Welcome to Blue Garden
I dedicate this blog to two old men who are haunting my mind many many years. They are the “ghosts” of WW2 pilots both of whom died in the war. They are a Japanese suicide pilot and an American P-38 pilot.
Here is a little bit of the background about them and how I came to know them:
The Japanese flyer, Lt. Toru Hirano (posthumously promoted to C0l.), was a Kamikaze pilot. A day before he went on a suicide attack mission, he was given some hours on leave. He spent those hours to visit the clock tower of the high school he had attended before advancing to the Naval Academy. He wrote a message with a lead pencil on a wall there.
Years later, I attended the same high school and came to know of the writing. It was all smeared but I managed to recover enough characters to find out who that pilot could have been.
“I was given life in this world, and I am to die tomorrow,” his words were read.
“I thought of where I would most want to spend the last hours of my life, and I felt this is the place I most wanted to come… The Naval Academy… Toru…”
He was one of thousands young men who died like that.
As the years have gone by since I saw the writing, the story about him has stuck to my mind more and more strongly. I now even dream of him. In the dream, sometimes I am piloting the fighter plane. I can feel the control stick in my own right hand and I am about to hit an American warship in the Pacific. I hear his voice ringing in my ear.
I will write out his words as I hear in the dream in a poem form when my poetic skill is developed good enough. But for now:
An old man stood on a beach
Leaning on his cane, he squinted to the sky
A seagull flies across the blue
Like a fighter plane he once piloted
Tears well up in his eyes
About the American P-38 pilot: He is Lt. Carl Hoenshell, who went missing in Europe during the war in 1944, shortly before Toru was registered as dead.
The remains of Lt. Hoenshell were discovered in a rural area in Bulgaria almost 60 years later in 2002 by search efforts led by his niece and nephews. They were brought home to his home town of Owosso in Michigan to be laid beside his mother in a cemetery there in a full military service burial with fly-bys. The entire town observed the occasion.
However, I knew something more about the entire story of Lt. Hoenshell than anyone who attended the service, because Carl’s mother was at one time my landlord when I studied in the United States 50 years ago.
I used the room that Lt. Hoenshell had used, slept on the bed he had slept and put my clothes in the drawers that had belonged to him.
Mrs. Hoenshell, talked about her “Carlie” to me almost every evening while I was staying at her house for about a year.
She accepted everything her relatives, friends and the government agency told her that her Carlie would never return home. But, deep down, she never gave up her belief that Carlie would some day come back. She showed me some of the stuff she was secretly preparing for a “welcome home dinner” she was to serve when her son came back. One of the stuff was a white tablecloth she was knitting.
She told me about Carlie so much that I began to visualize him as my own brother. Mrs. Hoenshell also told me some strange, even ghostly, stories. I clearly remember her facial expression when she was telling me of such stories. She smiled and often turned to extreme anger.
As the years have gone by since those days, her face with a smile and simultaneous extreme anger began to float in my mind more and more vividly. Sometimes she haunts my mind with Carlie. I want to tell the world about Carlie and his mother as words come up in my mind. But for now:
An old man stopped walking on a sidewalk
A bird darted above his head from behind
All men are born to live in peace for happiness
I will also put on this blog haikus I have written in English, together with other poems. Some of my friends who are Japanese literature experts tell me haiku is never possible other than in Japanese. I know what they mean. Haiku may never be understood unless read in the Japanese original. But the five-seven-five is a rhythm natural to human, and I feel a tremendous possibility in poems in that rhythm. We don’t necessarily need haiku’s kigo, kireji, or other traditional rules. Since the haiku poems must be squeezed into such a small number of syllables, we need a special poetic license to write them: the license to kill, to kill the grammar. And, for now:
Say it in five-seven-five rhythm
My heart will follow
I hope many people visit this blog and leave comments. The two WW2 pilots who died are always on my mind.