from the Icebox inbox – 42

Early spring morn —
again, that pair of silent crows
atop the old pine

A black caterpillar
eating a big taro leaf —
the long dry spell …………………………. (Yoshiharu Kondo)

Wandering at night
I see my father’s face in
an old cobblestone.

A lonely thatched hut
two poets shared—one leaving,
one staying behind. …………………………………. (Maria Lin)

The smell of honeysuckle …
the night lights up
with first lightning bolts ……………………. (Julia Guzman)

Gion Festival Reading and Ramble

Late afternoon, 21 July 2018. A dozen Hailstones fell together for a reading in the Museum of Kyoto’s Maeda Café, which used to be a vault of the Bank of Japan, Kyoto branch. At a long table, we took it in turns to read our own, or others’, haibun or haiku sequences.

The programme was:
Branko Manojlovic, 2018 Genjuan GP haibun The Forbidden Pet
Ursula Maierl, haiku Mantis Yoga (from Lost Heian) & sequence Aftershock
Eiko Mori reading David McCullough’s 2018 Genjuan HM haibun Reflections
Mayumi Kawaharada reading Doris Lynch’s 2017 Genjuan GP haibun Season of Snow & Milk
Ayako Kurokawa, haibun Boomerang in the Blue Sky
Hitomi Suzuki, haibun Lanterns on the Water
Kazue Gill reading Tito’s haibun A Scottish Journey
Tito, haiku sequence Roller Coaster (using work by 15 poets; see previous posting)
Four others were present, but did not read.

Evening. After the Café meet was over, most participants went for a short ginko (composition stroll) to enjoy the spectacle of the huge festival yama and hoko floats parked in the nearby streets and lit with tiers of lanterns. Some private houses had opened their windows and doors so that all could see the treasures inside. There were several small shrines to visit down narrow alleys. The Gion Ato-matsuri proved much less busy than the main Saki-matsuri and therefore more conducive to haiku-senryu composition! Many people wore yukata.

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A small sample of the verse that emerged:

Innocent girls chant
a song about their folk talismans –
Gion Festival eve              ………..   (Hitomi)

Divine emissaries*
watching over the Festival crowds –
that pair of turtle doves    ……….. (Mayumi)

Flute players tonight
nearly two stories high
on the deck* of an ancient float       (Duro)

earth sensation
of the taro* in my mouth –
a dinner with friends                    ..  (Tito)


* emissaries, 使い tsukai messengers of the warriors’ god, Hachiman
* deck, 大船鉾 ofuna-boko boat-shaped float
* taro, 里芋 sato-imo potato variety

Roller Coaster, a haiku sequence

The Kansai region of Western Japan was hit by a damaging earthquake (mag. 5.5) on 18 June, then by a monsoon-ending deluge on 5-7 July, and has been gripped by a severe heatwave ever since. 19 July saw 40 degrees C in Kyoto. The only respite in temperature was the typhoon of 28-29 July, which was cruel in its own way. I compiled a haiku sequence from recent work by 15 Hailstone poets in order to commemorate the fearsome summer we have had so far. You’ll see that haiku poets find ways to ‘coast’ between the ‘rolls’.     (SHG)


morning birdsong
in the monsoon garden:
right beneath my pillow!                             Hisashi

35 floors up
an earthquake rocks
and rumbles –
it clutches my heart                                    Sydney

summer earthquake –
ground spangled with glass,
sky full of stars                                           Mizuho

after the tremor
healing my unease,
the fragrant white gardenia                          Hiroko


broken muzzles
of the shrine’s stone foxes –
the rainy season returns                              Yaeno

gray rain-screen,
a fear of floods …
yet a kingfisher
blesses the pond                                        Teruko

endless rain –
in our entrance hall
a large garden spider
now resides!                                              Tito

to this land of
green ears of rice,
the Thunder God’s
long siege                                                  Hitomi

helicopter hovering
by people on a rooftop –
never-ending rain                                       Kyoko

a village
obliterated by the rains –
a cicada’s chant                                          Mayumi K.

the rain eases …
along a path between paddies
coloured umbrellas move                             Takashi

jumping into the puddle
with his tiny boots on
the wrong feet –
the rains let up                                           Hisako

monsoon away –
new sunlight on the girl
in the red coupé                                          Akira

HEAT (6)

leaving for work –
the heatwave,
no longer air at all
but wall                                                       Tito

crimson coins of blood
on the bike park floor:
the heatstruck lad
clasps his nose                                             Ursula

on the fence
two turtledoves out of breath …
sagging grasses                                           Branko

fierce sunlight –
a bitter gourd hanging down
like Godzilla’s tail ………………………………………….. Mayumi S.

the brook at my feet
murmuring away heat –
the mountain peak ahead                             Akira

the sun beat down …
but, slowly now, enjoying
the long night wine                                      Hiroko