Lovers in the Guise of Wolf-Gods

Jeffrey Angles translating the Japanese of Mutsuo Takahashi

Queer Is...

Translator's Note

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of
their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.
—The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans 1:24


The wolf is tree, gale, grass;
The wolf runs through forest sky
Wind over the face of the earth

Trees scream, grass hums—
A soul stands stark naked
Innards covered in blood

Fangs of breath, red of a scream—
The curtain of darkness
Creases, flapping in the air

Teeth crack and crunch—
White foam—
Claws rake the snowy mud

The wolf by the tree, gale in grass:
The tree-wolf is wind
And the gale in the grass, wolf


Who will eat this fire?
Who will run with wind?
Who will tear apart the heart
Convulsing in his hand?
Who will change
The forest covered in green
To woods brimming with blowing snow
In a flash, change a nest of love
To a clump of infertile grass?

The wolf, agile darkness,
Eats of fire, filling his starving flanks
He gallops with the wind
In his fur coat of a thousand glittering needles
Warm blood soaks his flint teeth and claws —
With frozen breath
The wolf, spirit of winter,
Blinding powder of bone,
Changes the young forest
Into a forest of death and
Eyes of fire into eyes of mud


When he suckles at my breast
The man becomes an infant wolf,
He chews with long, heavy bites
On my pale, peach nipple
Until even the last drop
Is sucked away

When milk comes no more,
Blood and pain spill forth
Blood sucked away,
I fade then swoon—
In unconscious dreams
Filled with fear
Without noticing
I too have become a wolf
Just like him


Our love devours us,
A love that tears
With the teeth

In our eyes
Exchanging glances
Are trees in flame

Tearing, devouring,
The backs of our kissing mouths
Fangs of breath

Seething blood
Spouts out and
Instantly freezes

Our torture
Is sympathy,
Pain is pleasure

Our wiry hair shudders
Around our long shadows
As we embrace


Night in the park bushes—
Lovers pull the wolves' heads
Completely over their own

Wolves pull the heads of lovers
Over their own and starve
On the summit of the moon


A wolf couple dances
Where their chests rub together
Soft fur against soft fur
The small bird of love
Is crushed to death

A standing couple
Clinks their glasses
Of thick wine, the color of blood;
Upon them, the downy fur of air
Shines with full luster

On a long couch,
The couple tilts their ears towards a record
Churning out bloodthirsty music

With shuffling steps,
The couple slides into
The hallway shadows
And sucks blood from
One another's necks bent backward

In the garden,
The couple kills a rosebud
On the edge of a fountain that boils over—
A sickly thin finger blurs its fresh blood

One wolf faces the wall and silently
Strikes out love poetry on a typewriter
The ink of the typewriter
Is a warm, sanguine red


Jostling saints of stained glass windows shattering into tiny fragments

Continue to call out and be born in the dark gloom inside the tilting bell—

Powdered silver of countless echoes—

Clusters of genistas trailing downwards—

Frightening ruinous gold hemming in storm clouds—

Inside the bushes, a fully cloaked wolf howls and

Lovers drink continuously of one another's blood


In the cemetery where dead souls
And maggot-filled flesh
Hold their breath and whisper
He stepped on the brakes—
Tires squealed and slid over thick grass

Wrapped in our silence
We flung away our coats
And threw off our underclothes
Suddenly embracing as if in anger—
Outside, the rowan tree grazed our window

It was as if the dead were saying,
"We want to live"
"We want to live"
But in our moans and gushing pain
We ignored them


A glass jar holding honey-colored alcohol—
A glass pot full of rock candy—
A tiny flask of perfumed oil—
A mortar of poison—

The glass of the ceiling
Suddenly shatters
Fragments glitter among fragments,
As they avalanche down
The roaring navy blue

Feeling the awl of a fragment, for a moment
The city of glass echoes above the earth
And shatters into pieces
Right then, the lovers pull
The wolf's head over their own


Facing the round sky
Towers jostle
Sharp points glitter
A thousand bells ring
A thousand bells echo
The pigeon clock rings through the universe
A cuckoo-clock screams
A clock-owl shows its red mouth

The pendulum of the great clock of heaven
Springs out of place; the springs flip
Gears snap and fly off in opposite directions
The Roman numerals VIII IX X XI XII
Turn somersaults on the face and fall

Beloved lovers quickly
Pull the wolves' heads over their own
These men who love one another,
Naked and in pairs,
Fall in the pose of their love


From You Dirty Ones, Do Dirtier Things!
(Kegaretaru mono wa sara ni kegaretaru koto o nase, 1966)


Jeffrey Angles (1971-) is an associate professor of Japanese literature and translation at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and translator of Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Tada Chimako (University of California, 2010), Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō (Action Books, 2009), plus numerous other works. His translations have won the Japan-U.S. Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature and the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the PEN Club of America.

Matsuo Takahashi (高橋睦郎) (1937- ) is one of Japan’s most prominent living poets. Since first attracting the attention of the Japanese literary world with his bold poetic evocations of homoerotic desire in the 1960s, Takahashi has published over two dozen anthologies of poetry and countless volumes of poetry and literary criticism. Five anthologies of his poetry are available in English translation: Poems of a Penisist (Chicago Review Press, 1975, reprinted University of Minnesota Press, 2012), A Bunch of Keys (The Crossing Press, 1984), Sleeping, Sinning, Falling (New Directions, 1992), Two Shores (Dedalus, 2006), and We of Zipangu (Arc Publications, 2007). Jeffrey Angles has translated his memoirs under the title Twelve Views from the Distance (University of Minnesota Press, 2012). He presently lives in the seaside city of Zushi, ten kilometers to the south of Yokohama.