Narrow Road (11) – Haiku – December 19, 2015

tiny lagoon
reflecting summer’s beauty
rain drops fall

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #881 following Basho into the deep north: Mount Atsumi; a hot day’s sun; Kisagata silk tree

A hot day’s sun
taken into the sea
by the Mogami River

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Kisagata silk tree
is a Chinese beauty in the rain
a sleeping flower

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Kisagata ya ami ni Seishi ga nebu no hana

Kisagata rain
with the Chinese beauty asleep
a silk tree in bloom

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

silk tree blossoms
in a soothing summer rain
trembling in silence
so fragile,
in a summer breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

Narrow Road and water – December 15, 2015

rose hips

a rose consumed
berries in the autumn
rose hip tea

dew on the willow
dripping upon the grass
new life

from the clouds
returning to earth
the ocean

water fall
a living veil of mist
like beads of pearls
decorate young blossoms
and blades of grass sparkle

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #880 secrets unveiled of the Deep North: coolness, cloud peaks, not permitted to tell

The Narrow Road (9) – Haiku and Tanka -December 15, 2015

Starlings over the Inn, Austria

pastel colours
first sunset flight of starlings
mountains block the sun

the Inn’s rapid flow
where does it start – where its end …
smell the frosted air
mixed with mulled wine and chestnuts
as the river flows on by

these cherry blossom blooms
in the autumn cold

my ancestor’s home
wandering the streets
perhaps where my ancients walked
many Christmases ago

© G.s.k. ‘15

My mind remains in Innsbruck – a part of my family came from the Austro-Hungarian empire – immigrating to the United States in the late 1800s.  A part of the family originated most likely in Budapest, we know because of my Grandparents last name, but most likely they expanded all over Austria.  Walking in Austria caused me to speculate … and my mind wanders – seeking memories I don’t actually own but for these impressions of one day walking through this splendid part of Innsbruck, the old city.

Carpe Diem #879 On our way to Mogamigawa: summer rains, admirable

I climbed Mount Gassan on the eighth. I tied around my neck a sacred rope made of white paper and covered my head with a hood made of bleached cotton, and set off with my guide on a long march of eight miles to the top of the mountain. I walked through mists and clouds, breathing the thin air of high altitudes and stepping on slippery ice and snow, till at last through a gateway of clouds, as it seemed, to the very paths of the sun and moon, I reached the summit, completely out of breath and nearly frozen to death. Presently the sun went down and the moon rose glistening in the sky. I spread some leaves on the ground and went to sleep, resting my head on pliant bamboo branches. When, on the following morning, the sun rose again and dispersed the clouds, I went down towards Mount Yudono.

snow gives its scent to
the south valley

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

The Narrow Road (7) – Haibun – December 14, 2015

Hofgarten, Innsbruck

My day trip to visit the Christmas Markets of Innsbruck begins and ends at the Hofgarten.  How different from our parks in Arco and Riva, still full of leaf laden trees, dressed in their bright colours, the parks are inviting.  Here there is a feeling of abandonment, though I can imagine how lovely this park will be in the summer.

cold dying light
last autumn leaves still fall
gates close at five

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #877 Experiencing the Deep North; making the coolness; crawling out (short episode)

The Narrow Road (6) – Haibun – December 11, 2015


By Likiwi (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Our canary-yellow Toyota pick-up was fully equipped for our week-long journey from Moundou, Chad to Yaoundè, Cameroun in the late 1970s, with food, water, medical supplies and the possibility, if the need arose, to sleep in the back of the pick-up. Feeling intrepid, our adventure began with two other families one Iranian and the other Canadian.

The dirt roads were deeply rutted due to the recent rainy season and sometimes it was easier to just drive along the side the road rather than risk destroying the axle of one of the vehicles.  The air was full of fine, choking dust until we got closer to the border, where lush growth began to substitute the dry semi-savanna.

Our first stop was at a small “motel” at the border,  which consisted of several large mud huts with aluminium roofs,  they had running water even if no electric.  We arrived just before sunset and rented one of the large round huts for our group.  We thankfully showered off dust and sweat, ate our first hot meal of the day and then prepared for the night.

There were several cots in the round house, without bedding or mattresses, made of woven cow-hide.  We sprayed the beds down for fleas and other “night life” before  arranging our inflatable mattresses and sleeping bags on them.  Then, waiting for the insecticide to do its duty, we sat outside the hut, enjoying the moon-lit evening sitting in front of the fire, talking about the trip so far and planning the next leg of our journey.

modern caravan
avoiding fleas, ticks and lice
enjoying the full moon

 © G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #876 the journey continues: early summer rains; fleas and lice (a short episode)

Today’s episode brought back memories of  my youth in Africa.  Now we have many conveniences when travelling, however in some parts of the world travelling is still quite an adventure.  I decided to share with you the beginning of a journey I took many years ago from Southern Chad to the capital of Cameron with friends and family.  We (my first husband and I) had two small boys at the time, our Iranian friends had a baby daughter and the Canadians three rambunctious boys. The trip was basically uneventful although not what one comes to expect when travelling in Europe or North America.

Here’s the haiku (I’d advise you to click the link above for the full haibun) Basho wrote centuries ago:

fleas and lice
now a horse pisses
by my pillow

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

At least we had no horses about.

The Narrow Road (5) – Haiku and Tanka – December 8, 2015

an artist’s touch
these bright rainbow laces
for her sneakers


with sadness and horror
abandoned bunkers

silent echoes
the battles waged by men
now long gone
where now the bright ideals
of right and might and country

rows and rows
tombstones in white marble
where no one comes
Florence, Anzio, Cassino
allied war cemeteries

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #875 the journey continues: iris leaves; summer grass

Today’s episode on “The Narrow Road” had many facets and was very long (it would be well worth your while to click on the link above and visit the post)  but below are just a few extracts that stimulated memories from my world – the first haiku is about a young artist I once knew … she embroidered her sneakers and laced them in bright colours — the second extracts inspired the above set of haiku and tanka as they caused me to remember the blood bathes of the first and second World Wars ( estimated deaths by Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the following:

WW One: 8,529,000

WW Two (military) 19,402,000
WW Two (civilian) 17,391,000)

  … though in Europe eons passed when there was nothing but wars and skirmishes – for Lord, God or simply plunder – I think that it is a sort of miracle that Western Europe has known peace for nearly 70 years :

When the time came for us to say good-bye, this painter gave me his own drawings of Matsushima and Shiogama and two pairs of straw sandals with laces dyed in the deep blue of the iris. In this last appears most clearly perhaps the true artistic nature of this man.

Iris leaves
I tie them to my feet
as sandal cords

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Stopping briefly at the River Noda no Tamagawa and the so-called Rock in the Offing, I came to the pine woods called Sue no Matsuyama, where I found a temple called Masshozan and a great number of tombstones scattered among the trees. It was a depressing sight indeed, for young or old, loved or loving, we must all go to such a place at the end of our lives. ….

I left for Hiraizumi on the twelfth and arrived at there after wandering some twenty miles in two days.

It was here that the glory of three generations of the Fujiwara family passed away like a snatch of empty dream. The ruins of the main gate greeted my eyes a mile before I came upon Lord Hidehira’s mansion, which had been utterly reduced to rice-paddies. Mount Kinkei alone retained its original shape. As I climbed one of the foothills called Takadate, where Lord Yoshitsune met his death, I saw the River Kitakami running through the plains of Nambu in its full force, and its tributary, Koromogawa, winding along the site of the Izumigashiro castle and pouring into the big river directly below my eyes. The ruined house of Lord Yasuhira was located to the north of the barrier-gate of Koromogaseki, thus blocking the entrance from the Nambu area and forming a protection against barbarous intruders from the north. Indeed, many a feat of chivalrous valor was repeated here during the short span of the three generations, but both the actors and the deeds have long been dead and passed into oblivion. When a country is defeated, there remain only mountains and rivers, and on a ruined castle in spring only grasses thrive. I sat down on my hat and wept bitterly till I almost forgot time.

summer grass
the only remains of soldiers’

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

The Narrow Road (4) – December 7, 2015

this dreary rainfall
falls on late-blooming cherries
fallen petals and rain drops
upon this unknown road

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #874 Rainhat Island; since the cherry blossoms


Passing through the castle towns of Abumizuri and Shiroishi, I arrived at the province of Kasajima (Rainhat Island), where I asked the way to the mound of Lord Sanekata of the Fujiwara family. I was told that I must turn right in the direction of the villages of Minowa and Kasajima visible at the foot of the mountains in the distance, and that the mound was still there by the side of a shrine, buried in deep grass. I wanted to go that way, of course, but the muddy road after the early rain of the wet season and my weakness stopped me. The names of the two villages were so befitting to the wet season with their echoes of raincoat and umbrella that I wrote:

Rainhat Island—
where did you say it was?
muddy roads in May

© Basho (Tr. Donald Keene)

The Narrow Road (3) – Troiku – December 6, 2015

The narrow road

on the road – illness
cold wind howls and blast of rain
warm light beacons

on the road – illness
lonely thoughts of passing on
as darkness thickens

cold wind howls and blast of rain
drown the morning sun
the willows bow

warm light beacons
from the windows of an inn
welcome haven

© G.s.k. ‘15



Carpe Diem #873 Deeper into the North: men of this world; picking up rice seedlings; backpack and sword

Today’s troiku was inspired by this extract:

I stopped overnight at Iizuka. I had a bath in a hot spring before I took shelter at an inn. It was a filthy place with rough straw mats spread out on an earth floor. They had to prepare my bed by the dim light of the fire, for there was not even a lamp in the whole house. A storm came upon us towards midnight, and between the noise of the thunder and leaking rain and the raids of mosquitoes and fleas, I could not get a wink of sleep. Furthermore, an attack of my old complaint made me so ill that I suffered severely from repeated attacks while I rode on horseback bound for the town of Kori. It was indeed a terrible thing to be so ill on the road, when there still remained thousands of miles before me, but thinking that if I were to die on my way to the extreme north it would only be the fulfillment of providence, I trod the earth as firmly as possible and arrived at the barrier-gate of Okido in the province of Date.

© Basho in The Narrow Road To The Deep North 

Roots of Elegance – haiku and haiga – December 4, 2015

tea rose haiga

along the path
swaying in the morning breeze
a patch of bamboo

filtered light and sound
in the distance finch’s song
sweet smell of green

there in the bamboo
dressed in her elegant gown
a blushing tea rose

shaded modesty
unseen by  passersby
her robes open

G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #872 our journey continues: across the field; one patch of a rice field; roots of elegance