Night from the inside (2)

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Night from the Inside


pond the size
of a table for four
spring peepers

the distant cry
of a migrant gull


frantic wings
against the window’s
good night moon


I remember how I talked myself out of my fear of the dark at age eight. Or did I? I’ve never been able to watch horror movies — I don’t want those sorts of monsters running loose in my imagination. There are enough real monsters in the news, I say to myself.

But fear isn’t rational, and evolutionarily speaking, it’s not without purpose: e.g. keeping sensible people the hell out of the woods after dark, when all manner of crepuscular and nocturnal creatures come out, and when it’s easy to lose one’s way. Being able to sit outside at night without fear is something that would’ve been inconceivable for almost all of human history, and is still not an option for people in many parts of the world, especially women.


the owl whose name
sounds like bard
sounds like she’s laughing


the Mesozoic trill
of a toad


But spending time outside at night without a fire, whatever atavistic fear I may feel is nothing compared to the apprehension my presence must spark in other animals. I hear the alarm-snorts of deer, the wickering of raccoons, the surprised barks of weasels. I am trespassing on their realm and disturbing their nightly patterns. And for what? Just some bogus, Romantic feeling of oneness or awe? What is awe, anyway, if not a sort of denatured terror?


my scent
in its midnight nostrils
black bear


whatever you are
I know
that discontent


hour of the wolf
a percolator’s
last gargle


cut flowers
with the corpse
changing color


Why is being afraid of one’s own shadow considered the essence of cowardice? It’s not an unreasonable fear. If you’ve been alive for a while, you know what you’re capable of. At night you escape your specific gravity only to be immersed in a more universal displacement. The anyone you could be in your dreams is never not you. From this perspective, death could not be more different. For then at last you do become not-you.


the slow off and on
of glow worms


in the fog
we’re going nowhere

Night from the inside

mountaintop forest pool at dusk with a band of sunset light still on the horizon
This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Night from the Inside


mountaintop forest pool at dusk with a band of sunset light still on the horizon

The more time I spend outside at night, the more fearful I become. You’d think it would be the opposite. But daytime rules don’t always apply. For example, it’s possible during the day to pretend there’s a hard and fast line between reality and imagination.


through skeletal trees
the bat’s back story


on all screens


swamp tree
parodied by
its reflection

holding it


fire trucks
one after another
into the sunset


grazing at dark
unreadable weeds


right at dusk
that old coyote-
shaped hole

nosing wild


ruffed grouse
the split second
before LAUNCH


The angel with a flaming sword as a middle-aged gardener, standing astride the cosmos going whack whack whack at every planet unfortunate enough to have been parasitized by intelligent life.


your pale face
brushed by moth wings
without moon


barn swallows night nesting nesting


a glow
from the quarry
jacklighting deer


stars among clouds
I feel for
my missing teeth


with the sky
for a quilt

the heat
of my sunburn


What does it mean to be a chaser of oblivion? Will the stars throw down their spears?


off alone
in the cosmos
forest pool

ripples left by
a bat’s swift drink

Process notes

Is this a haibun, a linked verse sequence, or just a bunch of haiku with some tanka and random thoughts thrown in? All of the above. What it really is is a bunch of things written at dusk or after dark on my Notes app. Since my phone doesn’t shoot good video in low-light conditions, though, it may or may not end up in a videopoem. It could also be the start of a new series. Time will tell.


Up and to the office, where we sat the first day since the fire, I think. At noon home, and my uncle Thomas was there, and dined with my brother and I (my father and I were gone abroad), and then to the office again in the afternoon, and there close all day long, and did much business. At night to Sir W. Batten, where Sir R. Ford did occasion some discourse of sending a convoy to the Maderas; and this did put us upon some new thoughts of sending our privateer thither on merchants’ accounts, which I have more mind to, the profit being certain and occasion honest withall. So home, and to supper with my father, and then to set my remainder of my books gilt in order with much pleasure, and so late to bed.

office fire
on the road a long convoy
of ants

I have more mind
to fit in a nest

Erasure poem (tanka) derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 9 October 1666.

Even educated fleas

Lay sleepy in bed till 8 in the morning, then up and to the office, where till about noon, then out to the ‘Change and several places, and so home to dinner. Then out again to Sir R. Viner, and there to my content settled the business of two tallys, so as I shall have 2000l. almost more of my owne money in my hand, which pleases me mightily, and so home and there to the office, where mighty busy, and then home to supper and to even my Journall and to bed.
Our fleete being now in all points ready to sayle, but for the carrying of the two or three new ships, which will keepe them a day or two or three more.
It is said the Dutch is gone off our coast, but I have no good reason to believe it, Sir W. Coventry not thinking any such thing.

in bed till 8:00
the vine of my hand
her ready hips

no good reason to try
thinking anything

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 13 July 1666.

Gotas de lluvia / raindrops: four more haiku and a tanka

This entry is part 17 of 38 in the series Poetry from the Other Americas


Dreaming of rain on a hot, parched day in London.

Many Latin American masters tried their hands at haiku…

Mario Benedetti

soundless rain
under the umbrella
a perfect kiss

llueve sin ruido
pero bajo el paraguas
funciona el beso

Jose Juan Tablada

Rainy day:
each flower is a vessel
of tears…

Día lluvioso:
cada flor es un vaso

Carlos Fleitas

a withered tree
raindrops sparkle
in the moonlight

arbol marchito
brillan gotas de lluvia
bajo la luna

Octavio Paz

Rain in May:
the whole world
is a sheet of paper

Lluvia de mayo: 
es hoja de papel 
el mundo entero.

Jorge Luis Borges

Sad is the rain
Falling on marble
Sad is the earth
Sad are the absent days
Of men, their dreams, their dawns.

Triste la lluvia
Que sobre el mármol cae,
Triste ser tierra.
Triste no ser los días
Del hombre, el sueño, el alba.


At my office all alone all the morning, and the smith being with me about other things, did open a chest that hath stood ever since I came to the office, in my office, and there we found a modell of a fine ship, which I long to know whether it be the King’s or Mr. Turner’s.
At noon to the Wardrobe by appointment to meet my father, who did come and was well treated by my Lady, who tells me she has some thoughts to send her two little boys to our house at Brampton, but I have got leave for them to go along with me and my wife to Hampton Court to-morrow or Sunday. Thence to my brother Tom’s, where we found a letter from Pall that my mother is dangerously ill in fear of death, which troubles my father and me much, but I hope it is otherwise, the letter being four days old since it was writ.
Home and at my office, and with Mr. Hater set things in order till evening, and so home and to bed by daylight.
This day at my father’s desire I lent my brother Tom 20l., to be repaid out of the proceeds of Sturtlow when we can sell it. I sent the money all in new money by my boy from Alderman Backwell’s.

alone with
my model of a ship
a little moth

fear of death troubles me
till daylight

Erasure tanka derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 6 June 1662.

Matsushima ya

Waves at Matsushima
Waves at Matsushima by Tawaraya Sotatsu (fl. ca. 1600-1643)

Matsushima is a group of islands in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. There are some 260 tiny islands (shima) covered in pines (matsu) — hence the name — and is ranked as one of the Three Views of Japan. Matsushima was very seriously damaged by the Tsunami following the Sendai earthquake in March 2011, with more than 600 people killed.
Wikipedia, “Matsushima”

hundreds of tiny islands, each
with its own pine tree
like a flag planted by Mother Earth
Jason Crane, “Matsushima”

* * *

matushima no
iso ni murewiru
ashitadu no
ono ga samazama
mieshi chiyo kana

A thousand years
in the eye of each
& every crane
flocking on the rocky shore
of Matsushima.

—Kiyowara no Motosuke (908-990)

tachi kaeri
mata mo kite min
matsushima ya
ojima no tomaya
nami ni arasu na

once more to gaze
on Matsushima,
the waves at Ojima lashing
my rush-walled hut.

—Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114-1204)

shimajima ya
chiji ni kudakete
natsu no umi

Islands upon islands—
thousands of shards smashed
by the summer sea.

asayosa o
taga matsushima zo

Morning & evening
like someone at Matsushima—
unrequited love.

—Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694)

Matsushima in Rikuzen Province by Toyohara Chikanobu
Matsushima in Rikuzen Province by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838–1912)

The town was protected by a stunningly beautiful maze of coves and islands, topped with bonsai-shaped Japanese pines, which kept the worst of the tsunami at bay.

The water rose three metres and the town was relatively lightly affected, as the local emergency services chief told a group of stranded tourists earlier this week.

But everything is relative. Tetsuo lived, against the odds, but said some of his neighbours died. He is now staying at a friend’s house.

The Sydney Morning Herald

* * *

matsushima ya
tsuru ni mi o kare

Borrow the body of a crane,
oh cuckoo.

—Kawai Sora (1649-1710)

matsushima ya
hito kobushi-zutsu
aki no kure

Autumn dusk—
each island like a fist
at Matsushima.

matsushima ya
kosumi wa kurete
naku hibari

As the light fades
on an islet at Matsushima,
a skylark’s song.

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

matsushima ya
aa matsushima ya
matsushima ya

ah, Matushima!

—Anon. (attr. to Bashô)