A Fresh Wind

Soft, supple, solid – Her love is felt a fresh wind – Hinamatsuri -a haiku poem Hinamatsuri also called “Girl’s Day” in Japan is a annual celebration that honors the daughters in families. In writing this I thought of the feeling of holding our daughter that has been with us since birth along with an insightful […]

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Nansen’s Fox

Sitting with stilllness-
and sounds of a winter’s dawn-
A fox runs barking.

Speaking on his own behalf –
So not to be cut in two.

-a Tanka poem

On the morning when I wrote this tanka poem I was sitting by a nicely maturing wood fire in the fireplace at our family mountain house in Karuizawa, Japan. It was a little before 6am and I was thinking about Nansen’s Cat when through the early morning forest I heard a repeated whelping. Rushing to the window, I saw a red fox running down the snow covered road barking as he/she went. To the best of my understanding, this behavior is most likely related to the arrival of mating season and demonstrations to attract a suitable mate. In other words a fox just “foxing” in the cold morning air.

The image above was taken very near to the path the fox took with the red in the pine cone perhaps paralleling the stunning red coat of the barking fox.

Feb 28, 2016

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Honda Super Cub Delivery Bikes

Throat gargle 4 stroke single cylinder – Tin rattle can coffee – Loose clunk 3 speed semi-automatic transmission – Bone shrill, drum brake squeal – Skin tint, news print, white guntei gloves – Sun cracked rubber ties of recycled truck tire tubes – Bed head, chin stubble, crotch stained work pants – Rage tempered, tarmac […]

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Foolish Bamboo

Resigned to the forest floor –  Distinct from society – Green bamboo extends skyward –  Slim leaves rustle in the wind – Tonbi soar high overhead –  as sunlight warms the damp earth –  A fool seeking detachment.  -a seven seven mountain poem That alone you are in the middle of a vast murmuring crowd. It may […]

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The Stone Fountain

A mirror reflects without hesitation – A thousand puddles shine back at the moon – A stone fountain fills slowly with water – Up to the edge when the colors of spring – Instantly burst from a late winter’s day. – a ten syllable mountain poem

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Bears in the Garbage

My grandfather was half-scholar, half-lumber jack Always a beard, a notebook, and a pair of binoculars Usually a four wheel drive which we climbed up into one fading fall afternoon to go look at bears. High up, watching over, not a typical ten year old’s view Rumbling down small stone roads, next to a big stone […]

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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 […]

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Bulbul Presence

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.

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A student without a teacher

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 […]

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Spontaneous Wind

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 […]

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Zen is found at Disney Sea

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 […]

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The Winter Forest’s Silence

Sunrise to sunset –
Changing clouds never settle –
Except for today –
Listen for winter’s silence –
Listen to the falling snow –

– a tanka poem

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?

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Forgotten Feet

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 […]

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Seeds for a New Year

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 […]

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The Valley Spirit

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 […]

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Misunderstanding Nature

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, […]

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Cold Dawn

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

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A Pale Light

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 […]

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A Path for the Swirling Wind

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.



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Beetle Mushin

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.


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Growing Moss

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

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Sasaki Grass Wu Wei

Upward toward the clouds –
Where the air and currents play –
Extended yet soft –
Without an expectation –
Open to humility –
Alight in the autumn sun –



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.

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The Walk to Happo Ike

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 […]

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Soaking In


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.

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Look at the Current

Take a 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.

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Autumn Pine Wind

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).

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O’Keeffe’s World

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

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