Archive for May, 2019

Onions

Posted in Haibun, Haiku, Tanka with tags on May 27, 2019 by Branko

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The Onion Field …………………………………………. by Dimitar Anakiev
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If you happen to be walking in the northern part of Kyoto, known as Kitayama, you may notice near the Botanical Gardens a middle-aged man watching over an onion field located right beside his house. His name is Branko Manojlovic, a Serbian poet who has been living in Kyoto for quite some time now. Although the onion is an essential part of Serbian culture – I can’t recall a dish that has no onions in it – these were planted not by Branko but by a nameless neighbour. Two years have already passed since the planting, yet the onion is still unharvested.

I, too, was taken with this field. During my stay in Branko’s house, I watched it every day from the window of my room: a field that through its very existence seemed to hint at something that, although not obvious, was at the same time significant.
Looking out of the window – the onion field still wet after rain – I wrote a haiku:

In its second year
onion languishing – who will
come and harvest it?

At breakfast, Branko looked moody and with dark bags under his eyes from lack of sleep. As I was stirring my tea with a questioning expression he swigged his coffee in a hurry and, before going off to work, handed me a folded piece of paper: “Last night’s haiku”, he said. After he left I opened the paper, it read:

Unable to get back
to sleep… the onion field
lashed by storm

I noticed that Branko had a special relationship with the onion field, but we did not discuss it. One afternoon I noticed him pacing about the field as though looking over each stem, each green leaf that was pointing toward the sky. The following morning, I got another piece of paper that read:

A group photograph:
we are the onions
hanging under eaves

I myself wrote haiku on the subject of onions, which seemed to have dominated our thoughts and emotions. On the other side of the street, where the bus no. 4 was passing, I noticed a small Shinto shrine set there perhaps because of some superstitious belief. Like some Christian chapels, such shrines would often have been established by local people, and this particular one was leaning against a neighbour’s house.
When I was leaving Kyoto, I left Branko this haiku:

In Kitayama
the onion field watched over
by some Shinto god

I do not know if this field still exists today. If by chance it does, I’ll bet Branko is keeping an eye on it.

 

 

Onions …………………………………………………………. by Branko

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Out of snow
green tails of onion stalks
slicing the wind

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How past repair
this aging onion field…
how the umbels
still hold on for bees
and swooping swallows!

*
By the field’s edge
he glances left and right,
uproots an onion,
stuffs it in the plastic bag
together with his conscience

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Matsuzawa Pond Ginko-no-renga

Posted in Event report, Ginko-no-renga, Spring on May 20, 2019 by Gerald

 

 

click on the picture to read the renga

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Matsuzawaike Ginko-no-renga was organized, and hosted by Teruko Yamamoto in Ibaraki, Osaka. 14 people attended, including two from distant Shikoku. The stroll took place on 3/31, a day of mixed weather, and featured a walk along the bank of the Pond, stops at local shrines, and a visit to Tadao Ando’s famous Church of the Light 光の教会 .

Gerald Staggers (Duro; sabaki), Mizuho Shibuya (shuhitsu)

Round the Table

Posted in Haibun, Haiku with tags on May 17, 2019 by David Stormer Chigusa

How odd that we who aspire to or pride ourselves on our knowledge, wisdom, originality and insight find that simplest and most universal of phenomena, mortality, so difficult to come to terms with.

We deal with it like a sudden exorbitant bill that arrived in the mail – a bill, no less, for utilities we have made lavish use of. It is there on the table. We knew it would come some day. Yet it still doesn’t seem fair. We wish we had never even seen or touched it, let alone opened it.

Or is this simile trite? Isn’t death more like fire: another natural phenomenon, familiar, intrinsic and essential, that is nevertheless apart, ineffable, unpredictable and fearful? That leaps from where it was softly glowing – a little dinnertable flame. Knocked over, it is a writhing snake in your lap in the time it takes you to blink. Venom without antidote. Even the most levelheaded of us leap back with boomerang eyebrows.

Circumstances, both my own and others’, are such that death has been smoldering in my mind for the past few weeks, and appearing in warm conversations.

Things that could be
better we speak of as
things that just are

Things that may lead
to death we speak of as
part of our lives

Round the table
we share the good, the bad
as music plays

The Last of My Wandering Journeys: Part II – Minakami

Posted in Autumn, Haibun, Travel with tags on May 10, 2019 by sosui

.. My train arrived at Minakami Station on time. I had two hours before the next train left, so I decided to look at the town. Minakami is a hot spring resort, and I saw many hotels around the station, but no people. I wanted to look at the River Toné, but there was no sign directing me to the riverside trail. So, I decided to walk to the bridge situated to the north of the station. The Toné, now the size of an ordinary river, was rushing past with sparkling waters.
.. When I got back to the station, I found a taxi and asked the driver to take me to the suspension bridge known for its Yosano Akiko poem monuments. On arrival there, I was surprised by the beauty of this place. Here, the River Toné makes a sudden bend, forming rapids as it flows on through a little gorge. From the suspension bridge, I was able to see Mt. Tanigawa and other mountains forming a range. For a moment, I thought I spied snow at the top, but soon realized it was white clouds covering the summits like a cap. I was disappointed by the monuments, though, disliking their childish designs, but one monument, standing below the bridge on a rock right by the river, did impress me. The poem inscribed on the black marble slab was so fine that I am tempted to quote it here.
………. Craggy rocks rear up,
………. Trying to block the river:
………. How useless they are!
………. The stream runs like an arrow,
………. The youthful Toné!
The poem proved a very accurate description of the scene before me.
.. I found one huge granite boulder beside the bridge and a single pine tree growing from it.
………. High, the autumn sky
………. Above a pine, whose trunk stands
………. Unshaken in the wind.

To be continued …