Bamboo Claps Stone, Haiku Japan 2002

Winter Haiku, Japan 2002

Old ladies on bicycles
Graves next to rice fields
North of Japan

Mountain cloaked in mist
We too on the ground
Aizu Wakamatsu

Keaki shaking in wind
Keeping all its leaves
Winter morning

A persimmon tree
Drooping with fruit
Amongst so much snow

The temple gate
On a slope of bamboo
Izu Yanu

Moss over stone lanterns
The gong of a temple bell
At the base of stairs

Monks chanting
from the center
I’m circling around

Where the ancients are buried
Men in work gloves
Clean a temple bell

Mam Ku Ji
A tiger preying the banks
Tadami Gawa

Descending the stairs
We once ascended
Leaving monks behind

At the country temple
Moss has a gentle way
Conquering stone

Wild along the fringes
Rice fields
Manes of susuki

All the Darumas
Stalled on highways
Outside Tokyo city

Graves of farmers
Scattered in rice fields
Like susuki seeds

The swallow comes and goes
Before I have time
To say hello

Waiting for train
The vacant city
Wild bark!

Smoke of the chimney
Steam of the sky
Are they two?

Temple gate closed
Maybe this way
Ah! The running water

Smile of rural folk
Clean air
Clean mind

Circling the Great Buddha
Camera in hand
Still unsure

Zen games
At the flea market
What to let go

Sting of passion
Young girl bikes by
In the rain

The sweetness
Of a rapt traveler
Caught in the rain

Listening to radio
In the back of a cab
Kinship with Basho

Next to stone basin
Riddled with attachment
Drop, drop, drop

Somewhere in the storm
Bamboo claps stone
Leaping old frog

Zen is not a statement
Not a shrine
An ordinary mind

Reaching for my pen
I slay a perfectly good
Haiku

Between orders
A father grills his son
At the curry shop

At some point you realize
The way you’re on
Is the way you’re going

Without purpose
Oni on the rooftop
Traveler’s shrine

Rain gathers
In a bamboo gutter
Before my mind

Ah, she says—
A dove sleeping
No! Fields of bamboo

Young American
Stubs toe at Ryokan
Motherfucker!

Woman in skirt
Draws my attention
Then wipes her nose

The great doors of Todaiji
What kind of wind
Makes them swing

An old man reaches
The doors of Todaiji
Slowly—

Impatient at subway
What are they saying? A boy
Jumped in the tracks

Train doors open
Another town
Old man sleeping

Train through tunnels
Nearing Hiroshima
Dark then light

Hillside of bamboo
So much like
The Japanese themselves

Sun blasts through skies
I have to squint my eyes
Hiroshima

Look at the earth
Smoking upward
Pipes of industry

Stopping to watch
Two men trade thank you’s
With such pleasure!

Behind the farmhouse
Stairs lead upwards
A humble grave

Waiting on dinner
Behind shoji doors
The cry of a crow

After a long rain
Tsubaki petals
Floating moss

All night the heater
She rubs my ear
Where do we go now?

The winter trail
She points to the buds
Sakura

Shoulder to shoulder
No eyes meet
Train conductor ill

Evening rush hour
Train doors open
Smell of liquor

Dusk over Starbucks
Admiral Perry’s ships
Beyond the promenade

The stiff face of a woman
Her husband drives
Pride between them

Down the depato escalator
Same face from yesterday
Same spot

Holding my chopsticks
Even the soba noodles
Teach zen

Shrine-keeper tricks
Still the monkey steals
The Buddha’s fruit

Still in their aprons
Bowing at the curb
New Years Day

Carrying shopping bags
Four ladies strut
Dispersing the doves

A lone crow
Amid pecking droves
Rummaging the roses

Better than door locks
Satellite dishes mark
Balcony rails

Listening to crows
Guarding the hillside
Still I write haiku

Three cranes over
Yokohama bay
Like towering myths

Old man laments
Slope of soldier graves
The city has changed

Reading the master’s life
Under a yellow light
In the middle of mine!

Compassionate dog
Come hither—
Let me smell the earth in you

The New Year passed
Without notice
Reading poems of Issa

Sound of trumpet and siren
Fade in unison
We too at the park

Mount Fuji by car
There—
And gone!

Sleepers on a tour bus
Approach Mount Fuji
Ho-hum

Across the aisle
A woman
Must I know her name?

Steam over Fuji
Searching the snow clumps
For a snail

Even the pine trees
Stretch out their trunks
A view of Mount Fuji

Glimpsing Fuji
Still my heart
In tangled woods

Pausing for a closer look
The cedar steaming
In morning sun

At the flea market
Resisting the urge for idols
After all a Jew

Tip of Fuji!
The pine trees grow so tall
To see you!

Seated on subway
The mother’s knees
Bruised by tatami

Harried at the crosswalk
We bulldozed our forests
For this

On the train
The oshidori at play
Turning to my wife

The failing of day
Crowd on train
Smell of someone’s breath

Rain gathers in
The bamboo gutter
Carries me down

The lean-to of bamboo
So light
The air bends them

The evening hour
Clamor of poets
Jozu heta

Lamborghini and cab
Amongst other things
Waiting for light

The morning glory
Trained in metal fence
Still blooms

Don’t interrupt her sleep!
Not even for tea
A mother is dying

Old woman in hospital bed
With whom does she die?
With the dying she dies—

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