Haibun: No Ko Me

Today Victoria is prompting us for the Monday Haibun.  A haibun is a Japanese poetic form mixing prose and haiku.  It must be true and is usually written in the first person.  Today her prompt is:  No Ko Me—Tree Buds or something pending.  Come join us for this beautiful and seasonal prompt.

copyright kanzen sakura

No Ko Me
My ex-lover and I always marked the changing seasons as the Japanese do; but he was Japanese so there you go. As a Southern white girl, I always made note of the seasons, usually by smell: the freshly cut grass of summer, the snow scent of winter, the autumn leaves’ must, and of course, the fresh smell of tender buds of spring. Masashi taught me much more – the tens of thousands of kigo relating to the changing seasons and about mujo – change.

Around mid-February we would inspect the trees and shrubs on our property seeking out the most infinitesimal of growing buds which sprinkled the branches like individual dark red snowflakes. We knew that first spring was soon to be here. The buds would grow bigger until they would burst forth into bloom. A flower here, there, and soon second spring there would be flowers everywhere.

I would delicately touch the tree buds or gently kiss them soothing their pain. He told me the buds felt pain at growing large and then giving birth to flowers and leaves just as a woman felt pain at giving birth. In the rain I would imagine the buds weeping with pain but then the joy when the flower would unfold. I would stand beneath our cherry trees as the petals would fall to the ground – children that only lived for a day.

pain of tree buds
birthing into flowers –
petals fall – drops of blood

flowering quince copyright kanzensakura



KFC and Christmas Stars

#Haikai Challenge #13 (12/23/17): Christmas #haiku #senryu #haibun #tanka #haiga #renga For Frank Tassone’s haiku challenge – Christmas is the kigo.

KFC and Christmas Stars

Our first Christmas together we spent in your home of Hakone. I was transfixed by the beauty of where you grew up with Mt. Komagatake as a backdrop to Mt. Fuji and the lapping clarity of Lake Ashi. To my vast amusement, I discovered Colonel Sanders was Father Christmas’ main man and that Christmas dinners were KFC – the commercials on TV with Japanese “Victorian” skaters and builders of snow men, green wreaths, reindeer – I watched hypnotized and wanting to laugh aloud at the incongruous but cheerful visions dancing outside of my head, but I didn’t want to be insulting. It was a great relief to see your full lips twisted in a wry grin and your eyes sparkling with impish delight. “I’ll have to use some connections”, you said, “it is too late to order now. Most people would have ordered their dinners by the end of October.” Yes, KFC is a big deal dinner! Specially decorated buckets, meals with elaborate cakes and bottles of wine or sake – and when we went to pick up our dinner on Christmas eve, we stood in line for an hour waiting our turn.

Families and groups of single friends happy and laughing, anticipating. Inside the KFC – a bar with red and green flashing lights and a bartender in a Santa cap! A lifesize Colonel Sanders figure with a Santa cap and a wreath of silk holly around his neck! I stood gaping at the tables of families digging into the buckets pulling out special plates with the date and under that, layers of chicken, cole slaw, tossed salad, mashed potatoes, Christmas cake, bottle of sake – like an endless treasure box. I hadn’t had that sense of delight since the first time I walked into Studio 54. It was just as surreal too.

We snagged our bucket and walked home in the crisp evening. In heavy coats we sat in your garden and wolfed our way through the chicken – you going for the dark meat, me going for the light. And it tasted exactly the same! We passed the bottle of surprisingly good sake between the two of us as we ate. Totally sated with food and wine, we lay in the gravel of your karesansui and made “snow” angels, laughing at each other, our laughter carrying through the clear mountain air. I lay there looking up into the stars twinkling over Japan. You leaned over to touch my face and then kissed me, both of our faces greasy and salty. “Come and look at the city stars, beloved.” You pulled me up and we walked to the edge of your property looking down over the city. I was silenced by the beauty of the lights below me – the colors, the shapes, glittering like a huge gaudy brooch for earth. And then I looked back up at the night sky, Mt. Fuji in the distance blocking out a space of black. I fell in love with stars, yet again. Several meteors streaked to earth – I wept for such beauty that would never again be seen, in that same way.

flaming stars outshine
earthly stars and fall from
the sky – meteor snow

public domain image


OLN 210: Snowflakes

Today begins the two week break over at dVerse. The Anthology of the poets is now ready to order! I am one of the poets published in the anthology. In Japan there are various words and nuances for “silent” or “silence”. Shizuka means total silence. Chinmoke is reticence, holding back or, more intriguing, the silence between the notes. Come join us at OLN at dVerse. https://dversepoets.com/2017/12/14/oln-210-breaking-for-holidays/

Shizuka –
the first snowflake is silent –
at night they drift –
falling one by one
slowly piling into drifts –
silent they fall into the night –
the wind gets into them
blowing them this way and that –
chinmoku – they hold back their words
their noise their speaking –
sound comes from the wind
or the tree branches rattling –
the snowflakes speak
various forms of silence –
snowflakes fall – drift –
only the owls hear them –
gliding through snowflakes –
they hunt more silent
than the snowflakes – I walk
among them listening to
the silence of the flakes,
the swish of the owl’s wings

public domain image


Tsunami: One year anniversary March 11, 2012

This is greatly condensed down from a section of poetry based on the friendship of a Japanese engineer who was transferred by the company who owned the Fukushima power plant to a company in the US. I am posting this for Gillena’s prompt at: http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/  “Hi toads, today i want you to stretch your imagination; ponder a natural disaster, past or recent, and tell me, what role you think, the gods might be playing, resulting in that particular natural disaster.” This is a small section of a poem I have been working on for several years – The Walk – parts I – VIII. He and I became friends while I was reviewing his application for licensure in the US as a professional engineer. He explained to me that much of the physical documentation was destroyed and people who acted as references and verifiers of his experience were dead.  He was in Tokyo at the time of the tsunami on business.  I am writing in haibun form.

free public domain photo – Japan Tsunami

Tsunami: One year later March 11, 2012. section of The Walk Part IV
Susanoo-no-Mikoto* was in a rage the day of the tsunami. He swept before him adults and children, pets, wild creatures, graves of the beloved dead, altars, homes – all washed away like so much trash into a gutter. My friend and I walked that anniversary to our place by the peaceful pond. I handed him a stick of incense. He lit the incense and wept beneath the cherry trees, far from home and dead family and friends.

the sea inhaled then
exhaled a giant wall of
water – spring was drowned

copyright kanzensakura

*Japanese god of the sea, storms, and snakes

dVerse Poets Pub – Haibun Monday #29

We have a guest prompter today at dVerse.  Come find out who….hint:  he’s from Australia.  The theme is “waiting”.   https://dversepoets.com/2017/01/23/haibun-monday-29/

The Waiting Game
You are gone. You got on that big plane and it took you back to Kyoto. You had lived in the US long enough to teach medicine at Duke, to move to Richmond and become a forensic pathologist, long enough to rescue me from an abusive relationship and for us to fall totally deeply wildly in love with each other. Twenty years in the US and then you moved back to Kyoto. What were you waiting for? Why did it take you so long to return? Was it me? I waited long nights for you to come home after taking apart the dead to find answers, to give names to the nameless, to convict the guilty and vindicate the innocent. You stayed long enough to teach me kendo, to use a katana, to properly cook rice, to learn the sensation of cherry blossoms falling on naked skin. I taught you to properly fry chicken, to savor a fresh summer tomato, the sensation of ice cube held within lips slipping over your skin.  I waited for you to return; day after day after month after year after season. You wrote every week and I threw them all away. You waited on my reply. I waited for your return. We waited and waited and…

cherry blossoms on
naked skin – lips on mine –
seasons wait forever

Fun Day!!!! World Order Video

So now, it is time for some fun. I’ve posted this one before and I imagine will post again. I love these guys, plain and simple. This video is a montage of scenes from previous music videos done to the cheery “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Jepson. If you haven’t seen one of their music videos, you are in for a treat. This one is lighthearted but they do serious and amazing dances with soul searching lyrics. Part of the fun is seeing how kids will often imitate them. World Order is a BIG DEAL in Japan. I’ve been following them for several years now and never tire of them,

Snappy upbeat music, handsome guys in suits dancing like robots – what’s not to like. Crank it up and chair dance your heart out.

Cherry Blossom Forecast and World Order Videos


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The cherry blossoms are not showing yet where I am located. Some early plum, wild pear, and peach blossoms are beginning. My flowering quince, usually the earliest to bloom, is lagging. The buds are nice and fat and look ready to pop…The Japanese plum buds are much larger and a petal here and there can be seen. This cherry blossom forecast is for Japan. I am a little late posting it due to various life events, pneumonia, etc. The slide show is from photos from the past couple of years. I used to work in an office park where there were sixty-five cherry trees – my own private festival! Also, there are some short videos of my favorite guys, World Older. JATA – Japanese Association of Travel Agents – produced these videos showing parts of Japan. The music is hypnotic and the guys are showing more of their surroundings rather than the videos being about their choreography.

While there are all kinds of festivals and fun events going on, the time of cherry blossoms is always a solemn time for me. Even though I am excited to see their beauty after a long cold snowy winter, I still feel ..mono no aware…物の哀れ – the pathos of things; impermanence – 無常, mujō. These are feelings of a gentle sadness, wistfulness. The Samurai were also associated with sakura as their lives were so transient.

I hope you enjoy this mini-trip to Japan!

Updated February 19th, 2015 as Sakura Map has updated their cherry blossom forecast for 2015 sakura season. Just a reminder that these dates are the estimated opening date for cherry blossoms and full bloom should be around a week or so after.
Fukuoka | March 22
Matsuyama | March 25
Hiroshima | March 27
Miyajima | March 27
Kyoto | March 28
Osaka | March 27
Nara | March 29
Nagoya | March 25
Tokyo | March 26
Yokohama | March 26
Kanazawa | April 4
Sendai | April 10

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