Memorial kasen for John Carley

To commemorate the spirit and work of the late John Carley, who did so much to enhance the westerner’s perception of traditional linked verse, the following kasen (36-stanza) was compiled under the aegis of Eiko Yachimoto in Yokosuka, Kanagawa. Many of the contributing poets are Hailstone friends, so it seems appropriate to reproduce this here, on its own page. Folios are marked in Roman numerals and verse nos. in Arabic ones. This kasen was first published on the website of Basho Kaigi, Tokyo. Eiko chose one of John’s own verses as the hokku (I.1). R.I.P.


Peace with the Moon

sitting by the fire
I make peace with the moon
softly, softly, night                              John Carley  I.1

pen to parchment
behind frosted windows                      Carole MacRury  I.2

the lads strip off
and jump into a pool
of hot spring water                             Paul Conneally  I.3

a shell far inland
holds the song of the sea                    Sheila Windsor  I.4

a subtle crescendo,
the waves of new green
show the path of winds                       Eiko Yachimoto  I.5

at the fête, the mayor’s wife
wins all the prizes                               Norman Darlington  I.6

       ***                     ***                    ***

at sunrise
an airplane on the runway
about to take off                                 Sosui Yuasa  II.1

fifty miles from noon
in a dark volcanic cloud                       Chris Drake  II.2

dad’s sooted soul
and no proper time to say
all our good-byes                                 Sprite (Claire Chatelet)  II.3

smiling eyes of my next door
neighbour’s teacup puppy                    Carmen Sterba  II.4

in flagrante
the teacher’s wistful gaze
gently chided                                       William Sorlien  II.5

bright stars and moonbeams
caught in your hair                              Paul  II.6

the tangled dreams
of an old goose unable
to rejoin the flock                                Carole  II.7

with a bottle in his hand
Kikaku reels in autumn chill                 Sosui  II.8

high above the craggy
valley floor, a floating bridge
takes form                                          Norman  II.9

the tollkeeper says
you can pay me tomorrow                   Paul  II.10

penny, petal, pearl or pain
who’s picking a daisy
in the blossom rain                              Eiko  II.11

a black butterfly lands
again in her basket                              Chris  II.12

       ***                     ***                    ***

while we slept
prayer flags whispered,
breath of passing spring                       Sheila  III.1

the Sylheti alphabet
deep in the mirror                                Sprite  III.2

evening lull
wild irises punctuate
the rice paddies                                    Carmen  III.3

baby girl’s giggle
for her first firefly                                 William  III.4

a bobbin-winder
for my pa
I’ll be afore I’m ten!                              Norman  III.5

the twists and turns
of the Cresta Run                                 Paul  III.6

picking up bits and
pieces, seeing crowds in
unheard-of relationships                       Chris  III.7

matchmaker, matchmaker
what have you wrought?                      Carole  III.8

old wife’s warm grin
pushes an old grocer to
his horse race holiday                           Eiko  III.9

an orchard of ripe apples
fragrant with dew                                 Sheila  III.10

pulled by the moon
a low hum rises from
white brushed fields                               Sprite  III.11

before the loud cry of
battle, a withered mountain                   William  III.12

       ***                     ***                    ***

three veterans
huddle as they fish
in a cove                                               Carmen  IV.1

Moby Dick, where are you
when we need you?                              Chris  IV.2

a cube of cheese
and a pickled onion
on a cocktail stick                                  Paul  IV.3

heat shimmer, from each side
we call and wave                                   Sheila  IV.4

Yoshino Blossoms
surely, our friend will return
to sit down with us                                Sosui  IV.5

from a makeshift hut, woodsmoke
mingling with the haze                          Norman  IV.6

3 responses to “Memorial kasen for John Carley

      • This reader’s comment is, of course, totally valid. If you prefer things that make more sense (I do myself), prob. best to steer away from such trad. renku, which has a template of seasonal change to adhere to. Think of it as one picture morphing into another while waltzing in and out of the seasons. You might enjoy more our own Circle’s preferred form of linked verse, the ginko-no-renga (based on a shared stroll, so remaining in the same season and largely composed from actuality); a group poem of one particular day? Here is an example:

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