In Trentino (Italy) I live practically at the foot of a mountain. The sun doesn’t peek over that mountain until around 11:30 in the morning in deepest winter. However the day once it has come remains longer than in other areas of our valley, which is like a bowl, with another mountain to the west. Those on the other side of the valley are lucky in the winter because they have mornings! We are lucky in the summer because we have long evenings. I must say though it’s lovely to visit outside our valley where one can enjoy a sunrise and sunset.
cold winter day
first light at noon
behind the mountain
(c) gsk ’20
So, yesterday I didn’t go online. The happy days of singing from the balconies and the enthusiastic – “This too shall pass! Yes We’re going to make it!” has gone by the wayside with lost jobs, death tolls, polemics and accusations. And the ravens caw all around us.
It’s not that the emergency is over. People are just scared or worse bored. They aren’t worrying that there are still people dying. All too often people only understand when they too are touched. Just as they don’t know of the millions who sicken and die from lack of food or water. A photo is worth a thousand words, but pain is intimate and real.
– deadly drought
Many days have passed and many things have changed, if only for a few days. Cleaner air, cleaner water and the animals have returned. Everywhere films were made and some cheers were raised. Pretty pretty … But now humanity is tired of sheltering from a silent invisible killer, which when you look closely only kills the old and weak. The economy is wounded, petrol again has no value, people are not consuming. Stop Phase one we need to hurry up phase two!
© gsk ’20
In North America when one talks about a blackbirds one usually thinks about a crows or a ravens which are a completely different thing.
Haibun – Day 42 and Earth Day
It’s day 42 of the lock down here in Italy due to COVID-19 pandemic. The days are warm now, spring is all around us. My lemon, lime and kumquat trees are blooming filling the air with sweet perfume. My wind chimes tingle in the afternoon breeze. Who could believe that there is a disease that has killed thousands of people blowing in the wind.
bird song and blossoms
in the wind sweet perfume
– silent death
My friend’s wife developed a cough a while ago and she was put in quarantine (her husband and child who live with her were in quarantine too). They couldn’t leave their house for any reason, penalty a huge fine and if someone got sick because they’d done so they risked imprisonment. A health call-center called three times a day for their vitals, temperature and all that. All of their trash had to be put into two plastic bags and left outside their home for pickup. It was an innocent cough … this lasted 14 days.
through the wind
dust, pollen and COVID
– life and death
One wonders if it will end and how? Some people, not having seen death don’t believe that there is really a pandemic. Some people in the world have become violent about the lock downs and some protest that their rights are being violated. Some say our life will never be the same. Some say COVID will be with us until we find a vaccine. Who knows? Today is also Earth day.
across the Earth
skies are clear and clean
© gsk ’20
Haibun – Tenacious Perennials
When I arrived in Italy in 1970, a lot of the reconstruction had already taken place However, sometimes behind a bunch of new buildings bombed out shells still existed. In my 7th floor apartment in Savona where I lived a year after my arrival, I looked onto one of those bombed out hulks from my kitchen window.
memories of war
ghosts lurking behind homes
After the twenty year reign of Fascism and the war that was the fruit of that political choice, Italy was a mass of rubble. Its economy was non existent. Its people downtrodden by crippling poverty. And yet, Italy arose from its ashes and each citizen arose from the dragon’s teeth to become many pledged to rebuilding the nation.
scattered upon the land
Stone upon stone political battle after political battle, through corruption and the Mafias of various sorts, Italy arose from the ashes and rebuilt its bombed out cities. The Marshal plan helped of course, America was generous since Italy had the strongest Communist Party outside of the influence of the USSR. Above all though was the will of the Italians to overcome their century long poverty which pushed many of them into being the beggars of the Earth. They could at last dip into the wealth of the world.
planted in poverty
sprouted by fiat
watered by children’s tears
The destruction of Covid-19 on the nations is of a different entity. I don’t like to think of a disease as a war because I don’t like the way politicians are flinging that word around. Be that as it is, although things may not be as they once were, this too will pass. The protagonist of this haibun is Italy … but with variations it could be any country. Nations are not what the politicians would have us believe .. they are really people living together trying to do best they can.
Shiva’s Dance (Tandava)
even headless crowns
must move to Lord Shiva’s tune
© gsk ’20
In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic we might remember that even the coronavirus is part of the world and follows its principles.
“Tāṇḍavam (also known as Tāṇḍava natyam) is a divine dance performed by the Hindu god Lord Shiva. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy:
Srishti – creation, evolution
Sthiti – preservation, support
Samhara – destruction, evolution
Tirodhana – illusion
Anugraha – release, emancipation, grace
Thus Tandava symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. ”
Haibun – my wooden ship
On Thursday I look at the world in all its (ah-hum) glory. Its the day I usually prepare for my English Conversation class and so a day I look into news articles about politics and current events. In any period of time one needs a bit of ballast not to flounder but now with the COVID pandemic at its height one really needs to have an inner anchor.
in my wooden ship
I sail through death and storms
Back in the mid ’80s I was living in yet another interesting time of my life and was feeling rather tired of it all. I came across an old book “The Way of Zen” by Alan Watts. I felt I’d found a new lover, such were the power of the vision I found in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a converted from one religion to yet another religion. I was raised in a religious uncertain family so, in my early youth I’d experimented with many representatives of monotheism and alas preferred my familial religious chaos to monotheistic self righteous rigidity. Watts though didn’t preach he taught. How refreshing!
wild this daisy grows
no lily of the valley
that false innocent
After the maelstrom of the day, I kick back and listen to a talk by Watts … just to balance out the day. I put on a TV show about the life in England in the 1950s , it’s entitled “Call the Midwife”, so heartening! I feed myself and Brynn the princess cat and finally go to bed. As an introvert, basically I have no problem with social distancing. I admit I’d be in a much more unpleasant place if I had to live elbow to elbow with millions of people all at once!
balancing my soul
looking at simple drama
at social distance
© gsk ’20
Now some flower facts both flowers represent purity but:…
Just like a lot of the other flowers in the Asteraceae flower these are easy to grow. This is a flower that a child can grow and it stands all sorts of conditions. With the vascular nature of this plant and the tap root, it basically grows so well that it can become a weed. So, even if you are a person with a brown thumb, you can grow this. These flowers will grow in dry areas they will grow in open areas too. They are easily pollinated because bugs love them and spread the pollen throughout, so you will see fields of daisies in some of the places that are out there. This is a great beginner flower to start growing.
Lily of the Valley
Even though the Lily of the Valley prefers cooler temperatures, it will grow in warmer as well. If you plan on having Lily of the Valley in your yard or garden, there are two things you need to be careful about. One is the poisonous nature of the plant, for humans and pets. The other is the way the flower reproduces may make it difficult to get rid of it once it has established itself. Since its root system creeps underground, you may have to really work on eliminating it. However, if your plans are to have them around to make your yard just beautiful, then you will have no problem because they will multiply on their own. Find out about how the Lilies of the Valley like to live, whether they want lots of water or just a little, what type of soil is best for them, how much sunshine they need during the day, then you are set with growing beautiful Lily of the Valley flowers.
past discarded farm instruments
I went wandering one day–
attracted to bright autumn colours
when I soon became aware –
that long dark wintry shadows
were menacingly all around me.
Haibun – Isolation Spring
Days in isolation tend to blur. The lock down in this COVID-19 spring is different from my past. I’ve spent hiding from palpable danger, that made your heartbeat race. For example, when I was young I lived in Chad. That spring, I didn’t need anyone to tell me to stay at home because there were armed bands of rebels and government soldiers roaming the streets. One knew there was death outside. Death which could break down the door and come into your home.
in the night
tat tat tat tat
In Italy when spring arrives, days are warm. Larks and blackbirds would warble their delight in the early morning. Children would be out in the streets going to school. A couple of gossips would be standing on the corner exchanging all their news. I’d walk down from my house to the cafe to read the newspaper and drink an espresso. Enjoying the sunshine and the freedom of movement without a coat. Ah … memories.
warm sounds of spring
Now it’s spring. Thank heavens the birds still sing and the days are still warm. But they tell me that we’re in danger. No one will break down my door with guns, though some dramatic politicians and news people speak of a global war. I find it difficult to feel afraid here in my Italian valley. Everything is even too peaceful as everyone is shut away. We live in an age of the miracles in our modern age. I never would have thought that a sneeze would cause fear.
in the street
(This was a page from the top of my blog which I think no one has ever read. So I thought I’d turn it into a post.)
I wrote a Shashin no Uta back in September of 2014 thanks to an idea on a blog called Ronovan Writes: Wordless Haiku … later thanks to a blogger I once knew Jen Rosenberry the Wordless Haiku became Photoku. After a while she took over the prompts for the “photoku” finally deciding to discontinue for lack of time … but she did suggest to me this lovely name in Japanese: Shashin no Uta 写真 の 歌 – Photographic song.
What I’m posting are photoku in the order of when they were published.
I wanted to see how the genre evolved from chaotic collage I was trying to work with as though it were a rebus – so practically a picture for a word then I decided to work towards pictures for each phrase until at last I worked out that the best way, for me of course, was to use one photo for each line … and then the photoku really began to become a “photographic song” indeed (it’s interesting to note that I actually did a full circle …my first “photoku” indeed were composed of just three photos … one for each phrase in a haiku!).
A Stink Bug – September 15, 2014
among wild Passiflora
a stink bug
(c) G.s.k. ’14
Autumn Reflections – September 21, 2014
warm dreamy reflections
– new snow
(c) G.s.k. ’14
Indian Summer Walk – September 28, 2014
under ancient shadows
Roses Bloom – October 5, 2014
near the ancient house
Time – October 12, 2014
Childhood Memories – October 19, 2014
leaves and wild flowers
The Tournement – October 26, 2014
red feathered knight
memories of war
She Dreams – November 2, 2014
sticky candied fruit
shadows of childhood
The “Mille Miglia” – November 8, 2014
the thousand mile auto race
Bottles and lights – November 16, 2014
cosmic red lightening
abstract – blue bottles
Cold Wave – November 23, 2014
last dead leaves
cold waves on Lake Garda
ah – snow comes
Sunshine Exodus – November 30, 2014
snowbirds fly south
Mountain Cabin – December 14, 2014
ice-fog at dawn
moon in heavens
over the baita*
*cabin in Italian
© G.s.k. ‘14
Christmas Snow – December 21, 2014
Smiling in the Clouds – January 4, 2014
clouds and rain
moon smiles brightly
a soaring bird
dreams sailing free – January 18, 2015
embers of sunset
bridging the world
Ripples and Change – January 21, 2015
crack of dawn
ripples through infinity
Shadows and Patterns – January 25, 2015
shadows in darkened masks
a sinking leaf
near the cobbled path
patterns making dark omens
leaf shivering sinks