Posts Tagged ‘japan’

HAIBUN – The Heat Rises

Seeing some recent photographs from Japan, ( train riders do so love to click the rising sides of Mount Fuji as they speed past to and from Tokyo), I remembered how it was there towards the end of May in Honshu. The temperate Spring weather suddenly gives way to an increasing heat. Vegetation that budded discretely in warm sun now turns rampant jungle, sliding down walls and roadsides in tumbled tendrils. Pocket towels delicately sweep sweated brows and necks, the weight of a humid summer sun bends heads and we begin to avoid the wide open city spaces where light rebounds off dazzling bright concrete. The shade in parks is inhabited by quiet, slowly moving people. Pale skinned girls, translucent as moons, carry parasols in lace-gloved hands and the perspiring salarymen, ties loosened, curse their cheap suits and dream of beer.

End of May.
The heat rises
To the top of Fujisan.
We move more slowly,
Like carp in green waters.

The past turns haiku.
The valleys dissolve in rain.
Disappearing light.

To culture silence
And watch unhurried,
A task few relish.

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Hopefully this is a link to a project I have just completed using Blurb templates. If it works, this is an ideal platform for me to produce most of the work I have been doing with Tree Spirit Healing over the last twenty years or so. The fact that there will be only a few people interested in this stuff is not my main concern, it is just nice to get a lot of texts and related artworks into some other medium other than idiosyncratic ones and noughts. These books will be the most cost effective way to collate and embody most of my recent artworks. I do have the facility to print high quality archive images that occasionally sell and go to good homes, but this is quite an expensive process, even to make my own copies.

I am currently working on several other volumes of Tree Spirit Healing books, some in this format, some in others, checking out possibilities and variables. So far poetry books haven’t been completely controllable (though there are a few ideas I have had recently to try to stabilise errant spacing and lines, which I must try out before they slip my mind again…

Please take a look if you have time. From a mass publishing/popular bookstall point of view these books are not cheap. But then again, I am used to buying academic specialist volumes for fifty, sixty, seventy pounds sterling….

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Tight arc
Hard as stone
Open eye.

Rigid curl
Weighed tight

Foetal curl

What is it?
What is it not?

Worn smooth


One skin
Rubbed smooth
Inner, outer.

Taking form

Rising head

Eagle beak
Bear claw
Worn smooth.

Incontrovertible proof
A previous universe

Worn away
All that remains:
First universe.


Hollow seed
Throwing curved edges,

Hollow centre
Regarding flow
Back to nothing.

Becoming precious
Passed down:
What remains.

One surface:

Oldest unknown
First limit


Every now and then, the magatama awakes, whispers into half-sleep. It is a strange being, a shape so simple, so involuted. A seed, a genetic meme. Casting around, I wondered if there were other antediluvian icons that would stir that ancestral well so surely. So far, the closest approach is by the Celtic torc. Like the magatama to the first Japanese peoples, the torc epitomised what to be a Celt meant. A real, tangible object, an object of trade, of status, of power. I shall have to listen to their whispers also……


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ripple light2


nonchalant monkey
busy eating fruit
raises an eyebrow:
single snowflake
drifting down.

sound of seagulls,
echoing sea caves –
air-conditioning unit
splutters to life.

night rain.
a million leaves
gently clapping


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night rain.
slow breath, flared nostrils
of meditating samurai.

drunken skeletons,
clattering arm in arm,
splashing puddles.
rain passes right through them.

five-tailed white fox
rolls over, kisses lover
and creeps out to hunt chickens.

moon lies back,
thinking of ocean beds.

calligrapher practicing
with invisible inks,
worlds destroyed and created.

splashes down mountain path,
breathing rock and root.

five miles high,
dragons and phoenixes
look down on city lights.

crows shift and grumble
nests full of the stolen dreams
of small children.

magatama blinks
turning into a jade bird,
once then twice.

slightly fuddled,
thinking up names
for new brands of sake:
night rain,
samurai nostrils,
calligrapher’s surprise,
moonlit window,
animal seance,
dancing foxes,
shadow river.

poet weaves clouds,
farts, scratches,
remembers, forgets.

cloud scroll, cherry dark trunks.
hooves of the kirin
echoing in the valleys.

there is no magic outside
the mind.
there is no mind outside
of magic.



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enoshima edit1


Something here in Japan, perhaps the lightness of the summer mornings, perhaps the way the land subtly shivers and sways, perhaps that we are intruders unfamiliar with the nuence of its neural patterns, make night dreams here more vivid. Certainly I awake more often from fright, or from discomforting imagery than at home. An alien technology, or maybe the sake!

in Japan
these eloquent dreams:
still completely mysterious.

Last night, a strong constant wind accomapied us through the entire night. Sometimes I would wake and wonder if a rainstorm was passing overhead, the roar was so steady and insistent.

the long wind
fuelling strong dreams.
mysterious purpose.

Of all the dreams that night there was one particularly convoluted and long-lasting, (or so it seemed). Based around an old man, something of a genius, both an artist and a scientist, as well as an amateur sleuth or criminal investigator. He was involved in many complex layers of research, but was the bane of those who loved and cared for him as his health was failing fast and yet he would not take rest nor ease up on his schedules.

Long wind,
who is the dying sage
so eloquent and ancient, in my dream?

dragon wind
dreams of sages
utterly bemusing.

An interesting point I saw recently on a post about haiku was that amongst the many ‘rules’ was one that stated that a haiku should make no comment. Haiku as a record of perceptions that can evoke numinous emotion without explicitly saying what the emotion should be. Like a haibun, a haiku can lead to endless mazes of commentary and extrapolation. A thought motif, a riff, a theme, can lead to jazz-like improvisations. Now, this rule is not one of simple objectivity. The poet is always objectifying the internal as well as external. Perhaps it is the avoidance of the passing of judgement, not reinterpreting or making a second or a third judgement, that makes haiku resonant, that prevents it simply becoming a commonplace sentence divided into short lines. Who knows…

how many miles is this long wind?
night-long it roars through the curtains.
even my own dreams
are a complete mystery to me.

Haiku, seen as a child-like entrancement (entrancing entrance), a fluidium between self and not-so-self. Paying attention to when nothing is happening, we discover that something is…

roaring dragon wind
how many miles
do you traverse?

as wide as the moon:
this long wind
over hills and valleys.

There is a shamanic, primal sort of awareness in the best haiku. An overlay of worlds. A denial of incorrect or correct ways of perception. Juxtaposition, significant only because it is juxtaposed. For an instant, in this mind, and then in the mind of the reader, sense data and interpretations hold equal value, are equally valid, equally ephemeral.

long wind,
aching bones.
mysterious dream
of ancient sages.

maybe it is my aching bones:
dreams of ancient sages
and steep hillsides.

long night wind.
my dream too,
arising from distant lands.

dream sutras
though inexplicable,
endlessly fascinating.

Finally, the long hours of the night begin to move away, light edges between things, but the wind, having blown away most of my thoughts, still remains.

long wind
blowing away night
to other lands.

In daylight, the warm airs sweep yellows and golds. The palm tree still shaking its dry fronds between the houses, laughing, dancing, bending, chanting.

cats in the sun
eating, sleeping,
composing haiku.


dragon lantern

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a href=”https://simonhlilly.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/frog-garden.jpg”>frog garden

pillow rain
blanket breeze.
dream fever.

dream fever
waking suddenly

ticking clock.
suspended weightless
between dream and sleep,
between day and night.

tangled drifting words
dream images
ticking clock

a tumble of words
dreams slipping away
this floating world

this floating world
sinking, bobbing,
rain-soaked curtains.

curtains of air.
moon behind cloud.
poet scribbling in darkness.

moving carefully
so as not to wake others-
it never works well!

the wind
the rain
tears well up,
sutras of hollowness.

wriggling dreams
aching heart.


carp pool2<

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jindai treetops2

Here is the final part of this long piece I started on my arrival in Japan last week. It was a lot longer than I expected, but then grief and loss, death and life, love and longing are big subjects.
I have been working from an old notebook so it has taken longer to transcribe and post than usual. Maybe now I will start some slightly more jolly haiku!


i do not know ho we can stay.
little bush warbler, i do not know
how it is we can remain.

i am drunk upon your water-clear song.
i am full of white tears for lost worlds.

i do not know how we can remain
so diminished, so lost.

within the song is always silence.
within the sorrow, something else,
something else.

we go, must go,
we cannot stay
forever looking at sunsets and weeping,
in the cool clarity of summer stars.

we are clothed in your song,
little warbler, drunk and raining,
wingless on bare branches.
blades of grass, single petal falling,
we shudder and break
into a thousand pieces.

i do not know how we remain.
we are not who we were,
nor who we are
nor who we could have been,
little bird.

it lies in sorrow, little bird.
it lies forgotten between us, little bird.
it lies between if only and never.

breath comes in and goes out.
joy and sorrow, the flickering breath:
the light and shade of this life.
how can we remain?

song only comes as we expire,
breathe out, let go.
the beautiful voice, little bird,
escaping, gone,
no longer belonged,
no longer belonging.

memory and forgetting –
the only gifts
we have ever owned.


shady pool1

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i shall tell you something,
i shall whisper it:

she is not gone.

that echoed voice,
that memory:
her touch still
as it flows by.
that sudden bloom of feeling:
the turn of her love
towards you.

unlocked from time
we inhabit all our moments,
all our dearest places.

free of this small gravity
radiant as sun and moon
unburdened by horizons,
shade or shadow.

ever in each past,
each future, each present.
become bed and mother
of all indwelling,
scented on every breeze,
blossoming and blossoming
and blossoming eternal.

each pulse is hers, each step,
each tear, each smile.

she is not gone.
we are not gone.
closer than heartbeats,
closer than breath,
the air and whisper of existence,
(as we ever were,
as you ever are).

for but a tragic instant
hedged and deluded,
sweet prison of expression:
a whisper before it leaves the mouth,
before it finds a home.

we should sit down
and weep,
speak of nothing else
but silence,
nothing but the moments.

she is returned
blessing all things
with memories,
with joys and pains,
all the sharp is-ness
of bodies.
jewels to pass down,
fuel for futures.

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sunlit buddha

although thy spirit wanders in what has been or in what will be,
i bring back that spirit of thine, to dwell here, to live long.

although thy spirit be far away, lost in lip-cracked desolation,
i bring back that spirit of thine, to dwell here, to live long.

although thy spirit be far away, fled beyond the seven oceans,
beyond the stilled, rippled wave,
i bring back that spirit of thine, to dwell here, to live long.

although thy spirit be far away, in the sun, in the moon, howling
between the stars, lost disconsolate,
i bring back that spirit of thine, to dwell here, to live long.

although thy spirit has gone far away, to the proximal regions of space, seeking warmth at the fires of the old ones,
i bring back that spirit of thine, to dwell here, to live long.

although thy spirit is raven-ripped, claw-tongued, dipped dark
in deep ravines of anger, lost, raving,
i bring back that spirit of thine, to dwell here, to live long.

in the silent forests, in the wild forests, in the nurturing forests, in the hopeless dawn, in crumbled twilight,

i have here given your soul its own name and it must answer.
it will gather up, and it will be gathered up,

it shall become winged and comforted,
it shall return, it shall return.


fallen blossoms

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