for day 12 of Nannernanner. At Real Toads prompt – Costa Rica.   A micro-poem. I couldn’t get the image Margaret provided to copy so I found one that is similar. Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” or forest meditation.

The trees welcome
They exude peace calm cool
The cares of world slip away
Breathing in the goodness of trees
Walking among them
Listening to them
Touching them
Smelling the green

fair trade

Haibun Monday #14 – Relax – 2

A second submission for dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday. The prompt is to write a haibun about how you relax. My first submission was about boketto. This is about shinrin-yoku (森林浴). Literally, Forest Bathing. One goes into a forest with the purpose of being silent, experiencing the forest – scents, sights, details, sounds. There are supposedly many health benefits in doing this. The trees and plants emit phytoncide and amino acids which help lower blood pressure, ease depression and anxiety. I just know, when I spend time practicing shinrin-yoku, when I emerge, I am calm and soothed and the effects stay with me for several days. Come visit us at dVerse and read how others relax. You might get some new ideas!

The Woods
The small dense patch of woods near my home is always open, 24/365. There are no fees, no making of appointments, no traffic or parking hassles. A short walk across the lane, jump over a small ditch and enter anywhere I choose. Before I enter, I make a pact with myself: be willing to let go of those tight knots and tangled thoughts inside me; walk with respect; breathe deeply; now enter. Today a soft warm summer rain – slow gentle drops. I touch the first tree on my right. We are old friends, this oak and I. Further down the path of pine needles, small plants and moss, is the grouping I call the Three Cedars – Papa Cedar, Mama Cedar, and Baby Cedar. In this warmth and rain, they emanate their sharp green fragrance. I softly touch their delicate fronds and breathe in their aroma. More walking, listening to the gentle taps of rain on the tree leaves and undergrowth. Like small temple bells, the sweet tones of cardinals echo back and forth through the silence. A sudden crack and a few leaves drift down in front of me. I look up to catch a grey squirrel leaping from branch to branch, making his way through the woods.

These woods do not care about my problems, my joys. They have seen my tears and heard my laughter. They exist and have existed long before my great-grandfather’s grandfather. Deer walk here unafraid, birds nest and raise their families, small animals live and die. Owls hunt and crows observe. I stand in the middle of it all and breathe – in, out, in, out. I lie down against the damp fragrant earth and look up at the roof of leaves, the straight strong trunks, the fragile twisted trunks, the rain dripping from the leaves. I store up strength and peace and calm like a spiritual battery. I cannot stop smiling.

forest temple lures –
cedar incense – cardinal bells
take cares to heaven.

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Haibun Monday #14 – Relax

I am hosting today and for the next couple of times, the Haibun Monday prompt sessions over at dVerse Poets Pub. Today the prompt is “relax” and how do you relax? I am excited about this and have several prompts already going in my head.  I hope you will join us.  The haibun is a wonderful form – a nonfiction prose/poetry form summed up by a haiku at the end.  For my haibun today, I have chosen to write about “boketto”.  Boketto is taken from 「ぼけとする – to be daydreaming. One gazes into the horizon or sky and does it without thinking, by the mind being still and empty. One is aware of what is going on and absorbs scents, sounds, sensations (such as heat from sun or rain). No thinking about anything – no recipes, work, schedules – nothing. Relax!

Boketto 「ぼけとする」
It is the time of morning after the birds have awakened and their busy work completed. Nestlings have been fed and are still for a time. Quietly resting in the branches hidden by full green leaves, the birds are mostly silent now. Sometimes a trill or chirp from a wren, the soft whoowhoowhoo from a dove or the sweet bell song of a cardinal. Rush hour traffic has ended and only an occasional car passes. The sweet smell of honeysuckle in the summer heat is sweet incense. I lie in the hammock gazing up at the green tree tops against the blue sky watching the hawk as it hunts, floating on the wind currents high above me. No thoughts inside my head. A wispy white cloud drifts away into the blue boundary of the horizon. My mind is empty and my eyes simply observe. 「ぼけとする」This daydreaming is as automatic as my heartbeats. I no longer have to say, no thoughts, and work to empty myself. Just as I stopped years ago saying, breathe, breathe…Emptier than the blue sky above me, I simply am.

green tree canopy
blue summer sky – little cloud
fades in the horizon

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

d’Verse Poetics: Haibun Monday – 明帆 Red Blade

Today is the start of an exciting new feature at d’Verse Poetics: Haibun Monday! This is an excellent opportunity for those of you who enjoy this form or want to learn more. Bjorn, our fearless leader, and Hamish Gunn (guest blogger) will be doing these features. Please come visit us.

I am basing my haibun today on a haiku I wrote sometime ago and the photo accompanying it. I hope you all will come to visit, join in on the conversation, read, comment, and link to us. The Mr. Linky will be up all week so this will give you plenty of time.

明帆 Red Blade
In elusive ways, you could tell the seasons were changing. A few leaves had turned yellow and dropped from lush green trees, tomatoes in the garden were becoming fewer in number and smaller in size, scuppernongs were slowly turning from jade green to topaz gold – no longer bitter hard marbles but getting sweeter. They almost had a fragrance to them – rich, winey, drowsy in their sensual appeal. In a very few weeks, they will be a deep golden and full of juice; a bite into them will pop the fruit and juice from their thick skin into one’s eagerly waiting mouth. The bright green of the forsythia bush in the corner has begun to pale. Among the green fronds, one upright stem has turned bright red overnight.

Today the condensation was thick on the car – a drenching dew glazed the grass and soaked the hem of my hakama as I made my way to my place under the ancient oak in my back yard. Breathing in and out, deeply, slowly, I calmed myself and opened myself to the morning. Newly mown grass, scent of bacon from my neighbor’s kitchen, finches twittering at their feeder, an oak leaf slowly drifting down to land at my feet. I close my eyes and draw my katana slowly from its saya. I will go through all forms before returning it and then will sit on my porch to go through the ritual of cleaning and oiling. Only moderate sweat on my skin today as opposed to saturating oily sweat of last month. Autumn – I feel it inside my soul. Autumn is coming.

red blade of autumn
cuts through green summer leaves –
It is time, it says.


copyright kanzen sakura

copyright kanzen sakura


***明帆  akiho – means red blade of a plant.

4:18 A.M. 04/18/2014

Warm spring night,
I sit alone.
Down by the creek,
the frogs and night peepers
sing to the sky
and to me.
Looking up at the stars,
The darkness in my heart disappears.

Ryoan-ji Heart Home: 初雪

Today, I found myself reminded of my first visit to Ryoan-ji, to sit and learn from the “sermon of the stones” at the peaceful dragon.
This was brought to mind by a light exchange of comments about another person’s post. Something tickled that memory and brought it to the front.  It is autumn, years later and that winter at Ryoan-ji should not have come to mind; but come to mind it did.  I see now, I needed to be reminded and to travel back to this location in that place in time.
I spent six months in Tokyo but traveled about the country.  There were places I needed to visit, to touch, to smell, to soak in the essence of their being.  Sitting on the platform at Ryoan-ji was the first and last of these visits.
It was cold and grey that day.  I could smell that sweetness in the air that breathed “snow”.  I parked my rental car and entered the temple grounds and made my way to the hiraniwa – flat garden.  I stood on the viewing platform, calming myself, breathing in the gentle air and letting it fill me.  Kansuzume sat on the wall, fluffed out from the cold, looking about with their bright little eyes.
I then sat.  Shortly thereafter, I became aware a young man had also come and was sitting at the far end.  Obviously, we both wanted our space and our peace.  Quickly I allowed myself to again become part of the place.  It was so very cold, but it didn’t seem to penetrate me, to distract me.  My breath created ghosts in the air (ahhh, it was that visual in the young man’s post that reminded me!) around me.
Something cold touched my cheek.  I realized it had started to snow – small flakes lazily spinning down from the sky.  I looked up and then back at the stones.  I settled more deeply into my down jacket and continued to sit.  The young man at the end continued to sit.  Soon, larger flakes of snow fell faster and thicker, settling on and sticking to parts of the stones, moss, and gravel.  I could not help myself.  I laughed in delight.
The young man turned and said to me, “hatsuyuki –  初雪”.   Realizing I did not understand, he then said, “First snow” and smiled.  I smiled in return and nodded at him.  I sat a little longer and with safety in mind, reluctantly rose to leave and return to my hotel.  I stood and took one last look.  I cannot describe the feeling as I stood there in the snow.  So many seasons had passed and yet, here the dragon still slept while seasons, time, mere mortals came and went.  I bowed deeply and walked back to my car.
I passed the young man getting into his car.  He looked at me and beckoned.  I suppose it may not have been wise, but I went towards him.  With gentle courtesy, he opened a thermos and poured into the top, steaming green tea.  He bowed and offered it to me.  I took several sips and became as warmed by his kindness as I was warmed by the tea.  We took turns sipping in silence and smiling at each other.  When the top was empty, we both bowed and he got into his car while I walked a few steps further and got into mine.
At my hotel, I took a hot shower and ordered room service.  I did not want to sully the peace by being around groups of people.  I returned in the spring but of course, it was different.  Instead of snow on the gravel, it was fallen pink petals of sakura.  I found my heart home that day in the snow.  I carry this memory with me, deep in my heart.  I do not return to this home as often as I should, but it seems, I return when I have the need.

Summer Solstice: Prequel 06/14 12:59 a.m. tanka


Warm summer night: storm
has passed…soft rain baptizes
me a supplicant
of peace alone in the night
heart open to hold the stars.

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