half moon – – haibun

Unpleasant appointments loom in my calendar — though not always cushioned by pleasurable events, they are…this time. Nonetheless they continue to tap at the edge of my composure, vying for my anxious attention.

half moon

directly above

a fresh field of snow



©️2019 Ontheland

Prompted by Frank Tassone’s November with Basho Day 6:

A little anxious, thinking of the Shirakawa Barrier, thinking on it day by day; but calmed my mind by remembering the old poem, “somehow sending word home.” I walked through heavy green summer forests. Many a poet inscribed a few words at one of the Three Barriers–“Autumn Winds” and “Red Maple Leaves” come to mind. Then, like fields of snow, innumerable white-flowered bushes, unohana, covered either side of the road…


around my head

dressed for ancient rites [Sora]

(note: Sora was a poet and traveling companion of Basho during his travels through the North.)

Basho, Narrow Road to the Interior, translated by Sam Hamil, The Essential Basho, pg. 9

willow shade – – haibun

Words replay and reform under the sun and moon…on water, on mountaintops, in forests….Matsuo Basho thought of the poems of Saigyo on his 1689 trek. He visited a willow where Saigyo wrote this poem over 500 years earlier:

At the side of the road

The willow’s shade

Where clear water flows

Thinking “Just for a while”

I stayed on

~ Shinkokinshu

In Basho’s time Saigyo’s willow was by a rice field. He wrote:

Rice-planting done, they

depart — before I emerge

from willow shade

~ Narrow Road to the Interior

Willows border a rural road near my home. Their long branches add elegance to the flat terrain. William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) wrote of willows in autumn:

It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.



willow shade

silent whispers

of ancestors


©️2019 Ontheland

Prompted by Frank Tassone’s Day 5 of November with Basho

Image courtesy of Pixabay

a pause – – haibun

I stand on the deck to keep Diesel company while he performs his outdoor rituals. In the sun the air is just above freezing—almost warm. I am there with slippers on, my usual busyness on pause. At this moment there will be no running out to fill the bird feeder or shovel snow away from the wooden steps.

only the dog

rolling on the hard snow

a bluejay cries



©️2019 Ontheland

Prompted by Frank Tassone’s November with Basho, Day 4:

Set out to see the Murder Stone, Sessho-seki, on a borrowed horse, and the man leading it asked for a poem. “Something beautiful, please.”

The horse turns his head–

from across the wide plain,

a cuckoo’s cry

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” Translated by Sam Hamil, The Essential Basho, pg. 8-9