Archive for July, 2010

Waterside Birds, Part IV: the Kingfisher

Posted in Haibun with tags , on July 23, 2010 by sosui

by Sosui (Nobuyuki Yuasa)

.. Among waterside birds, the most beautiful, I think, is the kingfisher, also known as the halcyon. The natural history of this bird was for many centuries unknown, even in the West. Kingfishers were long believed to hatch their eggs in the ocean on calm days in winter. Hence, the expression, “halcyon days,” came into popular use. In his Nativity Ode, Milton refers to ‘the Birds of Calm brooding on the charmed wave’ on the night of Christ’s birth. I do not think kingfishers go out to the ocean, but we can see them in various parts of a river. Their main habitat is in the upper reaches, but they can be seen in the middle and lower reaches, too. I have heard reports that they are even seen in the Senkawa and the Yagawa, which run through some of the most densely-populated areas of Tokyo. Recently, I had a chance to film kingfishers in a small tributary of the Tamagawa near my home. This surely shows that they once lived all the way from the mouths of rivers to their heads.

.. The real beauty of the kingfisher is in its shape and colour: its back covered with jade-coloured feathers, and its breast with bright orange feathers. We might notice a kingfisher flying mid-stream looking more like a flash of light than a bird — jade light and orange light knit together into one. As its name suggests, this bird is an expert hunter. It dives into water, and the next moment it emerges again with a fish in its beak. Its action is quicker than thought, admitting not even ‘a hair’s breadth’ between the two moments. If the heron is a model of patience, the kingfisher is a master acrobat.

.. The kingfisher rends
.. The valley into two halves
.. With its beam of light.

The Elements

Posted in Haiku, Summer with tags on July 14, 2010 by Tito


….. Night storm –

….. Man waist-deep in the river

….. Lashing wooden boats.

(Arashiyama, 13.7.10)

from the Icebox inbox – 14

Posted in Haiku, Haiqua, No/All season, Senryu, Submissions, Tanka on July 13, 2010 by Tito


riding home

in the bicycle basket

– the glowing gibbous moon

………….……………………….. (Ursula Maierl)

Arrêt à Gadagne –

Jeune fille aux baskets rouges

Balance sa jambe.

…………………………………… (Kamome)

(Halt at Gadagne - / Young girl in red sneakers / Swings her leg.)

I heard your fiddle

Bow ensnarled in raven hair

The last song we wrote

With neither bang nor whimper*

Some things just end-–unnoticed

………..…………………………. (David Sinex)

*Borrowed from The Hollow Men, T. S. Eliot

lotus position–

in my ears


………..…………………………. (tori inu)

Back from abroad

Posted in Haibun, Japanese Classic, Tanka with tags , on July 2, 2010 by Richard Steiner

Was out of Kyoto avoiding the street fighting and burning flares, went over to Matsumoto to thrash around the castle at the carp, so innocent looking in the moat yet at heart, as mean as megalithic whales, and was attracted to a Young Thing in her late 20s, at the latest, whom luck favored to draw us together for a nonce, until I noticed her undercovering colors, which make me flee for my life to the safety of the zoo.

her face, so pretty
her hands, nicely soft.
her legs, just right,
her tattoo…

Hopping the nearest Jin-riki-sha, I returned to the country we all love and know best, Kyoto, and discovered that Mt Ogura needed some revision in our thinking. We all know and love Mt Ogura, and some of us (but not me) have spent time cleaning up the trash there. I found out in my investigation that Old Ogura has always been a collector of castaway and useless objects, now as back then.

Ogura, hill of abandonment;
before, minds and hearts,
now, just garbage

Long ago, the rejected priests, poets and princes made their abodes there, huts, hideaways, hermitages all over the place. The poems they wrote make one weep just as they wept.

“Hearing a stag calling, I look into my heart, living alone at the foot of Mr Ogura.” Priest Saigyo

“Even living in a hermitage on Mr Ogura, not a single day passes without my crying about this world along with the deer.” Takakura

On Mt Ogura, morning after morning a drizzling rain; yesterday maple leaves all around were tinged in faint colors.” Teika

“So desolate is this wintry mountain village, autumn remains only in the sound of a stag.” Prince Kakusho

cleaning up Mt Ogura,
first, junk and garbage,
but next, minds and hearts?