… i have been carefully making my way through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, taking notes, saving quotes as i go… it is a book i have read several times and it inspires me in all kinds of ways… it is part of a list of texts that i have read and been inspired by that i have decided to re-read and really pay attention to… my quest is to see what they might have in common and weather they together have a message on how one should embrace their life, find meaning in it… a big spiritual mountain to climb, but i have been all around the base and part way up the sides in numerous places numerous times… it is time, i am thinking, for an all out assault on the summit… my 4K weeks are well beyond half done…

02 Haiku of Buson

… the poem that grabs my attention…

Fallen petals of red plum—

they seem to be burning

on the clods of horse shit.1

… it makes me laugh, the contradiction, something so ethereal in nature juxtaposed with something natural that is not…

… another one catches my attention… it is about tilling a field and a man who asks the way then disappears… my first understanding is literal… that a man has asked directions and once received, has proceeded on his way and moved out of sight… with a second reading the metaphorical nature of the poem comes through to me… the man asking the way is the same man doing the tilling and the way is spiritual practice… physical labor grounds one in the right hear, right now… the way… is that how crewing on the boat today will be?… my doubts and questions will recede into the necessity of the moment?…


  1. Buson. The Essential Haiku: versions of Basho, Buson & Issa. Translation, Robert Hass. The Echo Press, 1994. [return]

02 Morning Spiritual Moment

The Haiku of Basho

… i don’t know if it is my mood, but the Haikus i read this morning seem all about alienation, loneliness… they leave me adrift, there isn’t one to latch on to… i read on… i land on this one, Basho’s death poem:

Sick on a journey,

my dreams wander

the withered fields.

… yes, this one seems appropriate for the morning after the news about J…

20210614.02 Haiku

… sleepless nights, oil freezes; after winter crysanthemums, radishes; she cats, love and barley; a monkey’s face is a monkey face; fish guts smell; a woman fingers back her hair while wrapping rice cakes; life is a makeshift hut like Sogi’s; summer robes and lice; when there are clouds, moon watchers take a break; is there a god?; even children gaze at the moon while husking rice; heat shimmers above dead grass…

… i have this thought, what if we only spoke to one another in haiku?… would we make progress?…

20210613.02 Haiku

… as a spiritual practice, i read haiku, twelve at a time… i learn broadly about moments right here, right now…

… i read about midnight frost and borrowing the shirt of a scarecrow; dusk dimming the eyes of hawks and quail chirping; spiders singing in the autumn wind; calm moons and gay boys fearing the howling of foxes (do foxes howl?); human sadness, the cry of a single cukoo; sadness, morning glories and bad paint jobs; that banana trees are superior to bush clover; the painting of field stubble black by winter rain; first snows on bridges only half finished (this in particular strikes me as a metaphor for the plans we make for our lives, ever the unfinished work, we leave this world still without ever finishing); cocks crowing, hard winter rain, cow sheds; bamboo groves hiding winter storms; that winter worlds have one color brushed by the wind…

birds praising the dawn

the dog paces

its a new day

… my attempt at a haiku sort of poem… one thing the Robert Hass translations have given me is freedom from the syllable structure…

20210612.02 Haiku

… i turn to the Haiku of Basho, Buson, & Issa for the centering spiritual start to my day… one by Basho catches my attention in particular…

the spring we don’t see—

on the back of a hand mirror

a plum tree in flower1

… at first i read it as a comment on vanity, that we stare at our own reflections in the hand mirror, and fail to notice the flowering plum tree out the window… then i realize that the back of the mirror is likely to be decorated with an embossed or painted image of a plum tree in bloom… still, there is the issue of being more interested in our own reflections than the beauty on the other side of the mirror…


  1. Basho. Translated by Robert Hass. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa, edited by Robert Hass. The Echo Press, 1994 [return]

04 The End of Spiritual Observance

… i strike the metal bowl,

… the end of spiritual observance,

… now, what’s not important?

03 What Basho Tells Me

… i read of Kyoto and cuckoo’s cries; roads not travelled and autumn evenings; whitebait with black eyes in nets; felled trees and moonlight; autumn moons and chestnut worms; snowy mornings and dried salmon; crows and bare branches; outhouses, moonflowers and torchlight; crane’s legs shortening in spring rain; how spring implies autumn; weathered bones and wind-pierced bodies; misty rains that obscure Mt. Fuji…

… this is what Basho has to tell me in twelve poems… he makes much of little things, brief crystalline moments… i think back to the irritation of messy food falling in my lap, repeatedly, a little thing, a brief moment, a moment i was alive and present… should i be grateful?…

02 Spiritual Observance

… it’s Sunday,

… i make the metal bowl sing,

… and read haiku in lieu of prayers.