Tag Archive | tanka

How to Read Japanese Poetry, a book by Steven Carter

I recently got a copy of this book, How to Read Japanese Poetry (New York; Columbia University Press, 2019) ISBN 978-0231186834, and have been enjoying it thoroughly. Steven Carter is the author of several books translating Japanese poetry into English, and his Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1993) ISBN 978-0804722124 is usually the first book I recommend to people who want to explore Japanese poetry. This book is a little more intimate, where Carter presents poems in a variety of styles, with translation notes and historical background. Less poems than his earlier book, but he digs down into further detail. If you are at all interested in Japanese poetry, definitely add this book to your library. https://www.amazon.com/Read-Japanese-Poem-Steven-Carter/dp/0231186835


In process English translation of Gosenshū

Of possible interest to poetry enthusiasts: Christopher Kern, a visiting professor at Auburn University, is in the process of translating the Gosenshū (Gosen Wakashu), collected about 951 CE, which was the 2nd of the great Imperial Anthologies. He has put up a Wiki with what he has so far, including sources used and analysis of the poems. Check it out here: http://jchristopherkern.com/Wiki/Gosen_wakashu

There is a short wikipedia entry about the Gosenshū here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gosen_Wakash%C5%AB

And a brief entry concerning the 21 Imperial Anthologies here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chokusen_wakash%C5%AB#Nij%C5%ABichidaish%C5%AB


October 1, 2008 – November 1, 2019

Princess of the Moon
What mirror can I fashion
That reflects your heart?
The shadow in the corner?
That silent step on the stair?


Tsuki crossed the Rainbow bridge today, curled in my arms. The test results from the vets showed that her liver levels were worse, and the medicine we’d been giving her had no effect. Any further treatment would have required surgery, and we’d put her through that last year. It was a gut-wrenching decision. I take comfort in the fact that she had 11 good years with us, and I spent a lot of time with her this past month. Tsuki was a strange little cat, very timid, with a constant expression of melancholy. But she was very sweet. She loved gathering up the cat toys in the house and hoarding them on our bed. Sometimes she would deign to bring one down and share it. She enjoyed watching bird videos on TV and climbing all over Robert whenever he tried to sit and read a book. Rest well, Princess. I shall always miss you.

This is a rare personal post. I set Inktober aside when my cat Tsukihime was diagnosed with liver disease in early October. I spent much of the month caring for her, until we had her tested again yesterday (November 1st) and found that her illness was worse. I made the painful decision to let her be put to sleep.

Spent most of yesterday in tears over Tsuki. I think it was the shock of it. I didn’t even realize she was sick until her checkup in October, and while I knew the prognosis was poor, I had let myself hope that she was getting better with the medicine. So it was very hard to hear that the meds had done nothing at all for her. And I knew we had to let her go. The Vet offered to let me take her home for a final weekend, but I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with her all month, and I didn’t want to drag it out. She died as she had lived, timid, her head tucked in my arms. My poor little kitty.

Thank God Robert had started his vacation, although he was at a rescheduled doctor’s visit and didn’t find out about Tsuki until I came home without her. As for Robert, he took some blood tests (results next week) and got some antibiotics for that sinus infection he can’t seem to shake off. Tsuki’s loss hit him hard as well–she was actually more his cat than mine in many ways. I rescued her, but she fell in love with Bob at first sight, and was always crawling up on him when he was in bed or at his desk or watching tv on the couch.

Tsuki and Robert…the saga begins.

On the Couch

Tag-team with Nabiki

The last picture I took of Tsuki. With Robert, of course.

She was loved and is missed.

We’re down to one cat, something that hasn’t happened to me in nearly 30 years. It feels lonely, although Ryoko seems to be enjoying her free run of the house. She’s very confused. She knows there should be another cat around somewhere, but Tsuki is nowhere to be found.

We kept Ryoko and Tsuki separated (I’m not sure if I even have a picture of the two of them together) because Ryoko bullied Tsuki so badly that Tsuki was terrified of her. They knew the other was around, and would occasionally catch a glimpse of each other through a briefly-opened door, but otherwise, they had very little contact with one another. Each of them was allowed a half-day of freedom, otherwise they were kept pent up; Ryoko in my office, Tsuki in our bedroom. Tsuki had more room and got to sleep with us at night (unless I was in my Comfy Chair with insomnia), but the bedroom has blackout curtains due to Robert’s weird work schedule, so no outside view. My office is smaller, but there’s a window looking over the backyard with a nice view.

In a perfect world, we could have worked out the problems between the two cats and all lived in (semi) harmony, but we tried everything and those two just hated one another. The vet suggested rehoming one of them, but both had personality issues (Tsuki being incredibly shy and Ryoko being aggressive) and so it would have been difficult to place either one of them. So they lived in their separate worlds in our little house.

Now Ryoko is all we have left. We cleaned up the bedroom and washed all the bedding so there was less of Tsuki’s scent. Ryoko was a bit shy about going in (mainly because we’ve been chasing her out of the bedroom any time she managed to slip past us before), but she’s figuring it out. She slept with us on the bed for the first time last night and was quite happy.

Because we’d been having to give Tsuki meds at night (and waiting an hour after that before we could feed her), I had gotten in the habit of sitting in bed with her after medicine time, watching Bird TV videos on YouTube. Tsuki absolutely was wild about Bird TV, as you can see from the pictures below:





She would watch the Bird TV while I would listen to the birdsong and read. It was peaceful and relaxing, and we both grew to enjoy the ritual. Tsuki knew what the TV controls were and what it meant when I went to get them. I only wish we’d found out about this earlier.

Last night, I decided to see if Ryoko liked the Bird TV as much as Tsuki did. She was certainly riveted by the action and sounds, although she’s not a jumper like Tsuki, so she stayed on the bed to watch.


So I think I may continue the practice of Bird TV. It is relaxing and does give me time to read, while entertaining the cat.

I don’t know how Ryoko will change now that she’s an only cat. We’re hoping she’ll calm down some. She seems to enjoy being in the room with either one or both of us. She used to keep her distance but in the past year has become more of a lap-cat.

Unfortunately, with her temperament, we’re not sure if we can add another cat to the household without her going wild on us. As badly as I want a multi-cat household again, we may have to wait. Given our current reality, with my father’s illness, upcoming house repairs, and that cruise Dad wants us to take, we’re not in a good position to take on another cat (or cats) for awhile.

My heart, it hurts so much. Tsuki was a strange little cat, but she was firmly ensconced in our hearts. She was also the last active tie we had with our old home in Dubuque, and I found that wound torn open as well. It’s strange, as we’ve been here in Olathe almost seven years, but for some reason, it still doesn’t feel “real” to either of us.

But I type this now in my office, with the door open, yet Ryoko is here with me. She’s barely let me out of her sight today. Maybe I won’t be so lonely after all.


And a poem for today, November 2nd:

Darkness in my heart
And yet the sun is shining
The air, fresh and clear
A cloak of leaves, shimmering
Autumn eases my sorrows

Some Tanka from February

Blizzard 4
Maple tree under snow in my backyard, photo by myself


A blanket of grey
The scent of snow in the air
Winter’s cold caress
My tears frozen to my face
I wonder why I’m crying


Pain, past and present
Winter is not my season
Knife-sharp, the twisting
Of my body, of my mind
Warped into a silent knot


My brush hesitates
Hovering over the page
Like a dragonfly
My words are soft and cloudy
As a midwinter’s morning


How to speak of it
World weariness infusing
Each waking moment
No rhyme, reason, or excuse
The sleet falls unrelenting