Thursday, March 31, 2005

Manila ... and me

thoughts of Manila ...
heavy cloud shadows
on the paper

gray cogon ...
the desolate fields where
once my heart dwelt

balut shells
in the dark - the movie
was not that good

sundown -
a stray dog barks
at strangers

bay sunset -
the stench of garbage

nightlife -
Mabini's red lights
delay the morning

sun long dead -
the homeland darkens
in the distance

Reminiscing darkly about the Philippine capital. Strange, perhaps, but every time the plane lands, it is evening. My soul experiences a black-out when my feet touch ground.
These haiku were written within the past 3 months.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tulip Tanka

deep pink
tulips adorn my garden
the colour
of the crayons I used up
to make them real

bloeien ongeremd
in de tuin
waar eens opa's as
werd gestrooid

bloom uninhibited
in the garden
were once grandpa's ashes
were scattered

Even at pre-kindergarten age, I dreamed of tulips in the garden, and spent box after box of crayola drawing them in all sizes and colours. A brick house, tiles on the roof, curtains at the window, a fruit tree of some kind somewhere ... and tulips. And guess where I live now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Animal Planet

dry savannah
watchful eyes follow
the zebra crossing

savannah sun
cheetah spots swipe at
an antelope's leg

hooves echo the drumming
of heavy rain

buffalo carcass
vultures jockey
into position

jungle foliage -
tiger stripes mingle
with the tall grass

only thin air
between the condor
and its prey

elephants in a
mangrove swamp - trunks
and roots in water

a lioness falls upon
a gazelle - the laughter
of waiting hyenas

table music -
a fly tugs at a
spider's harp strings

This series of linked haiku was, and still is, inspired by the various television wildlife programs on Animal Planet, a division of Discovery Channel, but also by programs on the National Geographic channel. There were originally 12.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


The turning cradle was a tin can with
a bell to summon the holy

to fetch unholy flesh concealed within,
a lump of clay in unwashed rags,

its head a ball, its shoulders shapeless,
the heart beating without sticks.

The holy women, diapers on their heads,
first crossed themselves, then

cleaned the offering with holy water,
put it in a bed with bars, gave it food.

A medicine man counted its fingers and
toes, a holy man chanted over it.

Later, a couple entered the room, and
called it a whore.

Written on 06 April 2004. One of my first poems about my abrupt "coming of age".

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wild Flowers

Original Version:

Running through the fields of wild grass,
we pluck each other, gazing, laughing,
wild flowers unpetalling, seeds drifting,
strangled in each other’s scented hair.

Your hands stroke my willing shoulders,
my nose your open neck, we face the sun
together, visions of fresh juicy plums
watering our open, insatiable mouths.

Then we take each other’s hand and walk,
flowing from shady mid-afternoon to silver
evening, the fruit-laden, fragrant earth
tasting the honeyed breath of our skin.

Linked Haiku Version:

fields of wild grass

early spring
the honeyed scent
of wild herbs

veiled and deep
the fragrance
of petals unfolding

summer day
in the buttercup field
a cow and its moo

my hair and the grass

paradise -
an earthworm shimmies up
the plum tree

sunflowers - why
do I smile back?

For rather obvious "flowery" reasons, I have never submitted the original version, written in 2002, for publishing. The linked haiku version I have posted online at the Brownsong forum. You don't have to wonder which one I prefer!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Moon Haiku

the hunter's burden -
full moon

hunted deer
its eyes search the moon
one last time

when you see my face
what do you see?

first quarter -
half a coffee ring on
my newspaper

November moon -
the last ball of cheese
in the fridge

eve of the storm
black clouds stain
the full moon

a poker-faced moon,
three lovers

rising moon -
which basket will you
fall into?

Eight of a growing number of moon haiku. "Moon" is an autumn kigo.
Except for one, these were written within the last four weeks. "November moon" was published online at, 01-15 November 2004.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Slow Dawn [shintai haiku]

slow dawn -
squeezing the morning out
of a toothpaste tube

Written / posted 10 February 2005 in the WHC workshop; selected for display in the WHC Showcase on 19 February 2005. [And to think I wrote this at a sleepy moment upon arriving at work...] I thought it was senryu, but I guess it's not.

Friday, February 18, 2005

For Ri

I see them
as he touches her
between her legs
her fruit ripe, swollen;
his fingers,
long, warm knives,
into her waiting
open in his hands,
his thumb
on her very nucleus;
she moans,
her breath in gasps;
her juice
drips onto his skin,
liquid fire.

He sees me,
his eyes two lights
as he holds her tight,
my eyes slowly orbit
to her face,
flushed, drugged
with desire;
cradling her gently,
his tongue
glides to her breast,
to taste her scent;
a smile
catches, parts my lips;

she sees me, later
as I make tea.

Written at 04.30 this morning ... for Ri.

Published in Makata International Poetry Journal [], Vol. 6, No. 3, March 2005.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

To Her Who Almost Was

to her
who almost was my mother
a gentle kiss
for all the lives we had
that never were

Written during my lunch break today, after having opened Gene Murtha's mail containing a William Stafford poem called "Stillborn". Suddenly wonder if they told her I was stillborn, too.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Winter 2004 - 2005

early morning frost
a thin layer of sleep
on the windshield

winter morning
playing with my thoughts
on the snow

winter stillness
deer shadows rustling
behind the trees

layer upon layer
fallen snow fills in
a blackbird's tracks

winter beech -
twigs cover the sky
with brushstrokes

field of snow
in the distance
tufts of trees

Written between the early days of December 2004 and late January 2005. December 2004 marked the rather long moment when I seemed to have discovered my style. These are, in effect, my first ever winter haiku. And now, it's almost spring ...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Haiku Experiment

The winter moon looks cold outside. The writer is working till late at night with the radio on and getting tired and sleepy. [The radio is broadcasting news about the Iraq war.]

Neo-Classical haiku form:

winter moon -
the news weaves through
my scribblings

Shintai haiku form:

cold moon -
news of a far-away war
distracts my pen

Vanguard haiku forms:

a harsh light
as the news interrogates
my sensibilities

cold news - my pen
scratches a trail of blood
on the paper

Senryu form:

faithful pen
a quaint attempt to keep things
black and white

My first attempt to write about a single theme using various haiku forms. This specific workshop was set up by WHC director Susumu Takiguchi. The challenge of a hands-on approach always appeals to me. I haven't as yet received any feedback, though.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Old House [a tanka]

how slowly
the old house crumbles
a heap of stone
long before the fire
burned all my love

This tanka may eventually become part of a longer chain of haiku and tanka about the house where I spent my early years - a well of sorrow, a thorn, a dead tree.

Published in Makata International Poetry Journal [], Vol. 6, No. 3, March 2005.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


On the black beach of Dyrholaey,
a cairn of stones.

Thick clouds linger on Vatnajökull,
swelling the glaciers.

From crevices in the basalt cliffs,
puffins fly out to fish.

A turf house is smothered in green,
its door open.

The pale light of the midnight sun
hides behind Mÿrdal.

This was written in the summer of 2004, part of our memories of Iceland, a land we wish to visit again one day. There is much to see there, much to take your breath away, a land of rugged yet relaxing beauty. The word "vik" means "inlet", a piece of land between two promontories. It is where the word "viking" comes from.

Friday, January 28, 2005

First Quarter Tanka

night clouds
swallow the wafer-thin
darker than shadows
my graying hair

sailing in the mist
above the trees
starlight weaves
through pine needles

Written on 13 January 2005; the first quarter appeared sharply etched in the sky, as thin as a blade, almost as though it had been polished - before the first cloud passed by.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

For The Tsunami Victims, 2004

The earth groaned,
opening her wounds
one by one.

A fisherman
finds the net of his life
in tatters, nothing more
than one big hole.

A father caresses
his dead son again
and again, and again.

The waves have
washed away photographs,
faces, names.

A mother clutches
her small child, and runs
everywhere, nowhere.

Widows hug
their saris, lines of grief
mark their faces.
No flowers
for the mass graves.

An orphan
desperately clings
to his family tree.

After the waves
half the skies are empty;
a hundred thousand stars
have gone out.

Awakening -
how long before the waters
reach my shore?

On 26 December 2004, an underwater quake in the Indian Ocean caused massive waves to crash upon the shores of Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and, the worst hit, the island of Aceh in Indonesia, resulting in a high toll of human life.

Published in its true form in Makata International Poetry Journal [], Vol. 6, No. 2, February 2005.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Year's End [a haibun]

A quiet evening. I curl up on the couch, television turned off, mug of tea with lemon, plaid blanket to keep my knees warm, and think again of my mother -- the real one.

She has always been an enigma to me. Every morning, I look at myself in the mirror -- at my eyes, my hair, my face with its changing expressions, and try very hard to see her. The gray in my hair makes me think of the swift passing of time. I wonder how old she is, where she comes from.

dust on the ground
the bones of
my forefathers

I have no name, no date of birth, no parentage, no photographs, no letters. I do not know the sound of her voice. Does she talk like me at the end of a long day? Do her eyebrows meet the way mine do whenever I am trying to solve a puzzle? Does she sing, weep, write poetry, walk on the beach alone? Perhaps, too, she wonders about me. No doubt, we carry parts of each other. I read this haibun aloud, pretend it is her.

wind by the river
like my mother

Outside, the darkness of a winter evening, but for the moon. I am thinking that, perhaps, she looks at it, too, sometimes. Maybe she saw it last night before she went to bed, and observed that it was the same moon as the one last month, last year, year after year, for the past forty years, and forgot it when she closed her eyes. Old moon, that has seen so many things with his one eye ... even me.

moon rising
looking for the face
that looks like me

The original version was written in week 52, 2004, in the dying days of December.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dyrholaey Beach - fragments

my footsteps
deeper than my shadows
at sunrise

in the cold
morning air - the clear call
of a gull

watering hole -
puffins and ducks
in the shallows

thoughts washing up
on the shore

north wind
blowing over the dune grass
sand so still

another grain of sand
on the beach

the sunset and the shore
the cries of gulls

only water
between my footsteps
and the horizon

blue glow
of early evening
a puffin's last cry

flaming sunset
even sand grains
have shadows

These haiku were mainly inspired by Dyrholaey Beach, in Iceland (southern coastline), where we spent our summer holiday in 2004, but also by the beach in Borssele, here in The Netherlands, which will one day be converted into an industrial port because it lies between Rotterdam and Antwerp (Belgium).