Here’s a Carpe Diem Haiku Kai prompt by Chevrefeuille  –   a haiku written by Chiyo-ni (1703-1775). In her day it was said that Chiyo-ni’s style was true to Basho’s. Although Chiyo-ni acquired her own unique voice, eventually, she was surely influenced in her early period by the prevalence of Basho’s teachings in the Kaga region.

Basho’s style of haiku was formulated by others over the years. His well-known fundamentals usually include: sabi (detached loneliness), wabi (poverty of spirit), hosomi (slenderness, sparseness), shiori (tenderness), sokkyo (spontaneity), makoto (sincerity), fuga (elegance), karumi (simplicity), kyakkan byosha (objectivity), and shiZen to hitotsu ni naru (oneness with nature).

Chiyo-ni (1703-1775)

“Oneness with nature” seems especially resonant in Chiyo-ni’s haiku. Basho’s theory of oneness with nature was that the poet should make a faithful or honest sketch of nature. In the Sanzohi (1702), Basho’s disciple, Doho, explains his teacher’s theory: “Learn about the pine from the pine and the bamboo from the bamboo–the poet should detach his mind from self . . . and enter into the object . . . so the poem forms itself when poet and object become one.” This experience is analogous to the Buddhist idea of satori, or enlightenment, what Kenneth Yasuda called the “haiku moment.” When writing haiku, Chiyo-ni immersed herself in nature, honestly observing what she saw, as in the following

a single spider’s thread
ties the duckweed
to the shore

© Chiyo-ni

In response to this Hamish Managua Gunn has written on his blog

‘If I see weakness in the haiku I read – as a reader, not writer of haiku, then it seems to me the general weakness of Western world haiku artists lies in a lack of kyakkan byosha, objectivity, which is not a great surprise in this self-consumed world of ours. There is also a shortfall of sabi in haiku I read, and importantly makoto, as well as an overabundance of oness with nature, which may have links to the lack of apparent makoto, or just be expressed desire. But if the desire is expressed so forthrightly then some objectivity is lost.

At the Carpe Diem Haiku Kai website the request is that a new haiku be formulated in the same tone, spirit and style as Chiyo-ni’s “spider thread” haiku below. (Read more about Chiyo-ni by clicking on the Carpe Diem link.)

a single spider’s thread
ties the duckweed
to the shore

Following is my attempt – while guardingly aware of what I have just said above, I think Chiyo-ni’s haiku, in it’s simple intricity, shows another common failing often apparent; haiku that are too ‘global’ without detail, and acccordingly sometimes lecture, and ‘tell,’ instead of showing. Chiyo-ni’s haiku cannot be said to be doing any of that. And nor should anyone else.’

each needle on the pine
a part of the tree
part of my forest – Hamish Managua Gunn


In his comments on my last post Hamish challenged me to ‘focus on something very, very tiny that represents something universal or indeed the universe’ and again here                       – ‘I would try a haiku about just 1 leaf or some intricate detail to show changing season, as well as a ‘landscape.’

Here’s my reply to both the Carpe Diem Challenge and to Hamish’s:

a single spider’s thread

blocking the path

to the shore

   and an older one on the subject of the one leaf

reflecting the sky

rainwater on a fallen leaf

– embodied light




Soul music

                                                                    night haiku

Some years ago I studied Indian Philosophy at university – an odd subject to take on the way to getting a degree in Visual Art but I had an elective to catch up on and limited time to do  – the philosophy unit was one of the few choices available at the time.  It was a hard subject and I can’t remember much about it except a strange debate we studied –  

sometime around 200BC a Hindu and a Buddhist had an argument about the nature of the eternal soul.  The Hindu said that the eternal soul is fixed and continues unchanged through time and space.  The same soul stayed with an individual through every incarnation.   The Buddhist argued otherwise.

‘No,’ he said.  ‘The soul changes and evolves as we do.   It’s nature is not fixed.’  He argued that the soul is fluid and can change from moment to moment.   Fixity is a matter of choice.  What we do in the present impacts our soul.  In every moment we are faced with a choice – to stay fixed in our current state, to evolve and grow or even to devolve and make choices that impact negatively upon our spiritual wellbeing.

In my studies I took the side of the Buddhist.  My lecturer favoured the Hindu’s view.   ‘If my soul was changing from moment to moment,’ she argued, ‘I’d wake up in the morning as someone else.   I’m sure my husband would complain if that happened.’   She then laughed out loud at her own wit.   I found it hard to discuss the matter with her.   She was adamant her point of view was the right one.

I find many people have hostile reactions to the idea.   Maybe it’s that, in this changing world, they like to think that they are solid and dependable, fixed and reliable.  

To me it seems they  misunderstand what the Buddhist was getting at.  Personally I find tremendous freedom in the idea that the human soul is not fixed.   Within every moment there exists the possibility of redemption – of forward movement – of personal evolution.   Just as this growth can occur on an individual level it can also occur on a group level and on a global level.   The planetary soul, even the Galactic soul can grow and evolve as the beings within it grow and evolve.

This kind of thinking has parallels with ideas of the expanding universe.

Expanding cosmos

infinite multiverses

– no ending in sight

Prompt:   Carpe Diem Haiku Kai  – Universal Self

Old timer

Another old photo that turned up this week in my archival dig    It’s a close up of an old steam engine I saw at a vintage car rally a few years ago.   The strange effect on the photo comes from using the HDR filter in Photoshop then converting the image to Black and White.  I quite like the effect – it reminds me the photos in old books from the 1950s.


Prompt:  Black and White Sunday  – tools


It’s raining here today.  Grey wintery rain sweeping in on cold southerly winds.   It’s beginning to look like we’re in for a long, wet winter down here.   As the rain slashes at the windows I continue to retrieve work from the wreck of my old computer.  The process is making me look at my creative work in a new way.  I found a haibun about rain today.   I had thought I would include it in the book on the haibun I was planning back in March.   In the weeks away from the project I’ve had second thoughts.   Do I really want to make a book of my haibun?   It is a convention of haibun writing to write in the first person.   A book devoted entirely to haibun I have written could read like a protracted selfie in prose and poem.    I couldn’t imagine anything more boring.

I’m now thinking I will gather up some haiga, some photographs and a few haibun and make an e-book sometime over the winter.  First I want to finish my archival dig then it looks like I’ll be moving house …

so, for now, I think I’ll reblog some of my older haibun sometimes.   I’ve made a new haiga for this one.


Kathmandu Magic

It was years ago when I walked the streets of Kathmandu. I was young and lucky in a way that only a backpacker would think lucky. The wet season had just began and day after day rain poured down from leaden skies. The roads back to India were washed out, impassable. I was permitted to stay in Kathmandu an extra three weeks although my visa had expired.

I was travelling with a group of Canadians at the time. We shared dorm rooms in a cheap hotel where you straddled a hole in the floor to go the toilet and showered using a bucket and a dipper. At sunset we would meet together on the roof. Looking to the west the two arms of the mountains that embraced Kathmandu dipped low just where the sun went down. There in the gap sat the temple of Swayambhunath, the Monkey Temple. In the setting sun the stupas glowed like sculptured icing sugar.

Before the rains had come the group of us had walked out to the temple along a dusty road. Cows mooched past us and back in the trees some unseen person played an Indian flute. To a bunch of kids straight out of the burbs the sights and sounds were beyond belief.

‘I feel like I’m walking through the pages of a National Geographic magazine,’ said a Canadian boy.

‘I feel like I’m in fairyland,’ his girlfriend replied.

When the road to India cleared we moved on. Each took their own path then, found their own way forward. None of looked like the innocent kids we’d been when we ridden into town on a rickety bus weeks before.

                                                                                       kathmandu magic

prompt:   One Word Challenge – rain

‘Universal Soldier’


Today Australia celebrates Anzac Day. I’m not quite sure what people think they are celebrating. The Anzac battle was a terrible battle dragged on for months on a muddy hillside in Turkey. I’ve been there and heard both sides of the story. No one won and countless lives were lost in appalling conditions. To me it’s an example of the ultimate futility of war.
The song ‘Universal Soldier’ by Buffy Saint Marie says everything I think about war brilliantly. I’m reblogging this from a blog of one my very first blogging friends, Pearlz.

Originally posted on Pearlz Dreaming:

Yesterday evening I sang Buffy Saint Marie’s ‘Universal Soldier’ and that about sums up how I feel about war…

Today Australia remembers the Anzacs and many other soldiers still out in the field.

Here is Buffy talking about what inspired this song, followed by her singing it.

Here is a poem of my own about loss.

‘Blue Bonnets’

Funerals like rain
Fall from clouds
Young boys say ‘goodbye’
As father’s lowered to the ground

Mother stands alone
Tears become her shroud
Funeral goers utter not a sound.

She hears blue guitar strums
She’s pounding melancholy’s drums.

Texas and Tully are so far apart
Yet they share skies
Where hawks and heron fly

Storms and troubles rock both their shores
Warn their people to depart.

She tells her children
the legend of the Texas Blue Bonnet flower

A young girl gave up her warrior doll,
The last reminder of family,

View original 137 more words

Ancient Wonders

I’m still sorting through the wreckage of my old computer and retrieving images.   I found these today and thought they’d work well for Paula’s new challenge Traces of the Past on her blog, Lost in Translation.   I took them in 2012 in Turkey.  I’ve posted them on my blog before but today feels like a good day to reblog them.  

My travels in 2012 seem so long ago now – personal ancient history disappearing into the shadows of memory.   Maybe that’s what I was thinking when I processed these images so dramatically.