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from the September 2018 issue

Seventeen Poems by Iaki Kabe

Irakli Kakabadze uploaded a number of short poems to various social media sites over the course of several years under the pseudonym Iaki Kabe, fooling many into believing they were the work of an unknown Japanese poet translated into Georgian. His poetry became so popular on the Internet that when a selection was published in book form, the book topped national bestseller lists.
 

Irakli Kakabadze reads "Seventeen Poems by Iake Kabe" in the original Georgian
 

It’s been three years
Since my neighbor chopped down
The fig tree on the other side of the fence
It’s been three years since my peach tree hasn’t flowered
On this side of the fence . . . 

 

*

I put my head under the water,
I hold my breath for a second,
I want to feel intensely
What he felt
when he took his life . . .

*

In my homeland,
Where priests and poets
Abound,
A man’s life
Is worth less than straw . . .

*

In this world,
Amid such deep sorrow,
Oh, cherry tree,
You are my soul’s
Only relief  . . .

*

It’s been one week,
As if
The universe has been emptied,
The stranger no longer waits
At the bus stop in the morning.

*

There’s not a single footstep on the snow,
By my elderly neighbor’s house . . .

*

It’s white everywhere,
The snow covers everything, far and wide,
In my neighbor’s garden,
Only the reddish pomegranates
Glow and are covered in snow . . .

*

Oh, how I long, as when I was a child,
To sneak away from school to the forest
And exhausted from running,
For my mother to scold me . . .

*

Where is
My homeland— 
In the tears of a child forced to flee,
Or in the smile 
Of my country’s rippling flag?

*

It was May, loved 
By my beloved,
But now from her young, 
Open chest,
A peach tree is flowering in the Nagasaki cemetery . . .

*

The harsh river
Of our village, 
Washed away the corpse
Of my childhood love
Like a wood chip . . 

*

A single dream
Does not give me rest, but obsesses me— 
Dressed in a white kimono, 
I stand, a poet, 
Before my country’s gallows . . .

*

Soldiers marched
Past my house, and
As I watched them, a thought obsessed me—
What in this world could be worth
The blood of these children?!

*

In winter, when
I sit by the fire and prepare tea,
The eyes of the boy 
lying frozen on the sidewalk in Osaka
Won’t leave me alone . . .

*

It had rained,
The lilacs were rejoicing.
The place where blooms flourish 
Is the abandoned grave 
Of our village courtesan . . .

*

This spring
I remembered only
One tree,
The one that did not bloom
In my neighbor’s garden

*

Heaven can be found right here,
Behind the door,
In the babbling of children . . .
 

© Irakli Kakabadze. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Mary Childs. All rights reserved.

The translator thanks Lia Shartava for her help in translating these poems.


 

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