on the border: haiku

In Heeding Haiku, Chèvrefeuille asks us to write one poem inspired by the following three by Basho. The first is believed to be the last one that he wrote before he died:

falling sick on a journey
my dream goes wandering
over a field of dried grass

lying down
with quilts over the head
such a cold night

a rainy day
the autumn world
of a border town

© Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) (Tr. Jane Reichhold)


falling sick I dream

a meadow feathered with snow

dark ravens calling


©️2018 Ontheland


The Thursday dVerse challenge posted by Jill Lyman was to write a poem in response to another poem. I have chosen Leonard Cohen’s poem “Elegy” published in his first poetry book, “Let us Compare Mythologies” in 1956. Since I couldn’t find a copy of it on the internet, I took the above photo of a print version.

I find Leonard Cohen’s poem to be open to a few interpretations. This allowed me to respond, as we often do in conversation, as if my understanding fits with his:

I shall not search for him

along cold city streets,

through lowland mists, nor

where hawks swoop for their prey.

I will turn from gunfire

and wanton cruelty,

from parched wastelands

and scarred tar sands,

to places of comfort.

I will embrace sustenance

contemplate continuity,

the warm caress of sun as

chimes sing in gentle breezes and

seeds nestle in fertile ground,

kind words of love resonating still.


©️2018 Ontheland


From life you stepped,

your cancer-sieged body

no longer a home.

We were standing near

close to life’s questions,

close to you, your courage

your humour,

your memories,

so present,

knowing the time

would soon be here.

When your hour came

you bid the white flag to rise

to penetrate flesh,

releasing breath

from all painful fight.

You who survived war,

hid in marshes,

saved children from slaughter,

sailed schooners on rivers across the sea,

surrendered in different times —

forever brave while poppies weep.


©️2018 Ontheland

seventh gate

In this quatrain Omar Khayyam attempts to comprehend life and our place in the universe. He regards death and human fate as mysteries he cannot decipher. His pondering highlights our human predicament—awareness that death of our physical bodies is certain. Birds on the other hand are free of such thoughts:

at sunrise
birds praising their Creator
without questions

© Chèvrefeuille

at sunrise
a human being
welcomes dawn
gazes at the sky
wonders about life

©2017 Ontheland

My tanka is in response to the above quatrain from the Rubaiyat and to the haiku by Chevrefeuille.  Carpe Diem #1304 The Seventh Gate.


Brown blotches

on shrunken leaves

aged beauty


Withered stalks 

still bear sweet beans

the end is near


Three seasons

growth, decay, then death 

a rustic mirror


‘Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death.’ ~ Japanese Architect, Tadao Ando

In response to Embracing Wabi Sabi an Ontheroad haiku prompt.
©2017 Ontheland