I’ve mentioned Nanao Sakaki before and I continue to enjoy reading his work.
This collection of poems is one I’ve been looking for for a while. I finally found a reasonably priced new copy on AbeBooks.com.
“I love you” feels the darkening window dummy’s rough powder-snow mixed with a white wink, passing under seven-waterfalled-breast with—in the night—the spreading sound of all-or-nothing rapids, following charred rockskin scarring fingertips, Mary’s lover leads a suffering ass and opening tobacco-reeking fly YAHOO!
—from Bellyfulls, Part 1, How to Live on the Planet Earth, Nanao Sakaki
We mourn the broken things, chair legs wrenched from their seats, chipped plates, the threadbare clothes. We work the magic of glue, drive the nails, mend the holes. We save what we can, melt small pieces of soap, gather fallen
The poems date from 1966 and they are translated into English by the author.
Some people like their books to be in pristine condition but I have become less picky over the years. There is an inscription in this book that puts a smile on my face.
“To Another World Citizen…”
—Chris Iverson, Clara Dugan, Shannon & Meghan
I posted the untitled first poem from this collection the other day. I repeat it again here.
If you have time to chatter Read books If you have time to read Walk into mountain, desert and ocean If you have time to walk sing songs and dance If you have time to dance Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot
And a random selection:
Sharpening a Knife
Nanao, keep your knife clean Nanao, keep your mind clean
Sea breeze is bad for a knife they say Sea breeze is good for a m mind they say
Sea Breeze not bad for a knife Sharpen your knife, that’s all
Sea breeze neither bad nor good The ocean a whetstone for mind
A clean knife mind A clean mind ocean Nanao, sleep well tonight Blossoming crinum lily as a shelter The coral sand beach as a bed The Southern Cross as a pillow.
—Iriomote, Japan, Under the Tropic of Cancer, February 1976
Line three of Sharpening a Knife is typed here as it appears in the print version but I suspect a possible editing mistake. Perhaps it should read “Sea breeze is good for the mind they say.”
By the way, I ordered this book from AbeBooks which I recommend if you are looking for something out of print.
You wander in and out of rain. The city encloses you. You feel the darkening of its metals, above ground and below. Every night you touch a boundary you don’t understand. Even asleep you crave sleep, you
A dear friend of mine and I were recently discussing some of the surprising educational blessings we received in high school in Hutchinson, Kansas. The music program was exceptional, with some truly dedicated teachers. (Thank you Jim Swiggart and Mike … the rest “Reciting The Hollow Men”
I take a solo excursion into the canyonlands with some water, some nuts, some berries. The water runs out. The nuts and berries run out. My legs give out. I sit down and lean against a rock. I go through … the rest “Clarity”
Yesterday, April 13th, was the birthday of poet Seamus Heaney. My father’s birthday is also this month and when I pulled this volume of Heaney’s poems off my bookshelf, I remembered that this was yet another gift of verse my dad had given to me a number of years ago.
Here’s a poem about fathers and sons. (My father is alive and well, despite what the sentiment of the verse implies.)
My father worked with a horse-plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horses strained at his clicking tongue.
As expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright steel-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the header, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed and angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly.
I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod.
I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow round the farm.
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me, and will not go away.