Haiku by Kikaku


Fuji’s snow
in the wine shop, flies


the year begins!
throughout my house, the wealth
of this starry sky


rice ball decorations
in the rat’s eyes,
Mt. Yoshino


into the soup pot
rain drops from a bamboo hat…
harvesting rice seedlings


water reflection–
a flying squirrel across
the wisteria’s mantle


Takarai Kikaku

Takarai Kikaku was a Japanese haikai poet and among the most accomplished disciples of Matsuo Bashō. His father was an Edo doctor, but Kikaku chose to become a professional haikai poet rather than follow in his footsteps. Kikaku's poetry is known for its wit and its difficulty. Whereas Basho, especially in his later years, focused on the countryside and espoused an aesthetic of simplicity, Kikaku preferred the city and the opportunities it provided for extravagant play. He also preferred a more demanding form of poetry, one laced with wordplay, allusions, and juxtapositions of images that defy easy explanation. At the time of his death, he was perhaps the leading poet in Edo (today's Tokyo), which then had a population of around one million, making it perhaps the largest city in the world at the time.

Joshua Gage

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full-length collection, breaths, is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, is available at The Poet’s Haven. His newest chapbook, Necromancy, is available at Locofo Chaps from Moria Press. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs.

English translation copyright (c) Joshua Gage, 2017.