Now and then

Here’s a response to my “On the Road” prompt.  It breaks all the rules and is not so much a haibun as a hyphen – a pause between one state and another.

The prompt:

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road


“I set out on a journey of a thousand leagues, packing no provisions. I leaned on the staff of an ancient who, it is said, entered into nothingness under the midnight moon.” -Matsuo Basho, The Record of a Weather-exposed Skeleton – his first travel travel journal.


Jack was standing beside a pile of battered suitcases on the pavement when an old Japanese man wandered up.   They got chatting.   The older man introduced himself as Mat.

“I had a feeling I’d catch up with you along the road,” Jack said.  “It’s that kind of road.”

“Do you know where we are exactly?”   Mat asked.  “I seem to have lost my bearings.”

“I think we’re on the astral planes,” Jack said.  “I’m pretty sure we’re dead,”

“I thought that might be the case,” Mat mumbled.  “We must be wandering the bardos.   Some call it the 4th dimension – the realm of thought forms, conditioned responses and old cultural ideas.”

“That makes sense,” Jack mused.   “I’ve been stuck in an idea for a while now.  I’m waiting for Godot but I don’t think he’s going to show up.”

“He always did have his own agenda,” Mat said dismissively.   “Do you want to wander on with me for a bit.  I could do with some company.”

Jack agreed and they set off together.   Around a bend in the road they came across an old Japanese style inn.  “I remember that inn,” said Mat.    “I wrote a haiku about it after a bad night there on my journey  to the Deep North.”
Fleas, lice,
a horse pissing
by my bed
– Matsuo Basho

Jack laughed.  “That’s a good one,” he said.  “I wrote something similar myself once”.
I went in the woods
to meditate –
It was too cold
– Jack Kerouac

Mat smiled and the pair wandered on reminiscing about their journeys and sharing haiku.  As they passed through a particularly scenic valley Jack asked, “Do you ever wish you could go back to the physical?   Sometimes I’d really like a drink.   The thought form of  bourbon ain’t the same as the real thing.”

“I’m always travelling,” Mat reflected as he quoted his last haiku.
Travelling, sick
My dreams roam
On a withered moor.
 – Matsuo Basho

“Sometimes I still feel the pull of the physical,” he said, “but these days I’m striving to get to the next level.   The 5th dimension.”

“Yes, it’s calling me too,” said Jack.  “I’m just not sure of the way.”

Mat straightened up and the years fell away.   “You open your heart and follow your joy,” he said with authority.

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An Irish Blessing

Here’s my own response to the first prompt on my new haiku/haibun prompt site “On the Road”  Prompt – ‘May the Road rise up to meet you’


When I was in Ireland I followed a winding road that led me to the Hill of Tara.  There I sat upon a fairy mound.   All around me the light danced and distances disappeared in a gold haze.   It seemed to me then that I heard the wild, jubilant refrain of the Tuatha de Danann partying in the hollow Earth beneath me.

In my mind’s eye I saw these mythical folk were proud and tall   Their faces had an elvish cast and raiment of silver and ice blue hung around their bodies in shimmering veils. As they appeared before me I felt an energy and power far outside of my normal frames of reference.

Sometimes, even now, I feel the presence of these beings.   They whisper to me in my dreams.   All is not as it seems, they say.   The time of the prophecies draws near.*

Magical light
holding me spellbound
– anything’s possible


*Irish legends say that the Tuatha de Danann are magical beings that inhabited Ireland before the invasion of the Milesian people (the Celts).    At that time the Tuatha de Danann retired to the inner realms within the Earth.  Many prophecies say they will return at a time of great strife to engage with the forces of darkness in one last battle – a battle they will win.

In Jungian psychology the supernatural Tuatha de Danann can be seen as representing the elements in our psyche or unconscious imagination that are currently in hiding because our relationship to the magic of life is damaged.  Following on that idea perhaps it is now when climate changes threatens our very existence that those elements are beginning to emerge from deep within us.  One of the great battles of our age is the battle with the forces of greed, power and the heedless destruction of our planet.  It is battle that takes place both in the outer world and in our own hearts and minds.

While my rational mind feels an affinity with those ideas there is a part of me that holds the feeling that one great day the magical beings in hiding across the Earth will walk among us openly.   In my imagination the Tuatha de Danann lead the way.

Is it a sign?

After reading Linda G. Hill’s funny post Seek a sign where she writes about looking for a sign then seeing a truck full of road signs I decided I needed a sign on whether or not I should go ahead with a haiku prompt site inspired by Jack Kerouac’s haiku that I wrote about  here.    Late yesterday I decided that I wouldn’t go ahead with the project but this morning I find myself wondering whether I made that decision too hastily.

Looking for a sign I got out a set of oracle cards called ‘Native American Oracle Cards” by Laura Tuan, Massimo Rotundo and Kay Walker.   These cards are good for a quick reading because the commentary on each card is very short.  I used the Medicine Wheel Spread suggested in the accompanying book.

Card 1 represents the beginning point of the situation.

001   ELK:    Message – Do only what needs doing, carefully mete out your resources and keep moving until you’ve finished.

                                                          Keywords:   Stamina, overcoming obstacles, strength and will to continue on drawing on magical elemental resources.

(hmmm – well that pretty much covers my doubts of yesterday.   Does the project need doing and do I have the resources, strength and will power to pull it off?   No answers there.

Card 2 represents resources available that should not be wasted.

002  TAIKOMOL, GOD OF RAIN  Message:   Let the waters of your heart burst forth…   Give with no expectation of repayment.

                                                                                                Keywords:  Gestation, solitude, fertility, tears, cleansing, healing.

(Well it’s certainly true that I am bursting ideas and making the site is not a ploy to make money.   Gestating the idea is causing to me spend a lot of time alone.   While I am beset with doubts I’m finding the process of sorting out my ideas very healing.   I am clearing out a lot of mental garbage.)

Card 3 represents ideas or items that need to be released.

003  WOLF Message:   Challenges and struggles often remove things things from our lives.  They also bestow gifts.

                                                          Keywords:   Struggle, difficulty, obstacles, communication, leadership, difficult lessons, initiation, spiritual connection.

(True – that describes what’s happening perfectly)

Card 4 represents external resources, such as opportunities or advice that can help.

004  CROW Message:   All of life is a lesson.   Learn the lessons, be smart and practice the right use of power.   And don’t take yourself so seriously!

                                                          Keywords:   Power, organization, authority, gifts offered and received, respect, mischievousness.

(I guess I was taking myself a bit too seriously with all of this. When I told the woman who helped me come up with the idea that I’d decided not go ahead with the project she said she was disappointed but that she respected my decision – lol – so that covers the respect aspect anyway.    I like the way the word ‘mischievousness’ is slipped in at the end of the commentary.    Maybe that’s the way forward – to lighten up and bring a little gentle humour and mischievousness to the project.  Jack Kerouac certainly bought that to haiku and, after all, he is the spiritual godfather of the project).

Card 5 represents the possible evolution of the situation

005 THE DREAM CATCHER Message:   Cultivate discernment and make sure you understand all the subtleties before jumping to conclusions.

                                                                                     Keywords:   Choice, discernment, study, knowledge, revised plans.

(hmmm again – did these cards just take me round in a circle?   While I’m studying and gaining knowledge I am still faced with a choice.  I am still asking myself if this project is needed at this time.   My plans are in a constant state of revision.)

Dissatisfied with the way that reading turned out I pulled a single card from another deck.  This one is called “The Enchanted Map” by Colette Baron-Reid.

006  DRAGON’S LAIR:   The path you are on now is one that will challenge you to the core.  That said, peril is also exciting and exhilarating…  A life lived fully isn’t lived only in safety.  A new experience is calling to you, one that will text your courage.  The choice is yours, but there is greater value in risk taking than remaining unchallenged  New territories are waiting to be discovered.

– Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess.   Time to lighten up, revise my plans and take some risks.

prompt:  Linda G Hill’s SOC prompt – sign


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?

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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.