Thursday, March 31, 2011

haiku retrospective xciv

candlestick park --
the witch wind blew the giants

25 April 2000

noon feeding flight
the finches gather more seed
their feathers unpreened

25 April 2000

spotlight ~
filtered sunlight
on the redwood suckers

26 April 2000

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

haiku retrospective xciii -- crow come follow me home

Some haiku just won't let you go.

Many years ago, I saw a very ominous blackbird hunkered down on a wrought iron fence. It had just been raining hard, but was now sunny, and the fence was covered with dazzling backlit raindrops.

I tried several times to make a go of this haiku, but it just wouldn't do it. Somehow, the image was too full, too intense to be distilled down into the form of haiku. People suggested to me that there was more there than a haiku could hold, and so I reluctantly let it go.

It held on, however, and this version whispered itself to me last night:

hunchbacked crow --
sunlit raindrops hang
from the wrought iron fence

Here, for comparison, are the earlier attempts:

backlit raindrops
on the black iron fence
blackbird fluffs her feathers

13 April 2000

pearly raindrops
on the wrought iron fence
a blackbird fluffs her feathers

14 April 2000

raindrops on the fence
a blackbird hunches
feathers fluffed

18 April 2000

haiku retrospective xcii

blinking back tears
sunlit raindrops on
the swaying redwood frond

17 April 2000

wind-blown sunshine ~
a spring breeze rearranges shadows
in the oak tree

17 April 2000

haiku ~
attentive to this moment
i smile

20 April 2000

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

haiku retrospective xci

spring shower
his towel slides down
to his hip

14 April 2000

second nature ~
avoiding the potholes
that were fixed yesterday

15 April 2000

spring has sprung ~
the old armchair

15 April 2000

Monday, March 28, 2011

haiku retrospective xc

cloudburst ~
an apple tree rains petals
on the asphalt

tree burst ~
raindrops knock the petals
off the apple tree

13 April 2000

Sunday, March 27, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxix

blustery spring day ~
the children's quarrels
lost among the gusts

10 April 2000

raindrops on the pine needles
three swallows flutter by

13 April 2000

backlit raindrops
on the black iron fence
blackbird fluffs her feathers

13 April 2000

Saturday, March 26, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxviii

splashes of cream ~
dogwood in bloom
along the bend in the highway

9 April 2000

Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) has large cream-colored bracts. It's not pink.

scurrying mouse
the barn door squeaks

10 April 2000

crunching almonds ~
biting through the veined husk
to get to the meat

10 April 2000

Friday, March 25, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxvii

gray whisk ~
the bottlebrush tail
of a fat squirrel

5 April 2000

morning tai chi ~
a breeze stirs the spent petals
of the cherry blossoms

6 April 2000

april shower -
the toddler looks
pleased with himself

8 April 2000

Thursday, March 24, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxvi

These haiku were written as commentary on social situations arising among haijin (haiku poets) themselves. Haiku has a long (although perhaps not proud) tradition of using haiku to make social points. Reading this type of haiku is like hearing one sentence in a heated argument.

“Whoa, Basho sure had his knickers in a knot about something.”

These haiku are long beyond their pull date, but this retrospective is lining them up anyway.

probing tongue
in the folds of a peach pit ~
juicy discovery

3 April 2000

hairy crab oolong ~
my breath ripples the liquid
in the tilted cup

4 April 2000

an ass brays in the street ~
the brush in his hand
finishes the stroke

5 April 2000

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxv

equinox sunset ~
a pastel wash on the face
of the rising moon

dyeing easter eggs ~
moon rabbit scatters beauty
on the greening earth

yellow violets ~
the bright hair of the children
playing in the sun

21 March 2000

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxiv

square of sunshine ~
rocks from the train tracks
on the wood floor

18 March 2000

unruffled by the breeze
new maple leaves stand stiffly
red fans folded

19 March 2000

spring sunshine ~
the pink glow of the flesh
where toes touch

20 March 2000

Monday, March 21, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxiii

drained duck pond ~
county workers hose off the duck poop

drained duck pond ~
a lone koi flops in a puddle

drained duck pond ~
coots gabble on new grass

drained duck pond ~
the rich smell of algae

drained duck pond ~
a bucket of duck eggs

drained duck pond ~
a bright-haired boy holds a red umbrella

drained duck pond ~
the river heron squats under a tree

drained duck pond ~
river ducks nest in the reeds

10 March 2000

Sunday, March 20, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxxii

moonbeams on his cheeks
his lips make sucking motions
even in his sleep

24 February 2000

beach picnic ~
why do you think they call them

3 March 2000

rusty pipe ~
a strand of water twists
onto mossy stones

3 March 2000

haiku retrospective lxxxi

coming home
lego scattered
on the living room carpet

coming home
piles of laundry on the floor
light and dark

coming home
the children gather
to see what you've brought

2 March 2000

Saturday, March 19, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxx

departed lover
tossing his shaving gear
in the trash

departed lover
feeling ghostly caresses
in the shower

departed lover
seeing your smile
on our son's face

16 February 2000

haiku retrospective lxxix

rainy day ~
in the baby's nappy.

13 February 2000

twilight ~
darkness fills the hollows
in the light

18 February 2000

cumulus towers ~
a stiff breeze blows cloud banners
from the turrets' heights

18 February 2000

Friday, March 18, 2011

haibun: Today We are All Japanese

As a Californian, I have often told Americans and Europeans that we feel more deeply connected to Asia than to Europe. We face west, we share an ocean, and a great many Californians trace their heritage to Asia. So much of what makes California what it is came originally from Asia, and a great deal of what makes my California comes from Japan. The tsunami touched Santa Cruz, another link in the pattern that connects California to Japan. It feels so close, that country on the other side of our ocean.

hakone garden
spring rain falls lightly
on the maples

A woman at dance class greets me and I ask how her family is doing. Tears fill her eyes as she tells me that they are all safe in Tokyo.

opening dance
tani takes her place
next to mine

The American media puts its own surreal stamp on things.

tsunami spin:
bay area foodies face
a sushi shortage

Outside it is raining, a soft steady rain that has come in from the Pacific. A week ago, some of this air was over northern Japan. I think of my father, gone now, who grew up in Japan and introduced me to samurai films, the correct way to use chopsticks, and a certain esthetic that remained from his boyhood. Towards the end of his life, my father would become unmoored in time and space.

cancer ward
he thinks he's a boy again
in japan

When he learned of the earthquake, George Takei said “Today, we are all Japanese.” As a child, George lived in the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps.

Watching the moving footage of the moment of silence in Japan, I cannot help but think, as I have thought often in the past week, that the world would be better if we were all Japanese.

silence ~
all the prayers that don't fit into words

haiku retrospective lxxiii

satin pillow
against my lips
the baby's cheek

7 February 2000

silence ~
all the thoughts that don't fit into words

7 February 2000

i can't remember
the name of that flower ~

8 February 2000

Thursday, March 17, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxii

cumulonimbus ~
gusts blow the redwood needles

3 February 2000

down the window
raindrops blur the raindrops outside

5 February 2000

cloud-watching ~
a view of the waves
from the bottom of the ocean

6 February 2000

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

haiku retrospective lxxi

I have a heavy heart now every day I come to post haiku. Should I continue my little retrospective when the Japanese people are suffering so deeply?

But perhaps it is one little thing I can do to honor the Japanese people in this difficult time, to share my appreciation for this Japanese art form.

Right now, each haiku is a prayer for Japan.

fourteen-inch rainstorm
eating brownies
hot from the pan

27 January 2000

gray scale ~
the distant treetops
against the clouds

31 January 2000

scrubbed sky-
swallows swoop above the greening hills

1 February 2000

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

haiku retrospective lxx

The Japanese people, especially my haiku friends, are in my thoughts and prayers constantly.

swirling clouds
seen through the depths
the blue sky

21 January 2000

bare feet ~
the cold concrete of the laundry room floor

27 January 2000

clear winter day
painted sunflowers on a blue silk scarf

27 January 2000

Monday, March 14, 2011

haiku retrospective lxix

rain streaks ~
a child in underpants with an umbrella

19 January 2000

rainy afternoon ~
clusters of maple seeds
droop their brown wings

19 January 2000

total eclipse
blocking the earth-lit moon
the ruddy clouds

21 January 2000

Sunday, March 13, 2011

haiku retrospective lxviii

threatened miscarriage ~
spring unfurls the petals of
the first narcissus

13 January 2000

tuppence a bag ~
one starling snatches the first crumb

14 January 2000

cheek to cheek
the adorable baby
pulls my hair

14 January 2000

Saturday, March 12, 2011

haiku retrospective lxvii

fever-ridden dreams:
ringing telephone tolls friends' deaths

promise of spring:
bold narcissi do more than whisper

7 January 2000

haiku retrospective lxvi

cloudy sky
billows of woodsmoke
drift sideways

4 January 2000

making acorn ~
brown hands on the stone
pounding, pounding

8 January 2000

woodsmoke rises through the falling rain

10 January 2000

Friday, March 11, 2011

haiku retrospective lxv

almost empty
pouring the last cup
the teapot gurgles

3 January 2000

aviary --
the landing finch
rings a bell

4 January 2000

whirring fan
trickling fountain
humming child

4 January 2000

Thursday, March 10, 2011

haiku retrospective lxiv

first night ~
tossing a dollar in the old man's hat.

cresting new year's wave
breaks over the hushed planet ~
we wait and watch

australia, japan, europe ~
world war one echo
"the thin gray line, does it hold?"

all quiet
as midnight rolls over the atlantic

in flanders,
do the poppies still bloom red?

31 December 1999

haiku retrospective lxiii

solstice flu
chills chasing the moon
through the skylight

fevered child's brow ~
the scent of slate rock
baking in the sun

flu season ~
tea so tasteless
i might as well drink hay

flu season ~
the laughing four-year-old starts coughing

cough medicine ~
the flowing fountain on the hearth

25 December 1999

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

haiku retrospective lxii

breaking pumpkins
bounce down the hill
horse skips out of the way

tasting a pumpkin
the horse's whiskers twitch

13 December 1999

haiku retrospective lxi

finding the path in the space between treetops

10 December 1999

afternoon nap -
eyes open to
the baby's jabbering.

13 December 1999

tender and mild ~
the fingers of the ER doctor
stitching the child's hand

17 December 1999

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

haiku retrospective lx

no snow
puddles on the driveway

10 December 1999

at the lighting
of the town tree --
the smell of woodsmoke.

10 December 1999

tiny mushrooms in the compost

10 December 1999

Monday, March 7, 2011

haiku retrospective lix

raindrops on spruce needles
the running shower
fogs the window

9 December 1999

silver triangle ~
the beard of the man
driving the sports car

9 December 1999

wet starless night --
a smiling moon shines
on her umbrella.

10 December 1999

Sunday, March 6, 2011

haiku retrospective lviii

the words between the tears

the tears between the words

9 December 1999

haiku retrospective lvii

rain drips from the eaves
fingers drum on the keyboard
heater vents rattle

9 December 1999

shooting baskets ~
fresh cast on his broken wrist
tear tracks on his face

9 December 1999

sleeping baby
tingling breasts

9 December 1999

Saturday, March 5, 2011

haiku retrospective lvi

november's end ~
a straggling storm cloud
steams over the sun

30 November 1999

one woman's writing style
one voice in the wind

30 November 1999

the tall man's house -
boxes of lead soldiers
and handmade sandals

7 December 1999

Friday, March 4, 2011

haiku retrospective lv

junction park tai chi
weight fifty left, fifty right,
a little more on

the heel than the ball
of the foot. relax your knees.
stationary hips.

move from the belly.
gently rotate from side to
side, arms following.

now pung your left arm,
a little more, pung like hell.
drop your shoulders now.

get your head on straight.
tongue on the roof of your mouth,
teeth lightly touching.

open up your chest.
you can't get your head on straight
if your heart is closed.

hold your hand like this,
this extended, those relaxed.
keep motion constant.

now... remember to



21 November 1999

haiku retrospective liv

thin ice
creaking underfoot
winter sunshine

20 November 1999

sweeping out cobwebs
a cold draught
wind after rain

22 November 1999

winter-white sky
green maple leaves

26 November 1999

Thursday, March 3, 2011

haiku retrospective liii

the room's reflection
hides the night --
a dark window

17 November 1999

grass shoots
poke holes in the sunshine --
the scent of rain

18 November 1999

corn and oysters
on the harvest table
family elbows

18 November 1999

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

haiku retrospective lii

winter swarm:
blackbirds wheel over
berry fields

9 November 1999

the ocean
unchanging, ever-changing
you and me

15 November 1999

five days of rain-
clothes on the drying rack
damp to the touch.

17 November 1999

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

haiku retrospective li

fat raindrops
ripples on the water
huddling koi

7 November 1999

redwood needles
trickling to the ground
a thin rain

7 November 1999

on the skylight

7 November 1999