Japanese Death Poems

In the death poem (jisei), the essential idea was that at one’s final moment of life, one’s reflection on death (one’s own usually but also death in general) could be especially lucid and meaningful and therefore also constituted an important observation about life. The poem was considered a gift to one’s loved ones, students, and friends. The tradition began with zen monks, but was also popular with poets, whose poems were often just as solemn as those of monks, or entirely flippant and humorous. The poems are often full of symbols of death, such as the full moon, the western sky, the song of the cuckoo, and images of the season in which the writer died. http://www.quietspaces.com/deathpoems.html

The following are a collection of my own Japanese Death Poems (no I’m not nearing death…just playing):


This world has gone dark
With one foot in the next
I see light, peace…your face.


Dark clouds obscure the moon,
beating of my heart slows,
the open window beckons.


Stark, cold branches
silhouetted against the moon
point in all directions;
choosing my next path, I depart.


Torrential river’s rush,
now a dwindling,
drying rivulet.


Love, we still have love!
It remains constant
unlike this temporal body.


Whippoorwill’s call
at evening’s nigh…life
lifts gently from my
form before dawn.


Why, death is nothing!
It’s like walking from
one room to another.


More there than here,
a sudden burst of energy
hurls you into the beyond,
much like birth.


The hiker
moves swiftly
over rocky terrain,
boulders, mountains,
but one slip and the very
ground he depended
on meets him head-on
and he’s gone.


I looked around
and noticed people
aging and dying.
The belief was so
strongly embedded
that I followed suit.


Summer’s heat rising
from the pavement…
has no effect on my chilling form.


The lifeless state mirrors the deathless,
all is one continuous thread
weaving throughout lifetimes of infinity.


When passing a stranger in the street or watching those parade by you at the mall, with your deepest faith in all things good, project to them with heartfelt kindness and deliberation:  I wish you well.  I wish you peace.  I wish your soul’s most deep quietude and knowing.  May you be blessed.  May you feel love.  May you feel the compassion of the universe serving you in the utmost capacity.  May you feel happiness and joy.  May you remain at peace in the face of life’s challenges.

These blessings will go forth and touch all who receive them, and as an added bonus, these blessings will foster these very things within you.

This is a powerful meditative practice that simply asks that you wish goodwill toward others.  Watch as it brings wellbeing into your own life.

Temple Bell

Mountain temple bell
Gong echoes down the valley
Snow leopard’s ears twitch

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“The Snowman”


Again, I am posting this story of “The Snowman.” May all have a blessed and happy Christmas surrounded in love…

Originally posted on Bodhirose's Blog:

     In 1978,  English author, Raymond Briggs, published the story “The Snowman”.  It is a wordless book using only illustrations to tell the story.  The pictures are in full color and are in a hazy softness that hints of the falling snow that brings about the story that unfolds.  A movie was made of the book in 1982 and has a different ending than the book but is also wordless except for one song that is sung, “Walking in the Air”.  The movie is 26 minutes long.

     The movie (and the book) came to my attention in 1982 when I was approached by our family hairdresser who asked if our two daughters, then 9 and 7, would like to assist her husband in the review of a new children’s movie.  Her husband, Jay Boyer, was the movie critic for the Orlando Sentinel at the time.  He would interview…

View original 335 more words

The Caller

The gray, damp and cold
sky echoes my mood.
Listless and brooding,
I feel the lack of warmth
and interest even within my breath.
I emerge when engaged
with others but when left
to myself, I sink into the age-
old feelings, expected this
time of year, but not welcomed.

She’s as old as me,
this caller that creeps
inside and makes herself
at home on these dark,
shortened days.
Images of despair and
malady enfold and grip,
totally enveloping.

It is said that every seven
years our bodies are
restored and refreshed
with cells anew, but
mine seem to clutch
determinedly, to stay affixed,
and remain the same.

Submitting this for Poets United:  Poetry Pantry # 229:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2014/11/poetry-pantry-229.html?showComment=1417408212129#c9186417070635870356

Dead Woman Talking

I may be dead but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any feelings or thoughts.

Why, it is our very thoughts that infuse life into us…even while we’re “dead.”

Doesn’t make sense? Well, give it some time and it will. Death can turn your world upside down…from your vantage point anyway.  I feel quite “right side up.”

I no longer have a body per se, just a hint of an outline of where my flesh and bones once resided.

I can wish myself anywhere at any time. There’s no need for use of the “feet” or public transportation.  A simple thought of where I want to be and I am transported in a blink.

And you believe that I’m no longer with you because I have passed from the physical world and you have remained, but that is not so…not so at all. I am probably more present now than I was when I was there with you.  I see you and I feel love but it is the kind of love that is selfless and without grasping.

I can now immediately sense your essence, perfection and fundamental goodness.  Words are unnecessary and are in fact a hindrance, a burden, a border that created separation.  Any type of conflict that we once may have had has now dissolved.

Me being “dead” and you being “alive” is such a fallacy.  It is a fairytale that has been passed down through the ages as if we were children and have been spoon fed fanciful stories to amuse us and keep us quiet and obedient.  There is but a wisp between your world and mine and we come and go freely between each, learning, always learning…even through our pain we are expanding and growing.

I feel more free here.  You are still encased in the cumbersome body and consciousness that holds you fast to the world made “real” by your beliefs. Now, though, my thoughts have less resistance.  Opposition isn’t given the strength here that it possesses there.  It’s evident in the wars that your world has created by a group consciousness that brings them into play.

There is no war or hatred here.

Oh no, don’t feel sorry for me…


Grace is our hostess at dVerse and introduces us to writing from the perspective of the dead as put forth by the writer Marvin Bell:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/11/04/poetics-the-book-of-dead-man/


Vigilant she toils, sweet attention planting
Violets, her favorite, delicate, fragrant flower
Valued for their deep, purple-blue petals
Visioning their success along with the
Vinca, viburnum, valerian and variegated ivy
Vining way up the sturdy oak
Victory will be had…with patience

Vandana Sharma introduces the Pleiades Form for us at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/10/16/meetingthebar-pleiades/

Uh, oh…I goofed.  The form is to use six syllables not six words.  I’ll try to redo it tomorrow…too late now!

Breathing In

breathing in

Breathing In by Brooke Shaden:  http://brookeshaden.com/gallery/?page=1&title=breathing_in


Each new inhalation
brings life anew
as if coming forth
from the womb.
Floating in wisdom,
the breath carries
me in peace and
holds me in
gentle repose.  
Freedom is the
all encompassing
space that
surrounds me.
The endless
vibration of
my soul
all of time.
And I rest here.
In quiet stillness.
Merged in joy.
With all that exists.

Grace is our hostess at dVerse today and invites us to use the art of Brooke Shaden to inspire our writing.  Gratitude to Brooke Shaden for the use of her amazing and inspiring art work.:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/09/23/poetics-passion-of-brooke-shaden/


its tentacles
of ice
us to dance.

A dullness
this plague,
a migraine that
thuds and

along, our
feet leaden,
our thinking
caustic and
by the erosion
of our being,
opaque rime lingers

ever so slowly,
a provocative
drama is being
played out.
The elected
actors merely
puppets of a
higher power.
(A higher
power…not a
power looking
out for our best

An avalanche
of platitudes
has taken
our warmth,
our quickness,
our life force,
our Source.

Karin Gustafson invites us to dig deep into metaphors over a dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/09/11/meeting-the-bar-following-through-on-metaphor/

Teetering on the Edge (of sleep)

Tossing and turning,
turning and tossing.
I refuse to look
at the clock with its
bright dial, plain
as day in the night.
But the hour is late
and it hounds me,
bothering and heaping
upon me all sorts
of layers of woe.
My mind worries
and thinks, makes
up stories that trip
me up and makes
my mind worry…
and mulls over
nothing pleasant.
I feel like a motorized,
hopped-up, agitated
version of a woman
who should be asleep.
It makes no sense.
I have a subtle but
palpable, physical
humming to my body.
Adrenaline seeps
in quick bursts,
with every heart
beat, into my
No sleep, no sleep,
no sleep, no sleep,
no sleep, no sleep.
Peeking out from
under my sleep mask,
I make out the outline
of the dresser and
the batik of some
obscure Thai goddess
that hangs on the wall.
A shot of moonbeam
illuminates the room.
It’s not dark at all.
Even the night is
awake and restless.
I will not get up.
I breathe deep,
in…and out…
calming breaths
will tame that
monkey mind.
Soon I feel it
giving up and
letting go.
I recognize that
sense I feel right
before I drift off.
At last it’s here,
and before I know
it, a dream is taking form.

Bill Webb is our host for Meeting the Bar over at dVerse Poets with a nod to Rilke:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/09/04/mtb-guest-post-by-bill-webb-a-nod-to-rilke/

Perched on the Curb (of Portobello Road)

Portobello Road/London by Claudia Schoenfeld










I want to shop at Portobello Market
and peruse and meander and hit
the hot spots. I want to squeeze
through the crowds and feel the
sights and smell the flavors.
I want to explore the arcades
of antiques and have coffee
and pastry at a local café. I adore
the Kasbah Bazaar with
its flair for Moroccan goods
and that ceramics shop and all
the unique, fine linens offered,
beautifully rendered in the
most pleasing designs of
delicate embroidery and pintucks
in the softest of cottons and
highest thread counts.
And I want to eat lunch at the
Notting Hill Café but which
way is it? I’ll ask for
directions from this petite,
dark-haired woman with the
quick, spirited, bright eyes and
the friendly, humming grin
(smiling even as she sketches)
perched on the curb of Portobello Road.

Mary is our hostess at dVerse Poets and invites us to use Claudia Schoenfeld’s wonderful sketches as inspiration: http://dversepoets.com/2014/09/02/poetics-sketch-it-out/

Blinding Jewels

Precious jewels of every color
encircle her neck like a priest’s collar.
She makes use of them to blind and impress,
manipulate the world, make a dollar.
Stars in her eyes, thinks herself an empress
while cajoling, using words to profess.
Bold, yet empty soul, clearly insincere,
flatters, misleads, feigns, deceives with finesse.
Men fawn, become fools…she, acting cavalier
takes what she can get, leaves behind a jeer.
How damned the woman scorned becomes a shrew
and uses her sharpened tongue as a spear.
Askew, she sees her life a trumping coup
but behind those untruths she must construe
her heart cannot be whole and live this lie.
So let go this façade and start anew.

Bjorn is our host today and instructs us on the Ruba’i and Rubayiat for Meeting the Bar at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/08/28/rubai-and-rubayiat-meeting-at-the-bar/

The Wild

White foam rides the churning
river and a Red-Shouldered Hawk
cries out as he drifts overhead;
a meadow vole takes cover.

In an ancient, towering pine,
lies an enormous aerie, home
to a Bald Eagle couple and their
two fledglings who take turns
flapping wildly, strengthening
their wings before take-off.

A feeding herd of White-Tailed
deer wander calm through the
open forest, several fawns
leap and kick in play and sometimes
bleat for their mothers when they
wander too far.

The armor-plated armadillo can be seen
snuffling through low brush and dirt
searching for grubs, worms and beetles.
Berries, nuts and seeds are the choice
of food for the Florida Scrub Jay seen
flitting through the low, spindly oaks,
and hiding in the scrub when feeling shy.
Their lives lived in extended-family colonies
helps assure them survival even while
their habitat is being threatened.

A dirt colored and plain patterned
garter snakes through the underbrush
before coming to rest in a sunny patch
on the forest’s floor…taking time to
absorb some warmth before moving on;
a gopher tortoise stirs from his day’s nap.

All the animals hear when the humans
approach and they watch with
curiosity and then fear as monstrous
machines can be heard revving their
engines preparing once again for
their encroaching.

Victoria C. Slotto is our hostess at The Bardo Group for Writer’s Fourth Wednesday and invites us to contemplate wilderness: http://intothebardo.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/in-the-wilderness-of-the-wilderness-writers-fourth-wednesday/


Mira, almost two years old...gardening time with her wonderful other Grandma.

Mira, almost two years old…gardening time with her wonderful other Grandma.

Here’s a recent photo of Mira taken while she was doing some important gardening with her other Grandma.  She’s wearing the very appropriate t-shirt that her Auntie bought her that says, Lettuce Turnip the Beet!  Mira will be two years old on September 3.

Myth of Countries

“As I think of the many myths, there is one that is very harmful, and that is the myth of countries.”
– Jorge Luis Borges

How did it come to be that
we have erected so many
boundaries between
ourselves and others?
A fence between neighbors
became a border,
a border became a wall.
Walls have become
countries, separating us all.
Small differences have
grown enormously vital.
Our skin shades don’t match,
best you stay over there.
Your speech has a lilt,
you should keep quiet.
You believe what?!
Oh no, that’s wrong!
And instead of peaceful
coexistence, our leaders
have directed us to believe
we must have those
walls to protect
ourselves from you.

Margaret Bednar is our hostess at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads: http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2014/08/play-it-again-toads-8.html

Waking Mira

Late afternoon shadows
crisscross among the
scattered, stuffed animals
that surround the calm
of the napping toddler.
It’s time to wake her and
without speaking I
gently rub her back.
She stirs and reaches
for one of the silky
tags on her light,
cotton blanket (the
one with the green monkeys)
and rubs it between her
fingers…her mouth,
puckered around her Nook,
sucks and she slips back
into sleep…so I think.
I take it slow…she’ll
get grumpy if I hurry her.
I whisper to her,
“Mira, it’s time to wake
up.” No response.
I rub her back some more
and she flips and rolls over,
her eyes flutter for a moment
as she quickly drifts off again.

I can relate…it’s hard for me to
awaken from naps sometime too.

She’s so beautiful…her purity,
her peace, her trust in those
who live to protect her and
love her without boundaries.

Finally I ask this sleeping child:
“Did you and Mommy go on
some errands today and did you
fall asleep in the car?” And
without missing a beat, she
replies while opening her
eyes and smiling at me…“Yeah.”

Victoria C. Slotto is our hostess at dVerse Poets; Meeting the Bar, Patterns of Life: http://dversepoets.com/2014/08/21/patterns-of-life-dverse-meeting-the-bar/

How Wolves Change Rivers


The Bardo Group is celebrating Wilderness Week, beginning August 31, in conjunction with the 50 year anniversary of the signing in 1964 of Wilderness Act.  Stop in and read some great articles and poetry on the wild:  http://intothebardo.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/celebrating-50-years-of-wilderness-protection/

We Three

You two sisters and I,
we three came home
to only one mother
now still alive.
But we rejoiced in our
bond that has held us so
tight  through decades of
memories that we love
to impart.
Though many years pass
between our visits, we pick
right up where we leave
off as if no time had elapsed.
The familiarity of childhood
play, roaming the woods,
biking for miles, tea parties
and birthdays shared
somehow seems an
unshakeable foundation.
We are intrinsically connected
and steadfast like nature’s
rhythm, the seasons
and the comforting cycles
of the sun and the moon.

Abhra is our host today over at dVerse Poets and invites us to contemplate homecoming:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/08/12/poetics-homecoming/

Without You

Without you,
I wouldn’t be
where I am today,
without you.

Brian encourages us to write a poem in under 40 words. Mine is 11 words. http://dversepoets.com/2014/08/07/meetingthebar-its-a-small-small-world-so-lets-limbo-like-there-is-no-tomorrow/

I Nodded Off

I nodded off while reading
I nodded off while reading
The words they started a dream
The words they started a dream
A dream the words they started
While reading, I nodded off

The story became a mystery
The story became a mystery
Sleuthing I went to discover
Sleuthing I went to discover
I went to discover the story
Sleuthing became a mystery

Was nothing like Nancy Drew
Was nothing like Nancy Drew
No answers were uncovered
No answers were uncovered
Nothing like Nancy Drew was
Uncovered…no answers were

I went sleuthing a mystery story,
became a dream while reading.
The words they started…
nothing like Nancy Drew was.
Uncovered were no answers;
I nodded off to discover.

Brian Miller is hosting at dVerse today and invites us to try a new form…yes, Brian! See below for the rules of the Paradelle. http://dversepoets.com/2014/07/31/meetingthebar-formforall-paradelles-i-have-obviously-lost-my-mind/

The paradelle is a 4-stanza poem, where each stanza consists of 6 lines.
For the first 3 stanzas, the 1st and 2nd lines should be the same; the 3rd and 4th lines should also be the same; and the 5th and 6th lines should be composed of all the words from the 1st and 3rd lines and only the words from the 1st and 3rd lines. The final stanza should be composed of all the words in the 5th and 6th lines of the first three stanzas and only the words from the 5th and 6th lines of the first three stanzas.

Sweet Dreams

Caught in a haze (not sure if it was purple)
my mind soft…floating…dreamy,
cascades smooooothly.
Colors ping and I hear them as notes
on a scale of 1 to 10 and they spontaneously
create an orchestra of enraptured awareness,
the music composed of streaming images.
I watch from outside of myself but am deeply
curious in the film being played within my
consciousness. Feelings arise, a smile plays
across my face, and a deep longing for my brother.
He appears and sits by my side and love pours
back and forth between us, our eyes beaming
light into infinity…the third spins a mandala.

Playing in a field of dreams with Anthony Desmond at dVerse Poets: http://dversepoets.com/2014/07/29/poetics-on-dmt/

Sevenling (She Stayed)

She stayed with him
in spite of his alcoholism,
disparate views of life and selfish ways.

Wild winds blow day and night
through the Kansas grasslands, prairies and trees.
Change comes slowly to this small town.

A jack rabbit keeps watch on the deepening leaden sky.

Thank you to rmp for inspiring me to try my hand at a sevenling after I read her intriguing write with this form. Victoria is our hostess over at dVerse. It’s Open Link Night…anything goes! http://dversepoets.com/2014/07/26/the-dog-days-of-summer-open-link-night/

The Devotee

A man, very dedicated to his spiritual
studies, was also a husband and father.
His wife was proud that her husband
was a good provider, a man of higher
faith and too, was devoted to their son.

As time went on, his work duties
took more of his time and his
wife and child saw less and less
of him. But still, faithfully,
he would meditate four hours
a day…two in the morning
and two in the evening.

Chores around the house that needed
attending were going undone.
The wife and son ate their meals
without the presence of husband and dad.

But still he kept to his sadhana schedule,
knowing his actions were adding up
to good karma and “right action.”

Social gatherings were missed, son’s
baseball games were not attended,
vacations were not taken and the years
rolled on with work taking precedence
next to the sacred practices that
he faithfully performed.

He would reap the rewards, he told
himself. His family would be blessed
by his astute and humble customs.
He took sanctuary in this knowledge
and committed even more to his endeavor.

But his relationship to his family dwindled.
No laughter or inquisitive talks were had.
Money was fluent but their emotions dry.
A deep imbalance had become evident.
After a time the wife divorced him and
his son felt forevermore like they were strangers.

Victoria demonstrates allegory for Writer’s Fourth Wednesday for The Bardo Group: http://intothebardo.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/writers-fourth-wednesday-allegory/

Microscopic Expanse

Photo of magnified sand from Mental Floss.com

As my feet crunch, crunch,
along the shore’s
widening expanse,
I’m aware that I traverse
over countless, microscopic
pieces of sand art.
Exquisite in their form,
my mind expands in
the realization of how
these came to be created
through earth’s ages.
And around the globe,
on beaches far and wide,
we share in this vast,
seemingly endless,
astonishing beauty.

Over at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Mama Zen invites us to write in 60 words or less on the subject of macro/micro presented through Words Count with Mama Zen: http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2014/07/words-count-with-mama-zen.html


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