New Moon

I have done a Bussokusekika, a Japanese poetic form that follows the rules of tanka, except there are three seven syllable lines that end the poem for a 5-7-5-7-7-7. Bussokusekika is an ancient form of poetry, older than Tanka or haiku. It translates to footprints of Buddha.

New Moon
crescent thin against
the black night – overpowered
by the stars she sings
a faint song of undappled
water and hunting owls – she
is lonely in the darkness

Cherry Blossom Jisei

Today Anthony Bourdain was found dead, of suicide. Last year, a friend of mine committed suicide. I could write nothing then of Jeff’s death but found my heart opened today. I am saddened by these events.NOTES: A traditional farewell. It was a tradition for the literate Japanese (monks and Samurai for example) to write death poems shortly before their anticipated death, seppuku, or battle. With the changing of the seasons from summer to autumn, from winter to spring, we see changes as the seasons of spring and summer end. All things pass – mono no aware. The images of dying are also symbols of “farewell”. For Hedge’s 55.

Cherry Blossom Jisei
how brief the blossoms
of the cherry tree –
their lives end at sunset –
snow and rain falling at night –
melting flakes gone before sunrise –
bare branches feel them
drift through skeletal fingers –
birds sleep as snow falls,
cherry blossom moon
holds back the night sky –
the night will conquer that moon

Haibun: Yuudachi

Today at Real Toads, I am doing the prompt for Thursday. I have given different Japanese words for rain – all of them seasonal. The Japanese have at least fifty words for rain. I have chosen yuudachi – sudden evening rain. I am asking people to choose one or several and write about the rain. If writing haibun I am asking for the classic form which is non-fiction and if writing haiku, the classic form which uses a seasonal word.

Haibun: Yuudachi
It was a long hot dry summer. Plants withered, animals died. I added another birdbath to the one already in use. Every day squirrels would line the thing, sipping and vying for places to drink. Several shallow birdbaths watered bunnies and the occasional cat or dog. The koi pond was down a foot, the koi clustered at the deep end in the shadow of plants. The night after you left, I sat on the back porch listening to the cicadas doing their raspy singing. I sniffed petrichor and suddenly rain began to pour down – a loud roar pounding plants into the ground, drumming on the roofs, and washing trash down the street gutters. The koi swam to the surface of the pond opening their mouths acting as if they were eating the drops of rain. I stood holding on the porch post and getting thoroughly soaked. I whispered – yuudachi, sudden evening rain. After the heat of the day the rain was cold. I wondered if it was raining where you were.  I bowed my head and wept hot tears of sorrow.

long hot dry summer –
cicadas cease their songs –
rain mutes all sound

 

Kuroi to Suzume

Today is Tuesday Platform at Real Toads – we can post one poem of our choice. Rommy has told us of how she and her husband met and are celebrating 23 years of marriage! She is asking what interests drew us to our lovers/husbands/spouses/mates? I was 25 when I met my Black Dragon, my Japanese lover. He was 35 and a forensic pathologist and instructor in Kendo and kantana. I am of course interested in all things Japan and have been since I was six. I have visited Japan many times and at several points, followed in Basho’s footsteps. My lover taught me the culture, the history, the language of his country, honoring the changing seasons. We were together 10 years and visited several times his home in the mountains, Hakone, and then he returned to Japan. I did not go with him. I always thought of him as Black Dragon – kuroi ryu and myself as a sparrow beside him – suzume. This haibun is an old one and one I have shortened and reworked for future publication.  I follow the classic form which means it is non-fiction rather than made up. I hope you all enjoy.  The first full moon is of course the first full moon that appears in early spring – mangetsu no haru.


Black dragon and Sparrow

“Come, let me show you” – Indeed the spring moon was full and lit the yard Like a klieg. Although in jeans and tee shirt, he still looked lethal and royal and somehow the katana and wakazashi tucked into the makeshift obi around his waist did not look ridiculous. Hands arm and dry, he took my hand and pulled me outside into his yard – “such tiny hands you have” and he smiled his singularly sweet smile down at me. In the gravel place, between the pond for his nishikigoi and the karesansui, he pulled me. Always when he touched me, heat and electricity flowed from my heels to the top of my head, always drawing me closer to him. The song of steel as he pulled the katana clear – the sound to my ears like the sound the scales of a dragon would make as it moved across the earth.
Standing behind me his arms enclosed me and he placed the sword in my hands – like this and wrapped my hands around the hilt and now, hold it like this as he moved my arms into position and corrected my stance and how I held the sword. Move with me…awkward at first and then like magic it seemed, I was moving with him. Beneath that huge moon the black dragon and the sparrow began their dance. The moon drawing us together, warmed by each other, our breaths frosted in the cold of an early spring night. We could not move from that place. The earth held us captive as the moonlight pinned us in place. Who knew that gravity was heat and electricity? Who knew that gravity was choosing not to move, to stay suspended in one place?

spring night warmed
only by the first full moon –
tides and lovers rise

The first fireflies

For Kim’s prompt over at Real Toads, Bugs and Insects. I love it!

shizukasa ya
iwa ni shimi-iru
semi no koe

it is so still—
singing into the stones,
the cicada’s song
My translation of Basho’s haiku.

The first fireflies
Listen to them—the children of the night. What music they make! Bram Stoker, Dracula

July –
Hot summer night.
So still, so silent.
I am waiting for the first songs of the cicada.
In the ground for seven years
until it digs itself out and finds itself a tree.
Mating time has come.
Into the silence breaks the song –
Raspy, twirly, the lone voice awakens a chorus.
The next night I sit –
The chorus of cicadas again begin.
In the blackness of the moonless night
I see it –
The first of the bits of mini-lightning.
Exploding here, there, high, low.
The fireflies have also awakened.
Randy mating bugs singing, lighting –
The song of summer from childhood as I sat
At my window – listening.
Running out to catch a few fireflies to put into a jar
Covered with screen and filled with some leaves.
Fireflies by my bed,
Cicadas outside my window.
At last I sleep.
The cicadas continue,
The fireflies shimmer until dawn.
I open the jar and they fly away home.
I return to my childhood every summer.

 

Haiku 05152018

This is posted on Real Toads Tuesday Platform in honor and memory of my friend Peggie who died three years ago today due to complications from COPD. She was a true onnebugeisha. She rescued greyhounds, people (including me), she loved her country, and she loved to laugh.  She never called a “turd a rose” …thank you Fireblossom for this wonderful quote.

summer night is long –
dew falls but fades at morning –
grasses remember

Haibun: The Kindness of Strangers

Today Xenia Tran is hosting the haibun prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub. She has given us the prompt of compassion but not to use the word. Also today on Poets United, Sherry Marr has highlighted me and some of my poems:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2018/05/blog-of-week-update-with-kanzen-sakura.html

Kindness of Strangers
Sometimes it is the small things that show kindness. When my mother was admitted into the skilled nursing facility, she was at first hostile and afraid. The personnel did all they could for her and to help me. I felt guilty because I could no longer care for her at home. The aides would get her up and bathed and dressed, joking with her, cajoling her into eating a bit of her breakfast, and letting us know about activities planned for the patients for the day. I would wheel her around the facility in her wheelchair, talking to the staff and patients, creating conversation to include my mother. After a couple of weeks she began to get into the routine and to eat her meals in the dining room. I began to help the workers with seating patients, bringing their food to the table, wheeling them back to the activity room for afternoon bingo, musical programs, and craft activities.

After Mother’s Day, mama had a series of seizures and strokes. The little ladies I talked to daily asked me about her, asked me to give her their best wishes and prayers for her. The key would even have their pastors come to mama’s room to talk with her, to pray over her. She was nonverbal by this time and took all of her meals in her room. The Kitchen staff would prepare special bits of food that they knew she liked. I would sit with her all day. Everyone knew my routine. Early one morning, the floor nurse called me at home to let me know my mother had died.
birds on feeder
outside her window – away
they flew – her soul is freed

 

an angel made by mama in her craft class from an oyster shell

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