Fiction & Poetry

The Hungry Ghost

She told me we wouldn’t eat any of the dumplings.  That, it was bad luck to eat food left out for hungry ghosts.  It would make them angry.  I remembered reading about hungry ghosts, wasted, mouths too small to eat.  They tried to possess people, sometimes the emotionally weak, so as to be able to taste the food they craved…

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From “Rain and Thunder”

I once liked walking in the rain, the harder the better;
liked facing the drops and letting them drench my hair,
then follow individual courses under my collar…

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Persimmons

Split: a star-like reflection.
Flesh like the fire-belly of a newt,
only since coming each autumn
have I taken to swallow firm
fresh mouthfuls,
the jam-insides
of others sun-dried.

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Thirty-Six Times

It is the mountain’s presence that most inspires when viewing Hokusai’s thirty-six prints. Rain or shine, snow or wind, clear skies – seen from village, sea, or city – the mountain is a timeline against which all of life is measured.

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The Stone Carver

He walked back to the main street, along the row of stone workshops.  Through the open doors of one he saw, through a haze of white dust, a row of squatting carvers working frantically, pounding their chisels into the stone in a clanging chorus.

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Into the Hills

Into the Hills

Up into the Northern Hills,
up the slender, winding road
to the last bus stop; get out, walk
the narrowing valley to the end,
climb steep stone stairs.
Pause there for a cup of tea.

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Distant and Far Apart

Seoul buildings

Watching painters work was something I’ve always been drawn to. How they licked their lips. How their eyes never seemed to blink. How they paced alone in cluttered rooms, stared at things as if defusing bombs, and every breath was a hiccup from boom…

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Left Behind: A Selection of Poems by Xu Lizhi

Xu Lizhi Eleanor Goodman Chinese factory worker Kyoto Journal poetry Zhan You Bing

Xu Lizhi’s work is steeped in the vocabulary and experiences of the factories, a world in which he himself lived. The selection of poems presented here show his sense of desperation and acute observations of his internal psychology and the larger world.

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The Green Summer Wind

basho-john-givens-fiction-kyoto-journal

The old man opened his travel pouch and removed a roll of rice paper. He lifted out his writing kit—a bronze tube ending in a bulbous bronze pot fitted with a tight lid, like a metallic leek with a metallic ball-onion fused on at one end. The tube held his writing brush, and the onion-pot was stuffed with wadded cotton fibers soaked with ink.

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Moon Landings

John Einarsen Sacha Idell fiction

I let Grace pick where we lived. No, Grace had opinions about where we lived, and I did not. We were together because we had nowhere better to be.

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Look How Far the Sun Fell

magda rittenhouse shanghai kyoto journal

Bathwater swallowed the tube with a nervous plop and the ripples lapped gently at Yasi’s stiffening chest. The once comforting smell of tobacco was swiftly replaced by the tang of burning hair and he could not fight through the powerful clench of his jaws to scream…

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Ties that Bind

The relationship between Grandpa Thong-in and Grandma Jan became more intense, to the point that on some days he would arrive at dawn and not leave until after dusk.  This very much upset Grandma Jan’s daughter, who felt utterly ashamed by her mother’s obnoxious behaviour…

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Professor Sôl’s Theory

A man and a woman meet serendipitously at Panmunjôm, the site of the ongoing “Peace Talks” between the “two” Koreas since the “end” of the “conflict.” The man reflects: Two hundred years from now the term “Panmunjôm” will have become an archaism. An encyclopedia published then will contain the following entry:

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Mekong River

Mekong River poetry Terea Mei Chuc Vietnam War Kyoto Journal

Today’s flowers let me inside
into their vase-shaped bodies

Today, I swim this river
with its fish and turtles
and crocodiles…

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In Memorium: David Jenkins

David Jenkins, a longterm resident of Kyoto, translated medieval Japanese poetry (with his co-translator, Yasuhiko Moriguchi) — and made it timeless. He passed away on April 10th, 2000, surrounded by fully-blooming sakura; is still missed by friends and colleagues here at KJ.

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Before you go, be sure to check out our latest issue:

KJ 93: Food