Haiku Horizon (Sleep) – Haiku – January 26, 2016


the flowers and trees
snow bound – sleep their winter nap
all is in silence

in this silence
moving in and out of sleep
time moves slowly

to sleep to dream
the cherry blossoms in bloom
beside the fireplace

G.s.k. ‘16

Haiku Horizons - sleep

Haiku Horizons – sleep

Haiku Horizons Sleep

Morning Haiku and Waka – Haiku Horizons (Spend) – January 19, 2016

autumn’s now spent
snow flakes fall in silence
white fairy flurries

we spend the evening
as the radio plays Brahms

anguish –
spending all her energy
for his love

she fills her soul
walking under the plums
as the blossoms rain
spending time reflecting
on the last days of winter

© G.s.k. ‘16

On Quitting Smoking – January 19, 2016

Chart showing the side effects of nicotine

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on my body and my life.  The first step has been to stop smoking.  You can do a lot of things to stop smoking but basically you have just stop.  The problem is you have to understand what you’re actually up against, and what you’re up against is an addiction to nicotine.

The thing that many people don’t understand when you say that a smoker is a nicotine addict it that we’re talking about the same sort of phenomenon as a person addicted to alcohol, cocaine or an opiate.  Here are a few symptoms taken from an article on Medical News Today (click the link for the full list):

“Signs and symptoms of substance addiction may include:

  • The person takes the substance and cannot stop – in many cases, such as nicotine, alcohol or drug dependence, at least one serious attempt was made to give up, but unsuccessfully.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – when body levels of that substance go below a certain level the patient has physical and mood-related symptoms. There are cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment.
  • There may suddenly be increased appetite. Insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal. In some cases the individual may have constipation or diarrhea. With some substances, withdrawal can trigger violence, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and sweats.
  • Addiction continues despite health problem awareness – the individual continues taking the substance regularly, even though they have developed illnesses linked to it. For example, a smoker may continue smoking even after a lung or heart condition develops.
  • Social and/or recreational sacrifices – some activities are given up because of an addiction to something. For example, an alcoholic may turn down an invitation to go camping or spend a day out on a boat if no alcohol is available, a smoker may decide not to meet up with friends in a smoke-free pub or restaurant.
  • Maintaining a good supply – people who are addicted to a substance will always make sure they have a good supply of it, even if they do not have much money. Sacrifices may be made in the house budget to make sure the substance is as plentiful as possible. …

And what causes addiction, here I’m talking about nicotine addiction, but it’s no different for someone who becomes addicted to alcohol or other substance.

My personal idea on the subject is that, once one becomes aware that one is dealing with an addiction and not just a “bad habit”, one can begin to face the problem for what it is and make life changes which will help one to stop smoking. So, I gave up caffeinated coffee, cut out the alcohol (both of these tend to call nicotine cravings), regulated my diet to avoid sugar compensation … another substance that is pretty addictive and triggers dopamine and I’ve been trying to increase my exercise. I actually had mild withdrawal symptoms compared so some of the things other people have had to go through – the most bothersome was (and sometimes still is) lack of concentration plus I had problems sleeping at night, I felt irritable, but living alone, there was no one to be irritable with, a little melancholic at one moment a little hyper the next and very very lazy.  Giving up caffeinated coffee wiped out the insomnia, but replaced it with a couple of days of constant drowsiness – where I could fall asleep typing!

Fortunately, over the years I’d restricted my smoking to two areas of the house, the terrace or the loggia.  I usually smoked alone, rarely in public (most places one can’t smoke anyway) and I smoked around 6 cigarettes a day.  Unfortunately, sometimes I’d interrupt my writing to go for a cigarette and this has created a few problems.

If there is one thing though that I know about addiction problems is that even one encounter with the substance (in this case a single encounter with nicotine) will set the symptoms off again and a relapse is guaranteed. This is the basic law of Addiction and you can’t break that law and stay clean, ask any alcoholic. So this would be true if my substance were alcohol, heroin or cocaine.  Once an addiction has been wired into your brain, there’s no taking down the system, it’s yours for life.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do and want to stop, it’s possible, but in my opinion the only way to do it is to stop smoking, no shilly-shallying about it. If you have a group of friends to help, or if you can find a group like smokers anonymous, you’re very lucky indeed and so take full advantage of that opportunity.  However, substituting with nicotine inhalers is not a way to stop, it’s only prolonging the inevitable end of going through the symptoms of quitting.  If you do want to quit smoking but not give up nicotine, an idea I’d played with for a year, that can also be a solution – using inhalers (some are quite chic).  It all depends on what you want to do. I decided that I’d rather give up on nicotine, which is first and foremost a highly toxic natural insecticide. But if you want to know what nicotine is  read HERE.  Oh and I feel it’s a strike against another unethical multinational industry

My next discussion will be food and yes, I’m going to start addressing the obesity epidemic that is covering the globe and some of the crazies foisted onto the public as good nutrition. Ciao,  Bastet.

Mountain Walking – Haibun – January 15, 2016

Olive Grove in Campo

to the olive grove
ten minutes as a crow flies
fond memories

When you’re fit climbing up the side of a mountain is paradise.  The very air seems to help you up, your heart of course increases its beat and maybe your breath comes quicker and soon dopamine starts pumping through your veins. If the hike up is a real challenge finally adrenaline joins the cocktail of hormones and whatever else is making that walk fun, is it a wonder that walking can become addictive. Time flashes by as you fall into your own breath, feel your leg muscles flexing and elongating, hear the sound around you sort of muffled but very much alive.  Before you know it, you’ve reached your goal, maybe a lodge where you’ll spend the night, or a land-mark, like an abandoned village or a cross on a hill-top and you think how quickly time flies by when you’re having fun.

dishes up fond memories
back in training

© G.s.k. ‘16

Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille, January 13th 2016

A Monday Shot – Photography – January 11, 2016

Hello … here’s it’s raining as it seems to be all over the Northern Hemisphere, or at least among those whom I’m in contact with.  I went out for a walk … just near home.  I’ll go farther afield tomorrow. I was hoping to find some rose-hips for an experiment suggested to me by Joanna … a very artist lady with a fantastic sense of the aesthetic who mixes her arts … visual and Japanese poetry.

rain and snow

rain and snow

a morning walk
the icy rain penetrates
this old knapsack

© G.s.k. ‘16

rain and snow - 2

rain and snow – 2

winter is calling
even the sparrows hear it
over their chatter

© G.s.k. ‘16

And now, I’m off to make some curry flavoured dried apples … see you later.  Bastet

A Journey to Freedom – Short Story – January 10, 2016

Suddenly an undefined dissatisfaction roiled inside irritating as a dripping faucet.  She roamed around the room absent-mindedly .  Then grabbed her pen and began to write.  After about 15 minutes of intense scribbles, she crumpled up the sheet of paper  towing it and the pen across the room.

She roamed into the kitchen .. looking for something she wouldn’t find.

The phone rang and for twenty minuets she replied with monosyllables and grunts to the long rambling of her friend’s soliloquy.  A blow-by-blow description accompanied his account as he went into the gory details of who said what and when and how bad it made him feel and of course she’d pay and indeed was paying … her own mind was drifting and she thought, will it never end, when suddenly it did  (he was getting no satisfaction at all from this conversation and decided to call his friend Mark instead).

She turned on the computer and chose a YouTube playlist of what was supposed to be “soothing music for relaxation”.  She began to fix dinner, as the food simmered in pots, she set the table.  There it was again …  a random rolling wave that rolled over her head so that  she felt light-headed.  A voice but not exactly a voice,  in her mind,  whispered:  now would it really matter if she just gave in … just once, It’s been five days now because she was strong, so, she could just go for one more, she was strong enough to do that, just one more cigarette, what the hell would happen if she smoked just one more cigarette … and then as it had come on, the moment passed.

She looked at the chart.  That was the third one today, better than yesterday.  Just a few more days now and the attacks would become negligible. Then she’d really have to be careful, those late comers were traitorous when they popped up she knew.  She wouldn’t be going through withdrawal again if she’d resisted a couple of years back. Hell 15 years without smoking just to be back at square one.  She felt sort of mad at herself but she was also pleased that she was back on track.  She anticipated that surge of energy that was soon to be hers, the tastes and smells that would be intensified.  Just a few more days she thought.



Invisible – Choka (Reprint) – January 3, 2016


he’s invisible
just sitting there in the street
we all walk by him
and don’t really see him
from New York to Rome
homeless – living in the streets

through embarrassment
or is it indifference
now we look away
they’ve become invisible
those people no longer seen

© G.s.k. ‘15

Blessed are the Poor – Choka – (Reprint) January 3, 2016


this scrap of paper
found in a tattered notebook
poems for misfits
in a world of mad ravens
frayed social weave
where the orphan needs courage
lost in hiraeth
for Eden isn’t of this world …
benedictions flow
from the rich and the potent
who rummage deeply
in their sterile souls seeking
how to keep – not give
except for a few marbles
in a Christmas-time stocking
found in a five and dime …

hypocrites in church
on a hot Sunday morning
hearing the words
spoken by a homeless man
nod your heads then say – Amen!

© G.s.k. 15

The Party – Short Story – January 2, 2016

ginestra flowers

Walking into the room shaking snow off the cherry red coat she was wearing, she looked around the feeling a little out of place.  At that moment she heard her name being called from across the room and went towards the sound like a lost soul in the desert goes towards water.

“Ah Virginia, how nice to see you, but dear!  Why don’t you take off your coat! Here, let me help you.” a tall pleasant woman said doing just that. “Now, let’s get you a drink!” the woman said as she handed the coat to a nondescript greying gentleman of about seventy.

Virginia took the drink her friend had offered and sipping it let her eyes roam around the room.  The chatter of the people reminded her of the old rusty springs of her Grandmother’s double bed.  Odd she thought, her Grandmother had passed away forty years before.  People came up to her and they greeted and kissed her.  They exchanged what is commonly called small talk and eventually drifted away.

“How have you been doing …”

“Isn’t that just terrible news about Anna and Mario …”

“Seems the government is going to fall again …”

Small talk for a small world she thought. After a few moments she found herself standing alone in the room and somehow felt more comfortable.

Her mind wandered and she imagined herself walking again in the woodlands of Tuscany among the trees of the Maremma. It was 1987 when she’d met Gaitano and they’d gone for the first of their many walks in those woods.  The yellow ginestra flowers were in bloom then, he’d always loved those bright broom flowers. He’d pointed out the different kinds of bird’s nests to her; she’d been impressed by one huge nest that had been made in the bough of a large tree, she couldn’t seem to remember now what bird that had been.

She was pulled out of her thoughts when another guest entered the room.  A buxom woman of around sixty with a carrying voice. They’d once been close friends a few years back, but she’d gone off to America and they’d lost track of each other as sometimes happens.  As soon as she had hung her coat up she made a bee-line for Virginia.

“Ah, Virginia my dear!  What a sight for sore eyes.  I’m just so very  happy to be back home!” she said as she kissed Virginia on both cheeks, “I’ve had a really harrowing time out in the sticks of North America, I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  But first, tell me my dear, where is Gaitano that adorable husband of yours?”

A sudden hush fell on the room and even the usually self-confident woman felt the collective embarrassment and she realized that something was off.

This happened more rarely now that he’d been dead for nearly three months, but still, sometimes it did happen but it no longer bothered Virginia like it had done.

“Oh my dear Carla, you haven’t heard.  He passed away last autumn. We scattered his ashes in the Maremma.” Virginia replied.

Carla with tears in her eyes embraced her friend.

© G.s.k. ‘16

(This is a work of pure fiction based on parties I’ve been to in my youth. Bastet)

hung, cherry, wearing, bloom, snow, springs, bough, trees, again, roam, woodlands, seventy