During the season of cherry blossoms, after more than fifty years of being separated by more than six-thousand miles, we met again. This gentle man, Kenji, who I knew only for one year, all those years ago. So many changes in the world since last we’d seen each other. Kenji was a foreign exchange student from Japan, during our senior year at my Illinois high school. And now I was a visitor in his home country. There for a few days to experience his beautiful culture. In his hometown of Tokyo for one day. How would it be to see him again?
We sat in a small restaurant over a pot of fresh brewed tea. Shared news about our lives, careers and family. Reminisced too. And somehow, the years melted away and friendship bloomed again.
cold brings frost, stunts growth trees remain rooted in earth – blossoms come again
Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Frank asks us to consider cherry blossoms. A haibun combines prose and haiku. Photo is from our cruise to China, South Korea and Japan in 2019. Such a wonderful reunion with Kenji Kojima! And how appropriate that our friendship bloomed once again exactly during cherry blossom season in Japan.
Serenity, I walk in bliss. Trees breeze-whisper, nothing amiss. Soft ferns hushed, shimmer velvetly. Moist, fresh forest scent, nature’s kiss. Your lips come to mind. Ecstasy. I walk in bliss. Serenity.
Shinrin-Yoku is Japanese for forest bathing: bathing in the forest atmosphere, taking in the forest through our senses.
Grace is hosting Meet-The-Bar Thursday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. She’s asked us to write a Sparrowlet, a poetry form invented by Kathrine Sparrow. Here’s the elements of a Sparrowlet: 1. stanzaic, written in any number of sixtains (6 line stanzas) I wrote 1 sixtain. 2. syllabic: each line must be 8 syllables each (Often written in iambic tetrameter – I didn’t!) 3. Line 1 and Line 6 of the stanza is written in 2 himistichs (I had to look this word up) 4. Rhymed, rhyme scheme is BbabaA. 5. The 2 halves of Line 1 are inverted and repeated as a refrain in Line 6. The lst line MUST be the EXACT SAME as line 1, just switched around. You cannot change any of the words. (Punctuation may be changed to accommodate the meaning.) RRA, RRB xxxxxxxxb xxxxxxxxa xxxxxxxxb xxxxxxxxa RRB, RRA
Luckily Grace included an example of a poem written in this form within her prompt. The example for me, was much easier to follow than the definition itself! Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us to try this form — or just to see how others wrote with it!
Photo from a trip to see my niece in Ohio a number of years ago.
i Provincetown summers. Tasty salty upper lip, mango tinted dawns. Blue hydrangeas, hollyhocks, honeysuckle and moss rose.
ii. Color profusion. Blarney Castle garden walk, nature’s floral art. Ireland is so much more than the luck of shamrock green.
iii. Singapore orchids, pride of National Garden. Soft delicate blooms, violet to deepest shades, azure-veined whites and more.
iv. I sense Japan’s calm, forest bathing in deep greens. Celebrate her spring strolling by cherry blossoms. Petals rain gently in breeze.
Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today is the second day of our dVerse 10 year anniversary! Our prompt is to think about the word “garden” and see where it takes us. I took that literally. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us! Photos from our travels.
When we travel, we most especially enjoy immersing ourselves in new cultures. Last April we toured the Asakusa area of Tokyo. Many people strolled these special grounds, photographing the iconic 5-tiered pagoda and praying before the Shinto and Buddhist shrines. We saw a good number of people in formal kimonos, rented from nearby shops to mark a celebratory visit, perhaps a birthday, engagement or anniversary. We stood quietly in front of a temple, in awe of its gold and rich reds. Walking a bit away from the crowds, we discovered a memorial to the poet Matsuo Basho. He lived from 1644 to 1694, during Japan’s Edo period. His haiku are considered the ultimate example of this poetic form. I touched his memorial stone in awe and appreciation.
As we ended our time at Asakusa, I talked with Kaz, our guide. I learned his mother wrote and published poetry in her youth and he told me more about the continued honor that Basho is paid in his country. He gifted me with the special pen he’d been using to jot down notes, in Japanese characters. He also gave me a beautiful writing pad with cherry blossoms etched on it. I was so very touched.
Later, back at our hotel, I did a bit of research and discovered Basho’s haiku about this place:
A cloud of cherry blossoms
the chime of a temple bell
is it Asakusa, is it Ueno?
see with your eyes wide ~
bees visit many gardens
all have sweet nectar
Day 27 of National Poetry Writing Month. Today’s post is written for both Toads and dVerse’sHaibun Monday. ¯¯
Toads asks us to consider the ancient tea ceremony and The Way of Tea which includes a good number of suggestions on how to share tea meaningfully. One, that I used to motivate this prompt is: “See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete.”
My haiku at the end moves beyond humans appreciating other cultures and explains that even the bee appreciates nectar from many gardens.
Frank hosts dVerse and asks us to consider how similar Basho and Shakespeare were to their cultures, in their own time and for many generations to come. He asks us to write a haibun related to one of these famous literary geniuses.
There is an expectant rise to the emotions – to visit Hiroshima where terror blazed. Hear survivors’ words, see artifacts, and one-thousand colorful paper cranes made by many hoping for world peace.
hope bursts forth in blossomed trees
cranes lift wings to soar
Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Merril hosts Quadrille Monday and asks us to use the word “rise” in a 44 word poem. It can be any form, hence a 44-word haibun today. Photos from our recent sobering visit to Hiroshima. The Atomic Bomb Dome miraculously still stands…especially considering it was so very near the hypocenter of the bomb. A three-year old boy was riding his trike at the time of the explosion…his family buried him in their backyard with the trike….and then years later, exhumed his body to place it in the family plot and donate the trike to the Peace Museum.The sculpture is the top of the Children’s Peace Memorial, dedicated to all children killed and hurt in the blast. In particular, dedicated to Sadako Sasaki who was 2 at the time of the explosion and seemingly escaped unharmed. At 9 she developed leukemia and died 8 months later. As she was in hospital, she folded (origami) one-thousand paper cranes…the crane is believed to bring health and longevity. When the memorial was dedicated many people from around the world sent chains of 1000 paper cranes. President Obama is the only US President to visit Hiroshima. He made 4 paper cranes…2 are here in the Peace Museum, the other 2 in Nagasaki. I am so privileged to have visited this place. May no one ever experience this devastation again for any reason.
come walk among the pine.
Steps slow, lighten, whisper quiet.
Meandering deep into the balm,
worries lessen, shedding stress
through leaf-canopied sieve
Shoulders relax. Breath softens.
Warm leaf-filtered sun
soothes like salve to wound.
Some call it forest bathing,
immersion in the ever green.
I call it serenity divine.
Photo: 100 years ago this large forest was planted in Tokyo with the idea of simply letting it grow naturally within the city. It was planted with the express purpose of later constructing a shrine within the woods, dedicated to the first emperor who, by action of the then shogun, transferred power from shogun to emperor, thus establishing a new type of government for Japan. It is truly a serene and beautiful place. Although much much newer than any of the other shrine and sacred places we’ve seen, I found this to be the most beautiful setting.
angry winds swell waves
rock ship tossing bed fellows
sweet dreams dissipate
Written about last night, sailing from Kobe to Shimuzu, Japan. Today we hope to see Mt Fuji. Japanese say she is quite shy, often hiding in the clouds. Perhaps she is a distant relative of Denali? Yes, we’re a bit bleary-eyed today!
It was a day like any other day – until it wasn’t.
Rocking the elliptical to A Hard Day’s Night, I suddenly stopped. Did some invisible vice just clamp on to my chest? The Beatles still blared in my headset, I started to pump again . . . nope . . . can’t breathe. Off the machine . . . slowly out the club door into the sweltering day. I watched my feet in slow motion as the sun magnified everything. Sweat dripped through my pores. The elephant sitting on my chest was an unbelievable load. Takotsubo? The heart blows out in the shape of a Japanese octopus trap. Really? And everything slowed down to match the thick soup of summer’s oppressive heat. If you’re a woman who lives with stress, or has lived through stress, you should know the word: Takotsubo. I didn’t. Until I did.
octopus seeks its prey
eight suctioned tentacles grab and twist
latch on to suck out life
It’s haibun Monday at dVerse Poet’s Pub where Toni is tending bar. She asks us to write a haibun (one paragraph of prose followed by a haiku) that relates to hot hot hot — perhaps a memory from a hot summer day. This is my memory. My experience. I urge all readers to read about Takotsubo, sometimes called Broken Heart Syndrome. It is real and frightening. In most cases, women completely recover with no lasting damage to the heart. I am, fortunately, one of those women, although it took three months. We must all learn to handle stress in our lives. It is a matter of life and death. Photo on left is a Japanese octopus catcher. Xray on right shows the left portion of the heart blown out like a takotsubo….the heart does not pump efficiently. Take care of yourself out there!