Rocks piled – the way is marked by lichens and iron and quartz and clouds and shadow. Its grasp tentative on the ridge. Balanced and noteworthy, frozen action, a beacon that today is unnecessary. But what if tomorrow brings lightening and fog cover and seamless retreat is the gatekeeper? To faulter or lose one’s way resulting in […]
Read more "Cairn"
A brown eared bulbul – Is quick to taste the mikan – Quick to let it go. -a haiku poem The hiyodori (brown eared bulbul) is a permanent non-migrating resident of the kanto region where we live. Its noisy calls wake us in the morning but it seems so happy to have an orange.
Read more "Bulbul Presence"
Study the details – For in them lies the essence, of reality. – Transcending a lonely soul – with vines and veins together. -a tanka poem
Read more "Study the details"
I came to the fields – A student without teacher – and met winter trees – Who said to be dynamic – and strike fantastic poses. -a tanka poem This tanka poem was inspired by the scene in this winter snowfield captured and edited on my Android phone. The following from Charlotte Joko Beck author […]
Read more "A student without a teacher"
Outside the wind blows spontaneously – Shaking the small house on a moonlit hill – While the people inside sleep Planning through dreams – Going over the murmurs of memories – Wrapped in the blankets of illusion – Distracted by what is most pressing – Overlooking the wind and its spontaneity – That shakes their small […]
Read more "Spontaneous Wind"
A world of dreams and plastic – The perception constructed – By none other than ourselves – Recognize the fantasy – and there is not spilled popcorn – no prints to wipe off the glass – Zen is found at Disney Sea. -a seven syllable, seven line mountain poem Nothing makes the point – that all […]
Read more "Zen is found at Disney Sea"
Sunrise to sunset –
Changing clouds never settle –
Except for today –
Listen for winter’s silence –
Listen to the falling snow –
– a tanka poem
Read more "The Winter Forest’s Silence"
This photo and poem both were taken from the early winter of Shiga-kogen in Nagano prefecture. The first phrase was inspired by a poem entitled, “Written on the Lake While Return to Stone Cliff Hermitage” by the 4th century Chinese nature poet Hsieh Ling-yun which begins, “Dawn to dusk, the weather constantly changed, mountain and lake sometimes vibrant in sunlight…” as translated by Sam Hamill. The “crack” at the end could really have been any sudden sound word but I chose crack as it felt to be in greatest opposition to the silence of the winter forest. It also felt to best convey the dramatic impact of all those pops, creaks, and snaps that continue to go on in the winter woods and also the break of satori.
In the tradition of the koan – What is the sound of the winter forest’s silence?
Lips puckered out – Kissable between the stacks – Literary love. – a senryu poem
Read more "Literary Love"
A blue heron stands – In a frozen mountain stream – Forgetting his feet. – a haiku poem Slightly upstream from where this photo was taken a blue heron had found some early winter shelter from New Year’s tourists in this stream within some secluded woods in Karuizawa, Japan. I didn’t want to disturb him/her […]
Read more "Forgotten Feet"
Seeds and pappus* alight – Memories of the year frozen – A gentle wind blows. -a haiku poem *The pappus is a feathery structure that allows the seeds of plants to be carried away by the wind. While alight means to come down from and settle which is a relevant image, the allusion to illuminate is fun to […]
Read more "Seeds for a New Year"
Winter daffodils – Look neither for sun nor warmth – yet brighten the shade. -a haiku poem
Read more "Winter Daffodils"
It is just enough – To see pampas grass growing – Upward to the sun. -a haiku poem
Read more "Pampas Grass Mushin"
Reflecting the sky – A pool on the riverbank – Clouds, sunshine, and stone. -a haiku poem This haiku poem was sparked by the scene captured in this image taken on my Android Phone near Kagura Ski Resort in Niigata, Japan.
Read more "Clouds, Sunshine, and Stone"
The valley spirit – Lies awake through the winter – Undisturbed by cold – Her seeds already planted – Listen for her unheard voice. – A tanka poem This tanka poem was sparked by the scene captured in this image taken on my Android Phone at Mitsumata Ropeway Station at Kagura Ski Resort in Niigata, Japan along with the […]
Read more "The Valley Spirit"
When water rages, torrents thunder – Snowfalls gently subdue hardest stone – Neither one making apologies – as gentleness overcomes the strong – and yielding cannot be resisted – But by misunderstanding Nature – – a 9 syllable Mountain Poem This poem is a culmination of two main provocations. The first is the Zen expression, […]
Read more "Misunderstanding Nature"
Hanging like jewels – the deeds done by a kind soul – Left in the forest – Some traces of a life lived – Accolades water the moss. -a tanka poem
Read more "Hanging Like Jewels"
Seasons and cold nights – Turns ginko leaves to gold – and hair to grey. -a haiku poem
Read more "Seasons and Cold Nights"
It dawns cold outside – A fire fills the room with warmth – Blue morning light grows – Until the air is so warm – That the grey smoke disappears. – a tanka poem
Read more "Cold Dawn"
A fire burns but do not think about the wood – The wind blows but do not think about the air – A stream splashes against a stone but do not think about the water. – a mountain poem
Read more "The Essence of Fire"
Suspended bouquet –
With relaxed indifference –
A leaf in the stream –
a haiku poem
Read more "Suspended Bouquet"
Placed up on a hill – A small home casts a pale glow – On the blackened earth – This moonlight shines from within – Family, clouds, and laughter – a tanka poem Note: In Zen poetry clouds are frequently used as another term for monk and the moon is typically symbolic of enlightenment. Writing […]
Read more "A Pale Light"
Sitting under cloudy skies, a blank canvas up above –
Fallen petals are swept away –
A path for the swirling wind –
a 7 syllable mountain poem
Stonehouse or ‘Shiwu’ (1272-1352) wrote the following –
“I sit and meditate in the quiet and dark where nothing comes to mind
I sweep in front when the west wind is done
I make a path for the moonlight”
as translated by Red Pine
I love the idea of making “a path for the moonlight” as expressed by Stonehouse in this poem and it reminded me of the windy spring day where I shot a photographic series as the wind played with fallen cherry blossom petals. I want to keep working with this idea of peaceful action to the benefit of everything and nothing at all.
Read more "A Path for the Swirling Wind"
An old beetle sits waiting –
Slowly rusting in the rain –
The future left uncertain –
Except dust on the windshield –
and rims setting on the ground –
a mountain poem about mushin
Mushin is a Japanese word and Zen concept referring to a state of mind that is not fixed or occupied by thoughts or emotion so therefore open to all outcomes.
Read more "Beetle Mushin"
A dried plum’s texture-
After years of sun and wind –
Whispers “tomorrow” –
a haiku about impermanence
Read more "Old Dried Plum"
There is stillness in thought,
a leaf blows up the hill –
There is thought in stillness,
a Macaque crosses a river –
Everything changes when nothing moves,
the moon is in the daytime sky –
a mountain poem
Read more "A Macaque Crosses a River"
Drinking from a mountain stream –
Using one hand for a cup –
Water falls through to the moss –
Clenching even more tightly –
Water falls through to the moss –
a seven syllable mountain poem
Read more "Growing Moss"
Upward toward the clouds –
Where the air and currents play –
Extended yet soft –
Without an expectation –
Open to humility –
Alight in the autumn sun –
Read more "Sasaki Grass Wu Wei"
This poem originally was going to be a tanka but felt incomplete without the final line. Thus in it’s form here it is a bussokusekika (5,7,5,7,7,7). Wu Wei, originally from Taoism, refers to effortless action that is in alignment with the flow of life.
A waning gibbous moon sets – The new autumn night left dark – Walking slow I kicked a frog – While thinking of compassion – a 7 syllable mountain poem
Read more "Kicking a Frog"
The walk to Happo Ike heads upwards along the ridge – Needing only the effort to consider the nature of wind, of clouds, of sunshine – I am there in a moment – through a shift of attention. – a mountain poem A classic form of poetry well exemplified by the Chinese Zen poet, Stonehouse or Shi-wu (1272-1352), was […]
Read more "The Walk to Happo Ike"
Autumn flowers wait – For winter to take their souls – Pale and shivering – a haiku poem
Read more "Pale and Shivering"
Colors wash over –
Reflected in an onsen –
Mountains in autumn –
Soaking in contemplation –
Soaking in contemplation
– An onsen is a hot spring bath and are particularly common in the mountains of Japan where volcanic activity is closer to the earth’s surface. While an onsen bath is popular year round, they become particularly enjoyable when the weather turns cooler.
Tanka are haiku with two 7 syllable lines as a cap at the end. Sometimes tanka are written by two poets with the first writing a 5,7,5 haiku and the other demonstrating understanding in the final two lines. The cap of understanding was the image that kept coming to mind when writing this poem, as if another person heard the haiku and echoed back the original sentiment twice using a repeated phrase.
Read more "Soaking In"
Take a look at the current –
Read more "Look at the Current"
Trees turned to orange and red –
Songs fading into silence –
The warm glow of backlit leaves –
Each in time falling toward earth –
The final dance in the dust –
To become one with the Tao.
Among autumn leaves –
Clouds too high to touch above –
The pine wind blows peace
– This Autumn Pine haiku poem is in response to being in the cool air of the mountains again in late October. Some of the imagery has been inspired by the translated Zen poems of Cold Mountain (Hanshan)and Stonehouse (Shiwu).
Read more "Autumn Pine Wind"
A monk sits zazen –
The breeze drifts through open doors –
Neither warm nor cold
– a haiku poem
Read more "A Monk Sits Zazen"
Stretching to the sky –
As still as the midnight moon –
The way to nothing –
Leads to the top of the cliff –
Waves of impermanence break –
a tanka poem
Read more "Cliff Top Tanka"
All night gentle waves –
Washing up onto the sand –
Join my breath in sleep.
– a haiku poem about Iwachi, Shizuoka
Read more "Iwachi Night"
Woven tatami –
Discarded and cast aside –
A body, a soul
Read more "Tatami"
The distant dog barks –
Read more "Cool Autumn Evening"
All alone after nightfall –
Joining the crickets
The Bush Warbler – Whose song welcomed summer – Is silent tonight – a haiku poem
Read more "Summer Ends"
elephant lacquer –
Read more "Elephant Lacquer"
evading understanding –
rest, life flourishes
Odaiko Yugen Emanating, deep within – the earth moves with a shudder – and the summit is clear
Read more "Odaiko Yugen"
Open – Anthers, stigma, extending but – Shaded from view – – a mountain poem After Georgia O’Keeffe “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
Read more "O’Keeffe’s World"
There are no words – That neither of us means harm – Just understanding. -a haiku poem
Read more "Idea Pollination"