Jippensha Ikku: Seven Poems

Workmen eating lunch,
with a side order
of gripes.

Rasping in his throat:
“Chin whiskers
need more soap!”

The town fire-watcher in his tower—
rainy nights sometimes
he pees over the side.

Days I’ve got
my umbrella with me,
I’m absolutely fearless!

Laying a fart—
no humor in it
when you live alone.

When you’re trying to get it
unwound in bed,
nothing’s longer than a kimono sash!

In the cold forbidding capital
he learns
to write poetry.

Translated by Burton Watson and Hiroaki Sato

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