after Kotaro Takamura

A bird starts from underfoot.
My love has come unhinged;
A camouflage in shreds.

Gunsight at 3000 meters;
Ah, this long-barrelled rifle –
Far too long.


  1. An adaptation of one of Kotaro Takamura's poems to his wife Chieko, from a celebrated collection that evidences the power of love over a descent into madness, and even death.

    As always, my hope is that this effort will complement the work done by talented translators such as Leanne Ogasawara, Paul Archer and John G. Peters, and help introduce Takamura and his celebrated poems to more readers.

    Short link -

  2. From Facebook:

    Leanne Ogasawara: This one is so is the first poem that directly deals with Chieko’s schizophrenia. And, the poem describes Kotaro’s acceptance that with her mental condition, all of their goals and dreams now seem utterly impossible--like trying to shoot a bird from 3,000 meters away. It's so sad when someone kind of verbally acknowledges the giving up and impossibility of a dream... very nice sam. Do you have my version? It's short so can post below...xoxo
    Tuesday at 7:34pm

    Samuel Peralta: No, I don't have your translation, I'd love to see, could you post or send it to me please?
    Tuesday at 8:49pm

    Samuel Peralta: Some commentators say Chieko was driven to madness not because of a biological imbalance, but because she repressed her own artistic sensibilities to be a conventional Japanese wife of the times, despite her husband's protestations that she was, and he treated her as, an equal. Where do you stand on that?
    Tuesday at 8:53pm

    Leanne Ogasawara: That is so strange, I posted it already and now it is gone!! Let me try again...
    Tuesday at 8:57pm

    Leanne Ogasawara:
    Shooting Long Range

    A bird takes flight from beneath my feet
    My wife is going mad
    My clothes disheveled

    Shooting long range
    At three thousand meters away
    Still too far to hit with this rifle

    January 1935

    Tuesday at 8:58pm

    Samuel Peralta: Ah 'disheveled' is an excellent word there, I like that... One of my little "additions" is to add to the frustration of not being able to hit the distant targets the subtle hint that the barrel of the rifle is 'too long' to enable him to use the weapon on himself.
    Tuesday at 9:19pm · Like · 1.

    Leanne Ogasawara: Well, my grad school advisor was quite convinced that Kotaro drove her totally mad... my own feeling (this is just based on my own experiences) is that Chieko was basically delicate and not so tough and then Kotaro been fanciful (and maybe narcississtic) pushed her to do *double duty* so that when it suited him, he expected her to be a "modern girl" but most times, he needed her to be the traditional wife and there is a lot of labor involved in that --cooking cleaning etc... I am just really guessing, of course....
    Tuesday at 9:42pm

    Samuel Peralta: My interpretation is close to yours... and I feel that Chieko's Sky is as much an exorcism of his own feelings of guilt, as well as a tribute to her... Are there any clues in Chieko's own writings? Are there any collections that include her poems?
    Tuesday at 9:48pm

    Leanne Ogasawara: Nope... nothing that I know of at all. In Japan, he is really held up as the ideal loving husband but translating the poems, I cannot explain it and probably my own feelings are coming out and I could be confused but the above was such a strong overwhelming impression I felt. Have you seen her papercuts? Very child-like and charming art works she made while hospitalized..
    Tuesday at 9:52pm

    Leanne Ogasawara: below sculptures are his and papercut works are hers​branches/3044/exh_0305.htm
    Tuesday at 9:53pm

    Samuel Peralta: Thanks for the links! I've seen some of her papercuts before (first time I saw them was on your site, of course!) and they're quite beautiful in their innocence. They reminded me that Matisse, when unable to paint any longer, turned to papercuts to express his art.
    Tuesday at 9:57pm

    Leanne Ogasawara: Yes... I thougt so as well. I am so glad we get to share these poems, S

  3. very smart one.

    Incredible imagery!
    Hope all is well,
    Appreciated your support along the way,
    Welcome sharing a random piece with us today,
    You rock.
    Keep it up.

  4. I like this. Happy hunting!

  5. Anonymous12:34:00 PM

    poor bird

    short and to the point


  6. nice...i really like the first two lines...the back and forth in my mind between them and how they play...interesting too this is one between he and his wife or lover if i am reading it right....

    so size matters? smiles.

  7. I can't get to grips with the surface meaning of this - and your interpretation seems to make it so painful and sad.

  8. dang sam...this is sad and haunting.. re-read a few times.. well worked on the details and emotional side..

  9. A haunting piece! Thanks, too, for including the fascinating discussion with Leanne Ogasawara.

  10. Your explanation is definitely necessary for my understanding. With your explanation, I appreciate the depthfulness of your write here, Sam.

  11. Powerful piece Sam ~ Thanks for sharing ~

  12. Sam...what an amazing opportunity you have provided us to expand our libraries...The piece, even without the wonderful information and discussion, still would have fascinated provide me with such a map to seek out and explore further is just awesome. Thank you!

  13. When madness conquers love, more than feathers fly. So well articulated here, Sam.

  14. Wow-- very beautiful, so beautifully wrought, with your trademark lyrical econimium, Samuel..... xxxj

  15. Anonymous8:27:00 AM

    Feels like a literal loss of bearings here--such wonderful jumps and combinations--I always explain for too much - but this just jumps over the explanation to the next image or sight (site). k.

  16. aw... the piece started out so nice... I know it's part of life

  17. there is such heartbreak in this, and in the first 3 lines especially, for me. one can almost hear the sigh of acquiescence.

  18. Thanks for including the conversation with Leanne, Sam. It sheds light on this already rich and saturated poem and makes it even more sad, more wistful, more...resigned? Beautiful work.

    (I finally did a pantoum for your prompt--lttp--for OLN--I am so bad at spontaneous composition.)


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