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November 2008 Issue VIII:4

Gendai Haiku Translations by Hiroaki Sato

Tomizawa Kakio (1902-1962)

Kakio was born the first son of a doctor in Ehime; studied economics at Waseda University; while a student, wrote some haiku; in 1926, shortly after finding employment at a distribution company, was drafted into the Army’s corps of engineers; discharged less than a year later with the rank of second lieutenant; employed by a bank in 1930; sent haiku to the conservative Hototogisu (Cuckoo), which did not accept any; in 1934, started a business but failed; became an active contributor to Kikan (Flagship), which was started in 1935 to embody “a new spirit” and liberalism; in 1937, redrafted into the Army’s corps of engineers and fought in China until he was sent home on account of malaria in 1940; discharged with the rank of first lieutenant the same year; under increasing pressure against liberalism, democracy, and such, Kikan closed in May 1941 and merged with two other haiku magazines to become Kohaku (Amber) the following month; Kakio became its representative poet; in August, published his first book of haiku, Ten no Ōkami (The Wolf in Heaven); in October, drafted, once again, into the Army and deployed in the northern part of the Kurile Islands; discharged in March 1944; after the war, started a few magazines; in 1952, published his second book of haiku, Hebi no Fue (The Snake’s Flute); 1961, his third, Mokushi (Revelations); died of lung cancer the following year; in 1965, the definitive edition of his haiku was published.


Glaringly in the tiger's eyes fall dead leaves

Transfixed in the leopard's eyes withered vines

Furious at the sun the black panther sharpens his black claws

Winter comes the fire-spurting mountain lets fire spurt

A butterfly crashes a thunderous noise the freezing time

Night flowers fall I sniff the earth with beasts

A leopard's cage not a drop of water is in heaven

Poetry withered a white autumn rooster slaps the clouds

Poetry parched blue sky's stone scorches in my palm

Poetry useless on the riverbed burning a lone bull

A certain night I hold my breath to hear the Yangtze's steps

Clang-clang we go clang-clang we just go to the front

Deep in my eyes a trench I crawl red I crawl

My palm has turned into a white Wuhan map

*(Wuhan was a great industrial zone that came into being when three cites were combined.)

I'm still alive mountains rivers moisten in my eyes

Copyright © 2004-2008 by Roadrunner Haiku Journal. All rights revert to the authors upon publication.