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).