“Fire & Water” ginko-no-renga

dedicated to the memory of Ken Jones (1930 – 2.8.2015)

As its last event of the summer, Hailstone Haiku Circle held a ginko-no-rengakai (‘stroll and scroll event’) at Arashiyama on Daimonji Night, 16.8.15. Sixteen attended. On this, the last day of the O-bon season, multiple bonfires are lit on the hills around Kyoto as a way of seeing off the spirits of the dead who are thought to have been invisible guests in the homes of relatives these past few days. The first fire to be lit, and the largest, is shaped like the Chinese character for ‘big’ and dominates the eastern side of town; the last, overlooking Kyoto’s western side, is shaped like the ‘torii’ or sacred gateway leading to the Fire God’s shrine atop Mt. Atago, which is ‘the mountain’ alluded to in the hokku (first verse) here. The ageku (final verse) thus links back to the hokku. We climbed the steps up to Hōrinji Temple to get a better view of the bonfires. Rain is mentioned once, and once only, as it turned out to be but a heavy shower.

Arashiyama renga Micah 1a

Ken Jones gave a reading to Hailstone 12 years ago in Osaka and news of his passing had just reached us. On the night he was in the sabaki’s mind. This linked verse is what we managed to get down. Each verse has become a picture in a kaleidoscopic narrative poem.

 

….. Thunderhead looms
….. behind the mountain —
….. the same silhouette

(Tito) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. Over the river, dusk
….. ….. with dragonflies

(Peter) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. Where three rocks jut
….. from the green water
….. no ripples to be seen

(Masako) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. People crowd the bridge
….. ….. egrets cooling down

(Eiko) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. Greater China
….. takes over the street —
….. the flash of credit cards

(Peter) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. Only special guests admitted
….. ….. to the viewing platform

(Tito) ….. ….. ….. …..  

 

….. Sound of geta
….. on stone steps –
….. yukata beauty

(Tomoko) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. In spite of sweet repellent
….. ….. one mosquito drinks

(Takeshi) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. Cooler air —
….. cicada chorus
….. at summer’s end

(Mika) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. Treading on occasional
….. ….. yellowed cherry leaves

(Tito) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. The rain begins
….. before the lighting of bonfires —
….. etching lines

(Peter/Micah) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. Light captured on the water’s surface
….. ….. tears

(Hideyuki) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

Micah Gampel_8852 c-

….. A misty blaze starts up
….. on the distant hill —
….. Ken, now rest in peace

 (Tito) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. Reflection of lanterns —
….. ….. broken by a passing boat

(Kazue) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. Seeing off the souls
….. a soft wind blows —
….. still alive!

(Hiroko) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

 

….. ….. Gentle glow of the Torii
….. ….. to dim city lights

(Masako) ….. ….. ….. ….. 

[Participants: Stephen Gill (Tito, sabaki, rt. below), Peter MacIntosh (shuhitsu, lt. below), Masako Fujie, Eiko Mori, Tomoko Uemura, Takeshi Saito, Mika Nakamura, Micah Gampel, Hideyuki Jitsumasa, Kazue Gill, Hiroko Nakakubo, J.P. Thomas (Hakama), Aya Hotta, Vera Ishiyama, Yushi Yanohara, Manoha. Photos: Micah Gampel.]Arashiyama renga Micah 0a

9 Responses to ““Fire & Water” ginko-no-renga”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Tito, Thank you for this. A fine piece of renku. I found your agekeku very moving. I met Ken Jones during his tour of Japan and translated for him twice in Tokyo and Kokura. On both occasions, he was disappointed to find no Japanese haiku poets writing haibun. He looked very lean, but I did not know he had cancer. Let me pray for his repose with the following poem.
    Beyond summer clouds
    Ken must be writing haibun —
    A deep bow for him.
    Sosui (Nobuyuki Yuasa)

    • Thanks for this, Nobuyuki. I enjoyed your touch of humour in the verse you wrote for Ken.
      In your comment on the renga (I prefer to use that term for this sort of informal linked verse, keeping renku for the formal, dream-it-up, salon type), did you mean you liked the ageku or the hokku. I presume the former?

  2. Paula Moore Says:

    Thank you Tito. Nice way to start a Saturday morning in late Summer. Paula Moore Duval County, Florida

    summer’s end the sound of horse hooves on a hard road

    by Lily, age 9

    Sent from The Stratosphere Paula Moore

    >

  3. I’m sorry to hear of the passing of Ken Jones. I was pleased to meet him in Tokyo 12 years ago when he met with a selection of haiku and/or renku poets including Sono Uchida, Nobuyuki Yuasa, and Eiko Yachimoto.

  4. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    His lecture and reading own haibun in the City’s room, and his visit to my house… are memorable to me. Praying the repose of Ken’s soul.
    the Symphony No. 5
    through the window –
    summer evening

  5. Ursula Maierl Says:

    How lovely this renga is! I look forward to another this year – touch wood!

    Ursula

  6. the link between verse 5 (credit cards) and verse 6 (special guests) made me chuckle.

  7. Ursula Maierl Says:

    Thank you poets. A very evocative and touching tribute to the lovely Ken Jones, whose haiku and haibun were likewise memorable. May his spirit, and those who love him and his work be at peace.

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