for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

my ‘precious stones’ haiku thread on Sketchbook February 2012

It’s been quite a whirl for me as I tried to keep up with submissions and still failed to meet some including that of Sketchbook for February. These pieces for the haiku thread, in fact, got to the editor’s inbox a day after the deadline. I marked it as another flop but John Daleiden had kindly put it in…Working on the next deadline for April 19 now: ‘pond life’ for the haiku thread and ‘swing’ for the kukai. Check out Sketchbook from my blogroll. 


midnight sky

the glint of sapphire

on wet leaves


first meeting

her opal smoothness

in a handshake


diamond stud

rooting on her chin

unsaid words


her eyes

on the emerald display case

mid-sea calm


bishop’s ring

i kiss a ruby stain

on the martyr’s relic


waning moon

the scent of topaz



an onyx heart

in grandma’s jewelry box

hidden crescent


the sultan taps

the serpent’s sapphire eyes

ceremonial belt


champagne cabochon

her tears as he slips his mom’s

wedding ring in hers


candle fingers

the snake’s garnet scales

wraps her pinky


March 27, 2012 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

shadows (my haibun at Notes from the Gean, March 2012)


how much longer

As a child, I searched for shadows. Under trees at high noon when the crown of an acacia tree from across our balcony covered its root space like a clipped parasol, I’d creep to it and hug the ancient roots, basking in its shadow. By the stream where my grandmother scoured the soot off the iron rice pot and skillet, I’d haunt the silken strips of shadows under bamboo groves.  I waited on the engorged shadow of a kingfisher that never failed to fly by.

My grandmother had learned from snoops that I sauntered alone at high noon by the stream–even took dips. Upbraided, I stopped creeping under the shadowed stream for a while. Instead, I began haunting shadows in the wooded orchard of a grandaunt. One afternoon, a buzzing shadow chased me. A swarming cloud, the bees I had disturbed raced me to the chicken coop. I suffered a few stings, which my grandaunt soothed with dabs of burnt molasses syrup.

These days, I’m hunting shadows again under ruins and buildings that block the sun off. Why this disdain for the sun, a friend once asked. What answer could I give?


of who we are


Notes from the Gean 3:4 March 2012

NOTE: layout for this page only with photo of  an old building in Montreal by eleanor angeles

March 24, 2012 Posted by | haibun, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

time (one of three haiga at Notes from the Gean, March 2012)

One of three haiga at

Notes from the Gean 3:4 March 2012 (on my blogroll)



sifting through stones

for inconstancies


haiku: alegria imperial, canada

image: eleanor angeles, usa


March 22, 2012 Posted by | haiga, poetry | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For World Poetry Day: Transformation by haiku (a commentary on Basho at Notes from the Gean)

on a bare branch

a crow settled down

autumn evening


(trans. by Jane Reichold)

“How true!” was all I could say of these lines, the first of Basho’s that I have read– my introduction to haiku. The spare lines also stunned me yet they opened up spaces akin to meditation. Perhaps, I had thought, I should read it slowly as in praying and I did. The passing scenes I’ve seen in drives had suddenly turned into an immediate moment and I, in it. I recognized the feeling; it also happens when a painting or performance draws me in.  Of course, I was reading a poem and I understood it or so I had thought.

I can’t recall from what collection I read ‘on a bare branch’ among the few books I found at the Enoch Pratt Library eight years ago in Baltimore, where I was then staying. I had just stumbled on haiku, surfing the web for poetry and clicking on the page of Baltimore haiku poet Denis Garrison.  Browsing through the posted works, I thought how easy to do it and so, with the spunk of an ignoramus, I wrote one, responding to his submission call. He sent it back with kind words. It had possibilities, he said, and he even rewrote a line. How encouraging!

I had just ended a long career in media and journalism and on the daring of a friend, had taken up fiction writing in New York and later, poetry—dreams that long hovered in my hard working years. I thought haiku would come as easily as both, which I tackled the way I had wielded words in thick gray slabs. I had studied American, English and continental literature in the Philippines, a country closer to Japan, but had not been aware of haiku until then. And so, I wrote a few more of what I thought was haiku, imitating how Denis demonstrated it and sent these again; I received an outright rejection that miffed me. Yet his advice (or was it a command?) for me to read up on haiku goaded me up the marble steps of the Baltimore library.

The haiku shelf nestled in an alcove of special collections on a mezzanine. The small table felt almost intimate. The few haiku small books felt ancient in my hands, the pages fragile. I could not take them home. I had to take scrap paper from the librarian’s desk to write on. Only Basho’s ‘bare branch’ remains among bales of my notes and haiku drafts. I’ve read more of Basho and volumes of other haiku poets since. I’ve learned that the simplicity and immediacy of the ‘bare branch’ that entranced me had also deceived me. Haiku, after all, is a centuries-old art.  I realized I might never get to an iota of what makes it what it is. But haiku has transformed me since.

Nature and I have turned into lovers, for one, as if I’m seeing clouds, the sun and the moon for the first time, or flowers and birds. Yet, as a child, I prowled bamboo groves and shaded streams to catch dragonflies and wait for the kingfisher’s shadow. As an adult, I walked on streams of blossoms shredded by the wind, relishing fragrances and dreams. I used to throw open our windows for the full moon for me to bathe in. I thought I had shed them off when I left home for North America where I finally live the four seasons with blossoms like daffodils and cherry blossoms or trees that inflame in the fall like the maple that I used to know only as words in poems and songs in a borrowed language from an implanted culture I memorized as a child. But haiku has lent me ways to see things simultaneously through the past into the present, as well as from a pinhole as in a bee wading in pollen to the vastness of a punctured moonless summer sky. I leap from image to thought and feeling simply and exactly losing myself in what a moment presents like how I felt reading ‘bare branch’ the first time.

Some writings on Basho especially in his later haiku identify such a moment as Zen. As a Southeast Asian, I know Zen. It’s part of my heritage. But how come I’m ignorant of haiku? It must have been our destined Western colonization that encrusted our Eastern beginnings with layers of European and American culture, hence, blocking it. In an unfortunate historical accident when Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II, my parents could have learned haiku and passed it on to me. Instead, those years inflicted so much pain that I grew up with my mother’s family trying to survive a pall of sorrow from my grandfather’s execution by the Japanese Imperial Army. Japan, for me, represented the horror of cruelty. Then came haiku. I hadn’t thought of that sadness I inherited when I first started reading on it, delighting even at Basho’s Oku-no-hosomichi (Back Roads to Far Towns) leading me by inroads to Japan.  When the Fukushima tragedy struck last year, I plunged into it, writing a haibun about families being rescued and some haiku, finding myself in tears. I realized a healing has crept deep in me, of which my grandfather must have had a hand.

From my first imitations of Basho, I kept writing haiku that I later found out from rejections were but fragments. Yet two flukes won for me awards in 2007, one from a growing volume of fragments that I kept tweaking as a single entry to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, the other, another failed haiku I expanded as free verse for the Passager Annual Poetry Award (Baltimore, MD). These fired me to keep on. I haunted more sites on the web, picking beds for my haiku. Peggy Willis Lyles, my first editor, sent back my submission to The Heron’s Nest, the first journal I dared to submit with kind sweet comments yet I pushed more; until she died none of my haiku made it (one later did with Fay Aoyagi who took over Peggy’s contributor’s list). Werner Reichold of LYNX, on the other hand, loved my first submission. Still, more rejections from other journals pounded on me to give up.

But my prose and free verse had started to crackle with a ‘textured richness’ as one editor described it–obviously influenced by my practice of writing haiku—and made it to literary journals. I’m writing less of both these days, finding in haiku the closer bridge to pure image and thought—more of my haiku, a few tanka, haibun and haiga have been published in other journals since. I’m also reading less of descriptive texts, dropping the first sentence if lacking the synthesis in a line like haiku. I can’t hope to fully know all I must or even write a perfect haiku but I step into its waters everyday and steep myself in its calmness, its virtue that first drew me in.

Notes from the Gean, 3:4 March 2012 pp. 61-62

March 21, 2012 Posted by | comment, haiku, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My first nine haiku at NaHaiWriMo

My first nine posts at NaHaiWriMo written off site and off prompt. It’s been a year and I’m still writing a haiku a day (no at least two now, more the past year). It’s been a really productive year. Haiku not only instilled the discipline in focus but especially in habit that I so needed. There’s more to say about NaHaiWriMo but for now, enjoy this first blush…


National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo)–that’s what’s going on. I don’t know if we have to sign up and join a ‘marathon’ but I’ve taken it up anyway. What I have here for the past nine days though isn’t honest, I mean, not fresh–freshened up is more like it. I scrounged around for them from rejects of submissions and buffed them up. And so, the kigo is mixed–there’s autumn, winter, spring and summer here. Still, I know some of them or most of them aren’t ‘good haiku’ but like most of what I write, they transform into something else after a while. I don’t really write a haiku a day; when I do, it’s often up to ten or more. So, here are my take for NaHaiWriMO counted from day one. I hope to make the kigo right for the month of February in the next two weeks.

empty nest

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March 16, 2012 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here is how I used to post in my blog. The haiku is but part of the text I wrote as a comment at PEN International’s blog. And I was still going by the idea that I would pay myself a ‘jornal’, (daily wage) with each moment of bliss or come to think of it, a haiku moment! Hence, my blog’s name, ‘jornales’. My readers though didn’t pick up on it so I dropped the idea. This would be my 360 something post. If I persevered with my idea of giving myself wages, I’d be a multi-billionaire, by now! Maybe I should start all over again. Because the haiku here is my first and so far, only award-winner, I should double the ‘jornal’ I gave myself then at $2000.


How can’t I not pay myself a ‘jornal’ of $1000 for the beauty of cherry blossoms? I’m sure you agree.

I used to live half of the year in Baltimore. A trip to Washington, yes, at the Jefferson Memorial and the Mall was like a ritual for me and the friend I stayed with. 

But the very first cherry blossoms I’ve seen and I thought it a miracle was at Washington Square by New York University in Manhattan; we then lived a block away on Cooper Square. And later an even more breath-snagging burst of blossoms on a day the sun descended at its tenderest happened at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Of all the spring blossoms, indeed, that of the cherry tree draws the most awe. How can’t a cloud of pink not make one think of a state or place other than this brown earth. Even just being under the shade…

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March 15, 2012 Posted by | comment, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

my stone soup haiku as Carlos Colon ‘concretized’ it (yet another NaHaiWriMo moment)

watingtobouncetoaboil stone soup ….my haiku at NaHaiWriMo in response to the food prompt of Judith Gorgone had so stimulated responses from fellow haiku writers, some on what to throw into the soup, but most especially on how the haiku might be turned into a concrete (innovative) poem by multi-published haiku poet, Carlos Colon. I had earlier posted my interpretation of a suggestion he posted on the comment space for my haiku at NaHaiWriMo and here two posts down. Here’s his, or what I had imagined but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. I just love it, and I’m sure you would, too!  An extra note on what happens at NaHaiWriMo: gained friends like Carlos whom I wouldn’t have met in an ordinary ‘mortal ‘ way. Friends who care genuinely. Or would this sort of collaboration have happened? Gratitude, Carlos, is a word that means much more it reads or sounds.

March 11, 2012 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From NaHaiWriMo: my random February haiku selection (the first year anniversary)

We, members of the NaHaiWriMo community at facebook had a blast last month to celebrate one year of writing a haiku a day. Yes, It’s been a year since. Most of us have stayed (I took a break twice for a few weeks). I can say how much I’ve learned about haiku while drawing out my ‘haiku voice’. What worked for me is its kukai-like format where we responded to a prompt everyday. But unlike the other kukai I join (Shiki, Caribbean and Sketchbook) that gives some time for a writer to compose a haiku, at NaHaiWriMo, the window is only 24 hours. And once a post is shared, the reading as well as the ‘like’ or the silence and a comment, if merited, also appears just as fast. The energy has worked for me. I’ve gained the discipline I’ve always worked at. I’ve gained friends and kindred spirits, too! Most of all, I know more of haiku now than the years I tried to learn it on my own. Above all, I think I’m writing better haiku; proof of it is the increasing acceptance of my submissions in haiku journals. Do this random selection of my ‘anniversary posts’ last month on prompts by Michael Dylan Welch read better? Oh yes, I haven’t pared down my posts to one, but to two haiku from the three and more everyday last year. Honestly, I haven’t reviewed my files for fear of an avalanche! I hope you enjoy this selection and if you do, come over at NaHaiWriMo and give it a try. You can blame me if you stay.

#29/02/12 (leap/leap year)

spring gust

and i but a wave leaping

to touch the sky


#28/02/12 (haiku generator)

haiku gen:

arrows seduce, strut

deliveryman quacks, meaty

pure dogs extrude, cool


deliveryman struts

into a flock of ducks

missing zip code


#27/02/12 (bad, ‘huh!’ haiku)

email subject ‘none’

squiggles on blank screen

dancing a Swan Lake

…and I had the gall to submit these to Peggy Willis Lyles (The Heron’s Nest) who sweetly sent them back with a note, ‘pass on this one’ and more to succeeding submission calls (without fail) always 15 per suite of these ‘huh’ or ‘yikes’ haiku, none of which worked until she died.

#24/02/12 (x)


ticklish below his navel

the Center of Man


#23/02/12 (wig)

through a wig

grazing her sparse brow

first smile


#21/02/12 (umbrella)


this tight

our crossed-eyes 


#20/02/12 (talus)


winds blast to dust

its face and mine


#19/902/12 (sandals)

his unshod feet

the redolence

of her perfumed tears


#18/02/12 (rattle)

still bush

a rattling

as it uncoils


#17/02/12 (queue)


a thickened queue

at the quay


#14/02/12 (nachos)

Nacho Supreme

not quite the red roses

she wanted


#13/02/12 (mountain)

Sierra Madre mist

our highways to nowhere


#12/02/12 (laundry)

white lies

doused with stain remover

i lose count


#09/02/12 (ice)

so hollow

his icy voice

on a glass


#08/02/12 (hat)

the mime

unfolds his hat

a falcon soars


#07/02/12 (grief)

lingering wail

hers or a mourning dove’s?


March 11, 2012 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

waitingtobouncetoaboil (NaHaiWriMo haiku made concrete)

waitingtobouncetoaboil stone soup 

NaHaiWriMo Fb wall #06/03/12 (prompt: food by Judith Gorgone)

March 8, 2012 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the only star (haibun for Locating the Senses in Language and Place)

As if it is unusual, the way evening falls on our lives in the winter. The cold bars us in, our thoughts seemingly unto each own. Winter, I once said, drawing a long sigh, asks of us the wearying task of digging into our burrows alone and not together, like squirrels and hares and bears. As if I hardly change. As if the seasons pass me by and like a portrait on stone—my pose in reverie engraved the way I must look right now. No sound except Kat-kat sleeping, purring dreams.

I murmur. I know. Soon, the cold winds will curl up and roll into the hearts of seas. Heat will seep off iced waters and the dark earth. I know a clump of snowdrops by the gate will spawn again, shy as virgins who would never look up to their lovers’ eyes. In a while, crocuses will sprout buds like pursed lips, waiting for a kiss. Not filigreed lawns but mantled front gardens of Queen Anne’s lace will soon spark.

This morning, I glimpsed pregnant knuckles of hydrangea twigs, though the cherry trees remain dead in the cold sun. I know their blossoms, as well the white plums and magnolias, will huddle over skies in a night. But for now, deep in the quietness of snow

this longing

at moonrise

the only star

by Alegria Imperial posted for

Locating the Senses in Language and Place Edition #14,  Stella Pierides, editor

March 6, 2012 Posted by | haibun, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments