Thursday, April 30, 2015

NaPoMo, April 30

wet with
the sound of the waves

With these lines, Santoka had me hooked. And afterwards, as I found and read more of his poems, I became totally mesmerised with his poetry.

Twilight -  the sound
of a sad letter
being dropped in a postbox

Taneda Santoka has not been accorded a place among the greatest Japanese masters,the quartet of Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki.Yet who else but this beggar-monk poet could have written this verse?

whiteness of the rice,
red of pickled plum,
these treasures...

Nobody but Santoka could have made us listen to the rain like this:

even the sound of raindrops
has grown older

I was moved by the depth of his anguish when he wrote:

slowly, slowly
falling into ruin
my final autumn

And my seduction was complete, when I read this.

when I'm dead
and gone
rain on weeds

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NaPoMo, April 29

Kobayashi Issa has been by far the most loved and most popular poet among the Japanese masters. His snail,cat, sparrow, spider;  or the thatched hut...everything has been emulated and rewritten multiple times and will continue to be so.

Here are just a few of  my favourites:

my dead mother—
every time I see the ocean
every time...

The distant mountains
reflected in the eye
of the dragonfly

on the tips
of my outstretched toes...
billowing clouds

A poor box,
four or five pennies,
evening rain

When I go,
guard my tomb well,

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NaPoMo, April 28.

no bridge
and the sun going down--
spring currents

Although I had always thought that I liked Issa the most among the famous quartet of Japanese masters, yet I find the pages of the little notebook that contain my favourite haiku, filled with the verses of Buson more than anybody else's. Yosa Buson, the second among the greatest Japanese masters,lived from 1716 to 1784 and was a painter of distinction as well as a poet which explains why his poetry is so vivid and sensuous, so rich in visual detail.

old well
leaping for a mosquito
a dark fish sound

young bamboo trees
at Hashimoto -- the courtesan,
is she still there or not?

       I go
you stay;
       two autumns.

Monday, April 27, 2015

NaPoMo, April 27

A wanderer,
so let that be my name--
the first winter rain

With only four more days remaining for the national poetry month to come to an end, there cannot be a better time to remember Matsuo Basho, widely recognized as the father of haiku and the greatest of the Japanese masters. He always wrote in a style that is simple and natural, yet with "a trace of the pathos of  the beautiful mortality".

With a warbler for
a soul, it sleeps peacefully,
this mountain willow

Along this road,
not a single soul-- only
autumn evening

And finally, this magical one:

the sea darkens--
a wild duck's call
faintly white

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NaPoMo, April 26

I hadn't planned anything for today, so this poem just flew in and kinda perched itself on this page. So, here is Emily Dickinson.

It's  All I Have To Bring Today

It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Emily Dickinson

Saturday, April 25, 2015

NaPoMo, April 25

And we cannot leave Oscar Wilde out of NaPoMo, can we?

After all the inwardness of tanka and poetry of death and loss, let's just revel in these images.

Symphony in Yellow

 An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.
Oscar Wilde 

Friday, April 24, 2015

NaPoMo, April 24

I don't know who is the author of this poem,or from where I picked it up, but it was sitting there in the list of my favourites. If anybody is aware of it, please let me know.

there are two types


there are two types
of loss –
one that removes
each worn
shoe slowly and
with precision,
the other
out of the
day’s combat
boots with

Poet unknown

Thursday, April 23, 2015

NaPoMo,April 23

Another tanka by Larry Kimmel who remains one of my all-time favourites.

a name and an epitaph
blurred by green moss--
life in the end
little more than a dash
between two dates

Larry Kimmel

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NaPoMo, April 22

To love or not to love, either way, who could be better than Neruda?

Sonnet Xvii

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NaPoMo,April 21

The "tall ship sailor" and tanka poet M.Kei has such an amazing wealth of work, that I find myself at a loss about which one to choose for today's post. Yet choose I must and this is my selection.

the slattern houses sag
on a mean street in a small town,
floral sheets for curtains
cinder blocks for steps
and the fetid smell of despair


And because I wasn't able to resist...this one,too.

things that come
 with the fog:
horseshoe crabs,
tall ships
and wandering hearts


Monday, April 20, 2015

NaPoMo, April 20

Another Indian poet with whose work I've become familiar only recently, but it's easy to understand why he is regarded highly among peers.

she wears my spectacles--
I wonder
do they help her
to see my point of view?

A. Thiagarajan

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NaPoMo, April 19

Again this may not be one of her best, but it resonates with me so much!
Here is the face of Indian haiku and tanka, Kala Ramesh.

at twilight
the forest I know
by sight
becomes a forest of sound...
cicada summer

Kala Ramesh

Saturday, April 18, 2015

NaPoMo, April 18

The magic of Tom Clausen.

the further away it gets
the more magical it becomes,
those times at night
in the back seat,
my parents taking us someplace...

Tom Clausen




Friday, April 17, 2015

NaPoMo, April 17

I had something else lined up for today. But since April 17 happens to be the International Haiku poetry day, let me post some haiku instead. I had avoided posting haiku so far this month, as I thought lately the standard of haiku being written has fallen considerably. Maybe it's only me! But everything I read these days seems to be a rehash of something I have read before. Especially in the kukai contests where if a certain verse is successful, it seems to bring about a plethora of similar verses in its wake. God knows how many times the fishing net has caught what kind of  reflections from the depths of the sea; if one beggar has shared his bread or blanket successfully, then poem after poem in edition after edition we find that ubiquitous beggar attempting the same thing and last but not the least, a straight lift from the Japanese masters. Issa must be the most maligned one in this matter. A turn of phrase here and there and you see Issa staring at you from the kukai winners lists. Each time. Yes, almost each time!

And let me tell you that the latest trend that seems to be catching on is: soldiers.No doubt we are going to see a slew of dead soldiers in the next few months. Not that these verses are not well-written; they are all beautiful and lyrical; but just that they seem so predictable and so artificially designed to tug at the heartstrings.

But enough of my raves and rants! I am sure this all must be a case of sour grapes with me. Having failed to win a single shiki kukai in all these years, I now look suspiciously at everything I see.So anyway, today I'll feature here just two of the haiku from the handful I've loved from my recent readings. The first one is by Melissa refreshing after all the recycled stuff.

autumn sky
only one of us

     Melissa Allen, Frogpond 37.1

And Ron Moss.

old horses
days of endless rain
in their eyes

     Ron C. Moss, The Heron’s Nest XVII.4

Both these poems are among the shortlisted ones for the annual Touchstone award poems. I hope they win! There are also some other really brilliant poems in that list. Check them out on the Haiku Foundation page on Facebook.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

NaPoMo, April 16

Today again a tanka by Sanford Goldstein who is considered a master of the genre.

each night before sleep,
my long catalogue of the dead
as if by drum beat,
and each time as if anew,
the echo of gone,forever gone

Sanford Goldstein

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

NaPoMo, April 15

It may or may not be considered one of her best,but I like this one a lot and what's amazing is that she says it's one of her earliest. You can well imagine the quality of the work she produced later.

Here is Claire Everett for you.

unshackled from myself
I am just
a passing thought
in the mind
of the forest

Claire Everett

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NaPoMo, April 14

Whether she writes haiku or tanka, Michele Harvey is always special. Here is a tanka by her:

all I need
is the conversation of clouds
they too
talk of comings and goings
and moments in the sun

Michele L. Harvey

Monday, April 13, 2015

NaPoMo, April 13

Welcome to the two new followers to this blog! Hope you all are enjoying the posts.

The poet for this thirteenth day of month is Michael McClintock who again needs no introduction and it was difficult choosing just one tanka from his many beautiful ones, but maybe I could post another one or two by him later in the month.

For today,I'll go with this one:

an old photo
of my parents
young and happy--
of all the things I own,
this is the saddest

Michael McClintock

Sunday, April 12, 2015

NaPoMo, April 12

A poet who I don't know much about...except this.

"I'll tell you what love of this life is,
It's looking up
through trees newly bare of leaves
and seeing there the oldest road,
a broken line of white stars
stretching out across the sky.

It's thinking
this could be enough"

Susan Elbe

Saturday, April 11, 2015

NaPoMo, April 11

I hadn't known of Peter Meinke until very recently. Actually, my daughter discovered him for me. But since then, I've read a bit of him and here is one of those that I've enjoyed.

Advice to My Son 

The trick is, to live your days
as if each one may be your last
(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(for they go slow; if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell).

To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
beauty is nectar
and nectar, in a desert, saves–
but the stomach craves stronger sustaenance
than the honied vine.
Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
Show your soul to one man,
work with another;
and always serve bread with your wine.
But son, always serve wine.

Peter Meinke

Friday, April 10, 2015

NaPoMo, April 10

A poet of his caliber doesn't need any introduction among haiku and tanka lovers.
He is inimitable, Larry Kimmel... and I simply love all his poems. Many of his tanka are much-known and much-read; so I am just picking up one here randomly and hoping that not too many of you have read it before.

at the chapel window
the wind-stirred bittersweet...
and I don't know why,
great age seems unnecessary

Larry Kimmel

Thursday, April 9, 2015

NaPoMo, April 9

I would post a E.E.Cummings poem everyday if I could, but to start with and just to keep things under check, this one for today.




                can    dy    lu




                   pinks shy


                           greens    coo    1 choc



      un    der,

  a    lo



                 tive        s  pout




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NaPoMo, April 8

A bit of wry humour, a touch of melancholy.
Today's poet is Scott Abeles.

old photo
I am sun-stained and wild
unripe --
I can still become a raisin
I can still become a grape

S.M. Abeles 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

NaPoMo, April 7

A lovely tanka by J.Zimmerman for today.

thirty years later
holding hands at breakfast
coffee weaker
pancakes smaller
but the grip still strong


Monday, April 6, 2015

NaPoMo, April 6

Maybe, just maybe, you haven't read this poem by modernist poet Williams Carlos Williams, before?

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Williams Carlos Williams 

You can keep on wondering about why "so much depends upon", but ah,the image!!

And just in case you're interested in a little more, here's a link:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

NaPoMo, April 5

An endless number of haiku and tanka have been written about cancer and chemo. But, for me, the poem featured here today, must be one of the very best among them, because of its understatement.

her note mentions
the blueberries blossoming
and the lettuce coming up
also, in passing,

John Stevenson

Friday, April 3, 2015

NaPoMo, April 4

I bring you today this tanka by Beverly George.

this blue balloon--
how far has it travelled
to bob down in my garden?
on it, love from mummy
to Wll...age heaven

Beverly George

NaPoMo, April 3

A slightly longer poem by Kamala Das, a prominent Indian poetess who passed away a few years ago, is the featured poem today.
And to think I've discovered her only recently (though I've known about her always), because of a dfisparaging remark made by somebody.

I Shall Some Day

I shall some day leave,leave the cocoon
You bulit around me with morning tea,
Love- words flung from doorways and of course
Your tired lust. I shall some day take
Wings, fly around, as often petals
Do when free in air, and you, dear one,
Just the sad remnant of a root, must
Lie behind, sans pride, on double-beds
And grieve. But I shall some day return,losing
Nearly all, hurt by wind, sun and rain,
Too hurt by fierce happiness to want
A further jaunt or a further spell
Of freedom, and I shall some day see
My world, defleshed, de-veined, de-blooded,
Just a skeletal thing,then shut my
Eyes and take refuge, if nowhere else,
Here in your nest of familiar scorn...

Kamala Das

Mandatory warning: 
I know my poet friends need no warning, but for others who might read these posts, all the poems featured this month are only poems I adore and by no means a reflection on or connected with my personal life.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

NaPoMo, April 2

For the second day of NaPoMo, I bring you a delightful tanka by Pamela Babusci.

back the ring
back my heart
April rain

Pamela A. Babusci

Tell me, could you hear the sound of rain here?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

NaPoMo, April 1

April might have gotten a bad name when T.S.Eliot called it the cruellest month, but April is also called the National Poetry Month (NaPoMo), and though the trend originated in America, now it is observed almost worldwide, when poetry is celebrated by poets, readers and booksellers especially
in various ways. Many also do participate in NaPoWriMo (National poetry writing month) by writing a poem everyday throughout April.Since my own poeticity has reached a new nadir, I've decided to celebrate NaPoMo by posting a favourite poem of mine (by others) each day here on the blog.At least I can do that.

So I start today with this tanka by Amelia Fielden.

no special date
just another breakfast
when I pour
cornflakes into a bowl
and miss Dad bitterly

Amelia Fielden