Posts Tagged ‘ John Martone ’

Otata 29 – May, 2018

Sabine Miller

Native Object

To hug a tree—how silly
can one get, he said, but to dance

with it—like the wind, said he subtracting

craving from contact & The rose

in the garden among evergreens after a soaking rain blooms

no wider than this


Donna Fleischer

winter morning,
may i become
your blank page


snowfield –
sound of deer’s hooves
striking the moonlit road


in the woods
snow shoals sun squalls,
a green triangle


Source: May, 2018 – Otata

A Longhouse Birdhouse: ADVENIAT ~

Source: A Longhouse Birdhouse: ADVENIAT ~

otata 28, April 2018

Kala Ramesh

the blossom’s shadow a shadow of its morning glory


Antonio Mangiameli

panni al sole —
un gattino in strada
gra a le ombre

clothes hung-out —
a kitten in the street
scratches the shadows


Source: April 2018 – Otata

selection from otata 27 March 2018, edited by john martone

Ketti Martino

Procedo per implicite rinunce
perché la gratuità dell’esistenza
è nel rigore estremo, incanto
che contiene solo il necessario.

I sogni, col ato corto di una pianta
acerba, vogliono maturare piano,
senza pesi, per traboccare di bellezza.

I proceed by implicit renunciations
because the gratuity of existence
lies in extreme rigor, charm
that holds only the necessary.

Dreams, with the short breath of
an unripe plant, want to mature gently,
without weight, to overthrow with beauty.


Procedo per implicite rinuncia e Dimmi furono originariamente pubblicate in Atelier. Procedo per implicite rinuncia and Dimmi were originally published in Atelier. Translations jm


Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo


chicchi di riso —
nella ciotola tonda
splende la luna

rice grains —
in the round bowl


Maria Teresa Sisti

red tulip —
a stem without thorns
who fears the wind

Lucia Cardillo

cambia il tempo . . .
una pigna rotola giù
nell’erba alta

weather changes . . .
one pinecone rolls down
in the tall grass

Bob Arnold

Selections from Heaven Lake
Longhouse Publishers


I’ll Never Be Poor


How she does it
I don’t know

don’t want
to know

will never
know as

she turns to me and
it’s new all over again


Know What You Do


What does it all mean?
it means times have changed
and we’re supposed to change with it


take the quiet, the river, the old
road, animal lore, secret pathways
respect for stick, leaf and silence

and throw it all away

do as we please
barge where we barge
litter as we like

you don’t know what sort of
agreement and law and universe
you are asking to destroy when

you do this



otata 27, March 2018


otata 26 February 2018

Jim Kacian


a small quirk of spelcheks

ones elf


Margherita Petriccione


fumo di legna –
un cane sulla soglia uta il freddo

wood smoke –
a dog on the threshold
sniffs the cold



Kim Dorman

throw a blade
of grass

to the


after Joubert


otata 26, February 2018

otata 25 January 2018

David Read

the head falls
off the snowman
new moon


Donna Fleischer

through tears
a blue and white



I greet the new year 2018 with otata 25, John Martone’s variegated, delightful poetry journal. Thank you, John, for including my poems with those by Paul Miller, Mark Young, Aditya Bahl, Lucia Cardillo, Tom Montag, Sonam Chhoki, and many more. – Donna Fleischer

Click to access 2018-january-otata-25.pdf

Scott Watson with Santōka and other poets, from otata 24 (December, 2017)

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore

chi d’India —
i frutti saporiti
maturi in autunno

prickly pears —
the tasty fruits
ripe in autumn

Zlatka Timenova

краят на лятото
мирис на бавно кафе
без обещание

the end of summer
scent of slow coffee
without promise

Stefano d’Andrea

la prima uva…
un geco mi osserva scegliere gli acini

the first grape…
a gecko peeks at me picking grapes


Olivier Schopfer

no  small  talk  between  you  crows


Scott Watson

If a person survives a traumatic event, he or she cannot completely understand his or her experience. Is it even possible to communicate what is not understood? The act of trying to understand the meaning of an event changes the survivor.

For an eleven year old child, seeing a mother’s dead drowned body brought up out from a well she’d let herself fall down was a traumatic experience that Santōka spent many years trying to find the meaning of. It might be said that it was an event which transformed his entire life, setting him off on a quest, the goal of which was acceptance.

It has been suggested that Santōka was so disturbed by his mother’s suicide that, beginning as a young adult, he sought relief with saké, or that he eventually took to walking in order to accommodate an undesirable past. Taking it outdoors provided ample room to air maybe.

We might wonder why it took so many years for that event to become the issue it eventually did. After all, subsequent to his mother’s suicide, Santōka seems to have led a life relatively undisturbed by traumatic memories. He continued schooling and got good grades (continually in the top 25% of his class). He did not become a juvenile delinquent. He was not violent towards others. Nor did he torture animals and insects. He did not set things on fire. He did not inflict himself with wounds. He did not run away from home. He exhibited none of the behaviors typically associated with a “problem child.”

But in the five years of schooling (at a time when four years were compulsory) prior to entering a junior high school course there were 1500 school days. Santōka attended 977. That is only a 65 percent attendance record. There is no known explanation for all the absenteeism. Nor is it known whether his times absent from school increased after his mother’s death.

Truancy is a word that might characterize certain aspects of his later life as husband and father. Not there a lot of the time. And then it becomes a permanent state in which he is often never anywhere settled.

It is possible that Santōka was not even conscious of the fact that being absent was his way of dealing with trauma. In certain works by Freud and Ferenczi, life itself is seen as trauma. We’re all terrorized and because we are we’re absent (not in the here and now).


Santōka described himself, and his life, as a mess. Traumatic experiences tend to leave personal histories that are messy and unresolved. The only means available to Santōka was poetry. Making poems, he tells us, is one of the few things he is good at. Another was drinking saké.

It is not my intention to pick out particular poems and tell readers they represent his striving to understand his mother’s suicide or deal with the abandonment the boy Shōichi (Santōka) may have felt. But is the fact that he turned to poetry and that poetry became a mainstay of his life connected in any way to that sad loss of his mother? Poetry became a surrogate mother. That is the red thread umbilical connection that had been broken (drowned); poetry was its reconstruction. It is her renewed body as his body of poetry.

Why couldn’t he disappear in a crowd? Why did he have to pursue a life of singularity? Because she left him. Mother in Japan — and elsewhere too maybe — is the prime buffer between child and world. She helps the child blend in. She is love’s body/bodhi. All is lost when she’s gone when he’s eleven.

He becomes increasingly unconnected with the world and the adult roles it asks him to play: husband, father, provider. For a person of his sensitive nature, is poetry where he feels most secure?

He was able to “get over” his father, but his mother held him back. He was moved towards the Buddhist priesthood early on, but his inability to transcend his mother prevented an encounter of the highest perfect wisdom kind. He couldn’t become an “enlightened Zen master” as did Ikkyū, Hakuin, and Ryōkan. Unable to extract himself from her death, he continually fell back into the world’s disturbances. Ups and downs, he tumbled as in an automatic clothes washer, seeking a way out through a poem. His poems are all about her.


 an aside ~

I find this short, untitled essay on Santōka to be illumined and enlivened by true insight, and to be so well written that I believe it ought to assume the place of locus as a classic, central body of work, along with all of Scott Watson’s “versionings” (his word for translations) of Santōka’s poems, in the thought palace of Santōka scholarship.  – DF

some poems by Santōka via “versionings” by Scott Watson ~


Gusto mounting walk off to clouds



Crow song I too am alone



Higanbana blooming this is where I sleep


A good inn
out front a
wine shop.



Thickly clad in tattered robes
face of good fortune


~ these versionings of Santōka by Scott Watson are to be found in

20 Santōka

©2016 Scott Watson
Translated at the All Flowing Cottage,
Sendai, Japan

Printed with orihon* binding by
Country Valley Press, Carson City


Orihon (Japanese: 折本, Hepburn: Orihon, Japanese pronunciation: [oɾihoɴ]) is a book style originating from the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-908) in China and was later developed in the Heian period (A.D. 794-1185) in Japan.[1]. – WIKI 

The orihon was developed as an alternative to the scroll.


otata 24

otata 14

Frances Angela 


infant school the scent of the woman no longer there


early dark

space on the field

for one more crow


otata 14

otata 13 (January 2017)

goes on into winter the smell of apples

fortsætter ind i vinteren lugten af æbler

those quick remarks to show you’re cool crow

de dér hurtige bemærkninger for at vise du er cool krage


– Johannes S. H. Bjerg

otata 13 (January 2017)

beaufort scale, a haibun by john martone | Issa’s Untidy Hut


beaufort scale by john martone | issa’s untidy hut