The Buddha on the Road

On the Road


This will be the last “On the Road” prompts.  Thank you very much to everyone who followed the site and for the wonderful poems you have written in response to prompt.

This week I’ve been really struggling to write a prompt.   I’ve had lot of ideas but can’t seem to get traction on any of them.   Searching for inspiration I came across the three vows of the Japanese haiku poet Tanoka –

Do not attempt the impossible.

Do not feel regret for the past.

Do not berate oneself.

I feel like I am attempting the impossible in trying to keep things going here beyond this week.   The idea for the site grew out of online conversations with another haiku poet.   I was under the impression she wanted to be involved and was interested in creating some prompts.    What actually happened was that when I let…

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From S.W Ireland to S.W. Victoria

– the story of a journey

A few years ago I had the opportunity to go through some old family papers.   There I came across a letter written by my great, great grandmother, Priscilla to her daughter Eliza, my great grandmother.   In the letter Priscilla wrote that the family had lived in a particular part of the British Isles ‘for time out of mind’ before they came to Australia.

It is unclear why Priscilla and her common law husband John felt the need to take a three month sea voyage to the other side of the world with all of their nine children.  Further on in the letter she hints at some family trouble – some problem that forced them to flee  their ancestral home.  The details are very sketchy.

The letter is the only written story of my ancestors I have ever found.   The rest of my forebears are silent.  All that remains of them are a few tattered material goods and fragments of stories – stories that speak of loss and disruption – some sudden change in fortune that sent them across the globe to start again.


As their descendant I feel I carry these imprints of disruption, exile and wandering in my DNA.   No doubt many of us carry similar imprints for so many of us can trace our ancestry back to another country, another culture.

When I went to south west Ireland I felt I was venturing back through my own familial history into time out of mind – that time where my ancestral roots are lost in the mists of myth and legend.


These experiences enriched me and gave me a sense of belonging to a people, an ethnic group, even to an ancient pre-Christian belief system I can only guess at but feel spiritually connected to.

Wedge tomb Tomb of the crone goddess, Co. Cork, Ireland

Here in south west Victoria the feeling that I am journeying back in time still comes to me when I am alone in untamed natural environments.  Here though I feel as if I am travelling back into pre-history.  I walk past archaeological evidence of the Aboriginal people that have lived here for 40,000 years to ancient fossilized landscapes that date back millions of years.


As I clamber over the cooled lava flows that shaped this area or pick my way along the crumbling sandstone cliffs of the coast a sense of time beyond human time envelops me. I step beyond my ancestral roots into something far older – a sense of connection with the Earth that goes back through the very first humans that walked this land to the creation myths and the cellular connection between all carbon based life forms.

Standing alone in the primal landscapes of south west Victoria I feel myself to be a part of the Earth and of the universe itself.  The life force that animates all living things pulsates within my being.


FOOTNOTE:   On a personal note this blog post was one of those ideas that woke in the middle of night.   I couldn’t get back to sleep last night until I had turned on the light and jotted  it down.   When I came online to write this blog post I saw a complete stranger had visited some old blog of mine I’d completely forgotten about and found a post I wrote about Priscilla 7 years ago.   It seems she too is a descendant of this indomitable woman and would like to email me.   Life is stranger than fiction.





Thank you to all the people who left comments on my last post.   I’m beginning to come out of the state of inertia that led me to take a blogging break – not completely just yet – just peeking my head out of my hidey hole…

What drew me out was the WordPress prompt –

I spent quite a lot of time this week attempting to create a haiku prompt site.   It grew out of an online conversation with another haiku writer about the merits of Jack Kerouac’s haiku.   We decided that the contemporary haiku we see online often lacks the gritty realism of Kerouac.  The conversation captured my imagination and I came up with a new idea.    I would create a haiku prompt site called “On the Road” that would offer prompts that (hopefully) inspired people to write haiku that spoke of the complex world we now live in – haiku that resonated with authenticity.

The idea flew well enough earlier in the week.   One series of prompts would be called “On the Road” and relate to life on the road.   The roads that would inspire the prompts would be both physical and metaphorical roads.   The journeys the roads would lead to would be both inner and outer.

The second series of prompts would be called “Dharma Bums”.   The name comes from a book Jack Kerouac wrote about exploring Buddhist ideas with the beat poet Gary Snyder while living in 1950s America.    The prompts would focus on the dharma of writing haiku.

By Friday my enthusiasm for the idea was beginning to flag and it is now in limbo.   I’ve set up the blog but there is a massive amount of work to do.  I’m still intrigued by the idea though.    In idle moments I find myself jotting down ideas.    Reading haiku and haiku commentaries occupies much of my leisure time.      At the same time self doubt is creeping in.    I woke up this morning asking myself – is this project what I need to be doing at this time?  Would it even interest others?    Do I have the passion and commitment to push it?

20160325_081111_20160325083324570 - 2

Today is gloriously sunny and warm.   After weeks of cold grey weather  it is a blessing.  The weather forecast for my corner of the world down here in southern Australia is for rain, rain and more rain next week.   The temperature is expected to reach a high of only 14 C most days. Other days are predicted to be no warmer than 12C.

Rather than staring at the computer screen pondering whether the world needs yet another haiku prompt site I am going doing the beach for a very long walk.

Maybe the walk and next week’s appalling weather will bring me back to blogging with a clear sense of direction.  Talk to you then…

floating world

Postscript:   By the time I got myself ready to go out a thick sea fog had rolled in and the temperature plummeted.   Rather than go and catch cold I did some more reading of commentaries about Basho and Kerouac, haiku and haibun.   I got totally intimidated by all the learned experts and decided there was no way I could compete with them.  The idea of creating a haiku prompt site is pretty much dead in the water now.   I like some of the ideas I’ve discovered and find some of the commentaries thought provoking so I’ll probably just use them as the basis for future blog posts.   That’s if I don’t decide to just crawl back into bed and sleep till next spring.


Disappearing for a bit

I have decided to take a blogging break due to general state of bleh about my ability to generate new blogging content.    I may return when I have new energy and something new to say.  photostudio_1456176180921 Thanks for reading and following.

Here in the South

The Australian winter has come early this year.   Many of the deciduous trees have not yet shed all their leaves.  They hang gold and russet against a backdrop of bare twigs. The air is cold.   Damp.  Here on the coast the clouds hang grey and heavy.  2017-06-03 14.58.36

The autumn energy of harvesting and gathering is still in play.  The sifting and sorting through the piles of accumulated projects, ideas and possibilities goes on.   The unworkable, the flowed and the flimsy are discarded but, as yet, nothing comes to take their place.

                                  on the coast
                   winter clouds hang heavy
                              – no motivation 2017-06-03 14.54.34-02

(mobile phone photos processed in Snapseed)