August 27th 2019

DSC01847Hello fellow travelers. I got to thinking today about home and what it means. Every so often I have dreams of places that giver me the feeling of absolute joy and happiness—the feeling that I’m finally home.

In one such dream I was walking with a friend in a mid-afternoon courtyard that was broad and paved with cobblestone. On two sides was a building that was open to the courtyard with rows of arches and beyond the building I could see an ocean and terrace where there were restaurants and cafés. There were children running and playing. There were teenagers walking hand in hand.


There were kites and others walking with balloons. About midway through the courtyard, I remember a flock of origami birds swirling around us, then back into the air. I recalled feeling that I had been in this place before.


When I was a child, I once had a dream that I would find my home when I crossed a wide stone bridge over a broad river. On the other side of the bridge, the landscape changed from pasture and rolling hills to the steep mountains topped with snow. For many years I looked for that bridge, but never found it.


I would like to say that I have discovered what home really means, but I haven’t. Maybe it’s not something to be discovered out there. Maybe home is in the garden, in the book being read or written, the airplane, a favorite stretch of road, or where we find our friends and lovers—a place being created, changing and lived in every moment.


    late August's heat—the cicada's cry

239: August 27th 2019 | bottlecap



August 22nd 2019

DSC01665Today was my last full day with my daughter. We started out by visiting the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. We had visited the year before, and she has so far enjoyed revisiting the same places. The Museum of the Berlin Wall is dedicated to one small stretch of the Berlin wall famous for picture of escaping East Germans. The wall was built a matter of feet from apartment buildings, and these soon became famous for pictures of East Germans leaping from windows, over the wall, the way one might jump from a burning building into a stretched tarp. The East Germans quickly got wind of the escape route and mortared the windows. After that, they demolished the  apartment buildings and a church as well—the latter in the mid 1980’s.


This portion of the wall was preserved. The area that is now grass used to be on the East German side and was peppered with land mines. I know a place, close by, where the wall still stands, unknown to tourists, and not a part of the museum. It’s half-hidden in weeds and half-grown trees.


As far as I know, the Gedenkstätte is the only location where a watchtower is still preserved. I remember Berlin before the wall fell and was well-acquainted with it. The old lights that you can see, like street lights next to the watch tower, had a sickly, greenish hue to them (at the time). I’ve seen the Gedenkstätte at night and the museum doesn’t reproduce that sickly light. We wandered round Berlin a little after that.


As always, one never knows what one is going to discover around the corner. And after that she wanted to go up into the Fernsehturm, a tower built by the East Germans and, despite all their other failings, a remarkable tower.


And enjoyed a cocktail at the bar. The elevator, we were told, rose at 6 meters per second. My ears were popping the whole way.


And after all that we had dinner out. There were lots of families, crying children, happy children, Berliners sitting in their balconies above use. Just down the road, the S-Bahn came and went. I gave her a sweet-dreams kiss before she went to sleep tonight, the last I’ll be able to give her for a long time, and shed a tear.

    overseas, the crow looks down
        on me

234: August 22nd 2019 | bottlecap


February 28th 2016

This would normally be the last day of the littlest month of the year—a cold but gentle month. This is the month when snowstorms, lit by a hidden moon, can make it seem as though the snow carried the light in its descent. And when the clouds clear, the fields smoothly sparkle as if the Milky Way had fallen underfoot. This February was a sorrowful one, waiting for a lover who never arrived.
····casting shadows—February’s last
The deer don’t like to come between the house and barn, but if the winter is long enough and snow deep enough, they’ll find our sprigs of kale. And that will be the end of that. But not so far this year.
Our sprigs of kale, with a kind of green curiosity, hold their leaves above the snow and look for the sun.
114 February 28th 2016 | bottlecap

December 15th 2015

Midway through December, as I continue to write haiku, I notice I pay more attention to the world, aware of poetic contrasts, interrelationships and vividness. Writing haiku is a kind of mindfulness. Haiku are short and can be written in an instant, though this doesn’t mean they’re simple or trivial. I continue to edit the haiku I’ve written this past week.

But the experience is different than a sonnet. I can spend a week or months on a single poem, turning the same imagery and ideas over until I arrive at something that feels organic and, ideally, spontaneous. But writing haiku allows a poet to inhabit a different world each day—each day newly imagining a new poem. This brings an awareness to everyday doings. The first realization is how frustratingly similar each day can feel. I travel the same roads. I see the same clouds. The trees are bare, the floor leaf-strewn, and the rivers shine through them.

I want my haiku to offer a variety emotions and observations. Even if I write them every day for a yearI want to avoid repetitiveness. That means one has to look beyond the familiar to the unfamiliar which is, after all, what haiku do. They also make the familiar unfamiliar and new. So writing haiku requires not just mindfulness but an aware inquisitiveness. The poet who writes haiku isn’t passive. Basho warned that haiku were only to be had in the journey. He famously wrote:

“The moon and sun are travelers through eternity. Even the years wander on. Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”

Today I travelled south to Woodstock and I travelled west and north to Randolph. The sky was a beautiful mix of broken clouds and blue sky. The wind was strong today, and moody. My tarps were blown off the woodpiles and tonight the wind is just as rancorous.

I wonder about my own spiritual journey.

I was in love with the world today—its little vanities, nobility and introspection. The sun lit some mountains and not others. The smaller rose above their statelier neighbors when the sun swept across them.

When the sun is this low in winter the undersides of the clouds are always dark and broody.


····clouds—buttoning her coat from the bottom


“Real poetry is to lead a beautiful life. To live poetry is better than to write it.” ~ Basho

Back in April I wrote a haiku inspired by Basho’s famous poem about the old frog. I’m not the first, but I might be a little fond of my own:


old pond—
·····ice melting into
··········the sound of frogs


This time of year you can look through the woods and see everything missed in summer—brooks, houses, further fields. I saw an old shed I’d never seen before.


···in the old shed—the moon
··········in a puddle


39: December 15th 2015 | bottlecap