Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Chest Full Of Sparrows

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Orange and gold carp,
Living beneath ice.
Uncaring of the world above,
Sustained by the water below.

—Deng Ming Dao


—Shinkichi Takahashi

Give it words,
Stick limbs on it,
You won't alter essence.
Whereas the wind—

I'll live gently
As the wind, flying
Over the town,
My chest full of sparrows.


—Shinkichi Takahashi

Standing with cold bare feet
Atop the universe,
Raking down the ashes of logic,
My voice will be fresh again.

I've had more than enough
Of the polite sexuality of wind
And stars. It's not science that beats
The black into the parrot's bill.

Without hands and little spirit,
I'll blow and blow
Till that fresh sound comes:
I refuse to hear of the fate of wingless birds.


—Shinkichi Takahashi

Gale: tiles, roofs whirling,
disappearing at once.

Rocks rumble, mountains
swallow villages,
yet insects, birds chirp by
the shattered bridge.

Men shoot through space,
race sound. On TV nations
maul each other, endlessly.

Why this confusion,
how restore the ravaged
body of the world?


—Shinkichi Takahashi

The blackbird swooped,
eyes shadowing earth, dead leaves,
feathers tipped with snow.

One finds beaches anywhere,
airports, skies of snow.

Perched on the ticket counter,
blackbird watches
the four-engined plane land,
propellers stilled.

Dead leaves flutter from the sky.


—Yoshihara Sachiko

when i awake
i wonder
if the color
i thought i saw
in my dream
was real
or imaginary

was it red?
i turn back
towards the word red
but the color is gone

what i thought was
being alive
is only various colors
reflected and scattered
in my mind

sun setting
turned the windowpane orange
shower spray
was a diamond color
so i thought

now only the memory
of color remains
the window
and the shower spray
have vanished


—Fukao Sumako

It is a bright house;
not a single rooom is dim.

It is a house which rises high
on the cliffs, open
as a lookout tower.

When the night comes
I put a light in it,
a light larger than the sun and the moon.

how my heart leaps
when my trembling fingers
strike a match in the evening.

I lift my breasts
and inhale and exhale the sound of love
like the passionate daughter of a lighthouse keeper.

It is a bright house.
I will create in it
a world no man can ever build.


Today's LittleNip:

Climbing the wax tree
to the thundering sky,
I stick my tongue out—
What a downpour!

—Shinkichi Takahashi



(Today's translations were by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto (Takahashi), Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi.)

SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


There will be no rattle-read in July, while the Snake enjoys a little summer hibernation. (Stay current on Sacramento poetry, though, by way of Medusa's Kitchen.) Then join us Weds., August 12 to celebrate Joyce Odam’s birthday month with two new books from her: Peripherals: Prose Poems by Joyce Odam (illustrated by Charlotte Vincent) and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love).
That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Free!

WTF!: The second issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick, is now available at The Book Collector or through, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one.
Deadline for Issue #3 (which will be available August 21) was July 15; next deadline will be Oct. 15. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send your poems, photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing, to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 (clearly marked for WTF).
And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be
over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at

RATTLESNAKE REVIEW: Issue #22 is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. Or you can order copies of current or past issues through Deadline is August 15 for RR23: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to or
P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to add all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of the on-going Medusa are always hungry; keep that poetry comin', rain or shine!
Just let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa, or for either one, and please—only one submission packet per issue of the quarterly Review.
(More info at

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46: Snake Secrets: Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press (and lots of other places, besides!): A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process so as to make editors everywhere more happy, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting your poetry published. Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or write to me and I'll send you one. Free!


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events, to (or snail ‘em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.) Medusa cannot vouch for the moral fiber of other publications, contests, etc. that she lists, however, so submit to them at your own risk. For more info about the Snake Empire, including guidelines for submitting to or obtaining our publications, click on the link to the right of this column: Rattlesnake Press ( And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.