book recommendation / Okinawa by Hasegawa Kai

Okinawa by Hasegawa Kai is a stirring meditation full of powerful, haunting imagery on the death and destruction left behind by war and its long-term effects on culture, people, and environment. In some of the poems he zooms out, writing critically, universally, about our home (our planet), and how our species behaves. He does this in poems that reflect not just on the past and the present, and their collisions, but also on the future. The overall effect is that a kind of consecration is being performed. The poems remind me of the following from Makoto Ueda’s Matsuo Basho, a kind of definition for haiku: “mature comments on man and his environment.”

The collection is translated by David Burleigh and available from Red Moon Press.

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human remains—

right inside the mouth

green pampas grass


the glare

of the burning sun

saddened by the earth


listen to

the far-the off grieving

of the summer tide


the enormous sunset—

Okinawa has no place

                      to return


the silence after

the earth’s destruction—

the Milky Way