Twenty-nine Figures IV

Drill
  his nostrils!
Gouge out
  his eyeballs!

A good shot—
  wide of the mark!

Look ahead
  —agates!
Turn back
  —pearls!

A good swimmer
  gets drowned;
A good rider
  falls.

To hang a medicine bag
  at the back of the hearse.

Curse at one another:
  I’ll bring a spare mouth!
Sputter and splutter:
  I’ll bring extra spit!

Catch
  the vigorous horse
    of your mind!

Pecking the eggshell
  at once from inside and out.

Facing each other,
  a thousand miles apart.

After all,
  the innate skin
    is best:
No lipstick,
  no powder,
    and quite elegant.

The iron ox
  lays stone eggs.

Impossible to add
  a phrase to it;
Impossible to take one
  away.

No one on earth
  knows its price.

Dash through the gates
  of yes and no
Not staying
  in the world of bondage.

Above your head,
  utterly filled;
Under your feet,
  thoroughly stuffed.

Enter a tiger’s cave
  and stroke its whiskers!

Extract the stakes
  from the eyes.

Elbows can’t be
  turned outward.

Go a thousand miles
  not moving
    a foot!

Your nose,
  your parents’ present,
Now lies in
  another man’s hand.

Throw
  mudpies
    at everyone.

The square wood goes
  through a round hole.

Most difficult to play
  the no-hole flute.

The skin of the face,
  three inches thick.

Sawdust soup,
  iron-nail rice:
No gulping,
  no vomiting.

At midnight
  the wooden man talks:
No one
  understands.

A man with eyes
  has seen nothing;
A man with ears
  has heard nothing.

Scratch first,
  itch later.

The two mirrors
  reflect each other.

Translated by Sōiku Shigematsu

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