Here is another tanka I composed in 2006:




fuyu no yo
matsu no ma ni
jizobousatsu ari
hou, oboeroyo
to kaze ga naku no


In the winter’s night
between the pine trees
sits Jizobousatsu
‘Hey remember… remember…’
the wind cries


In my previous post, THE LITTLE STONE BUDDHA AND THE LONELY FIFE OF THE RAMEN SELLER, I talked a bit about the jizobousatsu–the little stone Bodhisattvas.  You find them in mountain temples and shrines, and other sacred places in the mountains and countryside. You can buy ones that are anywhere from a few inches tall to maybe a foot or so. Then you can place it yourself on one of these spots with your own prayer. However they are generally considered guardians of children, and children especially need to be guarded in the afterlife. Most of them are placed with prayers for a stillbirth, or an aborted child (which is fairly common in Japan). There is something certainly tragic and sad connected with many of these little statues.

I have seen very old jizobousatsu that are so old, the stone carvings have lost most of their details. Generally each one looks more like a phallus–correction, many of them look just like a phallus.




tanikaze ya
soko no jizosama no


The valley wind!
of the Jizo-sama there.


This is actually a summer haiku. The valley wind is a wind that rises up from a valley in the summer. This Jizobousatsu could be sitting in the valley below, or this haiku could be metaphoric for a memory of some sort rising up from the subconscious that reminds one of other, more hidden things, or perhaps that tragic thing one doesn’t want to recall, or at least recall directly…




tanibutokoro no
furu jinja


Winter’s mist
the old shrine
at the bottom, deep in the steep valley


tanibutokoro refers to deep within a steep valley that is surrounded on each side by steep mountains. Shinto shrines are always painted a bright reddish-orange, and are very ornate and detailed in texture. Can you imagine, deep in a green mountain valley, still crisp and cold from the winter, and snow still sitting in spots, mist rising up everywhere, that somehow the bright (but fading) colors and bits of details peek through from the old shrine—probably abandoned…? Or, perhaps once again this refers to a spot deep in your subconscious–a forgotten spot—-a sacred place.

Maybe it is not even your own sacred place—but that of your ancestors, still sitting there in your personal collective unconscious. It was this part of the psyche, the collective unconscious, that Jung said held the truths, traditions, wisdom, and cultural motifs of all our ancestors. A shrine is a very old structure that goes back even into the distant paleolithic. Even the Neanderthal built shrines with the bones of Cave Bears. If you go back far enough, we all have those same indigenous roots. There is a connection between those messages, symbols, and archetypal meanings buried in the ancient cave paintings, that returns in the myths and symbols of Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, Mohenjodaro,  Ancient China, Japan, or even North and South America, and Australia; and that still resonates in the organized religions of today.

Many do not realize it, but that long forgotten, ancient, abandoned shrine buried in the bottom depths of the collective unconscious, is still just as significant today, as it was when our distant ancestors actually used it.



About a year ago I found a book on Chinese poetry. I don’t buy too many books on Chinese poetry because, of the ones that are out there, many of them leave out the original Chinese. And Chinese is very open to interpretation especially in translating poetry into English. If I buy a book on Chinese poetry, I want to see the original Chinese with it—so I can better understand the Chinese poem. Fortunately this book had that.

Anyway, within the book there was a poem that I found to be similar to the last one in my previous post. Chinese poetry reflects a lot of Buddhist sentiment as well, but it is also heavily influenced by the animistic beliefs of Taoism. This poem is by Wang Wei who lived about 700 A.D. This is my own translation,


The empty mountain, no one can be seen
but voices are heard
The sun’s reflection reaches deep into the forest
and shines upon the green moss.


I left out the word human, or person or people in the second verse, which appears in the original Chinese. Afterall, disembodied voices echoing from an empty mountain, may not necessarily be people—they could after all be gods, spirits, fairies, ghosts…

The last one of my own haiku in my previous post:




Oku eh, oku eh to
Fuyu mori ni
gekko ga…


Deeper, deeper
into the winter forest–
the moonlight…


In my animistic world, if it is moving to the center, it is moving to that universal center, the axis mundi: the World Tree, or World Cave, or perhaps the shaman’s fire (of Mongolian or Ural Altaic Shamanic traditions) or even just the center of the forest, which is sacred in the animistic traditions of Bali, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other corners of South East Asia. The Sun, of course, is always sacred, just like the moon.

Here is another of mine referencing the moon from 2009:




Michi wakarazu ni
yuki no tsuki mo


Lost, and
even the snowy moon
is lonely


The word, ‘lost,’ does not refer to the moon, but to an individual, either in the first person, second person, or however you experience it. The Japanese, michi wakarazu, literally means to not understand the path, road, or way. But nature, from our perspective, often reflects our own sentiments. When we are happy, we see a happy moon, even if we do not always consciously catch it as such. But an angry person may look at that same moon and see an angry one.


Here is another one from that time—an idea for a haiku, because it doesn’t have a seasonal word and is one consonant too many:




Oi no shoufu ya
chi o haku to
enji no kane


The aged prostitute!
coughs up blood
a distant temple bell.


For those of you who do not speak Japanese, ‘to’ means ‘and’ which means we could place an ‘and’ before the distant temple bell. Coughing up blood is never a good sign. In years past, it was usually a sign of advancing tuberculosis. The festering disease was killing the poor soul on a daily basis, as it dissolved the lungs into a dead mush. You knew the end was coming with mucus-filled coughing fits that became more and more bloody, over time you found it more and more difficult to breathe, eventually gasping for air that your lungs, filled with necrotized holes, could barely latch onto to feed into your increasingly oxygen-starved blood stream. In especially advanced cases, you didn’t cough up blood tainted mucus, you actually coughed up copious amounts of blood…

One of my attempts to make this into an actual haiku:




Oi no shoufu ya
chi o haku to
kitsune naki


The aged prostitute!
coughs up blood
a fox cries out


The fox is a winter word, placing this back into the winter. The fox, of course is the Japanese trickster, and at a deeper level, it is a motif filled with sexual content. The fox would bewitch unsuspecting men–especially if they were wandering home through forests or the countryside. They would find themselves coming upon a beautiful woman or young girl, who would then seduce him. He would have a night of great sex, only to wake up, the following morning (if he still has enough energy to wake up), near death, to see the fox trotting off in its true animal form. The fox had taken all his yang (which, like for the Chinese, meant semen). They believed that if a man lost all his yang, he would die. (In fact, the secret to eternal life in China—the secret of all those immortals (what the Japanese called Sennin, and in Mandarin was called, Hsienjin) was for the man to accumulate yin, without releasing much yang. In other words, the man would have to bring women to orgasm, without releasing his own seed. If he successfully accumulated yin and retained his yang, it would cause his skull to grow as all this sexual yin and yang accumulates there. There was a time in China, when all the women of the household–wives, concubines, maids, daughters, were available to the master to help him achieve eternal life. Think about that the next time you see a Chinese statue with a high forehead. On the plus side, at least they placed a lot of focus on making their women satisfied, unlike Western man and his repressed sexuality of the Victorian Age, that left room for plenty of prostitutes, but it was all about satisfaction of the male. For the women, especially the wives, who were used for making children, it was simply her, ‘cross to bear’).

The prostitute was like the fox in many ways. Maybe her partners didn’t die, but the money left their hands–and there are plenty of Japanese stories of men who became obsessed with prostitutes. One story, made into the movie, ‘In the Realm of the Senses,’ was based on a true story that happened in Japan before World War II. The prostitute was as obsessed with her lover as he was with her. As their obsession grew, he ignored his own family, she her customers—they hardly left the room he rented at a Ryoukan (a Japanese Inn). But it eventually led to his death at her hands. Western man had the same motif as the fox—the succubus.

But the fox, like any trickster, provides a service and is important to the Japanese. The often very elaborate Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrines are to the fox god—a god of rice, abundance, and fertility (See my previous post, THE BELL IN THE LONELY TEMPLE, CLOUD HIDDEN). So again there are various levels of experiencing this haiku.

If you have ever heard a fox cry out, it is nothing like a wolf. It is a troubled call–it can include a whine, but it is a shrill, unsettling, troubled call–at least to our human sensibilities.




I ran across this video of Lindsey Stirling playing Celtic fiddle over dubstep. I loved it, and immediately knew I had some haiku for this video



I’ve always loved experimenting with eclectic music and bringing it together. The Moody Blues did an incredible job of bringing classical music into the Rock realm. Rick Wakeman added synthesizers to the classical music-rock. The Beatles and others introduced the sitar and Indian music into Rock. I’ve played around with classical themes embellished with synthesizer…


But Lindsey’s Celtic Fiddle played over synthesizers playing dubstep is amazing. Lindsey Stirling is hot as hell, her music is great——–her dance moves are erotic…. This was filmed here in Colorado (I was thinking Iceland or somewhere in the Scandinavian regions)—-but, yeah—–I dig this.






Celtic music has always given me a feeling of the spirituality that lies underneath—playing back to the old Celtic and Pictish indigenous traditional ways.


This video immediately made me think back to an old Tanka I composed—experimenting with that traditional style of Japanese poetry. (This is an old style, based on haiku, but using 31 syllables rather than 17). I liked the idea but did not care for the poem at first because I thought it was too descriptive—-but it was an early experiment, and it has grown on me. This poem is about Miko, the Japanese shamaness of long ago–Japanese maidens who called down the Shinto Gods—it could be one, it could be a group:





tani butokoro no


Miko kami oroshi ni

mimizuku naru


Winter haze

in a steep deep valley

the old shrine,

As the Miko calls down the gods

cry of the Horned Owl.


Here is another one:





yami no katayuku

Yamahime ya


A winter haze

heading into the darkness…

Ah! A Mountain Goddess


A Yamahime was a Shinto Goddess of the mountain. There was also the Yamatsumi, the God of the mountain. Shinto is animistic, and believes everything is alive. But older, more majestic things especially have gods living within them. In the mountains you could sometimes find little statues of the mountain god and/or goddess, placed in a special place in the forest—-the gods within that mountain. Then again, one might encounter the gods themselves…



Another Miko one—




Yama yuki ya

shiranu jinja ni

Miko no uta


The mountain snow!

in an unkown shrine

the Miko‘s song


The Miko‘s song, heard from some hidden shrine in the midst of the mountain snow, would be one of calling the gods to come down. If it is accompanied, it would certainly be with a drum, possibly bells and a whining high pitched wind instrument. It is fast paced but with restrained tones. Celtic music too, has a certain restrained tonal quality about it—-as if the hidden sacredness underlying all of reality, is at that particular moment, straining to pierce through the veil between the spiritual, and the physical—but for all except the few most deeply in tune, the veil strains, but remains closed, leaving only the slight hint of what lays within.



OK—here’s another one I just happened to find—I wrote it in December 2009:




Yamamori ni


yuki no yado nari


In the mountain forest

the old shrine

becomes shelter from the snow


Haiku is supposed to be experienced subjectively, and there are many experiences you could derive from this, but picture this, you are hiking through a mountain forest when a snow storm hits. You duck in to an old forgotten shrine, which protects you from the snow, but who knows what old spirits, what old gods, are lurking inside, and safe from the snow you are now in their world…


That reminds me of an old Japanese saying—-“you’ll never be cursed by the god you don’t touch.” (触らぬ神にたたりなし, Sawaranu kami ni, tatari nashi).


But I think this haiku really fits her video—-she’s playfully wandering through these ice castles (conjuring up spirits?)—but there is a little hesitation at times, maybe slight moments of fear——what is out there she seems to wonder…