Horizon Over the Sea, Horizon Over the Land

There were histories of wars,
histories of hometowns,
histories of invasions,
histories of humiliations,
and histories of colonizations.

The world remains silent.
So let’s wait for the dawn.

There were histories of reconciliations,
histories of trust,
histories of minds thinking,
histories of welfare,
and histories of families.

Now in the era of terrorism,
in the era of strife,
in the era of evil government,
in the era of slave trading,
and in the era of abuse

The world remains silent.
So let’s wait for the dawn.

We can only

bare our teeth in anger,
wipe our eyes in sadness,
turn our eyes to the sky in despair,
and smile together gently.

After shedding the tears,
let’s turn our eyes to the rainbow.

Let’s open our fists
and enjoy the sweet breezes.

Let’s pat our neighbor’s shoulders,
let’s listen to the wind in the leaves.

Let’s pen the first line of a letter,
let’s just gaze up at a cloud.

A mother and child chattering joyfully,
we’ll listen to their voices.

Let’s pray for the future,
the horizon over the sea,
the horizon over the land.

1

Hey, poet. You, mankind.
In this disaster, what did you see?

Did you see the man who lost his family, lost his home, lost his hometown, lost Japan—did you see his fist wiping away his tears?

Did you see the terrifying face of radiation? The profile?

Did you see the man, his hometown lost, Japan lost, nestling his cheek upon the cow he’s raised, crying.

Shrinking from the once-familiar breeze and earth,
did you stare into the sandbox where no one is playing?

Did you see the walnut tree, which was cut down
because people feared an aftershock would topple it?

Can your poems recover the lost families, homes, hometowns, Japan? Can they comfort the man wiping his tears, his fist wiping them away, his hometown lost to him, Japan lost to him, the man crying and nestling his cheek on his cherished cow? Can they restore the once-familiar breeze and earth? Can they bring back the children to the sandbox?

Can you recover them, you miserable poet, you piss-poor poet…?
Can you?

The precious moment of the man wiping his tears,
of the man crying and nestling his cheek on his cherished cow
the once-familiar breeze and earth, and the sandbox of that day…
Winds, clouds, lights, fish, harbors, the strong smell of hot grass,
grandfathers, Japan, ships, the sound of laughter, cherry trees,
roadsides, book satchels, mountains all around, grandmothers, Fukushima….
What are you going to do with them? Your feeble thinking is no good. Go away!

You think of the walnut tree?
You just think?

Aftershock.

2

I’m trembling in a prison cell of body and mind, and yet
I want to be a conductor of symphonies.

Trembling in my prison cell of body and mind,
there is nothing to do but
write poems.
My shadow is covered with tens of thousands of deaths,

so that the earth is becoming round. Hey, goddamn devil.
This world is way too quiet, an uproar of silence.

Then
I keep
thinking of the walnut tree, cut down,
Thinking of it, I roll a walnut in my palm.
Is that all? You stupid, spoiled kid.
In the midst of the devil’s rant,
the sky crushes down on us?

A horse ran under the earth, and the world was engulfed in darkness.
The number of the dead and the missing still increases.
In exile, we wailed and despaired.
Everywhere the sky begins to fall. At such a moment,
plant a walnut tree,
the tree taken from us, lost.

You may be swallowed by the whirl of indignation at the loss,
by the accelerating contradictions in our society,
by the uncanny smoke and fire,
by the bodies of the shadows of radiation,
by the sadness of losing your house and family…but
you have to stand up

Oh, the city, our city. Plant a walnut tree in the city of our friends.

Oh, the mountain village, our mountain village. Plant a walnut tree in the mountain village where our poets live.

Oh, the ocean, our ocean. Plant a walnut tree in the ocean, our mother.

Oh, the blue sky, our blue sky. Plant a walnut tree in the blue sky, our father.

A walnut tree standing alone,
plant a walnut tree―
Just plant it.

3

I’m trembling in a prison cell of body and mind, and yet
I want to be a conductor of symphonies, for my shadow.

Trembling
in my prison cell of body and mind, all I can do is
write poems,
for my shadow.

Tens of thousands of deaths pile up,
so that the earth is becoming round. Hey, goddamn devil.

This world is way too quiet, an uproar of silence.

Poetry, the devil.

I’ll beat you with my poems I’ll burn you up with my poems I’ll tear you up with my poems I’ll wither you with my poems I’ll make you cry with my poems I’ll break you down with my poems

If I’m the devil as long as I write poems, how, with poems, can I drive me, the devil, out of myself?

By writing poems I destroy poems, I destroy you and poems, I destroy poems with poems, I destroy poems with poems…

Full of thoughts of death by fire, I cherish the tree, the walnut tree.

Plant the tree, let their walnuts fall.

Cherish the burning walnut tree and the falling walnuts.

The tumbling walnuts.

The meaning of a single walnut,

the cosmos,

the earth,

the eye,

the pupil.

Did you see

the tsunami,

the fangs of nuclear energy?

5

What does this earthquake, this disaster, want to say? If it has nothing to say, what can we believe in?

The meanings of all things, all events,
come afterwards.
But afterwards itself means what?
In that word does meaning lie?

Is there meaning in hurting us like this?

Radiation rains here. The night is so quiet, so serene.

Our final destination is nothing but tears.

I’ll write like Asura,
like a devil.
Oh, I’ll become
the walnut tree,
towering in my prison cell
of spirit and body.

Who are you?
Of course, I’m the devil,
the soul of poetry.
Hey, you, mankind,
never ever forget about that earthquake.
Focus on your hot, living heart,
and expose yourself to the rain of blood.
Never forget about
the forever burning walnut tree.

Stand up, on the bloody ground,
in the great river of light,
in the wind and sails.
Hey, seagull,
fly on by.
the walnut, the cosmos, the earth, the eye, the pupil, a blink―
Goddamn the earthquake,
the devil,
the poetry—
As long as there’s disaster
My soul will surely be sold cheap.
My arms ripped off.
I give
everything
to poetry.
Sometime,
my poem
annihilated
by my poem.
And at that time
the devil’s end.
And at this time,
I mutter
to the devil:

Give back my soul, give back my dreams, give back my life, give back my hometown, give back the grass, give back my village, give back my poetry, give back the walnut tree—

And an infinite number of boats will come flying in, flying in.

And an infinite number of horses will leap up, leap up—aftershock.

What tumbles into the boy’s day is a nut, a walnut…

There was a big walnut tree outside my room in the house of my birth.

Walnuts, words, walnuts, words.

I stared at the sad growth rings of the fallen walnut tree.

Had there been no March Eleventh, there would have been no looking at this sad cross-section.

The growth rings of the walnut tree reveal the pattern of our hearts—and of the Japanese people.

Tears, time, family, history, Fukushima, life, the future, dented cars, boats turned up on their sides, steam, evacuation centers, the chief cabinet secretary’s account, the growth rings of the Japanese people.

When I stare at the cut cross-section of the walnut tree, my history sheds tears. Goddamn, devil!

You call me devil, and I tell you this. I tell you about your weakness.

I don’t want to listen to you.
You don’t yet know the real devil.

Inside my spirit, an inferno of growth rings is swirling.

You are the devil.

How come?

You were in a room alone, shaking. You were in a room alone, crying. You were alone hitting a wall. You were alone despairing for Japan. But that was all. Afterwards, you wrote dull poems, sold your soul cheap.

So what?

You write poems, the earth grows angry and destroys everything. This world does it.

Speechless. Aftershock.

Look, the world, easy as pie, breaks the silence.
And pulling up the roots, the world steals the world.

Before my eyes,
there’s nothing but destruction, is there?
Your silly poems,
what use are they?
There’s nothing but destruction, is there?

You
are the devil.

6

I cannot control my tears.

I believed in certainty. The certainty of the world the certainty of the everyday the certainty of nuclear power

But now, the “certainty” of what? The certainty of “nothing certain”?

The certainty that nothing is certain, negated by the certainty that … negated by the certainty that …negated by the certainty that…negated by the certainty that…negated by the certainty that…negated by the certainty that …

The certainty of nuclear power, the certainty of hometown, the certainty of Fukushima, the certainty of Japan, the certainty of love, the certainty of money, the certainty of you, the certainty of life, the certainty of words, the certainty of the certain.

Certain nuclear power, certain hometown, certain Fukushima, certain Japan, certain love, certain money, certain you, certain life, certain words―the certainty of the certain.

All we can believe in is certainty. If we can’t, the earth, the mighty rivers, the oceans, won’t believe in us. Radioactive rain. We feel it…

What?

Certainly we shall live.

Certainly we shall live.

We were born here, in this land of Fukushima. If we don’t believe, who will?

Live, for certain, live.

Ponder the tree in the spirit, the darkness in which the spirit tumbles. The spirit leads night to dawn, the spirit mutters words, let the spirit live, keep the spirit living, you

You precious you on your cheek, a tear

Sometime peacefully to make it a single thread I pray

And then, together, steering the ship steering the poem

from the dark harbor toward the bright coast we’ll become the morning we’ll become birth

Pull the oars the poem the boat

To live a new poem let’s live a new poem

Together, we believe here, we write

Disaster, its brief but violent history Disaster, the abounding tears Disaster, the unending rage sadness darkness light

My disaster, just as it is as a prayer―

I entrust that to these words

There is no night that doesn’t dawn

7

This world
is way too quiet, an uproar of silence.

So

you I’m thinking of you

at the bottom of the valley of the dark night

in the depths of a night without light or anything like it bloom

like a single flower

You shaking in the dark gloom you You are not alone me, I’m shaking

You a flow of tears unending you
You are not alone me, a flow of tears unending

You I’m thinking of you at the bottom of the gloomy dark at the bottom’s the bottom is the bottom
You I’m thinking of you—shaking you

Doesn’t it hurt? Aren’t you lonely?
All alive live in a prison cell of spirit and flesh lonely, lonely—nothing but to live with the heart

But you are not alone

I am thinking of you

I will not give up on you
You I am thinking of you

Sweet dreams

The horizon over the sea,
The horizon over the land

There is no night that doesn’t dawn

8

Morning
is beautiful

After the tears,
gaze up at the rainbow

Extend a hand,
savor the gentle breeze

Tap on your neighbor’s door
Listen to the wind in the leaves

Just start in on the poem’s first line
and gaze up at the clouds—
light

You talk fervently,
an ear opens to your voice—
morning

Pray for the future
to the horizon over the sea
to the horizon over the land

Words have come

And also

the morning has come

Life has come