sentience – – haibun

“…we took rooms at an inn with…Mr. Kansho, who was in town to attend memorial services for the haiku poet Issho, locally renowned for his verse and devotion to craft. The poet’s elder brother served as host, the poet having died last winter.

Tremble, oh my grave–

in time my cries will be

only this autumn wind”

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 29-30; an excerpt from Frank Tassone’s selection for Day 20 of November with Basho


Matsuo Basho had no idea that his words would still be known and cherished, in Japan and beyond, over 300 years after his death.


a window in time

open until


returns to the wind



©️2019 Ontheland

clouds gathering – – tanka

“After several days, clouds gathering over the North Road, we left Sakata reluctantly, aching at the thought of a hundred thirty miles to the provincial capital of Kaga. We crossed the Nezu Barrier into Echigo Province, and from there went on to Ichiburi Barrier in Etchu, restating our resolve all along the way. Through nine hellish days of heat and rain, all my old maladies tormenting me again, feverish and weak, I could not write.

Altair meets Vega


already the night is changed”

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 27-28…quote selected by Frank Tassone for Day 19 of November with Basho

Suddenly this passage from Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior sinks in. After a gruelling day on the road, Basho’s spirits lift as he remembers that the next day is a special festival (Tanabata) celebrating the annual reunion of two lovers. For a response, I wrote a tanka finding words from Basho’s haibun for the first three lines:




gathering along the way

through heat and rain

tasting salt on our lips

the sea we left miles behind



©️2019 Ontheland

Tanabata Festival, woodcut by Ando, Hiroshiga

Mount Royal – – haibun

Montreal, the city where my parents and two youngest siblings moved in the seventies…a home visited over the years…the place where both my parents died.

One of our first Montreal excursions was to the top of Mount Royal where there is a giant cross. It was a hot, sweaty ascent on a summer day.

family climb

my old photo shows

wildflowers on the edge


©️2019 Ontheland

Day 14 of Frank Tassone’s November with Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior inspired me to think about climbing.

what remains – – haibun

How the years have flown from childhood to young adult to old age…the dreams pursued seem distant now…the tears, the yearning. Love and accomplishments were once castles to attain and defend.

Someday, someone else will open this desk drawer.


rattling with the paper clips

five tarnished keys



©️2019 Ontheland

Another haibun inspired by an episode of Basho‘s Narrow Road to the Interior. The following quote is from Day 11 of Frank Tassone’s November with Basho series:

The ancient ruins of Yasuhira–from the end of the Golden Era–lie out beyond the Koromo Barrier, where they stood guard against the Ainu people. The faithful elite remained bound to the castle–for all their valor, reduced to ordinary grass…

We sat a while, our hats for seat, seeing it all through tears.

summer grasses:

all that remains of great soldiers’

imperial dreams

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior” translated by Sam Hamill