Tag Archives: Japanese poetry

One brushstroke at a time

painting of beach scene with haiku

When I first tried sumi ink painting five years ago, I struggled. There was frustration. There was angst. In this ancient medium, you grind an ink stick made of pine soot and glue in an ink stone with a few drops of water, then paint with bamboo brushes on rice paper. Sounds simple enough, right? But in practice, there are many ways to go wrong—and I excelled at all of them. I ground the ink too thin and it dried sad and gray on the paper; I ground it too thick and my strokes ran out Read more

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Before we were tamed

painting of red fox

For the past twenty years, my family and I have lived in the country on the side of a redwood-covered hill. In the morning the woods fill with bird conversations, and we often glimpse deer and foxes wandering past our house. A raccoon that hung around our compost pile got nicknamed Deke, short for “decomposition.” But when “he” showed up one day trailing four fluffy baby raccoons, we had to rename her Delilah. Because we don’t have the heart to chase them off, Delilah and her grown Read more

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Juicy bugs and other treats

three chickens with haiku

Happy Haiku Poetry Day! To celebrate, I’m sharing a selection of the haiku and senryu I’ve had published in the past year. (And if, like most people, you were taught that haiku in English need to follow the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, think again. On his Graceguts site, haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch explains why that is an urban myth, and the secrets of how to write good haiku.)

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Small miracle

hibiscus bud with adoption haiku

My darling nephew Enakai, adopted from the Marshall Islands last spring, just had his kemem, the traditional Marshallese celebration when a child survives to age one. From the photos taken at his party in Tucson, I could see Enakai toddling around in his little Hawaiian shirt, admiring his surfer-themed cake and smiling at all the attention. A charming extravert, this little guy loves parties. It’s no surprise that his first word was “hi!”

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Hereby resolved

Japanese lanterns and blessing

The start of a new year is a time to consider constancy and change in our lives, to take a look at the big picture and make any needed adjustments. I’m not big on new year’s resolutions—it’s far too easy to fall short and disappoint yourself. But this year I’m making one resolution: simply to be more present, more of the time. With help from meditation, journaling, and long walks with the dog, my aim is to become more mindful. We can’t stop time, but we can experience it more deeply.

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When you work for an idiot

excited dog in entry room

It’s been said that one of the downsides of being self-employed is that you may find yourself working for an idiot. As the founder, CEO and sole staffer of Makino Studios, I get to consider this on a regular basis.

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Ripples from a stone

doe and fawn in forest clearing, with haiku

I’ve been thinking about cause and effect—and ripples. Even we fuzzy artsy types, who met our college science requirement by taking “Physics for Poets,” know that when you throw a stone in the water, the effect is not linear: the ripples radiate out in concentric circles, farther and farther from the source. So it goes in the rest of life: while actions certainly have consequences, you can never clearly predict what they will be. A tossed pebble may create a wave that washes a bug Read more

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I read the news today, oh boy

bird's nest with robin eggs

Is it just my imagination, or is the news worse than usual? In the Middle East, after killing two American journalists, ISIS has just beheaded a British aid worker, and we are sliding deeper into a military campaign that no one really wants. In Africa, Ebola is rampaging virtually unchecked while fear spreads even faster. All around the world, climate change is wreaking havoc, yet our political leaders seem unable to take meaningful action on the most pressing issue of our time, not just for Read more

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Happily ever after, and other fairy tales

two frogs in pond with lily

We all know the fairy tale about the frog prince. In the traditional version, once the princess lets the frog eat from her golden bowl and sleep in her bed for three nights, he turns into a handsome prince. (In the modern, instant gratification version, the transformation happens as soon as she kisses him.) The Brothers Grimm account concludes: “They then took leave of the king, and got into the coach with eight horses, and all set out, full of joy and merriment, for the prince’s kingdom, Read more

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Adoption journey

palm trees from below with haiku

As I shared in my last post, in April I flew to the Marshall Islands with my sister Yuri to help her adopt a baby. After changing planes in Hawaii and flying across the international date line, we landed in Majuro, on a spit of land so narrow it appeared we were landing right in the Pacific. adoption journey we fly into tomorrow On the ride into town, on the atoll’s single road, we tried to take it all in: the coconut palms; the brown-skinned children swimming in the lagoon; the jumbled Read more

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