‘Unbecome’ publication announcement by Branko

Hello everyone,

This is to let you know I have just published a poem in four acts in collaboration with a US poet, Jerry Gordon. The chapbook is called ‘Unbecome’.

We have privately made a total of 20 copies (10 apiece). Each book has a unique cover, hand painted using a special technique, and is hand-sewn.  I thought you or someone from haiku class might be interested in purchasing one? If anyone is interested, please let me know through the reply (comments) box below or email me (cacti”at”live.co.uk), as there are only 5 copies left (1000 yen per copy).  A sample of this book will be available to inspect at the next few Hailstone seminars in Osaka and Kyoto. 

Click on either photo to enlarge. Here’s an excerpt from a review by Stephen Gill:

“A renga-like dialogue for two (ryougin 両吟 in Jap.), I like the way it links and moves on. We have to uncover a hidden story/character development dictated by arbitrary means imposed by structure (pre-determined rules) while letting imagination have full play […] The work is a success in as much as I think it does actually exert a pull on the reader to find out what’s going on, where we’re heading, what conclusions to draw. Building a future with two pens. Tonally, it’s very good, too. On the downside, it’s very cryptic and varies in tone from ultimate philosophical sincerity to virtual insincerity (or at least bravura, having a good time with words). This left me wondering what a ‘roller coaster’ is beyond simply a hell of a ride and an adrenaline rush. The answer perhaps is that it occasionally gives you good views (insights). Your work does this, too.”



Roller Coaster – extension

I read aloud the original 19-verse Roller Coaster sequence from the Icebox as a contribution to an international haiku meeting held in Ljubljana, Slovenia in early September. I had not been expecting a further episode, but Kansai was again badly hit by natural disaster when, on Sep. 4, Typhoon Jebi (No. 21) blew through, our strongest storm for at least 25 years. I have here collected some of the recent haiku written by our Circle as a kind of extension of our summer 2018 ‘roller coaster ride’. Thank you to our members for sharing them. .. (SHG)


last sunflowers —
they stand to attention
facing the typhoon

signboards and roofs
plucked into the air —
the autumn gale ……………………………….. both, Mayumi K.

mountains crumbling,
rivers flooding,
the typhoon, past —
anyone alive? ……………………………………. Michiko

after the typhoon —
over wet tree bark
inches a white snail ………………………….. David McC.

a derelict garden —
that large, loaded kaki tree
toppled by the storm

after Jebi
sweeping up our alley:
in the debris
a gold thread …………………………………….. both, Sally

five days after
the terrible typhoon
the old tree, still
propped against my roof …………………… Yoshiharu

crimson spider lilies
stand erect by broken trees —
that stormy night! …………………………….. Ayako

oh, moon in the sky!
above our patient town
of blue tarp rooves ……………………………. Teruko

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

River Song

I am very sad to have to report that the body of my friend, the haiku poet Martin Lucas, has just been found on a beach near the mouth of the Ribble, a river he deeply loved. How this happened we do not yet know. He had been missing for more than three weeks. Martin has long been the editor of one of the world’s finest haiku journals, Presence. When Martin visited Japan in March 2003, he had presided at a kukai held by Hailstone in Osaka; and again, in May 2005, Hailstone had linked up with Martin’s ‘Roses’ group in the North of England for the world’s first international synchronous kukai (conducted ‘live’ via the internet). He had only just published, in the latest issue of Presence, his review of our new book.
The following haiku sequence (or rensaku) – what he simply called “River Song” – was read by Martin in a BBC Radio programme featuring his Yorks-Lancs haiku group (broadcast Dec. 2003).

Dear Martin, always energetic, pure and true. We will ever appreciate you through the art you have left behind. Missing you so much.

into the swirls
of the spring river
the cormorants dive

where the clear river
clouds across the stones
eight swans

as far
as the eye can see
the river song

between the rocks
and the river breeze
the dance of light

evening by the river
the spurt of red flame
beneath a hot air balloon

high tide
when I return to the river
the swans return to me

a quiet stretch of river
the gull’s little kick
into flight

as far as the river
a river of lights

first catkins
in the riverbank trees
the tide turning

Martin Lucas

Arashiyama Flood Rensaku


A rensaku is a longer poem by a single author comprising haiku-like stanzas, each containing a different poetic image. I was down at the Oi (Katsura) Riverside this morning seeing what could be done to help…

Her kitchen now coated
With dark river mud –
The anguish behind her smile

Tamba timber flotsam
Crumpled about the piers
Of Moon Crossing Bridge

For hours
It stood against the flood –
A Kyoto lamp post lowered

Here are the buckets
Here is the mud
Here comes Rob* …
And off we go!

Brother and sister
Bail mud from the shop –
Flash visit from the mayor

The mulligatawny river
Now slinking past
The ornate tearooms
It has fouled

* Rob Mangold, director of the disaster relief charity, IDRO http://www.idrojapan.org/ , with whom I got stuck in for a while. The Saturday 21 Sep. PTO http://www.ptogura.org/ workday will be partly or entirely devoted to helping the clean-up by the river at Ogurayama’s foot if there is still something we can do. Otherwise, it will be path maintenance on the hill above. Dep. Saga-Arashiyama JR at 9:45.