"The phantom child has grown up"

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Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears

A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Robin Behn

Richard Garcia

John Hennessy

Adrian Matejka

Ayukawa Nobuo

Eunice Odio

Kathryn Rantala

Anna Ross

Mathias Svalina

Larissa Szporluk

Kevin Tsai

Ayukawa Nobuo
translated from the Japanese by Leza Lowitz and
Shogo Oketani

The View

There's a man smoking a cigarette in the twilight,
all alone, leaning on the bridge,
and there's a view as lonely as his back.
The sound of someone's heavy footsteps passes,
clacking in his ribs like each step in the future.
The windows in the city are lit today, too
and the sky exists over the turbid river
just the same as yesterday.

It isn't that he can't see many skeletons
changing into young couples
holding each other behind the arc of light,
dancing crazily in the ruins.
It isn't that he can't faintly hear
the old deaf man shouting something at the world
from the top of a far-away building.

It isn't that this solitary portrait
doesn't feel sad about his unhappiness--
let alone dream.
It's just that he's merely smoking a cigarette,
absently leaning on the bridge.
There's neither tomorrow nor yesterday.
In his fate, there's nothing but that
and the occasional gleam of the river's surface
that illuminates his forehead,
making the view even paler.



Ode to Autumn

A beautiful boy no one knew
led my mother by the hand,
took her away to a boat at a sunny beach.
Waiting for my mother's return,
in my lonely room
I was terrified of the sound of the waves...
my long days of nightmare stretched on and on.

In the end, mother never returned.
Now, a photo on my desk
has faded like an old familiar memory.
Where has that beautiful boy gone?
Don't ask the lowly heart.
Just believe that the lonely eyelashes
and small red lips
cannot be separated--
even beyond this world.
Looking at the boat
abandoned at the beach
I believe the mother
who lost the beautiful boy
also lost her way.

When the autumn wind blows,
trees and wild roses wither.
The road to the beach
floats mysteriously in the air.
The boat carrying the beautiful boy
and his distant mother
drifts in the evening sea
at sunset, like leaves or dragonflies.
The phantom child has grown up
to forgive the mother
and the beautiful boy
who were carried off by waves
long ago one summer day.




The smile of the white moon is lonely,
eulalia beckon me from a far-away place...
"Come here, come here..."
is it just the whim of the wind-blown dew
upon awakening?
The sound of someone beating the kinuta2
echoes from the distance.
It must be calling me,
but I can't, for the life of me,
seem to find the shape of that person.
A few thousand miles
of the path I have roamed...
A fifty-year-old memory
in the darkness
within darkness.


1 Searching for a lover in a previous lifetime.
2 A wood or stone block used to make fabric shine.


Translators' Bio Notes Leza Lowitz is a writer, translator of Japanese, and popular yoga teacher, born in San Francisco in 1962. She is compiling a book together with Shogo Oketani of Ayukawa's poems entitled, America and Other Poems. Her most recent book, Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By (Stone Bridge Press, 2000) received the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Best Book of Poetry 2001, and she has published six books of translations.

Shogo Oketani was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1958. His great- grandmother was a geisha, and his great-grandfather was a gambler. He graduated from Tokyo's prestigious Keio University with a degree in Philosophy and Literature, and worked for 12 years as a journalist in Tokyo before escaping to Northern California. He is Adjunct Professor of Translation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. Author of a collection of poems, Cold River (Kobe, Japan: Marodosha Publishers), Oketani is also currently translating the poetry and criticism of the esteemed Japanese modernist poet Ayukawa Nobuo, for which he received a grant from the NEA in 1997 with Lowitz. Oketani's essay on translation is forthcoming in an anthology on literary translation from Copper Canyon Press in 2002. His translations of Ayukawa and postwar Decadent novelist Ango Sakaguchi have appeared in Manoa, Two Lines, Another Chicago Magazine, Five Fingers Review, and Convulvulus.