I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

po_JapaneseEros The beauty and challenge of writing about love and the Beloved is that the secret truths which the body knows, particularly in its most ecstatic moments, have the tendency to slip away when shifted into language. The lovers whose poems are represented here have used short verses like rose-petals dropped on the stairs leading the way to the bed chamber. Using traditional Japanese haiku or tonka form, they express sentiments of desire, love, and suffering.

 

 

1.

A cherry blossom
Always falls
At the right time

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2.

A praying mantis is not to be trusted
With a grasshopper
She is so young!

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3.

A single dark curly hair
Stuck to the soap
Is all that she has left behind

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4.

A storm is coming
Lightning splits the night
But you are here
Already

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5.

A winter day
Yields itself to spring
For just a moment

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6.

Arms and legs entwined
Fighting and loving
Much the same

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7.

As a new fallen snow
Is unmarred and pure
As a spring bud
Is ready to blossom
The young beauty awaits her prince

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8.

As the sun rose
A thick flock of cranes
Flew from the island
Years pass
The loud cries of desire
Settle into the minds of the young

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9.

At two o’clock
Even the moon has gone to bed
I can’t sleep when I know
You are reading my poems

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10.

Beneath this silk kimono
I am naked.
Why are you not here

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11.

Early morning glows
in the faint shimmer
of first light.
Choked with sadness,
I help you into your clothes.

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12.

Even though the house is a mess
My husband doesn’t mind
He thinks it is him

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13.

How tragic! The ripe persimmon
Laying on the ground, uneaten.
Won’t you return soon?

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14.

I love the moon
When I’m with you
Because I never see it

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15.

If I know you are spying while I eat
I put down the sticks
Use my hands and lick my fingers

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16.

Long ago I forced myself
To forget your name
But I cannot forget
Your touch

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17.

My clever cat,
Sly creature that she is.
No end to her patience
But she only waits
For a mouse.

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18.

My husband has
Gone crazy
He writes poetry all night
Even with his fingertips
Across my back

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19.

My other lovers satisfy
But you leave me
Starving
Why do I want only you?

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20.

No blossom scented breeze
Ever blew so sweetly
As your sleeping breath
On my cheek
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21.

Obasan—
Old Woman—
Take my hand
You know the territory

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22.

Only in my dreams
Do you lay beside me
How I dread the sunrise

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23.

Pain trickling down
My finger traces each drop
Laugh lines in your face

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24.

Rice again…
You walk in the room and sit
Down across the table from me
How delicious the rice

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25.

Sip hot tea
As it is served
The pot takes time
To boil again

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26.

Snow falls
And slowly fills the tracks
Of your leaving

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27.

Spring comes
In my room
When you awaken

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28.

Sweet oranges
Fill me
With another hunger

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29.

The blackness of the winter night
Creeps up the fringes of my silk robe,
No promises were made…
And none were kept

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30.

The brown thrush
Chirps greetings to the dawn
Oblivious to the pain
Of your fleeting touch

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31.

The gate / unlocked
The door / ajar
My heart / quickens
Waiting / for darkness
A visit

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32.

The koi swim silently
As I wait
For my Beloved

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33.

The lady next door wants me to stop
Playing the flute so late at night
She doesn’t know what it feels like
When you’re not here

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34.

The morning dew
Reminds me too much
Of you

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35.

The neighbors
Complained of cats
Fighting late
Into the night

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36.

The old crane
Walks awkward steps
But will always know
How to fly

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37.

The rain sounds
Like footsteps
When will I see you again?

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38.

The roof groans
Under its load of snow
I think I will wake you again

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39.

The sandal maker is eighty years old.
Each time I visit he points out the chair
Where his wife used to sit.
I nod, understanding.

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40.

There is no need
For religion
Beyond duty to my master

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41.

This January night
As the wings of my kimono open
I stand before you, alone,
And shivering.

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42.

Tomorrow we’ll be together
You will climb the mountain
In my bed

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43.

Waiting has its rewards
Today I watched
A purple hyacinth
Exploding.

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44.

We will plant in spring
But for now
You have called me
To your side

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45.

Which is more pleasurable,
The bowl or the tea?
The dimple in her cheek as she asks

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46.

Woman samurai—
Put down your iron war fan
And rest here

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47.

You have left my bed
Without a word,
The warm glow of autumn
Cools quickly
With the breath of winter

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48.

Your father and I
Used to be friends
Before he awoke
In the middle of the night