Guest Book

full-fox-print-color-corrected-reducedWelcome!  Please read some of my poetry while you’re here. Even if a post is two years old, they’re being read every day. They’re all current. Feel free to join the conversation. Lastly, treat this post as a Guest Book. Offer suggestions, improvements, requests or just say Hello! If you have a question concerning poetry or a poem, click read more at the end of this sentence and fill out the form. Continue reading

February 7th 2016

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Another trip into the heart of Vermont today. Very strange to see so little snow in the middle of February. The snow was melted from the yards and the berms of the roads were muddy under the bright sun.

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unaware
····of her beauty—mud on the little girl’s
········boots

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At a bookstore. Not knowing who they waited for, I saw a mother and her little girl. The mother read a fashion magazine and the little girl, sitting next to her, looked out the window, longingly swinging her legs.

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90 February 7th 2016 | bottlecap

February 6th 2016

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utterly
····stymied—finding the lost sack
········of radishes

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Funny how we forget these little things. Now I’m stymied by this sack of radishes in February. I first wrote:

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no idea
····what to write—the lost radishes
········in February

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I’ve been thinking about my promise to describe the haiku I love, though as with all things that changes from year to year. Right now I’m especially enamored by Basho and have been reading him enough that I think I begin to sense his personality; and I think he had a more serious disposition that Buson while Buson was probably warmer, more gregarious and approachable.

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When Buson was dying, he said to his desciple, “Even being sick like this, my fondness for the way is beyond reason and I try to make haiku. The high stage of ‘My dream hovers over withered fields’ [Basho’s last poem] is impossible for me to reach. Therefore the old poet Basho’s greatness is supremely moving to me now.” Called his ‘death poem’, here is what Basho wrote:

Sick on a journey,
····my dreams wander
········the withered fields.
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It’s moments like these when Basho’s imagination reminds me of Salvadore Dali. He draws together ideas, in the space of a few words that are unexpected, shimmering and dreamlike—or like a strange delirium, half unconscious.

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A wild sea—
····and flowing out toward Sado Island,
········the Milky Way

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Or:

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Winter solitude—
····in a world of one color
········the sound of the wind.

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And one of my favorite, because the association between the thinned moon and the insets singing is inexplicably perfect in its impressionism:

Winter garden
····the moon thinned to a thread,
········insects singing.

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Stillness—
····the cicada’s cry
········drills into the rocks.

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And perhaps among his most delirium-like:

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The jars of octopus—
····brief dreams
········under the summer moon.

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While there are qualities to Buson’s poems that aren’t attained by Basho, Buson, to my knowledge, rarely makes these same associative leaps, rarely experiences the world with the same sort of synesthesia. And there’s a depth of metaphor that I don’t often notice in Buson, Issa or Shiki, who are more apt to spell out associations. Another way of putting it, perhaps, is that Basho sees what’s not there, whereas Buson shows us what’s there in a new way. Having written all that, I confess my impressions are through the filter of translation.

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snow
····on Moosilauke—nights floating on a sea
········of melancholy

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Nights when I drive over Sharon hill, I can see Moosilauke far on the horizon. Moosiluake is deep in my memories—from the time I grew up in Vermont. It’s a large mountain, apart from the other Whites, and stands so far above any of its neighbors that seeing it for the first time can feel breathtaking. At night, when only the snow is visible and the mountain beneath has gone to darkness, the quiet span of the ridge can seem to float with an ancient loneliness.

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89 February 6th 2016 | bottlecap

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February 5th 2016

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owl’s cry—
····a winter’s night pours from the moon’s
········cup

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The moon wanes tonight to a thin thread. Tomorrow night it will be all but gone. I think our barn owl has come back to visit us again this winter.

Once again I write this during the last minutes before midnight. Tomorrow, I’ll have some haiku to write about; but tonight’s captures, perhaps, something of the strangeness I admire in Basho’s haiku.

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88 February 5th 2016 | bottlecap

February 4th 2016

Out walking the dirt roads today. It smells like spring. The thaw continues. The brooks and rivers have broken. Water is pouring out of the hills. The dirt roads are soft to walk on. The remaining snow is thick and heavy.

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February
····on the lip of the horse trough—the bright green
········moss

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Every time I write a haiku I wonder at the same question: What am I striving for? And that question isn’t so different from asking what haiku I admire. Right now, it’s Basho’s haiku. I’ve been reading Buson, but there isn’t the same hard, clarity in his haiku as in Basho’s. More broadly though, I admire haiku that have some mystery in them—maybe a touch of the surreal. They almost seem to push us into another kind of world, one that doesn’t quite make sense. Impressionist paintings, if looked at too closely, dissolve into seemingly random colors and patterns. We have put some distance between them and ourselves. I think the best haiku may be like that. They’re a kind of imagery that is only the image. I’ll find some examples tomorrow and maybe begin to formulate my own theory of haiku.

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87 February 4th 2016 | bottlecap

February 3rd 2016

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after
····the sleet—the rhythm of my daughter’s
········pencil

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It rained all day today. I left my truck outside to be cleaned of the salt. School was canceled. In the early morning it wasn’t so much rain as sleet that clattered against the windows. My daughter kept time to music in her headset.

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86 February 3rd 2016 | bottlecap

February 2nd 2016

Midnight early February:

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the road
····and the Milky Way meeting—horizon’s
········edge

·waiting

It is so quiet this time of year. I hardly know what to write. I look out the window before midnight and there is a stillness as if the stars might finally mingle in the trees, the fields, and at the ends of the road.

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86 February 2nd 2016 | bottlecap

February 1st 2016

Last night as I fell asleep my heart stuttered arrhythmically as if I tumbled on a disturbed ocean. My dreams were a swirl of colors—green, blues and turquoise. I awoke to the waters of our backyard brook, the bed is just three steps or so behind our back door.

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mists
····rising from snow—the evergreens also
········lost

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A strange thing weariness makes the world weary with us. If the sunrise had seemed beautiful before, the next morning is tinged with sorrow.

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The sunlight strikes the tops of the evergreens first and is especially beautiful when elsewhere is grey, green and white. The first day of February, the shortest month, the quietest, and the most unassuming.

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85 February 1st 2016 | bottlecap

January 31st 2016

The winter should be colder, but sometimes it’s only for us to live life as it is.  The brook out back of our house is breaking again—not the cascades of spring but the slow dissolution of ice and the mirror-like waters beneath.

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glistening
··· in the trees at midnight—the Milky Way’s
········thaw

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The sound of water is everywhere—from trees, roof eaves, and in the wind’s wake. There’s warmth in the smell of the soil as if winter’s visit were already drawing to a close.

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84 January 31st 2016 | bottlecap

January 30th 2016

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January
····thaw—leaning to look at my leaning
········woodpile

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Stacking firewood is an art form I might, before I die, master. I’ve seen firewood stacked that would outlast the pyramids. The splits fit together like pieces of a puzzle and the covered wood has never seen a drop of rain. The castles at the ends are works of art. Mine have fallen over—and the same pile—more than once. The trick is to lean like the woodpile. That makes it look plumb.

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83 January 30th 2016 | bottlecap

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