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