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a stink-bug haiku & fart senryu

If haikus first-poet Basho's friend, the Rabelesian Kikaku introduced the fart as a phenomenon of wintering-in, Issa found ways to extend it into other seasons.   He wrote a baker's dozen of stink-bug haiku (Fall).  In Japanese, the bug is called the farting-bug and a transliteration of  the correct usage of the Chinese characters which Issa didn't always use is "cut-fart-bug." I do not know if it is a certain beetle or a much smellier smaller bug.  But it does not matter.  The metaphor is what counts.  Eight paraverses of just one of those haiku follow:

 

ore yori wa haruka jouzu zo he-hiri-mushi

(me, more than far better! fart-cut-bug)

 

To Mister Stink-bug

 

you are indeed

true master of the art

i concede

 

-- an Old Fart 

 

 

i lose!

 

you cut the cheeze

far better than me

o-stink-bug

 

 

in praise of the bombardier

 

my farts

are nothing to your art

o beetle!

 

 

the contest

 

stink-bug art

has nullified my fart

 you win again!

 

In Japan, there was a famous picture-story scroll (Nara e-hon) about a farting contest between bonzes. It was called the He-ho-gasen, or "fart-cut-battle."  A more common term for such competition was he-kurabe, or "fart-comparing."

 

to a certain beetle

 

you cut them so well

and whenever you please!

if i took the cake

then you take the cheeze!

 

 

an old fart conceeds

 

i fear i can not hold a fart

to you the master of our art

oh, stink-bug!

 

 

a flatulent old poet impressed

 

in fall thou art

a veritable spring of fart

stink-bug!

 

 

fall letter

 

Dear Stink-bug,

 

I grant you are my master at this woeful art!

 

Signed, with warm regards,

Issa, an old fart.

 

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The main reason I began to paraverse my haiku and senryu (5-7-5 poems that tend toward black-humor and stereotype) translation was my inability to carry the punning ambiguity that marks Japanese poetry into English in a single piece. The following might best be called complementary paraverse. Taken together, they convey the information --- and I hope the wit --- found in the original.  Verses need not be obvious rhymes, so long as they pack enough punch to be witty.

 

he-o hiite okashiku-mo-nai hitorimono

(fart-cut even if, funny-not singleman)

 

a sorry sight

 

looking for all the world

like he would sooner fart than not

a single man

 

 

the recluse

 

what good is breaking wind

when you've no one there

to shoot it with

 

Even as I retype this for the PARAVERSE site, I discover (or invent) two more minor nuances:

 

association

 

a single wino

whenever he cuts the cheeze:

his empty life

 

 

boredom

 

single life

even farts are never

a surprise

 

And, speaking of paraversing, it so happens that there is a haiku (?) well-known in part for being exceptionally short, to the effect that a cough is worthless to a single man (seki o shitemo hitori (?)) which may well combine this senryu with another pointing out that coughs have many uses.

robin d. gill paraverse press

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