Writing Japan

toriiofshannoshrine

(internet photo: Torii of Shanno Shrine in Nagasaki after atomic bomb was dropped on August 9, 1945. It was the only thing that withstood the explosion in the area)
A friend challenged me to write a poem about Japan; this is what I came up with.

Japan is a tsunami,
a world of samurai and sumo
ikebana and kamikaze.
The land of the rising sun
graces us with cherry blossoms
and temples that flow
from a calligraphy brush.

Earthquakes reverberate
half a world away,
carry strength
to the west,
remnants of people’s live
swept out to sea.

A crewless “ghost ship”
sails to Haida Gwaii.
While we sip exotic tea
and inspect wreckage,
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
disturb us with grace,
slowly dissolving.

Japan is a sculptured garden,
glass and sleek steel
arranged with precision
next to paper walled teahouses,
Mount Fuji an elegant backdrop
to bullet trains that shuttle
honorable tradition
into a unpruned future.

Guide

old hands

Weathered hands
mapped by lines of experience
gently pick up a shrivelled, dry seed.
Tan, calloused skin dwarfs the grain.

Slow, deliberate movement
rolls the seed between perceptive
thumb and fingers.
Rich, black dirt
tenderly accepts the buried offering.

Wise blue eyes observe patiently
from a distance.

Delicate green sprigs
burst through soft loam.
Pale and fragile new growth erupts
disoriented
by new surroundings.

Sunlight sends warm caresses.
Strength flows through its golden glow.
With inspired confidence the plant
deliberately stretches for the light.

When contact is made with a solid wall on the left,
new shoots and blossoms are sent to the right.

A vision of rich shades grows.
Thick, green leafy vines.
White and pink petals.
A triumphant shock of compressed energy
strives toward a radiant sky.

Petals soon fall.
Vines thicken, become brittle.
Naked seeds stand exposed on stems.

Knowledgeable hands pluck them
as they dry and shrivel.
New growth contained within their tiny husks
will not be forgotten.
They, too, will push through the soil
refreshed
recharged
jubilant.

We Sing

How easily we fall
into thinking we are different
special
We are wonderfully individual!

But when different
equals alone
we are wrong

Alone we lose our strength
alone we fall prey to
our own false thoughts and misunderstanding
Alone we become victims of inner fears
Deep seated desires and urges
plague our thoughts
cloud our eyes
run through our veins

We are unique
We are not different
We each share a story that winds
its thread through all willing to listen
Each beating heart
recognizes the call of another
The beat stretches from the beginning
of time
and touches us all

It’s a beautiful song
we are meant to share
and sing joyously together

Reservoir

gratitude-1

(image credit: selflovewarrior.com)

Family and friends encircle
bestow comfort, warmth
add protective layer of strength

My heart swells with gratitude
reservoir filling
to nourish and quench in times of need
times when heartache withers
times of miscommunication or drought of silence

Yesterday’s troubles remain
not willing to leave without a fight
but they cower
in the presence of hope