Saturday, February 23, 2013


Nanao Sakaki


If you have time to chatter

Read books

If you have time to read

Walk into mountain, desert and ocean

If you have time to walk

sing songs and dance

If you have time to dance

Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot

[ kyoto 1966]


Nanao, keep your knife clean

Nanao, keep your mind clean

Sea breeze is bad for a knife they say

Sea breeze is good for a mind they say

Sea breeze not bad for a knife

Sharpen your knife, that's all

Sea breeze neither bad nor good

The ocean a whetstone for mind

A clean knife mind

A clean mind ocean

Nanao, sleep well tonight

Blossoming cranium lily as a shelter

The coral sand beach as a bed

The Southern Cross as a pillow.

[Iriomote, Japan
Under the Tropic of Cacer
February, 1976]


Looking for firewood in snowy mountains

  Carrying back firewood
      Splitting firewood
         Listening to burning wood
            Watching for dancing flame

               So joyous
                  You forget yourself
                      You forget a serious appointment
                          You become a piece of firewood

                               Warming up
                                   Flaming up
                                      Singing up
                                          Dancing up

                                              You become ash.

[Feb. '80]


The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
  — Walt Whitman

The government of the people, by the people, for the people.
  — Thomas Jefferson

You deserve a break today.
   — McDonald's

Where science gets down to business.
  — Rockwell International

Kick the letter habit.
  — Bell System

Crime hits everybody. Everybody oughta hit back.
  — Chicago Crime Commission

Without chemicals life itself would be impossible.
  — Monsanto

I think America's future is black, coal black.
  — Atlantic Richfield Company

Have a coke and a smile.
  — Coca Cola

Private property—No trespassing—Dead end road.

[Thanksgiving '79]


Because my stomach is empty,

Because my throat's itching,

Because my bellybutton's laughing

Because my heart is love burning.

[Mons Venus, NM
November, '79]


Carlsbad Caverns, then I moved to
White Sands National Monument.
Dr. Albert Einstein,
government officials and the Pentagon
all watched
the mushroom-shaped cloud
right here in the Chihuahua desert
25 years ago.

Jemez Springs, New Mexico,
I met a Christian priest.
At Tinian Air Base in Micronesia
he held a service for "B-29" pilots
who headed for Hiroshima,
August 6, 1945.

Izumi Air Base in Japonesia,
100 miles south of Nagasaki.
Three days after the Hiroshima bombing
I caught a "B-29" on my radar screen.
Due north. 30,000 feet high. 300 m.p.h.
Three minutes later
my soldiers shouted,
"Look, a volcanic eruption!"
In the direction of Nagasaki
I saw the mushroom-shaped cloud
with my own eyes.

Hiroshima. There,
one year after the bombing
I searched for
one of my missing friends.
As a substitute for him
I found a shadow man.
The atomic ray instantly
disintegrated his whole body,
all — but shadow alive
on a concrete wall.

Bandelier National Monument.
Beautiful ruin
of ancient people, the Anasazi.
Dead of night, the earth
quakes three times.
Not by Jemez volcano
but by underground nuclear explosion
in Los Alamos.
More ruins, more churches!

The Air Base ruin in Japonesia,
south of Nagasaki.
No more "Kamikaze pilots",
now 3,000 cranes soaring high
in the setting sun.

Northern edge of Chihuahua desert,
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
Sandhill crane, "Grus canadenis" : 1.7000.
Whooping crane, "Grus americana" : none.
As a substitute
for the extincting species
Mr. Kerr-McGee wants to dump
ever-existing nuclear waste
into "The Land of Enchantment".

[Sangre De Cristo Mountains
March 5, 1979]


 Sing a song






   Go away.

       [January, '81] 


Real Play
(Tooth of Time Books, 1983)


Conrad DiDiodato said...

I like this guy! Thanks for posting Nanao Sakaki, Bob.

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Lots like this guy, Conrad.

Keep reading!


Luster said...


My copy of How to Live on the Planet Earth arrived last week. I'm studying the manual.

stay close,
mike1816 ngestssg

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

How can that be, Mike? I would think you helped write the manual!

Snow falling now and the size of the snowflakes increasing by the minute. . .yet another observation for the manual.

all's well, Bob

Kazumaro Yoshida said...

Hi, Bob

I met Nanao-san 2 or 3 times.

He was THE POET!

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Hi, Kazumaro,

we're right with you!