22 March 2018

Advice on entering into the love-garden

If you can write one poem, maybe you can write two poems.

If you can write two poems then there is every possibility you can write 2,000.

Why do you have to go from one to two?

You can stay with one if you like.

Remember this jewel came from inside you,

You don't need to look for another jewel,

You can hold the same one up to the light

and appreciate it from another angle.

This jewel, this jewel is your heart.

When you write a good poem you have to feel love,

Love for all humanity.

How else will you recognise a good poem?

Your own heart will be the judge;

how you can feel the heart of your brothers and sisters

will help you decide.

Real Ecstasy comes when we remove the barriers of the mind.

We are not going to break anything - no.

Mind the tree we will not water,

Heart the plant we will cherish with all our love and affection.

Which will grow bigger?

Our thought-division-world,

Or the garden of our love?


Here is a flute performance from February this year at Smith's Alternative. On reflection, this night was very close to seven years since I bought my flute on a whim one day and I still have not had a lesson.

It was a really fun little gig. Shaun -on vocals and guitar- is a friend from work. We only rehearsed this song together the night before for an hour and forgot to agree on how to start so it's a rambling beginning.

The laughter is a bit disconcerting I know - it was a variety night, there was a lot of comedy before us and people had no idea what we were going to do...

I'd like to perform more flute in public, a few weeks ago I had a short jam with a jazz pianist, but that is it so far.

03 March 2018

With tongue and lips
I declare the soft thoughts
Of the night upon you,
I trace my declarations
In the dark
And they dissolve
in the light.


The candle hungers
For its final kiss.

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.