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Haiku Classic: July 15, 2018

aburamushi kozure-to iedo uchikorosu


    a cockroach

    even though i've kids in tow

    i beat it till its dead


    Ryuu Yamazaki. From "The Haiku 100,000 Poet Saijiki - Summer" (2008), edited by Hiromu Matsuda.

    Cockroaches must be one of the least-loved animals in Japan. Several examples exist in Western haiku of empathy with a cockroach (e.g. the July 1 haiku by L.A. Davidson) but I was not able to find a single example of the same in Japanese. The above poem, which shows at least some guilt on the part of the poet, was the closest I could get. The "cockroach-ness" of the cockroach is portrayed very well. The word "aburamushi" or literally "oily insect" makes the cockroach not sound quite as filthy as the alternative synonym "gokiburi."

    Selected, translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay

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