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

Road Kill (a haibun)

“Big brown eyes”, I caught the driver gush. He and an off- duty driver have been trading road kill stories. I stop breathing over perhaps a girl stunned by his brake lights. Only to find relief from the next phrases dropped on my eaves; he talks of a Bambi like deer that appeared on his headlights. Now I want to intrude into their cove though I’m no driver–I’m just a thief. And so, while my bus mates recede into their inner ears, I rise and pick up the limp fawn, and squeeze my heat, my passions, rages, regrets, hungers. The sun bursts out of and back in on the wind shield, and on eyes turned to me as on four legs, I pause by the door to get off. Behind me the driver gushes, “Big brown eyes”.


map of the world

only on top soil


March 6, 2015 Posted by | haibun, poetry | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

summer dusk

summer dusk (a symbiotic poem) 

Always, a loon scours the river shore with me. We dip into indentations of footprints. Share secrets we unravel: the scalloped lips of shells, the broken ribs of fish, the names we name stones. We use no words. The loon thinks he sings, his song always a dirge. I sigh on endless waves, my sighs fragile as peace. We count our regrets on fingers of evergreens, codes a river will never understand. At sunset, the loon spreads its wings to scoop the sun. I let loose my hair in strands to make a web. We wait.

summer dusk
a spider gnaws
at the sunset

LYNX 28:1 February 2013


January 21, 2013 Posted by | haibun, haiku, poetry, symbiotic poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

grey relentless rain (is it tanka?)

grey relentless rain
on moss covered cherry trees—
he counts his regrets
since the dawn he missed the sun
days half-lived appear each turn

Is it tanka? Possibly because it follows the thirty-one (5/7/5/7/7) Japanese form.

But it can’t possibly be tanka because it does not express “passionate or delicate sentiments”, which its original form did.

Tanka reached its peak in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries also known as the “Heian period, Japan’s golden age”, as identified by Alfred H. Marks, editor-in-chief of Literature East & West. He introduces the period when no written language existed in Japan as yet and so, tanka, was recited. Each year, under the sponsorship of the emperor, a contest would be held. Professor Marks is a “renowned translator and dynamic scholar”.

Here’s a concrete vision of tanka a drawn by Professor Marks in his introduction: “…a languid lady in a palace lined with screens and colorful sliding walls, reading the thirty-one syllable statement of the heart of some moody nobleman and answering the missive in another thirty-one syllables in tasteful imagery and elegant calligraphy. It was the Heian greeting card, and it is today, in Japan as elsewhere, an apt medium for sentiments passionate or delicate.”

The book, Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age for which Professor Marks wrote this introduction contains 56 exquisite tanka by Thomas Gurgal, a former student of Marks, with Illustrations by Maggie Jarvies published by The Peter Pauper Press, Inc. Mount Vernon, NY, 1972.

I found the book squeezed between giant poetry tomes and collections at Vancouver Public Library’s central branch on West Georgia here in downtown Vancouver. The tiny pocketbook-size hardbound edition has been quite a discovery, which could hold me in awe even after I close the covers and must turn it back in when it’s due to circulation…I guess I’ll have to line up forever to get it back.

My tanka is far from the sentiments Gurgal so wondrously expresses. I could pretend to be a lady in some imperial court but I know I would be stretching my imagination too far out. My culture won’t give me a shadow to wing from. I would have to visit Japan, I guess. And so, I conclude, what I wrote is not a tanka by these ancient standards except, and this could be stretching it so much so it could snap, it also expresses a sentiment, that of ‘loss’, which seem to rule my subsconscious.

Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age by Thomas Gurgal

February 7, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I wrote this poem during one of those moments when feelings and reality crunch into images that in turn transform into words. It’s a favorite among those who have read it where I posted it a few months ago. Because readers like it, I give myself a ‘jornal’ of another $800.



crystal drops said to ease

a heart dammed with regrets

bitter drops known as balm

for a seared spirit no kiss

could soothe could heal

salty drips on lips

cracked with sadness

the dryness of a drought

absence of rain

has not caused

droplets but not dew

in the morning

a spark to tease

a blinded heart


modified from posting in




April 17, 2009 Posted by | poetry | , , , , | Leave a comment