OKINAWA (English translation)

If it is misused, then there is no art more harmful and evil than karate. « ] (Gishin Funakoshi)

He is sitting in front of the railing
The black leather of his chair is warming
His cold coffee is coming out of the cup

« You write poetry », he says to me
And his smile trembles.

The airport in Naha
Dropped me off on a Friday
A veiled woman in white,
Pats her on the head

I give him a piece of cake
He reproaches me for coming so early
Then he grabs my white wrist
I have a movement of fright

« I’m blamed for being alive
You who write for young people
At my age, to be gallant?
You mystify the men who lament
But at my age the tears dry quickly

In front of the city which spreads out
In a motionless humidity
I listened to the old man smile

« I come from Okinawa
Uchinaa – the language here
Already had only three vowels
I studied with Azato Anko,
the technical art of the empty hand. (karate-jutsu)

The Okinawa Martial Arts Society
has made a place for me at its refreshment bar.

The nurse brings a tray
She did not listen to my prayers
She left without a word
The evening glides over the terrace
Like the promise of my return
I shed a fearful tear.

« I had a spiritual son
His name was Gima, for him, for you
I wrote the first Bible
Perched on the eternal roof
Of the temple of Kamakakura,

There I watched the evening flow
Like honey from my eyes burned
By the anguish of death
But the monks encouraged me
And I cried long nights

The rain falls on the terrace of the hospital
My grandfather’s breath is veiled
He watches the pines bend in the wind
And loosens his wrist from mine

« It was I who changed the characters
Of the word KARATE
Taking God and the nation to task
I took the Chinese characters
Which I liked I buried
Our athetical bodies under the snow
The icy blanket of ethics

In the Shotokan* dojo
(*Shoto means « pine wave »)

The pine wave suffers in silence
I calligraphed the dense sun
The ocean emitted a fiery sound

He does not want to eat anything
Three sausages of mashed potatoes
And next to the paper plate
A spoon and a white yogurt

The air raids of the forties
Razed my patient business
I beat young men drunk with glory
Who were intoxicated by their art

We drank awamori liquor
And plums with rotten blood
were swallowed up in our glasses
Restaurants opened their back rooms to my friends

In the ruined castles of the archipelago
In the forest of Yanbaru, up to the sky
At our side the fishermen cast their nets
On our dreams of purity – What remains my son of this past? —

« The monorail splits the putrid air,
I answered,
1500 volts 19 stations
I came with a dry wind
Seaweed and shrimp
Only the name remains

The mongooses of Java
Have taken the taste of cold sake
They kill the night vipers
The policemen bludgeon with their tonfa. ( originally used in martial arts or by the police)
The drunkards who yesterday used the eku* (boat frame, used in martial arts) (boat frame, also used as a weapon)
To earn their living
By singing the return of the moon

The oil refinery
Waves its wisps of smoke
On the white sky of our island
And from your insider circles
Only the idealism and the idea of scarcity
Only the idealism and the idea

He looked at me impatiently
It had been too long
That he had not received one of his children
I continued, the moon was falling
Behind a hill smoothed by the wind

« Grandpa, the frogs are playing golf
The heliport welcomes red birds
Spiders are home to travelers
Yes, the world has changed
It ends with your karate.

He answered me with a drawl
Like sand on salt-burned skin
No, karate begins and dies
With respect for the opponent
Our art is fanned like a flame
To the gales of reality

Then he raised two eyes on the nurse
Like two vertiginous chasms
She took his pulse with a weary hand
He smiled at her with tenderness

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