance
is a bad dream.

 

Wake up–
it’s gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words are
bubbles.

 

They vanish
in the Real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winnow grain
from chaff.

 

using Reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge
is freedom

 

but no cooking
without fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real doesn’t
depend on anything–

 

light doesn’t need
another light!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine searching
for a lost necklace,

 

one you were wearing
all the time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine it’s dusk & you
see a snake

 

that’s only a rope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whoever knows the Real
is like a caterpillar

 

become a butterfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whoever knows the real
is like a flame

 

inside a lamp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whoever knows the Real
is unattached

 

like the wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At one with Reality,
he or she

 

is like water in water,
air in air,

 

light in light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is nothing left
to do, nothing

 

more to know.
No greater happiness

 

than this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything is filled
with That.

 

Every action shows only
That. Shining.

 

it makes the world
shine.

 

 

 

 

 

¤

 

 

 

 

Skipping stones. Midsummer.
A shower before the dance.

 

Boys snapping towels. Nervous.

 

The Yardbirds on a transistor radio.
Scent of Jade East.

 

It’s almost time. Sunset

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

F.J. Seligson

 

Before

     the

               leaf,

 

                    one

                         white

 

                              blossom

 

opens

 

 

 

 

JOY AND PEACE FOR ED BAKER (1941-2016)

The poet Ed Baker passed away on March 29 at 12:30 am after living 73 robust winters. He has given to the earth new energies and offered to human beings new sounds and colors, meanings. Google his name, with poetry after – and you will discover only one Ed Baker fitting that accurate description. He was as much as an accomplished painter as a poet, maybe more, although he didn’t offer either for fame or profit. He was content to work at his word-man-ship, drawings and colorings day after day for decades, aiming for the perfection of expression and his favorite subject: love for a woman. Not an unusual topic, yet his approach and characterization were unique fine, alive, even glorious.
Cid Corman introduced me to Ed in an affectionate 1975 letter from Kyoto and John Martone introduced me to Ed in Washington D.C. near the Washington, Monument around 2000. He was driving an old pickup truck and wore a baseball cap over his bald head, magnifying his fluffy white beard. That was the real start of our friendship. After that, whenever I was in Washington, D.C., on three occasions, I would stay with Ed in his antique house on Flower Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland. His son lived on the 3rd floor and his daughter in the basement apartment. He occupied ground level rooms, sharing the dining room and kitchen. He was a deeply caring man toward his grown children, a father and a mother, too, for he even cooked for them. I never heard him raise his voice or utter an inconsiderate word toward them, and they I saw could live comfortably and quietly with him, despite all the eccentricities of a painter and a poet, without which there would be no art, but rather the commonplace.
Ed earned a MFA in creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 1973, specializing in poetry. Already his work was exceptional, reminding me of Ezra Pound, as in Ed’s poem, Hydra, in his book BUTCHER OF OXEN and other poems (1970):
Hydra
 I think about the great river:
forgetting the sun  I suffer the sun
with birds that drink at the edge
with men who cast their nets.
They came as I was gazing at that sun
dressed
I tell you    dressed in white
as I was gazing at that other continent.
Great stones in the hills mark the dead; it is almost impossible to remember
other Greeks
fire
That burned along the shore
Or on the point
Marking midnight            marking nights
that flooded the earth with stars
When ships came,
                                                 And they were good ships
their men             strong men
whose beads made the seasons
whose eyes went straight
guided by stars
that knew where they were.
I think about the river flowing
                                                                like the blood of men
like the blood of men who have known
their fears
& cast their nets into the morning sun.
However, after his divorce, in order to support his children he spent much of the next two decades working at house restoration, some of that experience recorded in Restoration Poems and Restoration Letters exchanged with his mentor Cid Corman, who resided in Kyoto. While restoring houses he was also in process of restoring his own life.
Besides watercolor and oil paintings, examples of which lined the walls of his house, he did abstract wood sculptures. It was one day about 10 years ago that I received word that “Ed had a stroke.” When visiting him last summer, 2016, he told me, “I was working outside under the hot sun, but I wanted to keep going on the sculpture, then it hit me and I was unconscious in the yard.” He survived and recovered almost completely save for high blood pressure for which he took medication. In the winter of 2015 I heard that he has suffered another stroke, and a couple months after his son notified me that he was in the hospital, where not long after his heart gave out. 
And a strong and vigorous heart it had been. After his first stroke he worked at recovery by competing in several marathons, even triathlons. But his greatest marathons had been in writing hundreds of outstanding short poems and illustrating them immaculately. Here are some examples:
He had an entire shelf full of his illustrations in carefully dated notebooks. All of his book shelves which filled two rooms were neatly arranged and filled with the classics of modern poetry and spiritual studies as well. Whenever I’d visit he’d conduct an on-going poetry workshop for me: laying before me piles of his own work, like the monumental Stone Girl E-pic, to peruse as well as well as the works of North American poets I didn’t know at all or at least not very well but who I should know, like Irving Layton, and Carl Rakosi. Poetry and painting were his life and he happily shared it with me. Had he been more ambitious his work would have been more widely known and appreciated, but it’s not too late.
Here is an example of his love poems for Fay Ling, from The City (1974)
Tonight,
the still slow war
has gotten beyond me
I imagine yellow flowers
growing
on the wall
A girl in a dress
I have not seen her wear
before
her loose movement
in a wet dress
as she went up
houston street
These are examples of Ed short poems, and his particular sense of humor, influenced by his  correspondence with Cid Corman and others of Cid’s  school:
…. Sometimes
being myself
Isn’t so easy
…..
butterfly
wrapping 
me
around
her
finger
(in Postcards from Myou, 2000)
Within and without
same 
red tulip.
(from Things Just Come Through, 2004)
Purple
blossom
just
here
just
hear
just
her
The last night I was in Washington I was walking back to dine and sleep as his guest by  old two-story houses along Flower Avenue when the short grass lit up with a glow my feet, and then again here and there in other yards.  They created briefly a yellow softness, silent and unspoiled.  How many millions of years had the fireflies, “lightning bugs” we Washingtonians called them, been lighting up the plants at night? It seemed to me the most beautifully sublime sight I had ever seen – so silent and gentle, oblivious that this was a dangerous place to be for us humans walking at night. For them life went on in its eternal beauty.  I wish the same for Ed’s soul.
                ~Fred Jeremy Seligson, April 9th, 2016, Seoul

 

otata appears
at the end of each month.
Direct correspondence to John Martone atotatahaiku@gmail.com

March, 2016

otata, 3

Bob Arnold, Pratima Balabhadrapathruni,  Joseph Salvatore Aversano, Scott Watson, Hiromi Maya, Sonam Chhoki, John Perlman, Chris Poundwhite, Kim Dorman, Meik Blöttenberger, Scott Metz, Aditya Bahl, Nancy Davenport, George Swede, Hansha Teki, Luca Cenisi

tokonoma

“They only express themselves by their poses.”

No gestures, they multiply only their arms, their hands, their fingers, — like Buddhas. Sot it is that idle, they reach the end of their thoughts. They are only a will to expression. They  have nothing hidden from themselves, they can’t keep any idea secret, they unfold themselves entirely, honestly, without restriction.  

Lazy, they pass their time complicating their own form, perfecting in the sense of the greatest analytical complication their own body. Wherever they are born, however hidden,  they are occupied only in accomplishing their expression: they prepare themselves, adorn themselves, wait for themselves to be read. 

They have at their disposition to draw attention to themselves only their poses, only lines, an at times an exceptional signal, an extraordinary appeal tot he eyes and sense of smell in the form of luminous scented ampules or bombs called their flowers and which are doubtlessly sores. 

Their modification of the sempiternal leaf certainly signifies something.

— Francis Ponge
from Fauna and Flora
Cid Corman, trans.

 

Ξ 
 
 

Bob Arnold

 

from Cup

 
 

WOODSPLITTER
(by hand)

Watch your teeth —
over 40 years
I’ve cracked three

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBER

Complain all you want —
it’s warm in the sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a dead oak tree I need to cut for fuel
a chickadee sings —
okay, I’ll wait a few days more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE EVENING

She has her sofa nap
I have my floor blanket nap
glow-lit wood fire room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAMMALIAN

She goes out into the 2 AM frost to draw water
the deer at the brook startle and hiss
she returns the favor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

Pratima Balabhadrapathruni

 

 

 

 

 

matryoshkas nesting silence nesting matryoshkas in meditation

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Salvatore Aversano

 

 

 

 

persephone,,turned up,,by the plough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a pang of plum flowered hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the sarcophagus lid aside it’s true

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fossil still born shale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rock hewn wind step

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

w h e n b o w i n g t h e f l o o d p l a i n s e a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

up the stair
well sound
of rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the smaller
the more radial
the soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a god
shaped
stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Watson

 

 

 

 

This love now on
a dark night with
no moon and no
definition but this
dark night’s love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cupping you
these hands
mountain stream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiromi Maya

 
 

no direction
no connection
withered lotus

 

 

karehachisu muhou muen no kiai kana
枯蓮無方無縁の気合いかな

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Sonam Chhoki

 

 

 

 

tenement washing lines
in the afternoon breeze
brawling, lovemaking noises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

morning after red grimace of coke cans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

John Perlman

 

 

Nocturne, Rainbow Lake

 

1

thru silhouettes of
white pine on the
esker’s crest
blue heron
glides to
roost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

venus sways
on nightwinds’
pulse thru
spruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

in full salute
shining a flashlight
at the stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

pair of loons
echoing as if a
shadow world
affirmed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

departed
in the span
of calling out
its trace Jan’s
fallen star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Nyogen Senzaki

kneeling to pluck
wild garlic from the grass
behind the seawall nibbling
bulbs breath carried by a
west wind over
open sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so lifelike
the old & careworn
face asleep in a burl
of a fallen oak she
lays her fingertips
against his
cheek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

battered
bamboo walking
staff in a backyard
terra cotta pot stands
purple eggplant
up to the risen
sun

 

 

 

 

Ξ

 

 

Chris Poundwhite

 

 

on
my
hand
this
magic
bee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in
a
bit
of
glass
a
bit
of
light
from
the
sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

strange
thing
this
magic
world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sip
tea
eat
nuts
my
body
magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

Kim Dorman

 

 

 

 

(technics)

he sleeps under
a bridge
among curated
scraps — his
human needs
no different

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

matins

leaves lift
to

coral
light,

singing
its

silence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars, Fireflies

summer
nights
on 2 continents

oaks & spanish
moss

tamarind
&coconut

 

 

 

 

Ξ 
 

 

 

 

 

Meik Blöttenberger

 

 

 

 

leap day
a schoolboy’s
untucked shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

purple noon
this sinner’s love
of sunsets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Metz

 

 

 

 

         so she feeds me
the imaginary food
she pulls from her body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as i’m breaking
her most
precious leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tonight i’ll leave the light on spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   o flower, for you
i’ve made up
a little monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Aditya Bahl

 

 

 

 

look
alike
gourds
gourds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 blue’s remainder  :  rent’s reminder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Davenport

 

 

 

 

Fall Grapes

OH
my,
where did you find such
perfect green grapes?
so very sweet
warm and hard
dripping
on my
belly

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

George Swede

 

 

 

 

 the stud of nature’s fundamental forces twelve gauge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

weeding my life
the roots of time
too deep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

after a long struggle
overcome by gravitons
19114-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Hansha Teki

 

 

 

 

all in all
an ocean washes up
in birth cries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

left behind
in prophetic utterance
of its ending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

step by step
we continue on
alone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a dream I make of the just now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

now and then
I become the wake
I leave behind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

all at sea
a wine drop dark
to its soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ 

 

 

 

 

Luca Cenisi

from Anamesi (2011)

 

 

Infiniti mondi
si nascondono
dietro un’unica linea.
Infinite speranze
si rivelano agli occhi disillusi
del nostro microcosmo.

 

Infinite worlds
hide themselves
behind a single line.
Infinite hopes
reveal themselves to the disillusioned eyes
of our microcosm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Un fiore oltre la finestra,
l’io e il noi
triade cognitiva.  

 

 

 

A flower through the window
the I and the we
a cognitive triad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S’è frantumato
il carillon
della mia infanzia,
l’impulso mal riposto
di un’ombra
prigioniera del vento.

 

 

 

It’s shattered —
the carillon
of my childhood,
the misplaced impulse
of an imprisoned
shadow of wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tra le foglie,
un’ipotesi d’estate.

 

 

 

Between leaves
a summer hypothesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuum poetico,
estasi dell’infinito.

 

 

 

poetic continuum
ecstasies of the infinite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nessun punto fermo,
nessuna direzione,
nessun bivio
Siamo solo uomini
che si lasciano guidare
da chi ancora non ha trovato
il proprio sentiero.

 

 

 

no direction
no crossroads
we’re just people
who let themselves be led
by others who haven’t found
the right path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passiamo inosservati
più a noi stessi che
agli altri.
L’identità non è fondata
sulla ragione, ma sul silenzio
che la precede.

 

 

 

We pass by unobserved
more by ourselves
than others.
Identity isn’t founded
on reason, but on the silence
that precedes it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il mondo intero
non è che una lacrima di magnolia
abbandonata alla quiete dell’aurora.

 

 

 

The whole world
nothing but one tear of magnolia
abandoned in the quiet of dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L’immutabilità
non è che l’apparente quiete
del nostro divenire

 

 

 

Immutability —
nothing but the apparent quiet
of our becoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

È nell’antologia dello spirito
che emerge il denominatore
dell’esistenza.

È nella poetica di un unico
fugace momento
che si snoda l’impulso
alla consapevolezza.

 

 

 

It in the anthology of the spirit
that reveals the denominator
of existence.
It’s in the the poetics of a single
fugitive moment
that loosens the impulse
to consciousness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L’aforisma
è una frase di senso compiuto
in un mondo incompiuto

 

 

 

The aphorism —
a complete expression
in an incomplete world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

il tramonto
è un’alba in versi.

 

 

 

sunset
is a dawn
in verse

 

(English versions JM)

 

February, 2016

otata, 2

Fred Jeremy Seligson, Tom Montag, John Levy, Bob Arnold, Jim Kacian, Michelle Tennison, Jean Morris, Cherie Hunter Day, Philip Rowland, Helen Buckingham,  Stanford M. Forrester, Hansha Teki, Johnny Baranski, Mara Rosolen, Johannes S.H. Berg, Gerry Loose.

In homage to Cid Corman and his Origin, this number and those to come begin with a —

tokonoma

 

Poetry calls for anonymity. It appeals, in short, to the each in all and the all in each. Its particularity must become yours. Autobiography is implicit in any one’s work and may be taken for granted, but what has been realized and so set out as to be shared loses itself in the self that is found extended without end in song.

As the author has elsewhere put it:

If I have nothing to offer you in the face of death–in its stead–the ache behind every ache, the instant man knows, I have no claim as poet. My song must sing into you a little moment, stay in you what presence can muster–of sense more than meaning, of love more than sense, of giving the life given one with the same fulness that brought each forth, each to each from each, nothing left but the life that is going on.

— Cid Corman
Statement
for Stead
Elizabeth Press, 1966

 

Ξ

Fred Jeremy Seligson—

 

When a good friend asks
what else
but sing out, “Yes.”

 
 

Ξ

 

 

 

Tom Montag —

 

from Notebook: New Mexico

 

Along I-25

 Afternoon, Levy, New Mexico.
Not the same as anywhere.

 

 

Approaching Santa Fe

Lovely sun
on the peaks. I can’t hold my breath
long enough.

 

 

Approaching Los Alamos

Here we fly.
Who goes in

goes out.
Who touches

mountain
touches sky.

 

 

Leaving Los Alamos

The white sky,
these mountains —

even God goes blind.

 

 

Abiquiu


Rock,
and we seem small.

Cloud,
and we get wet.

Wind,
and now we fly.

 

 

Ξ

 

 

 

John Levy —

 
 

the kid chasing the peacock
at the zoo his mother in none
of the eyes

 
 

the mountain views the amoeba entertains

 
 

my late father, a little while after he re-
tired, pointed, laughing in his
closet, at cobwebs between his neckties

 
 

Ξ

 

 

 

Bob Arnold —

 

from
The Woodcutter Talks

 

 

Up In the Air

Well I’ll be —
Finishing the ridge cap roofing job
An ant walks toward me

 

Breeze

who’s that waving
to me when coming
out the door—

ferns

 
 

In The Garden

for a moment—
my steps
with a toad

 
 

Surgery

I just moved a curled up
woolly caterpillar from this
year’s woodpile to next year’s

 
 

Garbage

The ugliest house
on the road
has all the butterflies

 
 

Still

Snow in the
Yard into the
Woods even in
The trees but
Under simple
Plank swing
A square
Of grass

 
 

There There

Days of rain —
chasing the puking
cat around the house

 
 

Old Tale

When a child asks,
“When will it snow?”
It should begin

 
 

 
 
 
 

Ξ

 

 

 

Jim Kacian —

 
forgetting the slow-motion crush of gravity

 

beyond journey and destination sweet potato pie

 

on a blue and white day a pale green future

 

finding she’s home without words

 

living through just one of all kinds of time

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ

 
 

 

Michelle Tennison —

 

before it vanishes from mind ghost orchid

 
 

like a moth to the
ghost orchid

 
 

unstuck sound
falling snow

 
 

if          only          cirrocumulus

 
 

if you search for me where butterflies go in the dark

 
 

the
quiet
alchemy
of deer

 

 

 

Ξ

 

 

Jean Morris —

Contre-Jour

against the light
a glass of rosé
and a paperback
whose cover flaunts
a rosy Bonnard nude

 

 
 
 

Ξ

 
 

Cherie Hunter Day —

 

the garden in your mind for reference

 

 

cherry trees on the verge of confetti

 

 

YOU ARE HERE
the mineral layer
of wildfire ash

 

 

 

 

Ξ

 

 

 

Philip Rowland —

 

day moon
the plot of earth
between skyscrapers

 

 

 

 

measured for a burial:
the distance from
self to word

 

 

 

moonlit
something other
than other

 

 

                                                                after Reznikoff

the steel worker still himself upon the girder

 

 

 

knot in the sunlit floorboard undone by prayer

 

 

in the time it takes the temple bell

 

 

 

autumn leaves a scattering of moles on the monk’s bald pate

 

 

 

 

 

Ξ

 

 

Helen Buckingham —

 

new town
pain
remains

 
 

circus parade
characters from the ark
roll up in pairs

 
 

temple
down
trigeminal hell

 
 

 

Ξ

 

 

Stanford M. Forrester —

 

stack of books
the Russian novel
cold to the touch

 
 

 

Ξ

 

 

Hansha Teki —
 

post mortem
a sanctuary lamp
on the time before

 
 

at first
there seemed to be
a never more

 
 

stooped low
to retrace the words
only I see

 

 

 

Ξ

 

 

 

Johnny Baranski —

 

strip search
in the prison yard
the sun has broken out

 
 

tossed in with the rest of us white collar convict

 
 

jailhouse window
the full moon
crucified

 
 
 

Ξ

 

 

 

Mara Rosolen —

 

Ehi, amico caro mio
dove sei più?
tu che ora sì
sapresti dirmi
dove incomincia il cielo.

 

O dear friend
where are you now
you who’d really know
how to tell me
where the sky begins

 
 
 

È successo.
Siamo innamorati ora
dello stesso mistero.

 

It’s happened.
We’ve fallen in love now
with the same mystery.

 
 
 

Pianto dopo pianto.
Silenzi urla risate
che importa se intanto
i capelli diventano bianchi?

 

Cry after cry
silence shouting laughter
who cares if in the meantime
the hair turns white?

 
 
 

Rughe:
vedo la vita
passata su di me.
E non del tutto invano.

 

Wrinkles —
I see life’s
passed over me.
And not wholly in vain.
 
 
 

Che fare più?
Stare al centro
e galleggiare nel mistero.

 

What more to do?
To be at the center
afloat in the mystery.

 
 
 

E adesso
fare amicizia
con l’inevitabile.

 

And now
to make friends
with the inevitable.

 
 

Il cammino verso il fallimento
oh, come è pieno di rivelazione.

 
 

The road to failure
o how full of revelations.

 

 
 
 from Rivelazioni provvisorie
(Trans. jm with guidance from the author)

 

Ξ

 

 

 

Johannes S.H. Berg —

 
 

put your hand out in the rain alive

 
 

and when morning breaks a body made of paper

 
 
 

Ξ

 
 
 

Gerry Loose —

 

from Sweeney Albannach

I heard the cuckoo with no food in my stomach.
Malcolm MacLellan, Crofter, Grimnis, Benbenecula, as reported in Carmina Gadelica

fragments 1-105

 

that fat spider hung
on translucence
then there was
only a great white
raggy winged moth
I catched it
in my hand but felt
pity
then

 

 

 

 

the dog it was
found my place
in heather

 

 

 

 

you count these
no worth
buttercup daisy thistle
the quadrated plants
rare words I found
but did not pluck
you count these
ravings of invisibility
they know better

 

 

 

 

his head sits his body
only queerly

 

 

 

 

guilt tears
worse than blackthorn

 

 

 

 

goosegrass
but no geese

 

 

 

 

whisky oh
whisky oh
whisky in the bushes oh
thorns don’t matter

 

 

 

 

and then we examine
the politics of our time
and find still
Church

 

 

 

 

the moral law
of birdsong

 

 

 

 

my poetry
is entirely made up
of the sounds of rain
on leaves

 

 

 

 

it’s that form of silence
I call wandering
that form of wandering
you call delusion

 

 

 

 

you think me deranged
to return as oak
looking over the kyles
stand for a thousand years

 

 

 

 

the eider is in awe
the cuckoo agrees
the yaffle agrees
the gulls mock me

 

 

 

 

that night I wove the clouds

 

 

 

 

wild honey
bee stings
the flaying syrup
of self pity

 

 

 

 

Sweeney attempts to list all things
on the strand

 

 

 

 

seals and singing

 

 

 

 

Sweeney is not suffering
his head
the world is indifferent

 

once he found a case of oranges

 

 

 

 

have you known hunger
withered windfall
in May

 

 

 

 

Sweeney seen
deer slots on the strand

 

 

 

 

farewell to Lochaber
or maybe petrol city

 

 

 

 

only the cuckoo
calls hello
two gowks together
until night
drops

 

 

 

 

the cant
and antiphon
of shearwaters
a mouthful
of cress
to my ache

 

 

 

 

I sit here
counting puffins
inventing words

 

 

 

 

there are no mirrors

 

 

 

 

below the yellow hill there
are caves
that keep out the rain
but not the reaches of cold
nor the midges’ perorations

 

 

 

 

rusty hinge
of a lapwing’s
voice
and unhinged
me

 

 

 

 

I am beside myself
where the best conversations
are to be had

 

 

 

 

the fattest snails
are found
in the graveyard

 

 

 

 

I steal eggs from the gulls
and from Mary’s hens
crack and swallow

 

 

 

 

when I pass
they knit their brows
along with
their children’s socksonly Sweeney
dusty
is unspun

 

 

 

 

twelve by twelve inches
a square foot
what I’m here for
the first cast of the quadrat
one buttercup
one nettle
one stem of cleavers
I remain empty

 

 

 

 

show me the passage
between the poised mind
and the frenzied mind

 

 

 

 

there’s a high wind
in my lungs
to give life
to the fire

 

 

 

 

it’s rude to sit
with your back
to the sun
every cormorant knows that

 

 

 

 

there’s the black cat
who visits
each morning
to roll and have
her stomach scratched
she doesn’t know I’m broken
and there’s a toad
who
lives around the corner

 

 

 

 

I drink red wine
from the kettle
for this moment I
am Li Po
that same wind rattles
our watery retreats

 

 

 

 

the cuckoo sings
two notes she flies
indefatigable
how can I be less

 

 

 

 

the deserted church

browned flowers
broken gas mantles
heh. heh. priests
gone from this place
but still seclusion

 

 

 

 

stealing apples
while eras
and stars
collapse around me

 

 

 

 

although I am conceived and die
I conceive of yet more

 

 

 

 

the priests even
atheists
maunder words
of soul and spiriit
blasphemies of belief
such things are in
slaters and wrens

 

 

 

 

fear me
cry me gealt
because you fear
change
you fear revolution

 

 

 

 

there is no rest
at night stars
Saturn distant Mars
cold Jupiter
in the church ruin
a Sheela na gig
I flee even her
mound of Venus

 

 

 

 

the tempest takes
hurls the dove
I run into the heart
there is no abiding there

 

 

 

 

when the rain lifts
tracing snail trails
on the rock
with a cold finger

 

 

 

 

at night I
waken to myself
not there
either

 

 

 

 

pouring water
another vertigo
to fall

 

 

 

 

plover fears me
flees on a path of air
clatter dove wing
rising from oak
startles me to run
into the path of bramble
dread keeps us living

 

 

 

 

before the storm
the cuckoo’s complaint
after the storm
cuckoo’s lament
I’m still here too
after all

 

 

 

 

beside the rear
tractor wheel
its tyre flat
a stainless
steel socket set
and rusty headed hammer
crow on the cab roof
things are not
urgent

 

 

 

 

roof mostly sky
walls to east and south
sgurrs
north and west
seas
the robin hops inside
crows row through

 

 

 

 

lucid and ludic
is madness that whirl
of hair flying round
Sweeney’s head
that tilt into wind
as he lifts his arms
and rolls earth words

 

 

 

 

fuck the polis
such lyricism is easy
fuck the priests
but they screw themselves
with faith and certitude
and there’s only the last lit pale
constellations of ramsons here
on out into blue black
bruise scarred night

 

 

 

 

the seventh throw of the quadrat
early purple orchid wild garlic
raspberry leaves bluebells
bracken red campion but outwith
the confines of the quadrat
they grow where they please

 

 

 

 

the eighth quadrat on rock
white lichen red lichen
these are not symbols
not the thing
not the opposing
conjoined forces
of church and state
but substantive

 

 

 

 

my love gave me a meadow
that walked to the sea
my love gave me every seventh wave
that licked gently
my love gave me the seven days
and I am Sweeney
called mad

 

 

 

 

the young birch in wind
a child approaching

 

 

 

 

in search of fossils
found in that future
three specked eggs
in the oystercatcher’s nest

 

 

 

 

that which resolves itself in sleep
is lost to Sweeney

 

 

 

 

yes I’m scared jittery
twitching jumping
alert mistrustful
but I haven’t fear
living in me

 

 

 

 

where do my eyes lead me
what I see I am
clinging bramble vine
raking thorn peat hag
and cuckoo voice
invisible

 

 

 

 

overseer of wind
narrator of air
conductor of skies
mokonhandler
star-juggler
sun-lifter
breath of your lungs
without memory
continuous

 

 

 

 

move steeply
into that rising
scree-slope night
collapsing on itself
that hides

 

 

 

 

Sweeney
startled
startles
a snipe

 

 

 

 

Sweeney’s clarity is inside
may be illuminated
briefly by a quality of
light pushing cloud shadows
lighting gullies and cliffs in a chequered
way
on a three mile distant mountain

 

 

 

 

their taste in whisky was poor

 

 

 

 

Armeria maritime
thrift
we call it
Sweeney has nothing
no need for thrift
stays nights
here and there in old small
rail cabins
Rannoch Corpach Arisaig
some have full roofs

 

 

 

 

I no longer need to know
who I am
indeed and I don’t
my voice
embodied

 

 

 

 

aspen
Sweeney
by Ardtoe slip
tremble
in each
breeze

 

 

 

 

green
beyond green

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