Composed a decade after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the following five poems appeared in the mid-1950s when their author, Yoshimoto Taka’aki resigned from his workplace at Toyo Ink after the labor union struggle he led against the company was defeated. For Yoshimoto, who would emerge in the early 1960s as an intellectual and literary inspiration to the New Left students who opposed both the conservative capitalist regime of the Liberal Democrats and the anti-democratic Stalinist vanguardism of the Japanese Communist Party, these poems were written on the occasion of his second greatest defeat (the first was the war and the third was the anti-Ampo -- Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Pact -- movement of 1960). It is not difficult to see how the first major defeat of the war metaphorically haunts the images of these poems. In contrast to the Old Left orthodoxy of postwar democrats and Communists who ideologically valorized peace and democracy without self-critically coming to terms with their own responsibility in the war, Yoshimoto’s refusal to subsume his “experience of defeat” to larger political causes, ideological forms, and illusions of national power is expressed variously here, not least through their persistent refusal of easy optimism or nihilistic despair. What fragilely holds together the invisible center of the unpunctuated, fractured lines, the vortex of war-haunted images that crisscross death and vanishing fighters, is Yoshimoto’s commitment to the necessity of fighting under other names the ghosts of many-headed alienation, just one of whose many names is “war”.