Twenty-One Days From Here;

Thousands of Miles. When

Will you come back to me?


Twenty-One Haiku’s 

of Love and Lonely Hearts


July, 2011

1.      China is far away,

Your smile is closer

Here where my love resides.


2.      I sought you in China,

And in far Peru;

Strong tea in the kitchen.


3.      Where have you gone, my love?

Twilight call softly;

My tea has grown too cold.


4.      Such great distance away,

The bee cannot see

Tomorrow’s sweet honey.


5.      Here among the flowers,

Entire worlds await

The return of your scent.


6.      You fly and then you land.

My arms grew tired

With you so far away.


7.      Snow goose dreams in winter,

Warm welcome awaits

A greeting from her love.


8.      Husband and two big dogs

Dream only one thing

Until it becomes true.


9.      Shanghai cannot bring harm

To dreams long fed by

The sweet honey back home.


10.   Your voice comes over wires.

How can this be true?

I feel you in my heart!


11.   All day birds sing their joy!

Winds out of the West

Return joy to my heart!


12.   Machu Pichu, Amazon,

Steady, dear friend –

She will return home soon.


13.   You were deeply loved, dear,

Before China called.

Now, your dogs miss you, too.


14.   Half the world away, love

Takes time to reflect;

My pond perfects waiting.


15.   A small question for you –

Did you hear my cries

Clear around this great world?


16.   Missing you is not new.

This is no surprise –

Loving you is not old.



17.   Did you not hear, my love?

Whippoorwills all night,

Nightingales all day long!


18.   Scratches on flat paper.

How can I explain

To my heart your absence?


19.   I woke early; you are gone.

My tea is cold.

Ah, winter already?


20.   Dogs awake now, hungry.

But first, they go see –

No!  She is not back yet!


21.   I, too, would like to see

If China held you

As tightly as I do.

Red Waters

June, 2010


I used to come up here quite often, it was such a calming place. I think the first time was with my school friend, Sugi. He was a small boy compared to the rest of us back then. I seem to recall he had something wrong with his breathing, which may have been responsible for his size. Asthma, perhaps. But I cannot be certain.

Excuse me. I apologize.

He died quite young, and though it has been nearly sixty years, I find it still causes me grief. Excuse me.

Later, when I was in my early twenties, I would come up here to spend time with my sweetheart. There is something indescribable to courting your future wife in a place like this. The sea winds, the sun, even the storms are all so elemental and pure. It is a place unsullied by politics or petty squabbles. And the few people who come here always leave it clean. You could say it is held in reverence, I suppose. I once heard from an old local fisherman that this place was considered haunted, by the spirit of a woman who waited for twenty years for her husband to return from the sea, walking here every dawn and every dusk for all that time. But everyone else in the village knew he had drowned with his shipmates during a bad storm. It did not matter to her. She waited, and then, she died, they say, right over there, by that dead tree. But perhaps it’s only a story the elders used to keep us young folk away from a place where they could not keep their eyes upon us all the time.

But after we married, Hanuki left with me to the city, to attend university. And as time passed, we found the city more exciting, and stayed away for many years, only coming occasionally to visit our parents and old friends. But that is how things go, isn’t it? The young always have their own path to walk, and the old are always left behind. We didn’t think anything of it then. It was our future that mattered to us, and besides, our parents had always been there, and always would be. Ah. The young are also foolish, but that’s how it goes.

Oh, look, over there, you see? There, low over that blue roof? Yes, that’s it. It’s an egret, he appears to think he has a nest on the far side of that roof. There were once so many egrets in this region, and cranes, as well. This was a wild place, even though people had been here for many thousands of years, they lived without troubling the natural world. But my generation… We didn’t really understand what we were doing. Even now, despite all that you see has happened, there are many who deny it is even happening. I am certain none of those people have ever lived in a place like Nakanomina. Maybe that would have caused such people to show some intelligence.

I am sorry. I do not usually pass judgments like this. But when I see what has happened here, I am not only saddened, I am also angry. My grandchildren will have unbearable hardships, and what did the animals do to deserve this future? I cannot make what has already happened here separate from what else is coming. Oh, there I go, lecturing you. That is not what you are here for. Please excuse my old and very bad habits. My son is always scolding me for being a cranky old man. But on some things, he has come to agree with me, even if he knew far more than me when he was younger. Just as I knew so much more than my own father when I was a teenager. Isn’t it always this way? The young know more than their parents, until one day they can finally see their parents knew more all along?

He wanted to be a teacher, but was only dissuaded after his friend Konamira talked him into engineering school, so he would not end up a poor man like his father. What? Yes, I am smiling, because I find it amusing how children no longer wish to follow their parent’s work, like it used to be. But times must bring change. It is sad that some people, many very rich and powerful, fear change. They want to keep what they have. But they don’t wish to face the fact that some changes cannot be resisted. This ocean, here, for example. When it wishes, nothing can hold it back. Even the rich can drown.

Are you hungry? Here, I brought some apples along, quite sweet. No, it’s fine, I have more than enough, go ahead. I have some water, as well. That? Ah, the red boat, up against that tree? That is old Tomori’s boat. It was built by his grandfather, and he got it from his own father, so it has been fishing for three generations, though his family has been fishing for many generations more. But his grandfather was a strange man, as I recall. Very opinionated, very stubborn. His own father was killed when his boat struck a submerged rock, along with three others. Only one man survived, and he was only able to relate something about a red wall of water that pushed the boat toward the rocks. Tomori’s grandfather took this as an omen, I suppose, and when he got his boat, he painted it red. And his son, and later his grandson, kept the boat red. Who knows why these things happen with some people?

Oh, look, the egret was unable to find its nest. Not so strange, with all that has happened here. I wonder what it will do now. Maybe that wasn’t even the correct house. So many things like this are happening, all over, really. Sad. There is so much sadness today. And so little reason to see an end to this sadness. Ah, now its getting a bit colder. I suppose we should go soon. Besides, it will be dark in an hour or so, and it is not good to be out on the roads at night. There can be too many unexpected things along the way.

Look, over there, can you see the movement? It is likely a dog, gone wild, with no one to care for it anymore, it is to be expected. Even the birds don’t stay very late anymore. I had a dog once, Kinota, very sweet, she didn’t like the wind. It seemed to frighten her. But when everything happened, she saved my life. Let me tell you how it happened.

Thursday  are usually, I’m sorry, were usually very quiet in the morning hours. They did not get very busy until nearly three, especially during that time of the year. It was about nine-thirty or so. I heard Mrs. Jintomara yelling at the newsboy again. She does, did that, often. It seems she thought him rude for throwing the paper, and she always yelled at him to place the paper carefully. Of course he never paid her any attention. I wonder if he…. No, its better not to wonder.

There was a moment when I became aware all the dogs in the neighborhood began to bark, and Kinota started to whimper, and crawled between my legs. My first thought was that she was only responding to all the other dogs. But then I had a very bad feeling, and without thinking I scooped Kinota up in my arms and grabbed my coat. I went outside and almost immediately, the whole world began to shake. I have been through many earthquakes, but I knew right away this one was different. Very strong, and it went on for a very long time. My house? Look over that way. Do you see the big grey building? My house was on the other side, about two blocks. Only about ten blocks from the ocean, you see?

I heard many screams, and many buildings collapsing. Everything was in motion, and I could not stay on my feet. But it was over within a few minutes, I think. And all this time, Kinota just whimpered, she never barked once. But about one minute after the earth stopped shaking, she began to bark, very loud, and she looked toward the ocean. But there was no wind, and she only barked like this when there was wind. Then I heard all the other dogs barking again, and a moment later, I saw many birds flying inland. I knew what this meant. I ran back into my house to get my keys and my wallet, and my camera. I ran back out and started my car, throwing Kinota into the back seat. I knew I had to get to high ground, and indeed only a minute after I had begun to drive toward this hilltop, the tsunami alarms went off. I was lucky to have started when I did, because the roads became very congested a few minutes later. I was one of the first to make it up here. So many others were not so fortunate. So many… I am sorry. Please forgive this bad behavior. I lost many neighbors and friends.

I’m sorry, I cannot answer that question. You will have to speak with the government about that. But I doubt many would want to, at least not for a very long time. I decided not to return. I lost everything, and at my age, it is not so easy to begin again. But I am not alone in this problem. So many lost so much more than I, lives, family. My family all lived down in Hokaido, and were not affected. Why? I came here on business about twenty years ago, and I met a very pretty woman. My first wife had died of a cancer. Isn’t that reason enough? But I lost her in a bad traffic accident only two years after we wed. I stayed. No, I did not remarry. Once was hard enough, to lose one’s love. To lose twice – ah….. I was too sad, and then I was too old for the pretty girls to notice anymore, I suppose. It’s OK. I have been too busy to think about it for long. And I liked living close to the ocean. Even after all of this, yes, I still do.

I think we need to go now. We can come back tomorrow, if you like. I could show you a bit north of here, where the cranes once had great nests high in the tall trees along the water. Some are still there, you might be able to get some pictures.

Please, why is it you reporters ask a question like that? It is too painful, I do not wish to say it aloud again. Why is it you point your camera at suffering? Why must you invade a person’s grief? Is nothing just ours any longer? Why must the world think that this is their right? Please, no more. If you want to see things, I can help you, but if you want to see inside me, no, I will not do that. What if it was your world destroyed? How would you feel to have the world staring at you, poking, invading? I do not wish either one on you. It is bad enough we all must face death. Why must it become entertainment? But that is enough, we must leave now. I do not mean to be rude, I am so sorry. The car is just down the hill.

I am sorry, what did you ask? That? Oh, you mean over there? The red water? That is where the tsunami tried to push against the hill, just there. It made a whirlpool, where everything that was soft got sucked into the center. The cars and trees and buildings, they all were forced out the other side. But everything soft stayed behind, and because it is a low area, not all the water flowed back to the sea. Why is it red? Can you not understand? Are you truly so ignorant of the world?  I just told you everything that was soft was caught there, crushed, destroyed.  What do you think makes the water red? Only twenty-two of us did not contribute our softness, our substance to the sea. There were more than two thousand who lived here, didn’t they tell you that?  Only twenty-two.  Don’t you see? I am sorry, please, I must go now.

Foundational Argument: 

Who Are You; Who Am I?

 May, 2011

How much can we really say we know another person? I am not speaking of their name, where they live, their sex, color, culture, language, where they went to school, the work they do. Nor am I speaking of what they may have told you about their lives, who was cruel to them, who was kind. Who gave them hope and who taught them fear, no, it’s much more than that. More than the beliefs they hold, their politics, religion, sexual proclivities; than the books read, movies seen, music that has driven and inspired them. More even than what they wish to admit to themselves about their own shadows. Can we ever really know, as Whitman sought to know, the multitude within? Not merely ourselves, but in another?

In a given moment of any given life, more events unfold than can be described even by one as tempted to do so as James Joyce. We think, feel, hear, smell, taste, speak, are buffeted by the world, and our dreams, and still, that is not the end of that or any one moment. A true autobiography is the life lived. And that cannot even be told in the brief time of its unfolding.

The self changes, is temporal and simultaneous, holds those multitudes, and yearns for peace from their never-ceasing din. It begins as one shape, and never stops shifting, morphing, colors bleeding into landscapes new and strange. One part of who that person is, is bound in the quest to understand their own self, simultaneous with the self unfolding well in advance of any such understanding. Behind both are rivers of dreams, images, conceptual shifts of temperature and grace, awkwardness and beauty, tenderness and terror.

Yet, we seek to pin ourselves and others down to a certainty, a narrow canyon we can explore and understand in the course of a moment, an hour, a day, futile and limiting as that clearly is. We can’t see, or are too afraid to accept, that this is merely one canyon on the continent of the other, a tributary that has cut through the surface at one location. And as all tributaries, it is only one small stream in the grander river of a life.  We fear the work, the openness, the demand that we listen, and understand, and withhold judgment. To, in effect, allow that person, that self-as-many, to reveal their complexity, the intricate weave of a life, impacted by other selves, and by all of life, and despite all these competing forces, still unfold and reach for the surface. We fear this because it applies to us, as well, that we not merely extend these efforts to another, but to ourselves. And committing to this effort is another element of our own story as it is written: the act of such extension, in and of itself, continues to change who we are, and thus the act of allowing another to unfold in our presence is a challenge to our own shifting selves. We change in the light cast by others, as they change in the light we throw off, the glow of both the dark and the light of our living serving as beacon, and a beckoning hand, urging each forward into life.

How, then, can we know another life without working as hard to know our own? Self-reflection is not narcissism, it is the work of understanding one in the world, of the world, and acted upon by the world in all it’s forms and forces. If we neglect the act of self-reflection, then any judgments we render of another’s life has no true merit, no basis for our evaluation, it is an exercise of envy and fear, jealousy and anger. To remain ignorant of one’s own self is a guarantee one remains a victim of life, and blames life for all misfortune and misery. This will not bring one closer to happiness, but only farther from one’s own story.

And without access to our own stories, what do we really have to offer to life?