Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Why I like Japanese-style Poetry

I am not an expert on Japanese poetry.  I don’t read or speak the language, and I have not studied the history of the genre.  I could not tell you the difference between a hokku, a haikai, a renga, or a waka.   I do know a bit about haiku and haibun because I  have tried my hand at writing these two forms in English.   I enjoy reading translations of the most famous haiku writers: Basho, Issa, and Buson.

Why do I like these forms of poetry?   It is simply that I like the clean brevity of these poems.   Only a master of the written word can convey an entire scene in just 17 syllables or a paragraph of prose poetry.    Haibun in general, and haiku in particular,  capture moments of clarity, mundane actions of ordinary people, and subtle movements of animals and plants in their natural settings.  They evoke, sometimes in just single words, the physical experience of entire seasons.  These forms are like a Polaroid snapshots of time and space.

Such poetry is often imbued with subtle, engaging humor or deep emotion.   For example, these two haiku by Basho:

Morning Glories-
Even from unskilled brushes
They look elegant

—-

The first day of the year:
thoughts come – and there is loneliness;
the autumn dusk is here.

Haiku and haibun are elegant, timeless, and completely human.

Here are some links if you care to learn a little more about these forms

A Crash Course in Japanese Poetry
The Japanese section of Shadow Poetry
About Haibun
About Haiku

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Energies: A Haibun

This is a haibun, a Japanese poetic form which combines prose with haiku. It is a reworking of an observational post from four years ago (in case the prose and the photo seem familiar to you).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the beach at dawn under a full moon, a woman feels a convergence of forces, the coming to together of the spirits of place and time.  It is there and then where she feels the fullest dichotomy of energies:  night and morning, dying moon and birthing sun, land and sea.   As the woman soaks in these energies, for a few sublime moments, the dichotomy disappears and balance takes its place.   And where there is balance, there is peace.

Ebb, flow, thud, crackle
Breaking surf rush forward then
Back wash, July’s dance.

ljg (c) 2006, 2013, 2017 (El Porto Beach, California)

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Night Sky: A Haibun

saturn nasa 2On a cloudless night, at the dark of the moon, close to All Hallows’ Eve, a woman stood at the edge of the sea and gazed at an indigo sky.  She murmured words of wonderment when the face of Saturn turned and revealed to her his exquisite rings.  Her spirit stirred, and she pondered if Galileo’s daughter had seen the same when she looked through her father’s glass.  Then the woman fell to her knees and cried out in love to the one who had kindled the stars.

Luminescent surf
Thunders over hard black sand
The stars cannot sleep.

Haibun: ljgloyd (c) 2015
Image: Courtesy of NASA

What is a Haibun?  Learn here.


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Winter Afternoon Near the 101: A Haibun

 

Winter Afternoon

Winter Afternoon

Cruising up the 101, I am a singing along with my sister and Jimmy Buffett. The sun, not a weak and watery winter’s light, but a bold, brain-slicing glare, cuts through the windshield, making me almost miss the silhouette of Anacapa Island rising out of the ocean. We stop to visit a ninety-five year-old widow. She lives alone in a ranch house at the mouth of a canyon, where coyotes come and go at night. Her age and circumstances do not keep her from doing her chores. We are silent as we drive back home.

Three towels to the wind
Frost on the grass this morning
near Ventura.

 

Ljgloyd 2015


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Early Morning Haibun

image

Many people think that sunrise is the most peaceful time of day, perfect for meditation. I look for that slow and reflective time there as well, yet today all I hear are the muted beeps of a neighbor’s unattended clock radio through my wall, the relentless tinkle, tinkle, tinkle of wind chimes from across the street, the raucous arguing of a murder of crows, and the roar of jet engines from a distant tarmac. Who would’ve thought that morning could be so blasted noisy. I guess I’ll write some poetry instead.

Zephyr from the east
Slate and gold rain clouds ride it—
Parched earth opens wide.

ljgloyd (c). 2014