after Kotaro Takamura

Listen, do you hear it?
The sound of owls.

An insensate murmuring.
Voices dyed with poison – with a color
Black as winged creatures in the arboreal depths –
These voices surround us, from every tree
And on every path, growing, unbearable,
Engulfing the ears, throbbing as in darkness
Your image mirrors this heart’s pain.
Sinister, in shadow,
Insensate murmuring.

Listen, do you hear it?
The sound of owls.

Revelling in their own voices, passing rumor,
Aspersion, innuendo with each bass note:
A sinister parliament.

Our resolve starts strong,
But they are unrelenting, with their swift
Flicker of eye, their cacophony of overtone and
Insinuation. And so my anguish grows
Against that murmuring,
That vulgar music that
Asphyxiates the heart,
Blurring the line between
The licentious and the insane.

Accursed creatures,
Parliament of owls,
Drowning this absurdity, this anguish,
In a sea of inhuman voices, again, again.

Do you hear it? Listen.
The sound of owls.


  1. This poem is one more in my ongoing project to interpret the work of Kotaro Takamura through the sensibilities of a writer who is first a poet.

    My hope is to complement the translation work done by talented scholars such as Leanne Ogasawara, Paul Archer and John G. Peters; and help introduce Takamura to more readers.

    The Chieko poems trace Kotaro Takamura's life with Chieko Naganuma, an iconoclastic woman artist - their attraction, separation, marriage, his coming to terms with her illness and death, and the power of love.

    Short link - http://bit.ly/s4owls

  2. this is stunning-- exquisite language, beautiful fluidity-- a tour d'force, Sam. xxxj

  3. putting up a poem dedicated to you at La Parola Vivace-- xxj

  4. A majestic poem, Jen, honoured and humbled by the dedication. Thank you.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to ask those who can to help the Red Cross relief effort for the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami...

    • US - Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10
    • Canada - Text ASIA to 30333 to donate $5


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