Train to Padova – Haibun


I must confess that I caught my connection to Padova at a dead run.

I sat down comfortably in a seat, still huffing and puffing, wondering how long the trip would take from Verona to Padova.  I’d been up since 5:00…which wasn’t anything new, but usually, at 5:00 I write in the peaceful calm of dawn, I don’t run around gulping coffee and wolfing a brioche so I can catch a 5:30 bus!

It was 9:45…the intercom announced that the train would arrive in less than 20 minutes.  Then I realized that I’d caught the “Freccia Bianca”  the high speed train that had come in from Milan and was going to Venice, with just this one other stop.  It also meant, that if the conducter came by I’d have to pay 35 euro … suppliment and fine.

I sweated it out for the next 15 minutes…but of course we all know how this ends…there he was:

“Ticket Madame…oh, but this is for the regional train!” he said.

costly distractions
I confess I’m happier
I arrived early

Written for Ligo Haibun Challenge – Word Prompt Week (Confession – Connection)

Ligo Haibun – April 29, 2014 – Quote Prompt

“The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician.”
Louis Armstrong

Writing, making music, creating art find their roots inside us, hidden among our memories.  But sometimes memories fade…

The city is decked out in garlands and streamers, flags flap in the spring wind, concerts have been planned and the plaza is already lined up with kiosks full of good things to eat.

Once upon a time, people during this holiday, danced around a pole holding vines or ropes…it has it’s roots in the north and celebrated the coming of spring…now it also coincides with International Workers Day.

I’m writing about May Day which we’re going to celebrate day after tomorrow.  It won’t be the Celtic Beltane or the germanic Walpurgis Night and even though I live in Italy, not even festival of Flora even though Arco will be rounding up it’s annual floral event “Arco Bonsai” on May Day.

We will be celebrating work and just like the Celts of old will hope that the elements will help us come out of this moment of economic crisis.  Not many people know the history of May Day, either in it’s ancient or it’s more modern form, the memory has been nearly lost.  To us, it’s a time to have fun together, listen to good music, creating new memories for a future of prosperity.

May Day returns
music fills the air again
people dance as of old

Written for Ligo Haibun

Over a Cliff – Ligo Haibun

© belinda-broughton

© belinda-broughton

One of my favorite zen stories is the one about the tiger, the cliff and the strawberry.  I’m not sure how many of you know it, but it’s one of those stories that really speaks to me about the paradox of life and the sweetness of the moment.

More often than we think, life presents us with unsolvable problems.

One of those problems could be a grave illness.  Perhaps, one of those that don’t even debilitate you at first.  You begin by going to a doctor, getting tests run, the results confirm that bit of bad news you were worried about.  You run to find some remedy.  You begin to worry and fret about the future, where will this thing take you.  And there’s your first tiger.

You begin to search out the malady on the internet, reading up on symptoms, statistics and cures, alternative and allopathic and there you are hanging by a vine over a cliff.

At one point, maybe the cure itself will create different problems, issues which may or may not be worth the pain and effort, theoretically.   But there’s no other road except refusing.  There’s the tiger at the bottom of the cliff.

You can’t go up, you can’t let yourself go.

Finally, the worry gnaws at your mind, just like the mice gnaw at the vine of our hero.  Your existence is no longer centered on life as you focus on the issue.

This is the time for you begin looking for the beauty of  things you’d taken for granted.    Something happens.  A bright moment distracts you … and like the strawberry, you find that moment of sweetness in life.  It doesn’t solve your problems it’s just a magical moment that makes life worth living again.

Over the years, I’ve experienced this situation, in its variations, very often.  Economical problems, bad emotional situations or maybe just the prospect of having to move once again.  Life, isn’t like a movie, which is a concentration of special events, it’s lot’s of insignificant moments, very often boring, sometimes lonely,  with moments of special events slipped in here and there – both good or bad.

Like our hero, we must see the strawberry, ready to be plucked.  It’s there and it’s we who choose to taste its sweetness.

tiger claws above
another tiger below
sweet strawberry tempts

Written for Ligo Haibun – Picture Prompts

image by belindabroughton 

Ligo Haibun – Nirvana

Seeking Nirvana. The road many take to try to develop and find a scope in their lives.  For centuries, millions have tried to end the constant turning of the wheel of samsara – reincarnation – karma.

Jessica sat for hours meditating, trying to find the way to nirvana.  As long as she sat peacefully in her garden with the birds chirping around her, nirvana seemed so near.  However, once she was finished and having taken her morning shower, returned to her daily life, the feeling of peace quickly evaporated.  Something was always in the way of perfect harmony.

She met an ancient zen monk whilst at a conference last summer and she thought she’d ask his advice, this is what he had to say:

“Perfect harmony, only exists among the dead.  Sitting in a garden, you can reach satori…the mountains which were mountains are special, the air is sweeter, heaven is near, but when you leave your special world, the mountains are like they’ve always been and the air is polluted like it’s always been … the world is the world.”

Jessica sat for hours meditating, reaching a moment of nirvana.

perfect harmony
detachment from stressful thoughts
birds sing in traffic

Written for Ligo Haibun Challenge – Word Prompt – Nirvana

Illusions – Ligo Haibun Challenge

“Doubt everything. Find your own light.” ― Gautama Buddha

Each of us are more or less enslaved by our senses and the illusions created by them without really being aware.



Looking at a beach through a few palm fronds, we think of the South Seas …

PrimulaA few early bloomers in February, make us think of spring …

moutain watersA close-up of a small irrigation ditch, might on first sight make us think of a water fall!  Even as our eyes play tricks on us so can all the other senses…indeed memories of situations which we’ve lived through in the past can powerfully influence our reality.

We were evacuated to Yaoude in Cameroun back in the late seventies when civil war broke out in Chad.  We’d been more or less under fire for about a week.  It became a common occurrence to hear gunfire and bombs going off.  But all that was behind us and we felt safe and relaxed for the first time in days.

Then, at 6:00 we began to hear explosions. The continuous sounds of blasting reverberated as each explosions went off and then echoed through the hills of Yaoude.  The kids began to scream, we hit the floor.

The people who were hosting us those first few days came running to see what all the commotion was about.  Then they understood as the echos of the last blasts were dying out.  They explained that the Chinese were digging a tunnel through a nearby mountain and that they set off dynamite every evening at 6:00, it had become such a common occurence that they’d forgotten all about it and so didn’t think to warn us.

As babies we first start collecting our memories and our sensations…and continue until we breathe our last breath.  We then use these bits of experience to define our impressions of reality…but in fact, they are illusions, because just have a snippet of the facts.

a vase of flowers
on the table this morning
reminder of spring

Written for Ligo Haibun Challenge – Quote Week


A Haibun gone astray

Walking along the paths of life, one receives many impressions, things that seem just so…but in reality have nothing to do with what’s happening at all.  We are in a way enslaved by our senses.



Because we see a palm frond placed in front of a beach, we mistake a lake for an ocean …

PrimulaEarly bloomers make us think that spring is around the corner …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOr maybe we mistake a reflection for reality …

We see children arguing and mistake their normal childhood exuberance for something more sinister and jump in to divide the contenders, only to be rewarded with a bland look of surprise!

So it can happen that the man who we thought was an enemy because he refuses what we feel is a gesture of peace, refused the gesture because he thought you were trying to belittle him!

We are born without any particular prejudices … we learn the smell of our mother almost instantly, the sound of her voice, the warmth of an embrace and we create, inside our reservoir of memories,  feelings of security associated with these first sensations…and we never stop creating memories and emotional associations, until that last moment we have to live on Earth.  As the Buddha would warn us though, our memories and sensations are an illusion, which sometimes can lead us into error.  We should doubt everything … renew our vision and not live through sensations.

bright flowers at dawn
in a vase on my table
springtime illusion

There are two posts this morning for the Ligo Haibun Challenge, basically because when I went to publish this, I realzed I hadn’t put the title up…so I blocked the publishing process and lost everything that was written, or so I thought , and so rewrote the whole post, thenl a half an hour later  I found this on the reader ..  go figure 😉

“Doubt everything. Find your own light.” ― Gautama Buddha

Written for Ligo Haibun Challenge – Quote Week

Photography – Ligo Haibun April 3, 2014

© Ligo Haibun

© Ligo Haibun

My camera is my favorite traveling companion.  When I was back in the United States back in 2010, I must admit that I went clicking around the country side and inside stores just as though I were the classical Japanese tourist, a fact i joked about with my sister often.

I love to take photos, I love processing them and playing around with them ’til they’re just right for an illustration of one of my poems, flash fictions or maybe a haibun or haiga.  I don’t go out without my camera which can be annoying at times, I suppose.

One thing I don’t photograph often though are people.  It’s not that I don’t like people, but it seems to me, that it’s one thing snapping away at a public scene and another to invade people’s privacy. I don’t even snap pictures of the street artists, unless I give them a donation.  Of course, there are exceptions, like at a street fair, flea market or the playground. However, I usually ask if I can take a person’s photo.

the capturing eye
archiving antiquity
reproducing ducks

Written for Ligo Haibun Picture Prompt – March 31, 2104

Haibun – A moment

A Moment

A Moment

A jump into the pool of life.  Splashing, gasping for air, and up again to the surface.

That summer I was 10, and went to the pool everyday. I really hadn’t learnt how to swim yet, but I could float really well.  I watched the older kids jump off the high dive and the temptation was so great, that I too decided that I’d give it a try.

So, up the ladder I went…and I wasn’t alone either.  There were people in line behind me on the ladder.  When I finally got to the board, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.  It was so very high.  I couldn’t go back, and I terrified to jump. I didn’t know what to do.  I got onto my stomach and then eased myself over the edge of the board.  But, I couldn’t let go.  The life guard whistled and shouted and the kids behind me were angry.  So, at last my hands came off the board and I fell into the water.  I touched bottom and my instincts took over and I pushed with my legs with all the energy I had in me, I hadn’t taken a breath and I was without air.

Finally I broke the surface and I was able to splash myself to the edge of the pool, where I was met by an irate lifeguard.  He told me I couldn’t use the high dive any more.  I was so grateful to him.

premature choice
off the high dive of life
facing mortality


Ligo Haibun Photo Prompt.

Spring Haibun – March 9, 2014



Months of cold…dark days that seemed to run one into another, depressing.  Walking along the lake and into the woods, brought some surcease to the drab long days, even if the world seemed to be reduced to somber grey or the dark green of pines and spruces.

Then spring began to awaken.  The first blossoms began to show their heads, the snow drops at first, followed by tiny violets.  Finally the first daisies and daffodils sprouted.  Spring at last had pushed dull winter aside!

life marches on
spring timidly approaches
leaving dark behind


This post was written for Ligo haibun using the word prompt; Blossom.

Mermaids – Ligo Haibun – February 23, 2014


When I was a child, many years ago, I was fascinated by mermaids.  Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Little Mermaid, was one of my favorite stories, and I always felt so sorry for the poor mermaid.  There she was, in love with the man she’d saved from drowning, whom she’d sacrificed her voice for and living in constant pain from those limbs for which she’d given up her beautiful tail. Completely ignored by he for whom she’d sacrificed herself; alone, destitute and destined to die from heartbreak.

 I never reflected though upon the story, until many years later.   I witnessed a beautiful young woman, who was very talented, sacrifice all her talent for the love of a man who never realized how precious she was and so betrayed her trust for another.  I realized that no one should ever go to such an extreme for any reason, much less for love.

mermaid in the woods
contemplating faithless love
life’s lessons

Written for Ligo Haibun at  Ese’s Voice