Poems // Shi // 詩


Watching a Japanese lady
and her mother
in the eagle’s nest pagoda
of a flower garden;

letting the wind whip their hair
like the sails of a boat,
inhaling deeply, and smiling.

(Yoshikien Garden, Nara)

Poem for Matsumoto-jo

Doll’s house castle
for goths, comes in black
against fierce grey sky or
black against the full moon.
Moat included, sakura
not guaranteed. Beauty
subjective, but stark.

(Matsumoto-jo, Matsumoto)

A Difference In Culture

A Chinese bamboo raftsman
turns his oar in the air,
he becomes wet with water
but he may stand quite still
and sail with speed.

The Japanese raftsman
favours to flow with the river,
walking his oar about each side
of the boat; he chooses
the beauty of taking things slowly.

(Arashiyama, Kyoto)

Untitled Haiku

A lizard in
the rock garden, a whale
between islands

(Ryōan-ji Rock Garden, Kyoto)

Hiroshima Haikus

Morning coffees collect ash
as I watch the mainland
erupt in silence

He never knew our names,
the man at the desk who
chose death, over peace

A star fell to earth,
my father’s pocketwatch
stopped at a quarter past eight

(Train from Hiroshima to Himeji)


Uda Ho-o whistled along
to the tune of the wind.
As it passed through the
peach blossom –
his particular favourite –
he raised pitch, till
even the songbirds
could not tell he was a man.

Tucked into the rocks:
the percussion of falling water
and the bubbling of koi
on its surface.

Stood by the pond,
Uda felt a fine measure peace.
Touched by the rebelliousness
of youth, he scuffed
the neatly raked sand
with his toes. It was warm,
undisturbed (until now)
in the sun.

Uda Ho-o stepped back until
his garden framed a tall pagoda
against the sky. Picking back up
the tune of the wind,
he saw his print in the sand
and laughed.

(Ninna-ji, Kyoto)

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