from the Icebox inbox – 48

a coruscation
of moonlight across the dark sea—
election results

Sydney Solis, Florida

My sandwich vanishes—
A kite flies away
Into the autumn sky

Hiyori Nakao, Kyoto Univ.

Crossing Sanjo Bridge
white hilltops in the distance
he blows on his hands

Peter MacIntosh, Kyoto

pause in the traffic…
the pop of monsoon raindrops
on the road

K. Ramesh, Tamil Nadu

thick webs
in between the branches
gardener’s long leave

Lakshmi Iyer, Kerala

mud pies…
what could smell better
than a handful of earth?

Ingrid Baluchi, North Macedonia

After the rain
falling on my shoulder now…
gingko leaves

Takumi Harada, Ryukoku Univ.

on New Year’s Day
the twinkling stars descend
down the shore
I lit the lamps of hope
erasing grief’s shadow

Pravat Kumar Padhy, Odisha

Onions

.
The Onion Field …………………………………………. by Dimitar Anakiev
.
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

.
Out of snow
green tails of onion stalks
slicing the wind

*
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

Persimmons – part 4

. At this point I should like to turn to the subject of how persimmon was treated in literature. Persimmon seeds have been dug up from some archaeological sites of the Jomon period. So I believe that persimmon trees must have existed in Japan long before the Man’yo period, yet the Man’yoshu has no poems about persimmons. Judging from his name, the poet Kakinomoto Hitomaro (柿本人麻呂, fl. ca. 680 during the reign of Emperor Tenmu), lived in a house standing beneath a persimmon tree. But he is silent about his persimmon tree. In the Kamakura period, Fujiwara no Tame’ie (藤原為家, 1198~1275) wrote the following poem:
……………………………… Autumn has arrived.
……………………………… I wonder about the leaves
……………………………… On higher mountains.
……………………………… Our garden persimmon trees
……………………………… Display deeply coloured leaves
. I like this poem because the poet expresses his concern for the leaves in the high mountains. He is wondering whether they have taken on their autumn hues like the persimmon trees in his garden, or whether they have already been scattered by the wind. Probably the latter was the case, and if so, he may have been equally concerned about the persimmon trees in his garden. In the Edo period, Ozawa Roan (1723~1801), who stood for tadagoto-uta (honest poetry), wrote the following poem about persimmons:
……………………………… Chestnuts are smiling.
……………………………… Persimmons are getting red.
……………………………… It is indeed time
……………………………… For short-haired children to be
……………………………… Proud, and enjoy the season.
. This poem is so cheerful that I cannot help laughing with the poet.

(To be continued…)

from the Icebox inbox – 35

zoo visit…
after the downpour
a rainbow of macaws

……. (Grace Galton)

spring morning
how i fiddle with piano keys
missing her caress

……. (Payal Aggarwal)

indulgent mother
cow licking her calf
till he shines

……. (Joyce Joslin Lorenson)

Waiting for summer
The ice and snow are melted
But tempestuous storms
Wreak havoc
And I pine alone.

……. (Jane Wieman, Madison, Wisconsin)

from the Icebox inbox – 34

gleaming coals burn to ash –
the day begins
as a new slate

Brinda Buljore, France

early morning
uneven feet zig-zag
along the icefield

Payal Aggarwal, India

grey clouds
cover the tiny village …
trickling snowflakes

Keith A Simmonds, France

long-tailed tits
gathering in the hawthorn
first flurries of snow

John Hawkhead, U.K.

true “sky blue”
beyond bare branches …
the scrape, scrape, scrape
of a shovel
clearing away snow

Jane Wieman, Wisconsin

lingering cold –
through the shōji
the cry of a crow

Lawrence Jiko Barrow, Japan

Between two lights

IMG_0521b-.

.

.

.
.Halt and yield
.. At the path that leads
…. Along the chalky downs
…… From red sun
…….. To risen moon

(Hackhurst Downs, Surrey, 15.3.14)

photo: Kazue Gill (click on it to see the full moon at extreme left)

from the Icebox inbox – 29

inchworm ~
little by little
the lengthening day

…… (Michael Henry Lee)

Too soft their voices
for me to hear the words
of next-door neighbors
this night of the Full Worm Moon

…… (Jane Wieman)

At the bend
A hundred fresh trees –
Spring

…… (Kanchan Chatterjee)

Across my heart
the night worm scribbles hours
ink pours from the moon

…… (Jane Fenton Keane)

asleep/awake

At midday
Before making an appearance
Asking for us first
To sleep in the forest –
The baby orangutan.

 …. (Tuaran, Sabah, 22.3.13)

P1190236-

Night granite slopes –
More rain on the peak
Washes down on us
A rebel waterfall.

…. (Sayat-Sayat, Mt. Kinabalu, 24.3.13)

P1190357-

Manoa

Morning dew …
Its clear, transparent drops:
If only I could run
Without stepping on them
With my white shoes.

朝露の透き通る球できるれば踏まで走らん白シューズ

I ate Manoa lettuce full of dewdrops for my breakfast.

West and East

West and East

. Soaked in the dusk
. Sunset in the West
. Turning over the East is
. A gray sky with no light
. Where its edge cut,
. A white building

にしひがし

暮れなずむ西に入り陽東には
光なき雲切る白きビル

Award

 Rejoice! … Our most recent book, One Hundred Poets on Mount Ogura, One Poem Each (published jointly in 2010 by Hailstone Haiku Circle and People Together for Mount Ogura), has just been awarded the 2011 Kanterman Merit Prize for Best Anthology by the Haiku Society of America (to my knowledge, the oldest English-language haiku association in the world).  Good news, methinks! http://www.hsa-haiku.org/meritbookawards/merit-book_archive.htm The chief judge this year was Michael Dylan Welch. For your interest, then, here is the bulk of the announcement list:

Merit Book Awards for 2011 (for books published in 2010) 

Best Individual Collections

First Place
Tenzing Karma Wangchuk. Shelter/Street. Port Townsend, Washington, 2010.

Second Place
John Parsons. Overhead Whistling. Bungay, UK: Labyrinth Press, 2010.

Third Place
Christopher Herold. Inside Out. Winchester, Virginia: Red Moon Press, 2010.

Best Anthology

Stephen Henry Gill and Okiharu Maeda, editors. One Hundred Poets on Mount Ogura, One Poem Each. Kyoto, Japan: People Together for Mt. Ogura and Hailstone Haiku Circle, 2010.

Best Book of Haibun

Cor van den Heuvel. A Boy’s Seasons. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Single Island Press, 2010.

Best Book of Translation

Ruth Franke, translated by David Cobb and Celia Brown, paintings by Reinhard Stangl. Schwerelos Gleiten/Slipping Through Water. Schwinfurt, Germany: Wiesenburg Verlag, 2010.

Some of you may remember Individual Collection Second Place awardee, John Parsons, for his Kikakuza International Haibun Contest Grand Prix masterpiece in 2009. You can read that work via the Kikakuza ’09 Winning Haibun page link at top right.

There are still a few copies of our anthology, One Hundred Poets on Mount Ogura, in stock here in Kyoto.  For enquiries/mail orders, see our Publications page (via link at top right). For those of you who don’t know it, it is bilingual (Eng.-Jap.) and includes a mixture of haiku and tanka, although the former predominate. It sings the praises and cries the shame of the famous mountain.

木洩れ日の 細き山道 鳥の声  町の暮らしを しばし忘れし

As light plays through trees
along the narrow mountain path,
the calls of birds:
.. for a while, I can forget
.. the city life I’ve left behind

…………… (Kazuyoshi Kohiyama)

Saigyo’s tears –
.. rammed down his well,
.. plastic pipes

…………… (John Dougill)