february, 2017

Click on the links below to read

otata 14 (February, 2017)

— and from otata’s bookshelf —

David Miller — From Late to Early

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.”

.

All works copyright © 2017 by the respective poets.

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

january, 2017

Click on the links below to read

otata 13 (January 2017)

and from otata’s bookshelf —

 John Levy, In the Pit of the Empty

 Fred Jeremy Seligson, The Dragon’s Palace 

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.”

.

All works copyright © 2017 by the respective poets.

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

 

 

Click on the link below to read

otata 12

 

 

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.”

.

All works copyright © 2016 by the respective poets.

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

november, 2016

otata 11

.

.

Otata will appear as a pdf from now on.

Read otata 11

There are two additions to otata’s bookshelf this month —

Tom Montag’s The Miles No One Wants
click HERE

.

Cuccagna — Italian senryu
selected and translated by
Valeria Simonova Cecon

click HERE.

.

.

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.”

.

All works copyright © 2016 by the respective poets.

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

october, 2016

otata 10

tokonoma

With hesitant compassion she leads me to a large white rose whose deepest heart is being devoured by a scarab.

“Why don’t you shake it off, why don’t you get rid of it?” I ask her

“The rose is done for by now,” she answers. “And if the scarab does not get enough of this, it will go looking for another.”

I sense that her compassion is divided between the insect and the flower, just as the heart of St. Francis included the famished bird and the pecked worm, the burning fire and the burnt garment, the ailing flesh and the herbs crushed to heal it.

I halt before this spectacle of devastating passion.

The insect is nailed into the flower’s sweetness with a craving which resembles both perdition and rapture. It is dazzling, like a gold lamella shining through a polished emerald. It is a stupendous jewel and a savage force.

It is forgetful of everything, oblivious of all risk, all surprise, all threat, submerged in its delight as in a crime that fears no punishment.

I sense again, as in my early youth, what there is of the divine in thirst and hunger

The entire heart of the rose is spoiled and, surrounded by a crown of still intact petals, appears yellowish like a trace of honey.

The sore oozes nectar, the murder is sweet.

Who feeds on beauty grows in beauty.

I would like to linger and catch the instant when the scarab will extend its wings outside its carapace and fly away along a ray of sunlight.

Gabriele D’Annunzio, Nocturne

Raymond Rosenthal, Trans.

.

.

part i

John Levy, Mark Harris, Joseph Aversano, Mandy Haggith,
Bob Arnold, Bill Cooper, Jean Morris, Sabine Miller, Hansha Teki, Don Wentworth,
Sonam Chhoki, Elmedin Kadric, Susan Hankla, Mike Montreuil,
Tom Montag

.

part ii

otata’s bookshelf

Johannes S.H. Bjerg
Rainflames
Regnflammer

.

John Perlman
The Keys

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

part i

.

.

 

John Levy

.

.

.

through the metal fence a young woman stretches
her arm to touch the rhinoceros back as her son

eyes rhino expanse and a mother’s reach

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

shadows photographed crossing

the street in 1950

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

What happened to that one? A child’s
question walking through
the cemetery.

.

.

.

.

[Editor’s note: Poet John Levy and Painter Don Cole’s collaborative volume Float among what sails & spiralsis surely among the most stunning books of the year. You can find — you must see the video of Levy reading his poems drawn from Cole’s paintings here.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Mark Harris

.

.

.

sea wrack
an old god sleeps
in a cast off shell

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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curtains of light
the wave inside

.

flowers

.

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.

a dust mote’s re-
volving in the spotlight where
the bodhisattva sat

.

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.

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.

.

.

.

starlings twist into

an apparition of
the end

 

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leaf light
bluebottle flies rise
from a hollow mole

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

plums
one pale dawn

.

gone

.

(light in the open doorway breaks)

.

.

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[Editor’s note: Mark is the publisher of elegant chapbooks under his Ornithopter Press, most recently, Peter Yovu’s stunning Imago, which can be found here.]

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Joseph Aversano

.

.

.

covered up
by fig leaves
the fall

.

.

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.

.

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.

.

.

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a bird note
quotient of
the blue

.

.

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.

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stars under which
the horizon falls
away

.

.

.

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the next village in the dark a bark

.

.

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saint’s shadow as long as the saint

.

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a lifting foot
fall gravity’s
weak

.

.

.

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.

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crying into this world on out

.

.

.

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heaven’s river coursing rain

.

earth’s core flaked obsidian

.

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a coconut
falls to
the beat

.

.

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.

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.

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the warpaint
clogging
pores

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

a quiet the sirens have left

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

the fronts
shifting
light

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

moon so the this worldly

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Mandy Haggith

.

.

.

this is not Japan
but the cherry blossom begs
a three line poem

.

.

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.

.

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.

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.

a hazel arrow courses

curves between birches

sparrowhawk!

.

.

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Fallen hazel leaves

.

spines up under trees
books discarded on a wet tiled floor
by interrupted readers

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

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Gold

.

who
needs silver
when there are
so many
shades
of
g
o
l
d
?

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

hazel

.

a nut in my hand
a tree in my mind

.

in the current
a salmon waits
for hazel wisdoms
to fall

.

a tree made the nut
the nut will make a tree

.

in the woods time bends
its arrow-shaft
loops

.

life to life
fungus to fungus

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Oaks

.

eggcups propping up the pastry sky

.

now you’re gone

.

there’s nothing
to prevent
the clouds caving in

.

nothing to stop the fields flapping

.

.

.

.

.

[Editor’s note: Go to Mandy Haggith’s website]

.

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Bob Arnold

.

.

.

The Woodcutter Talks

.

Long before the great ships at sea
There were the deep inland forests

.

I stand in one today knee-deep in snow
10 degrees with a wind

.

My saw shut down
Oil freeze to bar and gloves

.

Listening awhile to the ships at sea
The long groaning waves

.

High high
Above me

.

.

.

[Editor’s note: Click here To order the complete Woodcutter Talks from Longhouse
and do not neglect the late Jim Koller’s edition of Twenty-Eight Poems &
Two Interviews
, available as a free pdf here.]

.

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Bill Cooper

.

.

.

through holes
in the lobster trap
Orion

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

rain loosening
each sunflower petal
new oboe reed

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

hot cobbles
unfurling an anti-pipeline
quilt

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Jean Morris

.

.

.

Cupped

.

Milk for their morning tea
is from a lemon-yellow jug.
Cupped between her hands,
its cool curves are like the fruit,
its glowing yellowness
a small warm flame
from brighter climes
and times than these.
It turns their milk
to buttermilk,
their cups
to buttercups.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

one on each table
potted lavender
with bee

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

we trail towards
a small horizon

.

looped against the light
bare branches cry

.

the footpath clings
keeps whispering your name

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

fallen pink petals

.

their delicacy shocks
like parings from
a pale fleshy
underarm

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

some kind
of pelargonium
red petals
so soft they’re
like velvet
so dark they’re
nearly black

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

morning
space swells
and time recedes
light on a silver sea

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Sabine Miller

.

.

.

Motion Is Love

.

Sat on an island
in the

.

Pacific

.

.

.

In a stuffy

.

Dark room breathing

.

.

.

Patches
of skin

.

Flare and Fade

.

.

.

Slept like
an animal

.

Amidst

.

.

.

On the seventh

.

Day dissolving
into white light

.

.

.

Into

.

Which

.

.

.

Forms come,
to love

.

.

.

This spinning

.

Disco
ball-of-a

.

.

.

Whirled

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Moon Came to the Forge

.

(after a photograph by Michelle Tennison)

.

.

1.

.

A hummingbird’s throat

.

Feathers in
the shade

.

.

2.

.

Plasma, whisked
off the sun as

.

A woman
in Andalusia

.

.

3.

.

Singing
The blood’s piped
glass

.

.

4.

.

Dahlia
if you

.

Dance in
dark red
petticoats

.

.

5.

.

Pregnant gypsies

.

Walking mountains

.

.

6.

.

The moon
in Earth’s exhalations

.

Rose

.

.

.

[Editor’s Note: Sabine’s Circumference of Mercy is available from Mountains & Rivers Press.]

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Hansha Teki

.

.

.

there and there
so near still
a mayfly’s was

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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finger-felt
what the pine
had to teach

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

in winter wind
all that’s left of me
escapes me

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Don Wentworth

.

.

.

one after
the other the ants
tell us so

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

outside the polling place
two halves of a worm
wriggling

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

fly
on the coffin lid
praying

.

.

.

[Editor’s Note: Our little world might disappear were it not for Don’s review.
And also see his great first book Past All Trapsand his newest, With a Deepening Presence.]

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Sonam Chhoki

.

.

.

In dreams a bulbul sings to me of carnelian caves where the cobras play but it never shows me the way

crossing
the rope bridge to a shrine
Orion at dawn

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Some of what you read

a little of what you want
to believe
I am a mosaic
of imaginings

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Elmedin Kadric

.

.

.

just tomatoes and bread on a headstone

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

two sides
the same
cold moon

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

you choose black
winter solstice

.

.

.

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.

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.

.

.

.

.

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after all
the ant part
of you

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

walnut money in his clenched hand

.

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Susan Hankla

.

.

.

Above cumulus clouds I levitate,
wearing just a shower cap and pearls.

.

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Mike Montreuil

.

.

.

able to communicate
and put words on paper
Superman

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Tom Montag

.

.

.

You do not

want to

.

want. The
heart does

.

what it must.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Which is
grace.

.

Which is
shape.

.

Which is
grasp and

.

grapple.
This woman.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

And so, yes, then
I head for home

.

waiting for stars
to mark my going.

.

The darkness slows
me. Emptiness,

.

no, not so much.

.

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

.

part ii

otata’s bookshelf

.

Johannes S.H. Bjerg
Rainflames
Regnflammer

Click to read the pdf

John Perlman
The Keys

Click to read the pdf

 

.

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.”

.

All works copyright © 2016 by the respective poets.

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

september, 2016

otata 9

tokonoma

Write the story of a contemporary cured of his heartbreaks solely by long contemplation of a landscape.

CamusNotebooks: 1942-1951

Justin O’Brien, Trans.

.

.

i

A Formerly United Kingdom — A Formally United Kingdom

title uk poets image

.

John Phillips, David Miller, Erica Van Horn, Simon Cutts, Thomas A. Clark, Alec Finlay, Lila Matsumoto,
Malcolm Ritchie, Julie Johnstone, Gerry Loose, JL Williams, Ian Storr

.

Click on the link below to open the anthology.

A Formerly United Kingdom — A Formally United Kingdom

.

.

ii

John Levy, Sonam Chhoki, Chris Poundwhite, Lisa Espenmiller, Billy Antonio,
George Swede, Guliz Mutlu, Helen Buckingham

.

.

iii

Scott Watson, Making the New Santoka

(from the Santoka Book)

.



.

.

.

.

ii

 

.

.

John Levy

.

.

.

my mother chose an inexpensive
cookie jar for her future
ashes

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

taking photos of the clouds
a slower
cloud

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

wild plans

.

In Lorine Niedecker’s
Wintergreen Ridge

she writes that when Basil
Bunting visited her she
“neglected to ask”

                what wild plans
have you there?

.

and in her poem she
chastises herself for
being dark and

.

inconsiderate

.

I had to reread the
passage
to see her reproach of herself

.

was completely in
character
because she wished

.

she’d asked
about wild
plants

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

under and surrounding one tree thousands
of bowed praying devotees at a mosque face
the earth under which the roots stretch

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

searching for something to write with, the raindrop

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Sonam Chhoki

.

.

.

willow fronds move old boots in the gutter

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

the wind worries lone horse puddle

.

.

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.

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prayer flags in the hedge plastic bags

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

blue moon
age-veined hands
write outside the lines

.

.

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.

.

.

.

.

.

river mist rising cremation mound

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Chris Poundwhite

.

.

.

sparrows in the atrium all Vivaldi

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

shoes
back on

.

end of
lunch

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

a new
place

.

every

.

day

.

– you’ve grown

.

weed &
wild

.

flow
er

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

a hard
world

.

stone
under
sole

.

bare
foot

.

then
comes

.

a bee

.

&
every
thing’s

.

right

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

pull out
the sandwich

.

in a
few
minutes

.

gone

.

sun
still on
head &

.

wind in
hair

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

close eyes &<

.

still
see things

.

glowing
shapes

.

patterns
fad
ing

.

that
bee

.

pulls
the

.

whole
flower

.

down

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

‘hello
mate’
says the
man
w/
his
dog &
walks on

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

how
light

.

how
light

.

on yr
feet

.

sparrow

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

just
me

.

&
all
this

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Lisa Espenmiller

.

.

.

.

.

seamless grey sky
watching her
unravel

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Billy Antonio

.

.

.

family history
the scars and stains
on the dining table

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

weathered vane

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

returning geese
home scribbled
on a postcard

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

George Swede

.

.

.

the game with
seven billion players
one ball

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Guliz Mutlu

.

.

.

halicarnassus at night
honeysuckles
blown with the sand

.

.

Ξ 

 

.

 

Helen Buckingham

.

.

.

dawn chorus
the owl
bows out

.

.

 

iii

.iii

Scott Watson

.

MAKING THE NEW SANTŌKA

.

Most of us are aware that labels such as Romanticism, Modernism, etc. are scholarly constructions and that individual poets do not go around with “I’m a Modernist” in their head while making a poem. At the same time some of them don’t want to write in the way writers in a previous century wrote. They sense a duty to push their art forward. Some of them. Those are the ones labeled “Modernist.”

.

Meiji was an age in which much was different from before the opening of Japan to Western thoughts, technology, and gadgets. Novelty was fashionable. Novelist Natsume Soseki could have his own ice cream making machine.

.

Modernism in Japan, though, was not just a desire for novelty. New national pride was involved as well. Many Japanese, since their nation was newly on stage in an international environment, wanted an identity as a modern and powerful nation. They did not want to think of themselves as citizens of a backward, undeveloped country still rooted in feudalism. Keep up with the Joneses. Keep up with the times. The Meiji emperor was photographed in a Western uniform.

.

Certainly with minimalist brevity we can place Pound’s dictum “Make it new” upon much that was attempted in writing. Though even EP’s “Make it new” itself was ages old. Scholars tell us it comes from a long ago Chinese injunction, which might move us to wonder just what new is under the sun. It’s relative.

.

Santōka, though, was indeed looking for something new. That is what brought him to Ogiwara Seisensui. But “Make it new”: how is that said about a person who decides to live out his days as a Zen Buddhist poet-monk, wandering the land or practicing simple living in a cottage? It is difficult to catch hold of what Buddhism, or Zen Buddhism, is at a particular moment in the flow of Japan, and then what was it for Santōka?

.

After Japan’s modernization begins, Buddhism in general is seen as old fashioned and as inconsistent with logic and science. It’s seen as superstition (by the intellectual, international, elite). As things proceed there is a jostling for position in society, and Buddhism, including Zen, engages in self-renovation. Making it new.

.

Eventually war comes. What’s new? The Buddhism in Japan, including the Zen sects, available in Santōka’s day was supportive of imperial wars and explained away aggression’s injustices with old time karma so that it is the victims, due to their own bad karma, who are responsible for being mistreated. Old and new coexist.

.

The haiku form Santōka’s early Meiji predecessors inherited was centuries old, dating back, as a form independent from renku linked verse, to Bashō in the 17th century. Buddhism, as mentioned, was seen as old fashioned. So with the haiku form. And much else, I suspect. Masaoka Shiki pulled the haiku, dusty and old, out of its “tradition” condition. He brushed it off, made it good as new looking at real life scenes. Shiki is said to have opened the way for something different with this form, something new.

.

Ogiwara Seisensui (there are others too but OS stands out as representative) took things further than Shiki by dropping–and urging other poets to drop–all the (what seemed to him as) tedious and unnecessary rules governing, or constricting, haiku making. Let Haiku Be Fresh and Alive. The result is called free-style haiku. That is the style Santōka adopted after his encounter with Ogiwara.

.

Santōka says A Poem Is Born. Not “born of …..”–BORN. It may be impossible to know if that statement comes as a result of his reading a particular Western or ancient Chinese author or if it’s because he read something by a Japanese poet and said it in a new way. It’s more likely a visceral response to poem making. But the fact that a visceral response is recognized as a valid take on poem-making is maybe due to exposure to Western influence and telling of the changing times The fact that he expresses the matter as originating in his being’s own bowels sets it apart from what we might hear before the Meiji opening when a reference to the raw act of giving birth might have been frowned on as not being in good taste.

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The point is that various poets of the new age were responding to developments each in his or her unique way, and they each had different takes on what they were doing, whether it was Yosano’s “jikkan” (“feel of the moment” is my inept rendering), Hagiwara’s “shiseishin” (poetic spirit), or Ogiwara’s “Listen to nature”.. . . Their responses were unique, but good artists have always been about being unique. At times (more often that not?) they did not agree with or appreciate what another poet was doing, so it impossible for a modernist movement to be called a unified field.

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Neither was what they were doing necessarily new in all aspects. Yosano Akiko continued writing her tanka poems in classical, Heian era, Japanese. Ogiwara, after scraping off centuries of whatever it is that accumulates when one is a poetry god, returns to vitality he finds in Bashō. “Follow nature and return to nature”

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These were not close-minded people and they knew there was still much from the ancients that was usable just as they found inspiration through imports they could adapt to express something vital through their Japanese language and culture.

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It was the POSSIBILITY for their different responses to have a venue, a presence (in a literary world), that came with the changing times. …

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~~~

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Japan’s traditional forms are said to have bothered some of its modernist poets. Hagiwara Sakutarō (1886~1942), whose years pretty much coincide with Santōka’s (1882~1940), wrote that “It is no wonder that in an age of anxiety like ours such a poetry of elegant beauty and leisurely pleasure has begun to bore readers.” [Eng. by Ueda Makoto] Hagiwara is referring to especially haiku.

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Santōka obviously saw it differently. In his free style haiku there is an absence of elegant beauty and leisurely pleasure. Nor is his poetry filled with modern life anxiety and despair. Despite whatever manifested as his actual life, there is no “sickness of modern life” to the poems–only natural, healthy dying. In his poetry there is what can’t be labelled. To label something we must bring it to a standstill to be boxed and stamped, and that is not possible with Santōka’s flux.

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Dropping a few nuisances that plague traditional haiku, this form, in his hands at least, is able to embrace Westernization in all its permeations and permutations.

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Santōka, in priest robes is in town standing chanting sutra holding his iron alms bowl begging. Jazz music pumps out from inside a building. Santōka writes of it:

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お経届かないジャズの騒音

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Which, in one dimension, in prose, could mean something like “This jazz is too loud for a sutra to be heard.” (I can’t hear myself not think.)

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Are Jazz and sutra set in opposition? Is something from the modern age set against tradition, drowning it out? That is the standard interpretation of modernity versus tradition. As modernity advances, many traditions disappear, are not preserved. Not eating meat, for example.

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Is Santōka lamenting the influence of Western cultural imports? Or are each manifestations of non-divisive mystery? If Santōka’s words are merely the explanatory prose mentioned above, where is the poetry? What’s the poem?

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We might wonder, too, if Santōka had some kind of affinity for jazz because, like his own freestyle work that abandons rules for traditional haiku, jazz is, according to a music aficionado, at times improvisational and can be performed comparatively freely, based on a performer’s sense of the number.

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Poetry is music beyond measure.

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For Santōka the fecund is anything anywhere. Anything can be poetry–even nothing. It depends. Santōka’s sutra chanting witnesses jazz, lets jazz be. Jazz lets the sutra/chanter realize their own power to go on, even though it might seem they are powerless. Through his haiku both flow as one (not Pure Land but) poem-land place. East and West can never meet because of the fragmentary nature of our minds. But Santōka takes us beyond East and West.

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Buddhist tradition is brought into contact with the materialistic modern age (jazz) and is renewed through his poetry. The materialistic modern age is brought into contact with Buddhism, made spiritual–though not made traditional–through his poetry. Buddhism is set free from predetermined boundaries for what the spiritual is. Jazz is set free from predetermined boundaries for what materialistic music is.

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And he does this with a poem based on the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern Hagiwara tells us are unusable by modern Japanese. Eye of the beholder, it seems. Depends on how the eye is conditioned. Or unconditioned. Or ear.

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When he journeyed north to the Tohoku region, visiting some of the spots Bashō visited and visiting members of Layered Clouds, he went as far as Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture, which was the northernmost spot Bashō visited. A place of historical significance as well as literary importance mainly because of Bashō.

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ここまでを来し水飲んで去る

Come all the way here drink water leave

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Not to dwell, but it absorbs both ancient and modern.

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From the All Flowing Cottage 万流庵

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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.”

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All works copyright © 2016 by the respective poets.

Address submissions to otatahaiku@gmail.com

—John Martone

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 
 

..

.

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