In a Silent World – March 26, 2020 –

Trains still run here in the silent world of illness that is Italy.  There are those who believe that the virus which has killed so many is not really so very bad.  Often people don’t believe, until they are in someway hurt, that bad things really do exist.

I sit on my terrace in the silence, the birds sing, the wind is warm and pleasant, the sun is warm.  There are no distant sounds of cars or jets high up in the sky to leave their white streaks.  The sky is limpid, virginal in fact, as though mankind has ceased to exist.

Looking back on the spring of 2020,  I will remember the silence of the clear skies and the earth as seen from satellites showing a “surprising” decrease in pollution.  I and many will also remember the silent truckloads of corpses, victims of the COVID-19, that snaked through the early morning streets of Bergamo. Many may never live through the silence of mourning loved ones. I mourn the many I’ve never met feeling sure that no one will mourn me.

But we are not yet finished with this illness, though we may be bored with it.  It’s so difficult to be healthy and isolated in this silent spring. Life is being renewed and spring beckons to us like a siren.

The silence is too loud.  We are so used to our comforting noise … the constant hubble-bubble of machinery and commentary.   Some will say: how absurd, why should we be isolated like this … and will congregate.  Then soon there will be more silence.

my heart beat
in social isolation
a silent world
gsk ’20

Samara Ennui – Haibun – November 6, 2018


I’m writing, doing what I’ve always dreamt of doing, I’m enthusiastic, I feel revitalized.  People are reading my work, liking it and giving me great suggestions that help me better my work, I feel part of a community … and then I don’t.

Sure, I’d had some bad moments recently in my life, but I kept up my writing and my photography kept on going but at a certain point, for no apparent reason, I found I hadn’t turned on my computer for months.  What happened?  Why did I stop?

I’ve always been a pretty creative sort of person, although not a creative genius.  Since I can remember I’ve always passed hours enjoying my painting, drawing and writing.  I easily pick up skills, I’m a quick study as they say, so I had no problems learning how to sew, crochet, sculpt, cook or whatever else came my way including learning anatomy and acupuncture meridians and points.  But, and there’s a big but, since puberty, I periodically go into more or less long periods of ennui.

I slip into a sort of limbo, where nothing seems very important to me at all.  I pass hours (days at a time) reading or watching TV series.  I do get out of bed because I abhor an unmade bed. I eat whatever is at hand (usually nothing particularly healthy) just as long as it’s quick and fills me up.  I don’t live in chaos, my house though not spotlessly clean is fairly orderly, I make sure of that because I hate being in a messy dirty place.  I drift through life, doing the minimum necessary to get through the day. Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, self-preservation has guaranteed that I keep a life-line open to the outside world.  I do have a couple of friends with whom I never lose contact with completely.

Then one day, something changes … I take a look at myself and my life and a tiny spark glitters.  It may take weeks or months but I become constantly more dissatisfied with drifting.  I realize that I’ve become overweight, that I haven’t done much of anything interesting for a long time, that I’m bored with my books and the TV.  I start looking into diets and exercise (just looking). I get the urge to write or sew myself a new outfit or paint a picture (just the urge).  I become frustrated and panicky. Then the looking around becomes watching what I eat and going for walks, joining a dance class and bicycling.  The urge becomes turning on the computer, looking through models for a new outfit, and choosing a great piece of material.  Usually at this point  my life has started to move again.

I don’t really know why this happens to me.  I’ve gone through analysis, I’ve meditated, I’ve had great mentors throughout my life who’ve stimulated me giving my life a sense of meaning … for a while anyway.  But eventually, there it is, the chasm of ennui into which I slip (not fall) and the cycle begins again. The drifting isn’t painful and I don’t even feel bored.  It’s when I move on, when I become aware that maybe there can be more to my life than books and TV,  the awakening, which is the painful part, fraught with anxiety and impatience to move on.

Have you or anyone you’ve known gone through this sort of thing?  I’d like to read about it, so please leave comments below and let me know.

winter snowflakes
passion gives way to
spring dawn
a never-ending cycle
my Samsara ennui



The Haibun – Thoughts – December 30, 2015

I was “googling” today to see if I could find something particularly interesting to write about haibun, basically I was just interested in a “how to write a haibun” page but came up with a treasure trove,  this interesting article on Haibun TodayTransmissions of Haibun by David Cobb of Shalford, Esse, England in the September issue of 2013.

I found this a fascinating read about the transmission of haibun into Western society (and specifically to Britain ) … especially considering that haibun had/has become almost a dead letter until recently in its native Japan: “Toshinori (Nenten) Tsubouchi, began encouraging the genre these past few years in Japanese, partly under the stimulus of Hisashi Miyazaki, who in turn was influenced by SHG (Tito) and Ken Jones (both of Britain)*”.  Of course haibun was introduced to the west thanks to the translation of Nobuyuki Yuasa who translated Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Penguin Classics, 1966).

Before this wonderful translation though,  Jack Kerouac might be considered to be the first westerner to actually write a haibun of sorts:

“Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums and On the Road have certain resemblances to haibun, in attitude if not in execution. […] In The Dharma Bums, Kerouac’s alter ego, Japhy Ryder, is bitten with the same sense of mission: ‘This,’ he said (meaning The Dharma Bums) ‘is really a book about religious vagrants . . . rucksack wanderers . . . Zen lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason.’ We might accept this, right down to the present day, as not a bad description of what haibun means to a good number of those who are intoxicated by the form.” (article cited above)

I myself only discovered the haibun in August of 2013 through a blog called Ligo Haibun hosted by Hamish Gunn which is now closed I think.  One thing I’d noticed was that the haibun has often become a sort of flash fiction or short story with haiku interspersed in it or with a more classical haiku ending and sometimes they’re tales about inner journeys, but certainly they’re rarely a travel diary (which I admit  that I myself have written in all these forms) and quite frankly, haibun today seems to have little to do with Basho’s Oku-no-hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) 

“Where might haibun stand in relation to these experimental forms? We seem to agree that haiku is a poem conceived (observed) in a flash; some also hold that it is also best recorded (written down) in a flash, though more of us—from Bashō onwards—demur that haiku should be crafted carefully over any length of time. Kerouac also, though we may associate his method with ‘action writing’ and ‘stream of consciousness’, is on record as saying ‘haiku is best reworked and revised.’ ‘Flash writing’ is not to be confused with ‘first thoughts, best thoughts’, better left untouched. The ‘flash’ is a loose measure of the time it takes to read a piece, but not the time it took to write it, or the time needed, after reading it, to absorb it. All this applies equally to haiku and haibun.

Of course, haibun is not ‘flash fiction’. From the point of view of subject matter, most haibun are ‘flash-faction’, an umbrella for sub-sets such as ‘flash history’, ‘flash legend’, ‘flash myth’, ‘flash memoir’, ‘flash essay’, ‘flash diary’, ‘flash journal’, ‘flash travelogue’, ‘flash prose poem’; though there are indeed examples that we might call ‘flash story’ and even ‘flash fairy tale’ and ‘flash science fiction’. Ken Jones has aimed to broaden his readership by calling some of his output ‘haiku stories’.

Interest in ‘short writing’ exists not least in creative writing courses—among students, and among tutors. It is for that reason it seemed to me timely to offer, in tandem, Marching with Tulips—a very varied collection of different types of haibun—and What Happens in Haibun—a study which tries to pinpoint whatever roles haiku may play when embedded in prose. (article cited above).

To be honest, unlike with haiku and other waka, I’d never really looked into what haibun is or isn’t nor of its evolution or history or even where it stands in the world of poets (Japanese and Western) today.  I found this article stimulating enough to want to go and do a little more research into this fascinating genre.

*Some background about the British haibun tradition – Icebox

What Happens in Haibun

On David Cobb’s Marching with Tulips

Icebox a blog dedicated to haiku and haibun that began publishing in 2008

**I found the photo of this panel on Art and Life in an interesting post entitled: “Haibunga!”

In Padua – Just a Note – haibun – June 12, 2015

making lasagna

making lasagna

Sitting in the garden, I heard a child’s voice singing happily.  The temperatures had already reached 35° C. and it wasn’t even 10:00 o’clock in the morning.  Insects buzzed and swarmed dizzily in the haze …  it is too early for the hum of the cicada, though it felt like cicada weather to me.  We finished cooking then loaded up our equipment ready for the second reenactment of the year.  Still, in my ears I heard the child’s song …

in Padua
birds twitter a rooster crows
a child’s song drifts by
the city burns under the sun
awaiting the evening breeze

© G.s.k. ‘15

Just a Note … May 14, 2015



I’ve been back home since Tuesday evening and though I thought that I’d be back to normal in a jiffy, this hasn’t been the case.  Of course there was the normal unpacking and re-organizing to do, who would have imagined that the washing machine would go on the blink!  Finishing the second load of washing (still two to go) the pump didn’t pump out the water and I found myself fighting an impromptu waterfall.

opening the washer
instant Niagara falls
in the laundry-room

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday trying to write a couple of prompts for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai .. and I was not exactly sure what the host wanted … so I read the one line for each day in the monthly schedule to try to figure out which haiku by Basho I was to use and went searching in Google.  That takes a lot more time then inventing your own prompt like on Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie … but I had more or less two prompts ready last night … the only thing missing was the link app, which I resolved this morning thanks to Jen who told me to go and register for my very own blue frog (come to think about it, I already had a blue frog registration … ah the beauty of panic).

searching out Basho
through a cyber-maze
in late spring

The research was interesting though and I learnt a lot about Basho’s famous 1689 journey as well as some interesting points on haiku technique, so I’m very pleased about the experience.  I also came across some great on-line books and found a couple of well written doc and pdf files that I downloaded.  The only real hang-up was that I’d wanted to use a YouTube video for one of the posts and discovered that I didn’t know how to do that with Blogger yesterday (though I’m sure I did just that on my Blogger page!) … and I really had no time to bother with it, so I left out the video.

learning and writing
some frilly complications
get left behind

Reading the prompt on CDHK this morning, I discovered that I should post the May 15th prompt on CDHK today … for this evening to be exact.  Yikes!  But that’s a special, I said to myself,  am I supposed to write the special … seems I am, so I did a little research and came up with the poet and the ku .. whoosh!  But ladies and gentlemen, the job is done and scheduled!

post the fourteenth
for the fifteenth is wise
a Buson special

Of course, as we know, today is Thursday … and that means that I have my English Conversation Group this evening and I had no reading or videos for the group.  Presto fatto as the Italians say … I took part of the material I used for the CDHK post, Basho’s 1689 trip and created a six page travelogue – the first part of the piece I dedicated to Basho’s 156 day trip and the second part is about the Appalachian Trail and Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk in the Woods”.

chatting in English
about summer travelling
with Bryson and Basho

Now … although I should read and comment my fellow bloggers as well as post a few things that I’ve neglected (and won’t post) and I should get my photos edited from the San Giorgio trip I just came back from but I’m flat-out.  I have to go to the laundromat and who feels like doing that either.  And to think, there are some people who think that writing is a lazy person’s pass-time.

all things will be done
that are destined to be done
nothing else

Ciao for now,  Bastet


Morning Haiku and Waka – January 11, 2015

spring rains
slugging along the sidewalks
mud snails

in the dusk
mud snails crawl into the road
broken shells

in the garden
the cat jumps, bats and runs
hunting mud snails

farmer’s delight
mud snails and frog’s legs
in spring time


When I first came to Italy, way back in 1970, we stayed with my first husband’s Aunt in Liguria for a short time.  Liguria was once a part of France and one of the things that remained with them is the love of escargot, or snails.  After a particularly heavy rain, some friends of Aunt Chicca brought a plate of snails for me that they’d gathered from the fields.  I couldn’t refuse to eat at least one, as it would have been bad manners, so I pulled the mayonnaise covered beast from his shell popped him into my mouth washing it down with a glass of white wine. My opinion is that snails should be left to live in the fields … they’re totally disgusting as food.

unwelcome gift
escargot in mayonnaise
for a visitor

© G.s.k. ‘15


Here are some inspiring haiku about mud snails:

hiroinokosu tanishi ni tsuki no yûbe kana

a few remain uncaught
under the evening moon

© Yosa Buson

sode yogosuran tanishi no ama no hima o nami

with dirty sleeves
farmers-turned-fishermen pick up mud snails
ever so busy

© Matsuo Basho

nuritate no aze wo yurideru tanishi kana

the mud-snail
in the newly-made rice-field bank,
joggles its way out

© Jûjô

nisanjaku hôte tanishi no higurekeri

the mud-snail
crawls two or three feet, –
and the day is over

© Gomei

and a lovely series by our host Chèvrefeuille:

watching a snail
in the light of the full moon
just a silver trail

just a silver trail
points me to the right place
mountain monastery

mountain monastery
finally becoming one
I bow to my master

I bow to my master
Matsuo Basho told me the way
to watch a snail

© Chèvrefeuille

Carpe Diem haiku Kai

Summer Sunshine – Haibun – October 14, 2014

Summer Sunshine (Haibun)

Walking through Rovereto, with its high walls and cold wind, I was going to the train station. Passing the children off to school, to was going to meet my son who was coming home and would be with us for a week – I couldn’t help smiling.  Happy, a song filled my mind and soul – I felt like the world was a better, happier, place to live in.  No marching band was there to greet him, at least not one you could see, just the music in my mind.  The train rolled in.

cold autumn wind
the train pulls into the station
– summer sunshine


From: Hub Pages – Haibun

Here’s an example of a classic haibun written by the famous haiku master, Basho which I found on Hub Pages with a fine article on what haibun is, classically:

I left my rundown hut beside the river during the eighth month of 1684, placing my trust in my walking stick and in the words of the Chinese sage who said: “I pack no provisions for my long journey — entering emptiness under the midnight moon.” The voice of the wind was oddly cold.

Weather-beaten bones,
I’ll leave your heart exposed
to cold, piercing winds

(c) Basho

Written for Lego Haibun using a video prompt.

014d1-octpowrimobadge2I’m submitting this second poem today at OctPoWriMo for the prompt: “Inspiration from the Poets Who Went Before…”

Yesterday’s Posts – September 20, 2014



September 18, 2014

A Thought from a Poem – Velado| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

30 Days of Haiga – September 18, 2104| Through the Eye of Bastet

River| Bastet’s Waka Library

Little Creatures – Ants (Haibun)|  Bastet’s Waka Library

September 19, 2014

The Internecine War| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

30 Days of Haiga – September 19, 2014| Through the Eye of Bastet

Little Creatures – Ants (2)| Bastet’s Waka Library

Vinyards| Bastet’s Waka Library

Yesterday’s Posts – August 31, 2014

zoomed tree house

August 29 …

Writing Haiku for HA – August 29| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

Solace| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

Sluderno| Bastet’s Waka Library

Harvest Dusk| Bastet’s Waka Library

Sincerity| Bastet’s Waka Library

August 30 …

The Tree-House| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

Silence – Haiku| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

Chinook| Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library

Bastet’s Shadorma and Little Ones Photo Prompt| Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie