March 29th 2016

I returned to last night’s haiku, dissatisfied—a poem of only a few words; but the brevity compels: somehow expressing a part of the world’s beauty in the space of a breath.
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·
sunrise
····at the crow’s back—the starlight still
········in its eyes
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Every morning I look out the wooded back lot. There’s a tree that’s been dead for years and one crow that, mornings, always favors the topmost branch.
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144 March 29th 2016 | bottlecap

March 28th 2016

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late
····March—the rain and the night falling,
········falling
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Today, after a poor night’s sleep, was a bleak day. The rains began in the morning and the colorless sky remained through the evening. The first buds show in the river valley but none in the highlands. The landscape remains as stark as winter.
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143 March 28th 2016 | bottlecap

March 27th 2016

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straight-
····ening the scarecrow’s clothes—spring’s
········arrival
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Buson saw the animate in the inanimate. He humorously could see a goblin in  an umbrella and had an eye for little monstrosities. In Buson’s poetry one senses a more approachable personality than Basho—and perhaps more easy-going. I tried to capture a little of that in last night’s haiku. Not sure I did.
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142 March 27th 2016 | bottlecap

March 23rd 2016

There is a passage in Journal of Bleached Bones in a Field, by Basho, that always breaks my heart.
 ·
“I was walking along the Fuji River when I saw an abandoned child, barely two, weeping pitifully. Had his parents been unable to endure this floating world which is as wave-tossed as these rapids, and so left him here to wait out a life brief as dew? He seemed like a bush clover in autumn’s wind that might scatter in the evening or wither in the morning.  I tossed him some food from my sleeve and said in passing,
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those who listen for the monkeys:
····what of this child
········in the autumn wind?
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Why did this happen? Were you hated by your father or neglected by your mother? Your father did not hate you, your mother did not neglect you. This simply is from heaven, and you can only grieve over your fate.”
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[Trans. David Landis Barnill, Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho]

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Basho’s heartlessness troubles me. I tell myself that had it been me, I would have taken the child in my arms; but had I lived in that culture? We are never wholly ourselves, or who we think we are, but are also creations of the cultures we live in. Had Shakespeare been born just a century later, he could not have become Shakespeare. He is as much his own invention as the invention of the Elizabethans. We are made by the times we live in.
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troubled
····sleep—the coywolf’s cry consumes
········the darkness
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138 March 23rd 2016 | bottlecap