“Did you know a plane flies over your house every seven minutes?” Dad asks. I didn’t know that. Dad is checking his watch again. “There goes another one,” he says triumphantly. I check my watch. He’s right. It has been exactly seven minutes. Dad likes to measure things. He was a scientist, before he retired. He taught me how to measure my pulse, how many steps to take before letting the kite string out, and how to count the gap between lightning and thunder. In his world, everything is precise and orderly. The hospice nurse says he has six months or less to live. That’s a lot of airplanes.

deepening twilight…
one by one
stars appear

Contemporary Haibun, Volume 14

First Steps

Kathy Nguyen sponsored a haibun contest on her Origami Lotus Poetry blog this summer. The rules were challenging. Three haibun were to be written, each on a specified theme, and the resultant haibun were judged as a set. I am pleased to have received “Runner-Up” in this contest. This is the third of my three, and probably the most difficult to write:

(THEME: Kindness/compassion from strangers)

First Steps

When I wake again, the night nurse is gone, and there is an unfamiliar nurse in her place. I immediately register the fact that she is young enough to be my daughter. Her nametag says “Gretchen,” and there are many appliqued roses stuck to it, which is surely a good sign because these are earned by nominations from previous patients. In no time at all, I can see why. Gretchen is nothing, if not enthusiastic. “Let’s get you up and walking,” she says. “Oh no,” I quickly demur. I am dizzy and oozy and everything hurts. All I want to do is sleep. “Lean on me,” she says gently, but in a voice that brooks no resistance. I swing my legs around, grab her arm like a lifeline, and slowly, painstakingly, shuffle the ten steps or so around the room before collapsing back onto the bed. Gretchen beams from ear to ear, and applauds for me as if I had just swum the English Channel, or done the cleverest thing ever. And for a moment, I feel like I have.

early morning
the trellised rose leans
into the sun

Back in Time

Kathy Nguyen sponsored a haibun contest on her Origami Lotus Poetry blog this summer. The rules were challenging. Three haibun were to be written, each on a specified theme, and the resultant haibun were judged as a set. I am pleased to have received “Runner-Up” in this contest. This is the second  of my three, also written “on-site”:

(THEME: Summer or spring)

Back in Time

As I step off the airplane into the glaring sunlight, I feel like I’m stepping into perpetual summer. California always has that effect on me. But it’s an illusion. When the sun sets and the evening fog rolls in like clockwork over the foothills every afternoon, it is as cold and dark here as anywhere I’ve ever been. Somewhere in those dark hills is the double-wide grave marker with my parents’ names on it that I won’t be visiting this time around. But I hardly need to anymore. Their spirits live everywhere around here–in the sunlit live oaks, in the golden hills, in the elusive scents of eucalyptus and wild sage, and in every place that we ever drove through or walked along together.

home again
the sun glinting
off the Golden Gate


Kathy Nguyen sponsored a haibun contest on her Origami Lotus Poetry blog this summer. The rules were challenging. Three haibun were to be written, each on a specified theme, and the resultant haibun were judged as a set. I am pleased to have received “Runner-Up” in this contest. This is the first of my three, written in June as I sat in the Quad, soaking up the rays, and reflecting on how life comes full circle:

(THEME: Dreams/daydreams/nightmares)



I’ve lived this day so many times in my dreams that it feels unreal to me now. This place is exactly how I remembered it, down to the red-tiled roofs framed against a bluer-than-blue sky. But the sun is warm on my shoulders, a light breeze is blowing my hair back, and I feel intoxicated by the overpowering scent of gardenias. When I close my eyes, I can almost believe that I am 17 again and it is my adventure that is just beginning, not my son’s.

move-in day
a seagull soars
above the Quad

Summer Publications

Ah, summertime. I’m busy writing rengays, haiku, a few haibun, and keeping submissions in the pipeline. I’m pleased to have work appearing in upcoming issues of the following:


  • Frogpond  35:2, Spring/Summer 2012 (1 haiku, 1 rengay, and 1 renray),
  • contemporary haibun online, July 2012 (3 haibun)
  • Prune Juice #9 , July 2012 (3 senryu)
  • Daily Haiku (my third batch of haiku for Cycle 13), beginning on July 15
  • A Hundred Gourds 1:4, September 2012 (3 haiku)
  • The Heron’s Nest, Volume XIV, Number 3, September 2012 (1 haiku)
  • LYNX, October 2012 (a rengay sequence, with Kirsten Cliff)

Crime and Punishment

I really enjoy writing haibun, because they give me more of an opportunity to tell a story than single haiku. I find my inspiration for haibun in everyday events, but also in past memories. Here is one in the latter category, that recently won the An (Cottage) Prize in the 2012 Genjuan Haibun Contest. All of the winning haibun can be read on the Icebox blog.

Crime and Punishment

For reasons best known to her, my nursery school teacher has placed me on top of the upright piano because I refused to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” with the rest of the class. Actually, it wasn’t so much that I refused—I just wasn’t singing when Mrs. K. suddenly swept me up and placed me here, with my stocking feet dangling precariously over the edge of the piano, to reflect on my wrongdoings. I know Mom will straighten this all out when she comes to pick me up this afternoon, but right now, all I can think about is, it’s a long way down, if I should jump or fall.

everywhere I look

2012 Genjuan International Haibun Contest

The writing form I am most intrigued with these days is the haibun. When I started writing again in 2007, I mostly wrote prose and that is still what comes the easiest to me. Then I discovered haiku. Haibun is at the intersection of the two, and I am still very much a novice at learning how to tie the haiku effectively into the prose, without being repetitious or too obvious. So I was delighted (and honored) to not only learn that one of my haibun received the An (Cottage) Prize in the 2012 Genjuan International Haibun Contest, but also to receive judges comments from the two judges, Nobuyuki Yuasa and Stephen Henry Gill. In identifying strengths, weaknesses, and assumptions about my haibun, these comments help me refine my notions of what makes an effective haibun. The commended haibun will be posted in the future on the Icebox website, and I will post the link here when that happens. In the meantime, winning haibun from previous years may be read by following the links on the side of the page to the Kikakuza Haibun Contest (the previous name of this contest).

Poet Showcase: Johannes S.H. Bjerg

Name: Johannes S. H. Bjerg
Location: Denmark

Blog: My main blog where I write bilingual haiku is: 2 tongues / 2 tunger, but I keep other blogs for other needs .

How do you know Cara? I know her from NaHaiWriMo and from there I know her blog. I also know her from the Shiki Kukai and have been coming across her name here and there in the “haiku-territory”.

How long have you been writing poetry? I’ve been writing seriously for abt x years (this one’s a secret).

What kind of poetry do you write?    I write mainly haiku and haiku-related things. Sometimes I  excess and write haibun and 5-line poetry (tanka, gogyohka/gogyoshi).

Please share a poem:

a word that takes time defoliation
(Modern Haiku 43:1, 2012)

a crayon-swan
in Temps Perdu
(A Hundred Gourds 1:1, Dec. 2011)

beneath her voice a timbre of something crumbling
(Notes from the Gean 3:3, Dec. 2011)

Poet Showcase: Margaret Dornaus

Name: Margaret Dornaus
Location: Arkansas

Blog: Haiku-doodle

How do you know Cara? Cara and I met through the online haiku community.  I think I discovered her writing through her blog after I started mine a year-and-a-half ago, and began looking around for kindred spirits.

How long have you been writing poetry?  I’ve been writing poetry in the closet for most of my life, and I have a M.F.A. in poetry translation from the University of Arkansas.  But I only began writing Japanese short form poetry seriously a year-and-a-half ago when, on a whim, I started my blog, Haiku-doodle.

What kind of poetry do you write? I write haiku, tanka, and haibun.  I also dabble a bit with haiga.

Please share a poem:

the winter garden
where false hellebore appears
without fair warning
my sister’s mind a landscape
scored with fault lines . . . and furrows

from “my sister’s world”, a tanka series, Atlas Poetica 8, March 2011

mother tells me how
she’d like to die

The Heron’s Nest, vol XIII, no. 4, December 2011
carving darkness: The Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku 2011

one to grow on
in the center of the cake . . .
an extra candle
to light my path forward
to lead me home again

red lights, vol. 8, no. 1, January 2012