Dream Haiku for Kaneko Tohta


The following haiku is from a dream, copied down verbatim.  At the time I knew it was written in response to, and in honor of the work of Kaneko Tohta:



                    at what point 
                    during the A-bomb
                    did the cherry blossoms bloom

                                         now gone


How did the impact of Tohta’s poetry weave a way into my dreams?  His work was largely unknown in the west until the publication of a series of works translated from the Japanese by The Kon Nichi Translation Group,  (of which Richard Gilbert is a member).  The strikingly original imagery and often surreality of Tohta’s haiku cause them to linger in the consciousness long after reading.

I was struck by his unflinching, matter-of factness when addressing topics like the war and the unspeakably horrific Atomic bomb:

one dog two cats
we three finally
not A-bombed


This alongside his gift for transcendently sensitive imagery reflecting on man’s relationship to Nature makes Tohta’s work remarkable, moving, and deeply affecting:

we all flow, float away

                       the sea tide stays


The two haiku above are from Kaneko Tohta: Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary, Part 2:  1961-2012, published by Red Moon Press in 2012.


Of note:

Scott Metz has written an exploration of Tohta’s blue sharks haiku, including numerous possible translations from a variety of sources, as well as a look at the unexpected role of surrealism in haiku. This R’r blog entry is well worth a second or even third read and can be found in the Roadrunner Haiku Journal  archives here: