Michael R. Burch

1958
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Original Haiku by Michael R. Burch

These are original haiku by Michael R. Burch, along with a few wake/tanka and haiku-like poems.

Untitled Haiku

Dark-bosomed clouds
pregnant with heavy thunder ...
the water breaks
―Michael R. Burch

one pillow ...
our dreams
merge
―Michael R. Burch

Crushed grapes
surrender such sweetness!
A mother’s compassion.
―Michael R. Burch

My footprints
so faint in the snow?
Ah yes, you lifted me.
―Michael R. Burch

An emu feather
still falling?
So quickly you rushed to my rescue.
―Michael R. Burch

The sun warms
a solitary stone.
Let us abandon no one.
―Michael R. Burch

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height—
our ancestors’ wisdom
―Michael R. Burch

The ability
to disagree agreeably—
civility.
―Michael R. Burch

She bathes in silver
~~~~afloat~~~~~
on her reflections ...
—Michael R. Burch

Elderly sunflowers:
bees trimming their beards.
―Michael R. Burch

Celebrate the New Year?
The cat is not impressed,
the dogs shiver.
—Michael R. Burch

Cats are seldom impressed by human accomplishments, while the canine members of our family have always hated fireworks and other unexpected loud noises.

You astound me,
your name
unpronounceable on my lips.
―Michael R. Burch

You astound me;
your name on my lips
remains unpronounceable.
―Michael R. Burch

Born into the delicate autumn,
too late to mature,
pale petal ...
―Michael R. Burch

Soft as daffodils fall
all the lamentations
of life’s smallest victims,
unheard ...
―Michael R. Burch



Childless
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.



Ascendance Transcendence
by Michael R. Burch

Breaching the summit
I reach
the horizon’s last rays.



Sudden Shower:
The Reason for the Rain
by Michael R. Burch

The day’s eyes were blue
until you appeared
and they wept at your beauty.



Imperfect Perfection
by Michael R. Burch

You're too perfect for words―
a problem for a poet.



Intimations
by Michael R. Burch

Show me your most intimate items of apparel;
begin with the hem of your quicksilver slip ...



Expert Advice
by Michael R. Burch

Your breasts are perfect for your lithe, slender body.
Please stop making false comparisons your hobby!



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #1
by michael r. burch

plagued by the Plague
i plague the goldfish
with my verse



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #2
by michael r. burch

sunflowers
hang their heads
embarrassed by their coronas

I wrote this poem after having a sunflower arrangement delivered to my mother, who was confined to an assisted living center and couldn't have visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.



homework: yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #3
by michael r. burch

dim bulb overhead,
my silent companion:
still imitating the noonday sun?



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #4
by michael r. burch

Spring fling—
children string flowers
into their face masks



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #5
by michael r. burch

the Thought counts:
our lips and fingers
insulated by plexiglass ...



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #6
by michael r. burch

masks, masks
everywhere
and not a straw to drink ...



Dark Cloud, Silver Lining
by Michael R. Burch

Every corona has a silver lining:
I’m too far away to hear your whining,
and despite my stormy demeanor,
my hands have never been cleaner!



New World Order (last in a series and perhaps of a species)
by Michael R. Burch

The days of the dandelions dawn ...
soon man will be gone:
lawn fertilizer.



Stormfront
by Michael R. Burch

Our distance is frightening:
a distance like the abyss between heaven and earth
interrupted by bizarre and terrible lightning.



Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It's not that every leaf must finally fall,
it's just that we can never catch them all.



Laughter's Cry
by Michael R. Burch

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.

Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.



The Reason for the Rain (II)
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was blue
until you appeared
and it wept at your beauty.



The Original Sin: Rhyming Haiku!

Haiku
should never rhyme:
it’s a crime!
―Michael R. Burch

The herons stand,
sentry-like, at attention ...
rigid observers of some unknown command.
―Michael R. Burch

Late
fall;
all
the golden leaves turn black underfoot:
soot
―Michael R. Burch

A snake in the grass
lies, hissing
"Trespass!"
―Michael R. Burch

Honeysuckle
blesses my knuckle
with affectionate dew
―Michael R. Burch

My nose nuzzles
honeysuckle’s
sweet nothings
―Michael R. Burch

The moon in decline
like my lover’s heart
lies far beyond mine
―Michael R. Burch

My mother’s eyes
acknowledging my imperfection:
dejection
―Michael R. Burch

The sun sets
the moon fails to rise
we avoid each other’s eyes
―Michael R. Burch

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,
goodbye!
―Michael R. Burch

bright leaf flung awry ~
butterfly, goodbye!
―Michael R. Burch

leaf flutters in flight ~
bright, O and endeavoring butterfly,
goodbye!
―Michael R. Burch

a soaring kite flits
into the heart of the sun?
Butterfly & Chrysanthemum
―Michael R. Burch

The girl with the pallid lips
lipsticks
into something more comfortable
―Michael R. Burch

I am a traveler
going nowhere—
but my how the gawking bystanders stare!
―Michael R. Burch



You rise with the sun,
mysteriously warm,
also scattering sunbeams.
―Michael R. Burch

As springs’ budding blossoms emerge
the raptors glide mercilessly.
―Michael R. Burch

Brittle autumn leaf,
no one informed me
you were my life!
—Michael R. Burch



Valentine Haiku #1
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

A leaf brushes my cheek:
a subtle lover’s
gentlest caress.



Valentine Haiku #2
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Teach me to love:
to fly beyond sterile Mars
to percolating Venus.



The Ultimate Haiku Against God
by Michael R. Burch

Because you made a world
where nothing matters,
our hearts lie in tatters.



Early robins
get the worms,
cats waiting to pounce.
—Michael R. Burch

Sleepyheads!
I recite my haiku
to the inattentive lilies.
—Michael R. Burch

Am I really this old,
so many ghosts
beckoning?
—Michael R. Burch

The sky tries to assume
your eyes’ azure
but can’t quite pull it off.
—Michael R. Burch

The sky tries to assume
your eyes’ arresting blue
but can’t quite pull it off.
—Michael R. Burch

Two bullheaded frogs
croaking belligerently:
election season.
—Michael R. Burch

An enterprising cricket
serenades the sunrise:
soloist.
—Michael R. Burch

A single cricket
serenades the sunrise:
solo violinist.
—Michael R. Burch



This is a poem composed of haiku-like stanzas:

Lift up your head
dandelion,
hear spring roar!

How will you tidy your hair
this near
summer?

Leave to each still night
your lightest affliction,
dandruff.

Soon you will free yourself:
one shake
of your white mane.

Now there are worlds
into which you appear
and disappear

seemingly at will
but invariably blown—
wildly, then still.

Gasp at the bright chill
glower
of winter.

Icicles splinter;
sleep still an hour,
till, resurrected in power,

you lift up your head,
dandelion.
Hear spring roar!
―Michael R. Burch



Variations on Fall

Farewells like
falling
leaves,
so many sad goodbyes.
―Michael R. Burch

Falling leaves
brittle hearts
whisper farewells
―Michael R. Burch

Autumn leaves
soft farewells
falling ...
falling ...
falling ...
―Michael R. Burch

Autumn leaves
Fall’s farewells
Whispered goodbyes
―Michael R. Burch



Variations on the Seasons
by Michael R. Burch

Mother earth
prepares her nurseries:
spring greening

The trees become
modest,
coy behind fans

*

Wobbly fawns
have become the fleetest athletes:
summer

*

Dry leaves
scuttle like crabs:
autumn

*

The sky
shivers:
snowfall

Each
translucent flake
lighter than eiderdown

the entire town entombed
but not in gloom,
bedazzled.



Variations on Night

Night—
ice and darkness
conspire against human warmth
―Michael R. Burch

Night and the Stars
conspire against me:
Immensity
―Michael R. Burch

in the ice-cold cathedral
prayer candles ablaze
flicker warmthlessly
―michael r. burch



Variations on the Arts
by Michael R. Burch

Paint peeling:
the novel's
novelty wears off ...

The autumn marigold's
former glory:
allegory.

Human arias?
The nightingale frowns, perplexed.
Tone deaf!

Where do cynics
finally retire?
Satire.

All the world’s
a stage
unless it’s a cage.

To write an epigram,
cram.
If you lack wit, scram.

Haiku
should never rhyme:
it’s a crime!

Video
dumped the boob tube
for YouTube.

Anyone
can rap:
just write rhythmic crap!



Variations on Lingerie
by Michael R. Burch

Were you just a delusion?
The black negligee you left
now merest illusion.

The clothesline
quivers,
ripe with unmentionables.

The clothesline quivers:
wind,
or ghosts?



Variations on Love and Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

Wise old owls
stare myopically at the moon,
hooting as the hart escapes.

Myopic moon-hooting owls
hoot as the hart escapes

The myopic owl,
moon-intent, scowls;
my rabbit heart thunders ...
Peace, wise fowl!



Tanka

All the wild energies
of electric youth
captured in the monochromes
of an ancient photobooth
like zigzagging lightning.
―Michael R. Burch

The plums were sweet,
icy and delicious.
To eat them all
was perhaps malicious.
But I vastly prefer your kisses!
―Michael R. Burch

A child waving ...
The train groans slowly away ...
Loneliness ...
Somewhere in the distance gusts
scatter the stray unharvested hay ...
―Michael R. Burch

How vaguely I knew you
though I held you close ...
your heart’s muffled thunder,
your breath the wind—
rising and dying.
―Michael R. Burch



Miscellanea

sheer green stockings
queer green beer
St. Patrick's Day!
―michael r. burch

cicadas chirping everywhere
singing to beat the band—
surround sound
―michael r. burch

Regal, upright,
clad in royal purple:
Zinnia
―michael r. burch

Love is a surreal sweetness
in a world where trampled grapes
become wine.
―michael r. burch

although meant for market
a pail full of strawberries
invites indulgence
―michael r. burch

late November;
skeptics scoff
but the geese no longer migrate
―michael r. burch

as the butterfly hunts nectar
the generous iris
continues to bloom
―michael r. burch


Translations

I entered the world empty-handed
and leave it barefoot.
My coming and going?
Two uncomplicated events
that became entangled.
―Kozan Ichikyo (1283-1360), translation by Michael R. Burch

“Isn’t it time,”
the young bride asks,
“to light the lantern?”
―Ochi Etsujin (1656-1739), translation by Michael R. Burch

Brittle cicada shell,
little did I know
you were my life!
―Shuho (?-1767), translation by Michael R. Burch

Bury me beneath a wine barrel
in a bibber’s cellar:
with a little luck the keg will leak.
―Moriya Senan (?-1838), translation by Michael R. Burch

Learn to accept the inevitable:
the fall willow
knows when to abandon its leaves.
―Tanehiko (1782-1842), translation by Michael R. Burch

Darkness speaks―
a bat in flight
flits through a thicket.
―Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I’m tired,
so please be so kind as to swat the flies
softly.
―Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

An unbending tree
breaks easily.
―Lao Tzu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Observe:
see how the wild violets bloom
within the forbidden fences!
—Shida Yaba (1663-1740), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When no wind at all
ruffles the Kiri tree
leaves fall of their own free will.
—Nozawa Boncho (1640-1714), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



New Haiku Translations, Added 10/6/2020

Air ballet:
twin butterflies, twice white,
meet, match & mate
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Denied transformation
into a butterfly,
autumn worsens for the worm
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Dusk-gliding swallow,
please spare my small friends
flitting among the flowers!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Up and at ’em! The sky goes bright!
Let’s hit the road again,
Companion Butterfly!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Higher than a skylark,
resting on the breast of heaven:
mountain pass.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Farewell,
my cloud-parting friend!
Wild goose migrating.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A crow settles
on a leafless branch:
autumn nightfall.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An exciting struggle
with such a sad ending:
cormorant fishing.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Secretly,
by the light of the moon,
a worm bores into a chestnut.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This strange flower
investigated by butterflies and birds:
the autumn sky
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Where’s the moon tonight?
Like the temple bell:
lost at sea.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Spring departs;
birds wail;
the pale eyes of fish moisten.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon still appears,
though far from home:
summer vagrant.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Cooling the pitiless sun’s
bright red flames:
autumn wind.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Saying farewell to others
while being told farewell:
departing autumn.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Traveling this empty road
alone:
autumn evening.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thin from its journey
and not yet recovered:
late harvest moon.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Occasional clouds
bless tired eyes with rest
from moon-viewing.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The farmboy
rests from husking rice
to reach for the moon.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon aside,
no one here
has such a lovely face.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon having set,
all that remains
are the four corners of his desk.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon so bright
a wandering monk carries it
lightly on his shoulder.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The Festival of Souls
is obscured
by smoke from the crematory.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The Festival of Souls!
Smoke from the crematory?
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Family reunion:
those with white hair and canes
visiting graves.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

One who is no more
left embroidered clothes
for a summer airing.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What am I doing,
writing haiku on the threshold of death?
Hush, a bird’s song!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fallen ill on a final tour,
in dreams I go roving
earth’s flowerless moor.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Stricken ill on a senseless tour,
still in dreams I go roving
earth’s withered moor.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Stricken ill on a journey,
in dreams I go wandering
withered moors.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Today, catching sight of the mallards
crying over Lake Iware:
Must I too vanish into the clouds?
—Prince Otsu (663-686), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

This world—
to what may we compare it?
To autumn fields
lying darkening at dusk
illuminated by lightning flashes.
—Minamoto no Shitago (911-983), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

This world—to what may we liken it?
To autumn fields lit dimly at dusk,
illuminated by lightning flashes.
—Minamoto no Shitago (911-983), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Like a half-exposed rotten log
my life, which never flowered,
ends barren.
—Minamoto Yorimasa (1104-1180), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Overtaken by darkness,
I will lodge under a tree’s branches;
cherry blossoms will cushion me tonight.
—Taira no Tadanori (1144–1184), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Overtaken by darkness,
I will lodge under a cherry tree’s branches;
flowers alone will bower me tonight.
—Taira no Tadanori (1144–1184), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Let me die in spring
beneath the cherry blossoms
while the moon is full.
—Saigyo (1118-1190), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

There is no death, as there is no life.
Are not the skies cloudless
And the rivers clear?
—Taiheiki Toshimoto (-1332), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

All five aspects of my fleeting human form
And the four elements of existence add up to nothing:
I bare my neck to the unsheathed sword
And its blow is but a breath of wind ...
—Suketomo (1290-1332), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Had I not known
I was already dead
I might have mourned
my own passing.
—Ota Dokan (1432-1486), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Both victor and vanquished
are but dewdrops,
but lightning bolts
illuminate the world.
—Ôuchi Yoshitaka (1507-1551), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Even a life of long prosperity is like a single cup of sake;
my life of forty-nine years flashed by like a dream.
Nor do I know what life is, nor death.
All the years combined were but a fleeting dream.
Now I step beyond both Heaven and Hell
To stand alone in the moonlit dawn,
Free from the mists of attachment.
—Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

My life appeared like dew
and disappears like dew.
All Naniwa was a series of dreams.
—Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Felt deeply in my heart:
How beautiful the snow,
Clouds gathering in the west.
—Issho (-1668), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Brittle cicada shell,
little did I know
that you were my life!
—Shoshun (-1672), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch
Inhale, exhale.
Forward, reverse.
Live, die.
Let arrows fly, meet midway and sever the void in aimless flight:
Thus I return to the Source.
—Gesshu Soko (-1696), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem)by Michael R. Burch

My body?
Pointless
as the tree’s last persimmon.
—Seisa (-1722), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Farewell! I pass
away as all things do:
dew drying on grass.
—Banzan (-1730), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Seventy-one?
How long
can a dewdrop last?
—Kigen (-1736), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

A tempestuous sea ...
Flung from the deck —
this block of ice.
—Choha (-1740), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Empty cicada shell:
we return as we came,
naked.
—Fukaku (-1753), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Since I was born,
I must die,
and so …
—Kisei (1688-1764), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Let us arise and go,
following the path of the clear dew.
—Fojo (-1764), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Depths of the cold,
unfathomable ocean’s roar.
—Kasenjo (-1776), loose translation/interpretation of her jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Things never stand still,
not even for a second:
consider the trees’ colors.
—Seiju (-1776), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Lately the nights
dawn
plum-blossom white.
—Yosa Buson (-1783), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Bitter winter winds!
But later, river willow,
reopen your buds ...
—Senryu (-1790), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Who cares
where aimless clouds are drifting?
—Bufu (-1792), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch
What does it matter how long I live,
when a tortoise lives many times as long?
—Issa (-1827), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Like a lotus leaf’s evaporating dew,
I vanish.
—Senryu (-1827), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Man’s end:
this mound of albescent bones,
this brief flowering sure to fade ...
—Hamei (-1837), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

When I kick the bucket,
bury me beneath a tavern’s cellar wine barrel;
with a little luck the cask will leak.
—Moriya Sen’an (-1838), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Frost on a balmy day:
all I leave is the water
that washed my brush.
—Tanaka Shutei (1810-1858, loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Though moss may overgrow
my useless corpse,
the seeds of patriotism shall never decay.
—Nomura Boto (1806-1867), loose translation/interpretation of her jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

My aging body:
a drop of dew
bulging at the leaf-cliff.
—Kiba (-1868), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Forbearing the night
with its growing brilliance:
the summer moon.
—Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Blow if you must,
autumn wind,
but the flowers have already faded.
—Gansan (-1895), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Time to go ...
They say this journey is a long trek:
this final change of robes.
—Roshu (-1899), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

The moon departs;
frost paralyzes the morning glories.
— Kato (-1908), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Stumble,
tumble,
fall,
slide down the slippery snow slope.
— Getsurei (-1919), loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch



New Haiku Translations, added 6/27/2022

As the monks sip their morning tea,
chrysanthemums quietly blossom.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fragrance of plum blossoms
on a foggy path:
the sun rising.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkens ...
yet still faintly white
the wild duck protests.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pear tree blossoms
whitened by moonlight:
a young woman reading a letter.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Outlined in the moonlight ...
who is that standing
among the pear trees?
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your coolness:
the sound of the bell
departing the bell.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As the moon flies west
the flowers' shadows
creep eastward.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

By such pale moonlight
even the wisteria's fragrance
seems distant.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Leaves
like crows’ shadows
flirt with a lonely moon.
Kaga no Chiyo (1703-1775), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let me die
covered with flowers
and never again wake to this earthly dream!
—Ochi Etsujin, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To reveal how your heart flowers,
sway like the summer grove.
—Tagami Kikusha-Ni (1753-1826), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In the thicket's shade
a solitary woman sings the rice-planting song.
Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Unaware of these degenerate times,
cherry blossoms abound!
Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

These silent summer nights
even the stars
seem to whisper.
Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The enormous firefly
weaves its way, this way and that,
as it passes by.
Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Composed like the Thinker, he sits
contemplating the mountains:
the sagacious frog!
Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A fallen blossom
returning to its bough?
No, a butterfly!
Arakida Moritake (1473-1549), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Illuminated by the harvest moon
smoke is caught creeping
across the water ...
Hattori Ransetsu (1654-1707), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fanning its tail flamboyantly
with every excuse of a breeze,
the peacock!
Masaoki Shiki (1867-1902), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Waves row through the mists
of the endless sea.
Masaoki Shiki (1867-1902), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I hurl a firefly into the darkness
and sense the enormity of night.
—Kyoshi Takahama (1874-1959), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As girls gather rice sprouts
reflections of the rain ripple
on the backs of their hats.
—Kyoshi Takahama (1874-1959), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This world?
Moonlit dew
flicked from a crane’s bill.
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To what shall we compare this world?
To moonlit dew
flicked from a crane’s bill.
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Dewdrops beading grass-blades
die before dawn;
may an untimely wind not hasten their departure!
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Dewdrops beading blades of grass
have so little time to shine before dawn;
let the autumn wind not rush too quickly through the field!
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Seventy-one?
How long
can a dewdrop last?
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

Outside my window the plums, blossoming,
within their curled buds, contain the spring;
the moon is reflected in the cup-like whorls
of the lovely flowers I gather and twirl.
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Unaware it protects
the hilltop paddies,
the scarecrow seems useless to itself.
—Eihei Dogen Kigen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



New haiku translations added 8-25-2023

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ceaseless chaos—
ice floes clash
in the Soya straits.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Once they’ve crossed the sea,
winter winds can never return.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Banish the snow
for the human torpedo
now lies exploded.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

(My interpretation is that the haiku above is about WWII kamikaze pilots. Winter is metaphorically the season of death and snow may be seen as a shroud for the dead. So here the poet may be saying, metaphorically, something like “We don’t need shrouds because our pilots are blowing themselves up.” )

The sky hangs low
over Karafuto,
as white as the spawning herring.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Green bottle flies
buzzing carrion:
did they just materialize?
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Finally
the cicadas stopped shrilling:
calm before gale.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As grief becomes unbearable
someone snaps a nearby branch.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As grief reaches its breaking point
someone snaps a nearby branch.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Trapped in the spider’s web
the firefly’s bulb
blinks out forever.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Trapped in the spider’s web
The firefly’s light
Is swiftly consumed.
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Seishi Yamaguchi has been said to represent “a pinnacle of haiku in twentieth-century Japan.”

Graven images of long-departed gods,
dry spiritless leaves:
companions of the temple porch
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

See: whose surviving sons
visit the ancestral graves
white-bearded, with trembling canes?
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



I remove my beautiful kimono:
its varied braids
surround and entwine my body
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This day of chrysanthemums
I shake and comb my wet hair,
as their petals shed rain
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This sheer kimono—
how the moon peers through
to my naked skin!
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

These festive flowery robes—
though quickly undressed,
how their colored cords still continue to cling!
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Chrysanthemum petals
reveal their pale curves
shyly to the moon.
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Loneliness —
reading the Bible
as the rain deflowers cherry blossoms.
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

How deep this valley,
how elevated the butterfly's flight!
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

How lowly this valley,
how lofty the butterfly's flight!
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Echoes from the hills—
the mountain cuckoo sings as it will,
trill upon trill
—Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Winter in the air:
my neighbor,
how does he fare?
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let’s arrange
these lovely flowers in the bowl
since there's no rice
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please arrange
these delicate flowers in the bowl
since we lack rice
—Matsuo Basho, translation by Kim Cherub

An ancient pond,
the frog leaps:
the silver plop and gurgle of water
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An ancient pond sleeps, quiet and still ...
untroubled ... until ...
suddenly a frog leaps!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Big old pond,
the little frog leaps:
Kerplash!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Explosion!
The frog returns
to its lily pad.
—Michael R. Burch

The first soft snow:
leaves of the awed jonquil
bow low
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, investigate loneliness:
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The first chill rain, so raw!
Poor monkey, you too could use
a woven cape of straw.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fever-felled mid-path
my dreams resurrect, to trek
into a hollow land
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This snowy morning:
cries of the crow I despise
(ah, but so beautiful!)
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The cheerful-chirping cricket
contends gray autumn's gay,
contemptuous of frost
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Whistle on, twilight whippoorwill,
solemn evangelist
of loneliness
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkening,
the voices of the wild ducks:
my mysterious companions!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lightning
shatters the darkness—
the night heron's shriek
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As the monks sip their morning tea,
chrysanthemums quietly blossom.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fragrance of plum blossoms
on a foggy path:
the sun rising.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkens ...
yet still faintly white
the wild duck protests.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let me die
covered with flowers
and never again wake to this earthly dream!
—Ochi Etsujin, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To reveal how your heart flowers,
sway like the summer grove.
—Tagami Kikusha-Ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In the thicket’s shade
a solitary woman sings the rice-planting song.
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Unaware of these degenerate times,
cherry blossoms abound!
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

These silent summer nights
even the stars
seem to whisper.
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The enormous firefly
weaves its way, this way and that,
as it passes by.
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Composed like the Thinker, he sits
contemplating the mountains:
the sagacious frog!
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A fallen blossom
returning to its bough?
No, a butterfly!
—Arakida Moritake, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Illuminated by the harvest moon
smoke is caught creeping
across the water ...
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fanning its tail flamboyantly
with every excuse of a breeze,
the peacock!
—Masaoki Shiki, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Waves row through the mists
of the endless sea.
—Masaoki Shiki, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I hurl a firefly into the darkness
and sense the enormity of night.
—Kyoshi Takahama, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As girls gather rice sprouts
reflections of the rain ripple
on the backs of their hats.
—Kyoshi Takahama, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Will we remain parted forever?
Here at your grave:
two flowerlike butterflies
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

These wilting August weeds?
The only remains
of warriors' ambitions ...
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

These brown summer grasses?
The only remains
of "invincible" warriors ...
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An empty road
lonelier than abandonment:
this autumn evening
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Spring has come:
the nameless hill
lies shrouded in mist
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A solitary crow
clings to a leafless branch:
autumn twilight
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A solitary crow
clings to a leafless branch:
nightfall
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Right at my feet!
When did you arrive here,
snail?
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

While a cicada
sings softly
a single leaf falls ...
—Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, brilliant moon
is it true that even you
must rush off, tardy?
—Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, brilliant moon
can it be true
that even you
must rush off, late
for some date?
—Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This world of dew
is a dewdrop world indeed;
and yet, and yet ...
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Standing beneath cherry blossoms
who can be strangers?
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An enormous frog!
We stare at each other,
both petrified.
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Skinny frog,
hang on ...
Issa to the rescue!
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I toss in my sleep,
so watch out,
cricket!
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In a better world
I'd leave you my rice bowl,
little fly!
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Petals I amass
with such tenderness
prick me to the quick.
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Standing unsteadily,
I am the scarecrow’s
skinny surrogate
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Brief autumn breeze ...
she always wanted to pluck
the reddest roses
—Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is a haiku Issa wrote after the death of his daughter Sato with the note: “Sato, girl, 35th day, at the grave.”

In our world
we walk suspended over hell
admiring flowers.
—Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The childless woman,
how tenderly she caresses
homeless dolls ...
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Clinging
to the plum tree:
one blossom's worth of warmth
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

One leaf falls, enlightenment!
Another leaf falls,
swept away by the wind ...
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Disdaining grass,
the firefly nibbles nettles—
this is who I am.
—Takarai Kikaku, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A simple man,
content to breakfast with the morning glories—
this is who I am.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is Basho’s response to the Takarai Kikaku haiku above

The morning glories, alas,
also turned out
not to embrace me
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The morning glories bloom,
mending chinks
in the old fence
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Morning glories,
however poorly painted,
still engage us
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My dear Basho,
I too have been accused
of morning glory gazing!
—original haiku by Michael R. Burch

Taming the rage
of an unrelenting sun—
autumn breeze.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The sun sets,
relentlessly red,
yet autumn’s in the wind.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As autumn deepens,
a butterfly sips
chrysanthemum dew.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As autumn draws near,
so too our hearts
in this small tea room.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nothing happened!
Yesterday simply vanished
like the blowfish soup.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The surging sea crests around Sado ...
and above her?
An ocean of stars.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Revered figure!
I bow low
to the rabbit-eared Iris.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, butterfly,
it’s late
and we’ve a long way to go!
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nothing in the cry
of the cicadas
suggests they soon die.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I wish I could wash
this perishing earth
in its shimmering dew.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Spring!
A nameless hill
shrouded in mist.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Dabbed with morning dew
and splashed with mud,
the melon looks wonderfully cool.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Cold white azalea—
a lone nun
in her thatched straw hut.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Glimpsed on this high mountain trail,
delighting my heart—
wild violets
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The bee emerging
from deep within the peony’s hairy recesses
flies off heavily, sated
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A crow has settled
on a naked branch—
autumn nightfall
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Except for a woodpecker
tapping at a post,
the house is silent.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That dying cricket,
how he goes on about his life!
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Like a glorious shrine—
on these green, budding leaves,
the sun’s intense radiance.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A kite floats
at the same place in the sky
where yesterday it floated ...
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Not to worry spiders,
I clean house ... sparingly.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Dawn!
The brilliant sun illuminates
sardine heads.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Picking autumn plums
my wrinkled hands
once again grow fragrant
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thorny roses
remind me of my hometown ...
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nearing the white chrysanthemum
the scissors hesitate ...
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

White blossoms of the pear tree:
a young woman
reading her lover’s moonlit letter
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The pear tree flowers whitely:
a young woman reading her lover’s letter
by moonlight
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pear tree blossoms
whitened by moonlight:
a young woman reading a letter.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Outlined in the moonlight ...
who is that standing
among the pear trees?
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The pigeon's behavior
is beyond reproach,
but the mountain cuckoo's?
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your coolness:
the sound of the bell
departing the bell.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As the moon flies west
the flowers' shadows
creep eastward.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

By such pale moonlight
even the wisteria's fragrance
seems distant.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

On the temple’s great bronze gong
a butterfly
snoozes.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Hard to describe:
this light sensation of being pinched
by a butterfly!
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

gills puffing,
a hooked fish:
the patient
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In an ancient well
fish leap for mosquitoes,
a dark sound.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In the lingering heat
of an abandoned cowbarn
mosquitoes hum darkly.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Among fallen leaves,
an elderly frog.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The stirred morning air
ruffles the caterpillar’s
hair
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Whose delicate clothes
still decorate the clothesline?
Late autumn wind.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tender grass
forgetful of its roots
the willow
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

NOTE: I believe this poem can be taken as commentary on ungrateful children. It reminds me of Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays.—MRB

Intruder!—
This white plum tree
was once outside our fence!
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Since I'm left here alone,
I'll make friends with the moon.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The hood-wearer
in his self-created darkness
misses the harvest moon
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

An evening breeze:
water lapping the heron’s legs.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A misty spring moon ...
I entice a woman
to pay it our respects
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Courtesans
purchasing kimonos:
plum trees blossoming
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

On adjacent branches
the plum tree blossoms
bloom petal by petal: love!
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The red plum's fallen petals
seem to ignite horse shit.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The spring sea
rocks all day long:
rising and falling, ebbing and flowing ...
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As the whale dives
its tail gets taller!
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A silk robe, casually discarded,
exudes fragrance
into the darkening evening
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

While tilling the field
the motionless cloud
vanished.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Dew-damp grass:
the setting sun’s tears
—Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch
PN-

The dew-damp grass
weeps silently
in the setting sun
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lately the nights
dawn
plum-blossom white.
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

White plum blossoms —
though the hour grows late,
a glimpse of dawn
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch; this is believed to be Buson's jisei (death poem) and he is said to have died before dawn

In the deepening night
I saw by the light
of the white plum blossoms
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Silently observing
the bottomless mountain lake:
water lilies
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Cranes
flapping ceaselessly
test the sky's upper limits
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Falling snowflakes'
glitter
tinsels the sea
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Blizzards here on earth,
blizzards of stars
in the sky
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Completely encircled
in emerald:
the glittering swamp!
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The new calendar:
as if tomorrow
is assured ...
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The new calendar:
as if tomorrow
can be predicted
—Inahata Teiko, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ah butterfly,
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Because morning glories
held my well-bucket hostage
I went begging for water!
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My well-bucket being held hostage
by morning glories,
I went begging for water.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since my well-bucket’s
being held hostage by morning glories,
I go begging for water.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To listen, fine ...
fine also not to echo,
nightingale.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch, she wrote this poem in calligraphy on a portrait of Matsuo Basho

Upon her engagement to the servant of a samurai:

Will it be bitter,
the first time I bite
an unripe persimmon?
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Written for her only son, who died:

My little dragonfly hunter:
how far away has he wandered
I wonder?
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Her husband died when she was 27 years old:

Rising, I see,
and reclining I see
the web of the mosquito netting ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

After she had shaved her head, become a nun and retired from public life:

No more
fixing my hair,
merely warming my hands by the fire ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Leaves
like crows’ shadows
flirt with a lonely moon.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon settled
in a flower-strewn stream
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My elderly parents
become my children:
strident cicadas
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Illuminating
my fishing line:
the midsummer moon.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Auspicious straw!
Even the compost
looks glorious!
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How alarming:
her scarlet fingernails
tending the white chrysanthemums!
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Whatever ...
Leave it to the weather:
withered pampas grass.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Heat waves shimmering
above the wettened rock ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon:
a morning blur
amid cherry blossoms
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Loneliness
abides within the listener:
the cuckoo’s call
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Skylark,
what do you make
of the trackless sky?
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Returning
from moon-viewing:
we humans, voiceless.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The harvest moon
illuminates these snowdrifts
I trample.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How contentedly they snore
in the boondocks:
full moon
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The butterfly tip-toes at ebb-tide
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Along her path
butterflies flit,
front and back
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Voiceless
as a butterfly:
the Buddhist service
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Whirling its wings
the butterfly
creates its own wind ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The waterweed
washes away
unaware of the butterfly’s weight
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Now and then
a dandelion intrudes
on a butterfly’s dreams
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sometimes a butterfly
emerges from the mist ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A butterfly settles on
cherry blossoms:
nap time!
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Moonflowers blossom:
a woman’s nakedness
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My painted lips
purified:
crystalline springwater
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A woman’s desire:
the wild violets’
entangled roots
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Her day off:
the prostitute wakes
to a frigid morning.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

With the waning moon
silence enters the heart.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We stoop to pick up ebb-tide pebbles.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ebb-tide:
everything we stoop to collect
slips through our fingers ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To entangle
or unentangle the willow
is the wind’s will.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Inflating the frog’s belly: looming downpour
Inflating the frog’s belly: pregnant thunderheads
The frog inflates: monsoon soon
The frog inflates: prophet of the deluge
Thunderclouds inflating: the frog’s belly
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Her death poem:

Having seen the moon
I can bid Earth
farewell ...
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Isn’t it good
to wake up alone,
unencumbered?
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

She wakes up
alone,
unencumbered.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Her body-debt paid
she wakes alone—
a frigid night.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Coolness—
strangers meet on a bridge
late at night.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A woman’s passion
flowers from the roots—
wild violets.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Also a poet arranging words
with its airy wings—
the butterfly.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

It’s child’s play for the cranes
circling the clouds
to celebrate the year’s first sunrise

Cicadas chirp
oblivious to death.
—Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Spring
stirs the clouds
in the sky's teabowl
—Kikusha-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Tonight I saw
how the peony crumples
in the fire's embers
—Katoh Shuhson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

It fills me with anger,
this moon; it fills me
and makes me whole
—Takeshita Shizunojo, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

War
stood at the end of the hall
in the long shadows
—Watanabe Hakusen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Because he is slow to wrath,
I tackle him, then wring his neck
in the long grass
—Shimazu Ryoh, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Pale mountain sky:
cherry petals play
as they tumble earthward
—Kusama Tokihiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The frozen moon,
the frozen lake:
two oval mirrors reflecting each other.
—Hashimoto Takako, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The bitter winter wind
ends here
with the frozen sea
—Ikenishi Gonsui, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Bitter winter wind,
why bellow so
when there's no leaves to blow?
—Natsume Soseki, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The lamp extinguished,
once-distant stars
enter my window.
—Natsume Soseki, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter waves
roil
their own shadows
—Tominaga Fûsei, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

No sky,
no land:
just snow eternally falling ...
—Kajiwara Hashin, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Along with spring leaves
my child's teeth
take root, blossom
—Nakamura Kusatao, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Stillness:
a single chestnut leaf glides
on brilliant water
—Ryuin, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The snake slipped away
but his eyes, holding mine,
still stare in the grass
—Kyoshi Takahama, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Girls gather rice sprouts:
reflections of the water flicker
on the backs of their hats
—Kyoshi Takahama, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Murmurs follow the hay cart
this blossoming summer day
—Ippekiro Nakatsuka, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The wet nurse
paused to consider a bucket of sea urchins
then walked away
—Ippekiro Nakatsuka, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

May I be with my mother
wearing her summer kimono
by the morning window
—Ippekiro Nakatsuka, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The hands of a woman exist
to remove the entrails of the spring cuttlefish
—Sekitei Hara, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The moon
hovering above the snow-capped mountains
rained down hailstones
—Sekitei Hara, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, dreamlike winter butterfly:
a puff of white snow
cresting mountains
—Kakio Tomizawa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Spring snow
cascades over fences
in white waves
—Suju Takano, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



Keywords/Tags: haiku, Japanese, translation, Oriental, imagery, metaphor, nature, coronavirus, plague, life, death, nature
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