RETREAT RECORD

OCTOBER 2009, TY'R GAWEN, WALES

 

We entrained, and drove, past Aberdyfi and Tywyn and Llanegrin and Bird Rock to Jane's farmhouse between the hills.

A gentle thud
and miles of grief
for a small life gone

Ken

Home
to the land of my fathers
empty landscape

Meg

Melissa welcomed us with an apple crumble and we assembled: Ken, Megan, Kim, George and Yan, and Melissa. Sean O'Connor and Jim Norton sent greetings. Bill Wyatt sent best wishes, some advice, and some haiku:

Harvest moon
through the meditation root
pine tree shadows
Floating through the clouds
neither drunk nor asleep
I arrive at today
This moment perfect
barely autumn, leaves falling -
a fire-fly's dream

After dinner, a planning meeting, the reading of some haibun, and some recent poems brought along to be the first to go up on the wall.

Dead fly
I was with it
when it died

Ken

Newborn on a clear night
the universe
reduced to a nipple

George

After the long journey, deep sleep, dreams, and the morning awakening...

Cockerel
the same notes each morning
for 10,000 years

George

Plunging dream boat
capsized
by the clatter of my alarm

Ken

In grey light
the landscapes in their frames
and my empty clothes

Ken

... to the morning meditation.

In halflight
two ancient hands
clasped in my lap

Meg

The morning discussion centred on distinguishing shasei haiku from haiku which have an imaginative resonance, an existential after taste, and ...

... "As much liberty
as thickly growing ferns
inside a cave"

(Takoko Kobayashi)

Ken introduced a polemical article, arguing for a rediscovery of the imagination in haiku, www.redthreadhaiku.org/articles/recovery-of-haiku.htm.

As the lecturer talks
wren at the window
hops from thought to thought

George

Then Ken offered a stimulating selection of haiku to kukai. The most often preferred poem was a Basho one which combines the best of both styles, shasei observation, and allusive resonance of image:

"A clear waterfall
into the ripples
fall green pine needles"

There was also a striking Kenneth White...

"There he walks
old earth-man
wrapped in weather"

... and an amazing empty death poem by John Parsons:

"Evening mist
the gunshot's echo
through dead elms"

We returned to the kitchen table:

Petal falling from the vase
the chestnut shine
gone

Melissa


The laughing poets reacting to the re-writing on the wall.

In the afternoon, some visited the church and the art gallery in Machynlleth, and some the beach:

On the backs
of gravestones
lichens I cannot name

Kim

Stained on glass
and breathing floor polish
Victorian saints

Ken

Rusting chains
across the sand
to boats long gone

Meg

No ships on the ocean
the white roar of surf
in my heart

George

Ruined pillbox
each year's erosion
a fresh sculpture

Melissa

On and on
the push and rush
of waves approaching

Melissa

Low sun, sea-washed shore
the dog turd too
exquisite

Melissa

Footprints
washed away
the sandfly hops

Yan

4pm and the teashops
are closing
one by one

Kim

Sunday was wet for the morning session, and Kim then raised the question, "Where is the ego in haiku?"

I tip my hat
to the bold gaze
of a sheep

Ken

Even when he smiles
a stranger now
him, in the mirror

Ken

All day long
the mist drifts
around the edges
of my solitude

Ken

Sunday afternoon too there were walks, after the morning rain cleared up.

Deep gully
rain pouring off the hills
pouring off the hills

Melissa

On golden shit
dungflies
in autumn sunshine

George

And by night time the sky was completely clear.

Waning moon
lights
the promise of autumn

Yan

Cries of nightbirds
this long night
the stone house

Meg

For the unloved
an immense night sky
creamy with stars

George


 

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