Kikakuza Haibun Contest 2010



秋の空 ……..The autumn sky

尾上の杉の .Has distanced itself …

はなれたり ..From the ridge-top cedar.

(其角 Takarai Kikaku, Basho’s senior Edo disciple; scroll painting in the collection of Jogyoji Temple, Isehara)

Kikakuza will be open to receive entries for both its Japanese and its English language Haibun Contests 2010 between 1 Oct. and 31 Jan. The guidelines and address for entry will be displayed on a new page (top right) on this site from mid-Sep. Anyone is welcome to enter. You can read this year’s winning pieces now by clicking on the words ‘Kikakuza ’09 Winning Haibun’ at top right.

Another Kiyotaki

Sun up after rain,P1100105-

…. Grass sparkling

…….. Sweetly-scented –

………… Swift, the Hozu’s flow.  ……………………………… (Akira Kibi)

Aug 2 – the last day (as it turned out) of a very long rainy season. Together with several members of the NPO, People Together for Mt. Ogura, a number of Hailstones hiked down the Hozu Gorge on a narrow road fifteen metres or so above a river in spate.

たゆまなく流るる川の波泡も 無常なりやと保津川のたまふ ……. (高田幸男)

Unceasing, ever-changing / My current’s waves and swirls – / The Hozu River speaks. ….. (Yukio Takada)

After viewing from Ochiai the craggy north face and distant pine-clad summit of Mt. Ogura, we headed up the usually idyllic Kiyotaki Stream.

Ah, Kiyotaki – /As if you were the Amazon / Your deep roar! ……. (Tito) P1100078-

A picnic was shared on rocks by the torrent, and the ‘Coolest Place in Kyoto’ (breeze at a bridge over a cascade) was later enjoyed. Some trekked on through the forest to the nearest village to meet urgent needs.

.. hopping along the muddy hillside

.. the Englishman as a rabbit …

.. sunlight through leaves. …………. (Mari Kawaguchi) P1100097-

…….. Red round faces

…….. Line the Kiyotaki trail –

…….. August mushrooms ………….. (Richard D.)P1100099-

As Keiko dipped her toes, one nameless (brainless?) person

… went in for a swim!

The Global War on Terror

It’s a yearly August ritual, for this American ex-patriate: a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV in American parlance) out at Nagaoka-tenjin. I am there to renew my Kyoto-issued International Driver’s license so that I can pilot a rented car in my own home country. There’s no such thing as an “American” driver’s license (a quirk of our federal system); there are only state licenses. When I tried some years ago to renew my Michigan license from abroad, I was refused. I had to come back to Kalamazoo and prove my residence there, they told me. When I tried to obtain a new Georgia state license last year the clerk demanded that I forfeit my Japanese license first. I couldn’t get any better explanation out of either DMV than a familiar American shibboleth: 9/11. The new strictures are part of the so-called global war on terror, it seems. So the world wags, the American world anyway. And with my Kyoto-issued International Driver’s License I will, next week, rent a car in my hometown of Augusta, Georgia––a semi-tropical place where the cicadas, this time of year, fairly howl in the heat of the afternoon.

louder than the bus
to Nagaoka-tenjin Station,
the cicadas call––
license to go home

From Hardy to Haiku: A Friendly Exchange

Stephen (Tito) and I lately had an exchange via e-mail that may be of interest to readers of the Icebox. I sent him a favorite short poem of mine by his countryman Thomas Hardy. Hardy is better known in Japan as a novelist. But in fact he wrote some of the best poetry we have in English from the early part of the 20th century. (Hardy died in 1928.) In this poem, Hardy “updates,” or echoes, a passage from the Old Testament of the Bible (Job 14:14): “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” I say that Hardy “updates” the Old Testament text because he alludes to it in full awareness of what modern science had revealed: that even the stars have life cycles and die; in short, that everything is mortal––in heaven as on earth. Stephen then rewrote Hardy’s poem as a haiku, reproduced here below the original. I especially like the way Stephen catches the nuance of Hardy’s “For all I know” in the second line of his haiku: “we shrug our shoulders.” One final point of interest: the noun “change” used to mean (among other things) “The passing from life; death.” That sense of the word itself passed out of use––or met its own “change”––in the mid 19th century. Thomas Hardy is reviving its older sense, if I may put it that way with mild irony.

Waiting Both”  (Thomas Hardy)

A star looks down at me,
And says: “Here I and you
Stand each in our degree:
What do you mean to do,—
Mean to do?”

I say: “For all I know,
Wait, and let Time go by,
Till my change come.”—”Just so,
The star says: “So mean I:—
So mean I.”

Tito’s fine rendition of the poem in haiku:

the star & I ––
we shrug our shoulders,
let time go by