“Five Senryū” by Timothy Liu

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Timothy Liu

FIVE SENRYŪ

Blind Date

Scrabble tiles spilled
across the bedroom floor—

no one keeping score.

 

 

 

During One of Mahler’s Endless Adagios

The crinkled crackling
of a lozenge being unwrapped

followed by a yawn—

 

 

 

The Honeymoon

My body is not
Afghanistan so perhaps

it’s time you pull out.

 

 

 

Occupied

when he unzipped
to display his sizable

stimulus package—

 

 

 

Spring Is Here

With cherry blossoms
swirling again around us—

stop talking so much!

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms

[download audio]

__________

Timothy Liu: “As a fan of short syllabic poems, I’ve been writing haiku (5–7–5) and tanka (5–7–5–7–7) for decades and keep them in a special file. I almost never send to haiku journals because they don’t publish the sorts of things I like to read. As for American letters, I think there’s a distrust of poems of such brevity (unless they’re translations of Bashō!), so I mostly keep these little gem-like forms to my lonesome.” (website)



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“Four Haiku” by Deborah P. Kolodji

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Deborah P. Kolodji

FOUR HAIKU

icicles
the mortgage
paid off early

 

 

 

highway
of sleeping towns
the Milky Way

 

 

 

winter solitude
the company
of unshelved books

 

 

 

horse calendar
Grandmother dreams
she’s bareback

 

 

 

Oldflute Shakuhachi by Rick Wilson

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms

[download audio]

__________

Deborah P. Kolodji: “Yellow grass waves in the summer sun. Monuments to the fallen dot the battlefield as I walk alone on my first visit to Gettysburg. The words of Bashō pop into my head—translated by Lucien Stryk, ‘summer grasses/ all that remains/ of a warrior’s dreams’—and I start to cry. The sadness of the earth, the memories of the fallen, and the words of a seventeenth century poet in Japan all come together in a moment of connection. Separated by centuries and thousands of miles, Bashō and I are in the same place. This is why I love haiku.” (website)



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“Three Haiku” by Jee Leong Koh

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Jee Leong Koh

THREE HAIKU

wind, unpin
the dead butterflies
from the tree

 

 

 

the rain changes
to snow then to rain
the bus is here

 

 

 

spring wind
I can go left
or right

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms

[download audio]

__________

Jee Leong Koh: “I started writing zuihitsu first and published a collection titled The Pillow Book, after Sei Shōnagon. Writing zuihitsu gave me the freedom to append a haiku or a tanka to a passage of prose. I loved the movement from the discursiveness of prose to the distillation of poetry. Then I discovered that one can obtain that relaxed concentration in a haiku alone.” (website)



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“After Fukushima” by Mariko Kitakubo

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Mariko Kitakubo

AFTER FUKUSHIMA

Tanka Sequence

1

when
will my later years
start?—
a mother cat has babies
at the ruined village

 

2

dim light
of cherry blossoms—
unstoppable
petal storm in the ruins
beyond my five senses

 

3

sounds
of the stream
in my homeland—
Strontium is soaking
into the placenta

 

4

cherry avenue
my late mother’s favorite …
is there
another world?
petal drift

 

5

there were
days when I had
my dream …
are you there now?
Betelgeuse

 

Translated from the Japanese by the author and Kath Abela Wilson;
Oldflute Shakuhachi by Rick Wilson

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms

[download audio]

__________

Mariko Kitakubo: “While composing poems is the primary thing to do, I want to continue expressive activities by means of reading performances in and out of the country. I feel it meaningful to vibrate Japanese traditional rhythm sounds, consisting of units of five and seven syllables, in front of tanka lovers whose native language is not Japanese.” (website)



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