15 February 2018

Is only the tree of love
Waiting for some water


To have
is a good thing,
To share
is a better thing.


Silence clamours for attention
At my dawn invention.


Expectation dawn
Sadness day
Self-giving life
Happiness way


To greet the dawn
With folded hands
Is a privilege.


O moon,
Where do you hide?
My heart is calling you
And still, I see you not.
Will we remain invisible,
Together in the night, alone?


Too much kindness
is only a little thing.

12 January 2018

Japan - October/November 2017

Lately I've barely written any poetry so it is a little quiet here. In fact, I was in Japan for three weeks in October/November 2017 and this is when I last shared some of my poetry here.

So here's a wrap of that trip for you.

It was awesome meditating at the Kamakura Daibutsu on my birthday, but I was really sick for at least a week too, which is never fun on holiday.

Now, after four trips to Japan in three years I can say I have no plans to return again, although it would be fun to be there for the 2020 Olympics.

Traveling alone can be hard, especially in a non-English speaking country. (I'm decidedly over travelling alone in general.) Most Japanese are shy about using their English. Usually their English is really excellent, but if you don't practice something it's hard to do too of course. I never got beyond four Japanese classes a few years ago myself. Japan makes it very easy for English speaking travellers though.

I am grateful that I had quite a few meals and a day trip to Saijo with some folks I previously met in Hiroshima. Primarily it was Mika who diligently planned an excursion for us weeks in advance. She is the leader of an English study group.

New places I went on this trip were Utsunomiya, Nikko, Mashiko, Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Saijo.

Utsunomiya was really a stepping off point for Nikko and Mashiko, both are an hour or so away by train or bus.

I think most people would like Nikko. It is spectacular in many respects, but it is a little atypical, even gaudy or ostentatious, for Japan. The leaves were just starting to turn when I was there which was beautiful.

Mashiko (pronounced Mash-ko) is a famous pottery town. I decided to visit after watching a documentary about Mingei Pottery. I timed my visit to coincide with the last day of their annual festival. I'm sure there were at least a thousand stalls and shops selling all manner of pottery spread over a few square kilometres. Crazy.

This must be the, er, biggest tanuki in all Japan - easily two stories high.

An example of Mashiko's kilns. They are built on a slope with the fire lit in the lowest chamber. The chambers are interconnected but the design produces different temperatures at each level for different results. The doors are temporarily sealed with bricks and mud for a firing.

Pottery is not the greatest thing to travel with so I just bought a few small things. I found Mashiko was the source of a number of items I had bought all over Japan on previous trips.

Fukuoka is the biggest city on the island of Kyushu. I'm pretty sure I had six bowls of ramen in three days while staying there. Ramen is definitely one of their things.

As an aside, I have been disappointed by the ramen shop down the road on Lonsdale Street. I was so excited when it opened, but it is $21 for a bowl with a boiled egg. Sure they are making actual tonkotsu broth, but I don't find it is very rich, complex or layered. Their chashu (sliced roast pork) I find quite pallid, almost undercooked and the slices seem miserly. Did I mention it was $18 without a boiled egg!?

Anyway, amidst the warren of department stores surrounding Hakata Station -yes, I got lost a few times- there is a food court with maybe 20 noodle shops to choose from, including Shin Shin. Shin Shin might be a (small) chain, but it is justifiably famous. The first bowl below is actually a Champon.

Nagasaki is a little over two hours away by train from Fukuoka (Hakata Station). I found the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum way more intense than Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Museum.

Please read the following poems and stories - I am sorry if they make you cry and, too, I am sorry if they do not make you cry.

I bought a copy of Hiroshima by John Hersey at Haneda Airport on the way home and I do recommend it, but it is also a really emotionally taxing experience. The New Yorker has made the entire story available free online if you want a long read.

Last week I had dinner in Canberra with a geography and history teacher from Kanagawa Prefecture. During this trip, Sakuragi (as in sakura-cherry blossom) introduced himself to me at the Daibutsu and we spoke for five minutes. The Daibutsu is a common place for locals to go and practice English in my experience; I've talked to the same retired postman there a few times over the years for instance.

When he told me he was visiting Australia I gave him my email. He was in Australia for less than two weeks and spent most of his time in Warrnambool with a former exchange student. He seemed happy enough with some Thai food and a local beer in Civic.

All I could suggest he do the next day was visit the National Gallery, but that was already his plan. I always find it a struggle recommending things to do in my home town to people I don't know very well.

Lastly, I think it was on the way to Fukuoka, I took my seat on the shinkansen. Then I pulled out one of Raymond Chandler' novels as I bought a bunch of them cheap in a secondhand store in Kamakura. Startled, the businessman next to me closed his book to show me it was a different Chandler novel, although he was reading a translation! We smiled and shook hands.

09 January 2018

The Rupee Room

While I was in Adelaide at Christmas, my Godmother took me out to lunch. After a long chat with our waitress I promised to promote the restaurant on social media - it has been open less than a month. However, I took no photos of the food, just the massive mural on their wall...

Here is an idea if you are looking for a good place to eat on the Parade in Norwood.

The Rupee Room serves delicious Indian food from all regions.

Dining there is a most charming experience.

I understood this to be a custom piece of art but it has been scanned, enlarged and printed to size.

They do amazing things with vegetables.

The eggplant curry, fish curry and paratha we had were super delicious.

The mural mirrors the diversity of life on the Indian subcontintent.

It probably says more about the culture of India these days than the artist, but women are not prominent in the mural at all.

Still, that's not going to affect your dining experience - the food was really good.

22 December 2017


Now I feel steel cut oats are worth mentioning by style, because rolled oats are so like plaster or gluggy in texture.

It is super easy to do these overnight but I think this re-introduces the problem of homgeneity to the preparation because it ends up very uniform. It's very quick though just to heat through in the morning, but all your other ingredients need to be pre-cooked too. Perhaps with experimentation it could be parcooked.

Seeing life is a series of rituals which define us, take 20-30 minutes every morning to cook fresh.

1/3 cup steel cut oats is enough for the hungriest person in general
cover with water, two fingers (remove before serving)
pinch of salt for luck
Bring to boil, simmer
It takes 20-30 minutes
Turn it down more as you go

You can do other things as it cooks, but it does need stirring
If you have a heavy base pot that helps
As does a wooden spoon

I like to throw in a whole pear too,
It's very soothing to the lungs and digestion
according to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chop the pear into chunks, even you can grate it

The less ripe the pear,
the earlier it should go in

Then stir a teaspoon of honey through to serve

Some rough chopped walnuts go well with this, cooked too

03 November 2017

Lately I feel poetry slipping from my grasp.

Like water, or consciousness, only the substance remains.

The form of the experiences are temporary.

At one time a tree is replete with foliage. It flowers and fruits. Then its leaves begin to fall. Later, stark, bare. To know only a moment in the life of a tree is not to know a tree. This is why nature is constancy - it is ever-changing: I like that phrase in the Tao Te Ching.

For a little while, I clearly feel and see the world is perfection and all the fault lies within, in the realm of perception.

This is my problem, your problem, our problem.

In the end:

The mirror
of all existence
is your own heart.


The journey
of awakening
Is not
a forced march.


Be a good seeker,
or be a bad seeker,
But first,
be a seeker.


Neither a parade of ignorance,
Nor a triumph of knowledge,
With the breath of my heart I bow.