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Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
Poetry from Naoshi Koriyama

Also in this Issue: Bill Wolak interviews Naoshi Koriyama
An Artist’s Apology to His Daughter 

You may feel uncomfortable,
looking at those paintings
of nude women 
your father has painted.
He did look at the women 
as intensely
as he could, trying to reproduce
the gentle curves of their rich breasts.
He counted the threads of a model’s hair 
hanging on her nape.
He could feel the heartbeat 
of the woman in front,
as he moved his brush on the canvas. 
Perhaps he loved these women
more strongly than he loved your mother.
Here they are, painted for ages to come,
exposing their naked bodies
to the sun. 

From Eternal Grandeur and Other Poems, 1994 *

Under the Evening Sky of Rome 

Did I reach out for your hand first?
Or did you slip your hand into mine?
Our hands seemed 
to have eagerly longed 
to touch each other. 
I didn’t want to let your hand go,
so I kept holding it 
as we walked along the bumpy sidewalk
of Rome,
the warmth 
and softness 
of your hand
with all my heart.
And I could feel your hand
softly responsive 
to the amorous squeeze 
of my hand. 

From Eternal Grandeur and Other Poems, 1994 *

A Poem Just for You 

I call up every single word 
in my vocabulary,
measuring up 
one usable word 
against another 
in search of the best possible word.
I also examine 
every single working rule 
of my grammar 
to arrange the choicest words 
into a poem 
in the most powerful way. 

Sitting at my typewriter,
setting my body upright 
with my feet comfortably apart,
I exert all the force and power 
of my fingertips and hands 
hitting hard 
the keys
of the faithful machine . . . 

to write 
a poem
just for you . . . 

From Eternal Grandeur and Other Poems, 1994 *

A Morning Song 

When I go to bed
I always put a notebook 
at my bedside 
so that 
I may depict 
your beauty 
when I see you 
in my dream. 

Groping in the dark,
I scribble 
and scratch 
word by word 
recording my joy 
of seeing you. 

In the morning 
I see strange loops
and crooked lines 
like wanton tracks 
of creeping earthworms 
on the open pages 
of the notebook. 

As I sit 
at my typewriter
deciphering the illegible scrawls 
loop by irregular loop 
line by crooked line 
your smiling face 
begins to appear 
right in front of my eyes. 

From Eternal Grandeur and Other Poems, 1994 *

when my children and i 

when my children and i
came down the mountain trail 
after rambling in the hot island summer sun 
i took them 
to the stream 
at the foot of the mountain 
that flowed cool 
under the thick bowers of bamboo trees 

yes, i took them
to the mountain stream 
to let them drink 
the cool, clear water
that our unknown ancestors have drunk 
down the countless ages
here on this remote small island 

From By the Lakeshore and Other Poems, 1977.*

*reprinted with permission of the author 

Naoshi Koriyama is the author of the following books:


Coral Reefs, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1957.
Plum Tree in Japan and Other Poems, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1959.
Songs from Sagamihara, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1967. 
By the Lakeshore and Other Poems, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1977.
Time and Space and Other Poems, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1985.
Selected Poems 1954–1985, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1989. 
Eternal Grandeur and Other Poems, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1994. 
Collected Poems, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1996. 
Poems about The Iraq War and Other Poems, Eiko-Sha, Tokyo, 2004. 


We Wrote These Poems: A Collection of Poems by Mentally Retarded Children, Hokuseido 
Press, Tokyo, 1982. 
Like Underground Water: The Poetry of Mid-Twentieth Century Japan, cotranslated 
with Edward Lueders, Copper Canyon Press, 1995. 
Black Flower in the Sky: Poems of a Korean Bridegroom in Hiroshima by Chong Ki-
Sheok, cotranslated with Elizabeth Floyd, Katydid Press, 2000.
Beautiful Amami Island Folk Songs, The Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 2001. 


Another Bridge over the Pacific: A Man from an Island and His American Wife, Vantage 
Press, 1993. 

Issue 7, April-June 2011
Buy Like Underground Water from your local independent bookstore.