First Rooster Crowing – Tanka – January 19, 2015

morning silence
a single ray of sunlight
first rooster crows
black dog starts barking
the sparrows twitter brightly

© G.s.k. ‘15

Actually today’s prompt at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai was a Japanese 5th season (New Year) kigo … so the first rooster crowing would be the first crowing of the new year, but I live in Italy .. and the first rooster crowing in the morning wakes everybody up … starting with the dog out in the courtyard in front of my house.

New Year’s Day –
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

© Issa

at the tail end
of the cloud burst crowing…
rooftop rooster

© Issa

Morning Haiku and Waka – January 13, 2015

with the children
playing with memory cards
happy laughter

players match their memory
on New Year’s eve


dancing ’round the town
in bright red silken robes
lion dancers

dragons or lions
dancers greet the new year
in the orient

G.s.k. ‘15

Written for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai # 646 and #647:

A haiku by our host for Uta Garuta (prompt #646):

Uta Garuta contest
tears are falling continuously
she has blacked out

© Chèvrefeuille

and two haiku about the “Lion Dance” (prompt #647) by Issa:

kamashishi ga ago de harainu kado no matsu

the lion dancer
takes a purifying bite –
pine decorations at the gate

© Issa

kado-jishi ya shishi ga kuchi kara ume no hana

lion dancers visit —
from the lion’s mouth
plum blossoms

© Issa

Morning Haiku and Waka – January 5, 2015

Snow Robes

a white Harugi
put on for the new year
in December

it’s new year
choose a bright Harugi
to post poetry

dressing up
the new year party begins
wearing new clothes

stubborn old man
walks through snow in sandals
dressed in new jeans

observing snow
the warm sun speaks of spring
a white kimono

© G.s.k. 15

§ I’m writing for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai‘s Harugi (new spring kimono) prompt here and wondering if like in many oriental countries (from the Middle East onward) if perhaps New Year wasn’t (isn’t) nearer spring time… in ancient Persia, Naw Ruz for example was around March … and if you look into Oriental Astrology,  the new year doesn’t begin until around the end of January … I’m no expert but I think that by reading: a “harugi” or “spring kimono” was a soft cotton kimono commonly made for (and worn on) the New Year” must mean that the New Year was not in the beginning of winter as in our Western world, which is very sensible actually.

Chevrèfeuille also gave us many haiku to inspire us on his post this one by Issa is interesting and thanks to Paloma at Blog it or Lose it! there’s an interesting explanation which I’m copying here from her post:

sakura e to miete jin-jin bashiyori kana


off to view cherry blossoms
old man with kimono

© Issa

This haiku was featured by “The Daily Issa” not long ago … so I’ll share the “Haiku Guy” story behind the haikuIt’s really interesting!


“I thank Susumu Takiguchi for helping me to visualize this haiku. In an e-mail (4/17/01), he explains that the first line, jin-jin bashiyori refers to ‘an action whereby a man picks up the center-back of the hem to his kimono and tucks it to his obi sash at the back of his waist. By doing it, his legs would be given freer movement and it is presumed that a man does this when he wants to do something, such as walking a long way as in a walking journey, dancing or engaging in an active action. It is not clear if this noun only refers to old men, or men in general.’

Shinji Ogawa notes that the Japanese kimono is not well suited for striding or running, and thus needs to be tucked for such movement. Jin-jin bashori (or jin-jin bashiyori) is a relatively easy way to tuck the kimono but it looks untidy; thus it is called ‘an old man’s tuck.’”


Other inspirational haiku:

natsu matade baika no yuki ya shiroi harugi butsu

not waiting on summer
the plum blossoms in snow –
white spring kimono

© Den Sutejo (1633-1698)

“New Year’s Day!”
the little boy and girl scream
“can we wear our spring kimono?”

© Yozakura

And our host:

cherry blossom viewing
together with the one I love
wearing her harugi

© Chèvrefeuille

Morning Haiku and Waka – haiku – November 14, 2014


hidden in clouds
intimacy protected
the Veiled Mount

in the misty dawn
somewhere near the Veiled Mount
a cuckoo calls

moonlit night
skiers descent the Veiled Mount
– iridescent chain

(c) G.s.k. ’14

I’m linking this to Carpe Diem Haiku Kai (click the link for the full post) … the prompt is Mount Fuji , which I’ve only seen in photographs so, with all the mountains I have around me, I thought I’d choose one of ours. The Veiled Mount is the mount (we can’t call it a hill, but I’m informed it’s not quite a proper mountain – Trentini are very particular about these details) got its name because it is often veiled in clouds.  This photo is from a different angle than you usually see from my photos.

Here are some great haiku about Mount Fuji:

katatsuburi soro-soro nobore fuji no yama

little snail
inch by inch, climb
Mount Fuji!
© Issa

hatsu-gatsuo tsuide nagara mo fuji (no) yama

right after
summer’s first bonito –
Mount Fuji

© Issa

mannaka ni fuji sobietari kuni no haru

in the centre,
mount Fuji towers up:
spring in our country
© Sho-u

fuji hitotsu uzumi nokoshite wakaba kana

only Mount Fuji
is not covered with them –
fresh new leaves

© Buson


And here’s the great Basho:

fuji no kaze ya ogi ni nosete edo miyage

wind from Mount Fuji –
carrying it in my fan,
a souvenir for those in Edo

© Basho

Credits: Mount Fuji Woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)


Spiders Weaving Webs – August 9, 2014

For this week’s Carpe Diem Haiku Family

The goal of this new episode is to write/compose a haiku, in the classical way, about someone who is famous and who you, maybe, admire.
As a haiku-poet Basho is my role-model and I am admiring his haiku. So I have chosen to write a haiku about him.


There are lots of famous people … so it’s a tall order to write this haiku … but let’s see what Chèvrefeulle wrote:

famous frogpond-poet
brought his passion into my mind –
the sound of water

© Chèvrefeuille

Of course!  He’s written about Basho one of the most famous haiku poets of history:

old pond
frog jumps in
sound of water

© Basho

Dew on a spider's web in the morning.  Luc Viatour

Dew on a spider’s web in the morning. Luc Viatour

walking down the trail
the buddhist monk stops to look
spiders weaving webs

© G.s.k. ’14

I’ve chosen Kobayashi Issa to inspire me:

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
© Kobayashi Issa

Translated by Robert Hass


Haiku – Westward Waves of Wisteria – July 4, 2014

Today’s haiku master poet in the July series of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is Kobayashi Issa (1763  – 1828).  I found a lovely biography of him whist looking for Issa’s background today written by Haiku Guy, which I’ve linked so that you may look at it too!  I first came across Issa (which means cup of tea, by the way) through Jen of Blog it or Lose it! chatting about haiku one early morning (mine not hers 🙂 ).  She also sent me some links, one of which is The Haiku of Issa.

Issa is famous for his haiku (or hokku or haikai as these verses were called before Shiki’s haiku reform) about everyday life and small creatures like spiders and flies but also dogs, cats and birds.

The poem chosen today at Carpe Diem was passed on to Chèvrefuelle by Jen and it’s not about his usual subject but about the Amida Buddha’s Western Paradise:

shônin no nishi no fujinami ima ya saku

the holy man’s
westward waves of wisteria

© Kobayashi Issa



Wisteria Sky

 pure earth and water
sailing wisteria waves

© Bastet

Shuukan – Laughter! – July 5, 2014

I encountered Zen Buddhism fairly early in life but never really deepened the acquaintance until around 1990.  I’d read haiku of course had seen the lovely art work and haiga though not by that name and read anything about Zen that I could get my hands on.  In 1990 I began to study shiatsu.

My master was Wataru Ohashi, and though I’d met him rarely studying in the Rome Ohashiatsu center I did have the opportunity to translate for him when he visited our school.  He can laugh about anything and does often – his joy of life is fantastic and he’s a Zen Buddhist.  During this period, I came across Watt’s “The Way of Zen” became familiar with Zen philosophy, practiced Ikebana and generally immersed myself in Zen … though never becoming a Buddhist.

One of the aspects I enjoy in the many oriental Buddhists I’ve met (both Zen and Tibetan) is their power to laugh in the face of tragedy.  Have a look at the Dalai Lama for example:

What a vision!  And to hear him talk and laugh is a pleasure!

One of my favorite Zen stories is the reply of a Zen Master to one of his students when asked where his Buddhist mind or maybe his Buddhist nature was … he laughed and danced with his shoes on his head!

I love Issa … such a wonderful poet and so much humor!

Approaching my village:

Don’t know about the people,
but all the scarecrows
are crooked.

(C) Issa


Unfortunately, I’ve seen that our western culture can often dampen this beautiful aspect of Zen when mixed with our over-serious illuministic attitude.  Oh the attitude of certain Zen masters is really very funny when one thinks about the ancient masters.

Our haiku and tanka can become stilted too and I think we often are more subservient to the “rules” of haiku than even the Japanese. On the other hand, we tend to be over serious about our own poetry too, often emphasizing the tragic/romantic aspects of life.

Zen masters have often spoken of Enlightenment as like the moon shining brightly in the dark sky, while the Zen Buddhist teachings are like a finger pointing up toward the moon. Too many people, however, instead of gazing at the great moon, prefer to relentlessly suck on the finger!

Laughter is one of the sounds of Zen.  The here and now essential beauty of life can only be enjoyed with a light heart.

women arguing
people stop to see the show
the bird’s bowels moved

Written for Carpe Diem Shuukan – laugher

logo haiku shuukan





Haiku – June 17, 2014



summer evening
warm saké and history
reading haiku

fleas jumping
on the sofa merrily
a feast waiting

rain drumming
at midnight
summer concert

buzzing mosquito
singing of feasts
in my ear

the flowers grow
and wither

the cat streches
his nap completed
he eats dinner

whispering wind
in a field of corn
inviting autumn

This post is dedicated to two of the great haiku masters of history and is a little tribute I wanted to make for them … Matsuo Basho and Kobayashi Issa I wonder if I’ve been able to capture the two different voices of these great masters!


Issa – A tribute to a haiku master – June 15, 2014

I happened to have a conversation with Jen over at Blog it or Lose it! about a particular aspect of a great haiku poet – Issa.

She brought to my attention some of his funny “vermin-ku” as she wittily called them … here are a few examples:

Hey! Don’t swat:
the fly wrings his hands
on bended knees.

For you too, my fleas,
the night passes so slowly.
But you won’t be lonely.

issa… you have survived to feed
this year’s mosquitoes

Counting flea bites
while she nurses
her baby


So I thought I’d write a few vermin-ku of my own as a tribute to the great Issa!

(C) Jen from Blog it or Lose it!

(C) Jen from Blog it or Lose it!

apple core
ants harvesting nectar
a good crop

picnic lunch
horse flies and wasps
buzzing sandwiches

cooking dinner
a sudden itch
mosquito ate too

flea bites
my leg a feast
thanks kitty

walking in the woods
then shower and swabs of oil
removing wood ticks

screened plate cover
protecting the cake
buzzing fly

I don’t know about you, but I often forget how our life on this planet once was (and still is for the most part) living and feeding our friends the fleas, mosquitoes and other insects.

Does anyone have a contribution to this cavalcade tribute to Issa?  Here is a link to some of Issa’s Haiku Poems which I must again thank Jen for!  If you’d like to add something, I’d lke to read it so feel free to ping me!

Ciao…I’m off for the day (going travelling!) and you have a great Sunday!  Bastet