Five Scrolls of Poems about water
I keep the knowledge of, the comfort of, and the love of the water
In my deepest recesses.
When torn by life’s more bewildering aspects
When shattered and in pain
I return to the sand, the wonder of the waves
with the sounds and the feel of the winds.
Comfort and solace I gain
Gentle loving from the earth, the air and the water come my way.
I trust in this kindness, freely given
Which will never turn on me
Except perhaps by a natural unique set of arrangements
Unleashes,but in truth not aimed at me.
July 24, 1981
Scroll #1 Poem # 4
The Typhoon Rains are upon us again, however this time it is colder.
I leave my studio to walk alone in the rain along side the river, the Tama Gawa.
It is so gray and milk with coffee colored right now.
The gravel from the mountains is almost black in contrast.
I find myself pausing to stare and stare and stare at the water
While my clothes are quietly soaking.
The places where we sat and lay in the sun
And by moon or in the mist of evening are under water now.
I see a new image of the river and turn homeward to my studio to draw it
And to write you this poem.
Scroll # 2 Poem #1
Though I’ve been on the river for several hours, the mist of morning still clings to the water.
Long slender shapes appear, gliding in the distance.
The shapes become closer, the boat advances, the air clears revealing Cranes,
Wings stretched in flight, gliding low, exploring vegetation, they eat, they wait,
And as the boat comes along side, rise up becoming companions to the voyage.
Sun transforms the river, Noise bursts forth along the shores.
Deep in the thick green banks giant carp excitedly slap and splash,
Thrashing their bodies through the narrow reeds, joining the procession.
Graceful cranes, primal isolation, solitude of morning, the delicate colors,
Thin lines of bending reeds, leaping animated carp,
I continue to languidly paddle the canoe along the Wisconsin River in awe of this land
knowing that someday I will get to Japan to see the real thing.
The Wisconsin River
Scroll #2 Poem #2
I pull my black coat tighter as the stone walls are becoming colder.
Dusk settles upon the city, icy drafts ply back and forth as the music begins
To stir images from inside me.
I close my eyes to listen to the delicate sounds like glittering snow filtering downward
Across a black net work of tree branches.
I feel the same cold and know the memory of this river at this time of day.
I see the eagles in the distance, whisping white snow off pine boughs as they glide
Over the black woods across the gray, gray pale blue of the river.
The notes of Mozart are like the falling clots, the clumps of snow
Brushed off the pine branches by the wing tips of these great birds.
The change in the tempo of the music reflects the change in the light on the river
As the clouds shift and move across the sun to obscure the warmth.
Suddenly I recall the exquisite pain of all this clear cold beauty of that late afternoon.
It was my birthday the 30th of January and I was walking through the snow and ice and the
frozen sand of the river’s shore.
I was saying good bye to my land, to the white ovals frozen over the boot foot prints of
someone who walked here before me.
Saying good bye to the tiny red buds, the purple blues, the browns, the rich blacks, the
blues and the whites of these snows, the poetry of these snows.
I recall returning to Madison, skimming along the curving black line of highway
Around the glacial hills south of Sauk City and starting to cry and then sob
From all this exquisite beauty and the wrenching pain of saying goodbye to the land
Which has nourished my eye, provided poetry to my life.
I was moving to Japan in just 14 days and crying, trying to see through the snow fall
That had become a blizzard.
Now I am in Paris at dusk weeping again from the memory of the images
that the music recalled.
I am returning, moving back to my land, in yet another 14 days and soon my eye
Will again travel across the whites of the snows.
What grandeur it is to depart from this place, with this Mozart, and to be going home.
Scroll #3 Poem #2
I lay between hummocks of marsh grasses by the lake down the hill
Holding on to the long gray beige strands of late November,
their long thin lines caught in the wind waves
cut the white winter sun into flakes of glinting mica.
Lulled by the grass rhythms, I sleep. Blots of blue black clouds
Chill me into motion.
I turn toward a thatched cave of grass, tips wined tight together
Crawl, burrow, wedge into this elongated fibrous cover
To wait for Spring.
Scroll #3 Poem #3
I feel a slowly ebbing tide
Pulling me onward as my legs
Keep running rapidly thr0ugh the water.
I feel such strength, an eagerness to get on with life
Returning to my limbs.
The heart quickens at the thought of the exhilarating chase
About to be embarked upon.
Racing with the wind and winning must feel like this
And yet I am still at the same address
Having only just moved a few
Heavy responsibilities off my lists to accomplish
Before I soar into the sky
and alight a third way around the world, in Japan.
December 29, 1982
Scroll #4 Poem #1
I find this moment on this water as I am crossing on a ferry boat
Is like my memory of crossing the Sea between Hokaido and Honshu.
My sketches of the light and the horizon line are the same in both places
As best I can recall.
These islands scattered about the water are exactly like the islands
In the Inland Sea of Japan.
But the temples and the shrines of the Japanese, who seem unable to leave
Their land unadorned, are missing from these islands.
Then too, the pine trees that on Japanese islands are trimmed,
They do look identical to the Blue Willow China plate pine trees, aren’t here either.
Here the pines on these Canadian Islands stand upright, straight and strong.
Are the trees different in their shape and growth because of the geography
Of the wind and the weather of the tampering of man?
The expanse of water is vast. The colors of the blues are lovely.
A long strand of ducks fly by in a perfect formation,
Closer to the water than I would expect.
Between Tobermory and South Bay Mouth
Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada
Scroll #4 Poem #2
Having gone over the walls,
The edges of the windows
And the slits around the doors
To seal, to check, to stop
The sleek blue drafts of air
The ice cold lines of frigid blue
And the black silvers seeping into my space
I now rest with the music from the radio and the pleasure of the afternoon sky
Watching blue purple clouds passing over the white yellow sun
Moving from East to West.
The whites of snow and the russets of the old oak leaves,
Still attached, are dancing in the tree tops.
Madison, Wisconsin studio,
December 28, 1980
Scroll #4 Poem #3
The ocean looks plaid today
Or at lest the lines of waves
Seem to be at right angles on to the other.
The total appearance looking like a sheet of slate
Rather that a woven length of fabric.
Airborne between Tokyo and Okinawa,
February 15, 1984
Scroll #4 Poem #4
I can lay squares of silver leaf
like rice fields over washi.
I can make channels of water, of silver, run between stone walls
Their rhythms cascading in lines suddenly redirected by chance by a small stone,
A leaf or a small twig that simply happened to be on the water’s route.
I can make stencils of lines of water
And sprinkle on the dusts of silver and powders of micas
In the patterns of these water waves.
Walking in Kyoto I note that in the area south of the Silver Pavilion
Everything appears to be filled with green mosses and small ferns today.
Rain drops falling from the pines above
Make soft sounds
Delicate vines are in flower as are the azelias.
I watch the water running along channels on the walkways.
June 10, 1984
Scroll #5 Poem #1
It was 7 miles as the crow flies, from the rock islands of Pointe au Baril
Where my cabin was, to Georgian Bay.
I thought that I was seated at a table with my sketch book and writings,
Over looking the edge of the Bay
Georgian Bay was 7 miles, as the crow flies, from my table.
Or hours by boat through relentless rock, endless rock islands
And passage ways through rock to arrive at the broad open reaches of
These islands were of a huge scale, mounds of ancient rock often with trees
Blown eastward toward the solid land of Canada.
There is not much color here except green, greens, greys, blacks, blues
And the steel blue variations of skies in autumn over The Great Lakes.
I have an idea that the canoe route of Les Voyagers will by my
Great Lakes link to Montreal
And that these islands and the islands of The Inland Sea of Japan
May some how connect via the water.
Point au Baril, Ontario, Canada,
Scroll #5 Poem #2
My body moves along the skin of the earth
As my eye watches the activity of the atmosphere.
My works of art are recordings
Of the winds passage above the earth
The rains descending toward the surface
Waves crashing upon its edges
Or the water of rivers carving patterns in to the land.
I draw the air as it moves over the skin
As mist, fog, typhoon or as feathers
Which cause ripples to move over the surface of a still lake.
From The Japan Journals 1983
Scroll #5 Poem # 3
This land of rock was convoluted by time
These giant folds of granite were created in an ancient past
Then their tops were slowly worn off
The valleys in between were filled with the dust and the water of marshes.
South toward Toronto on the Trans Canadian Highway,
September 12, 1992
Scroll #5 Poem #4
The morning of white silver dots of snow falling, passing between my window
And the green wall of arbor vine
Of cello, viola and horn, gentle on the radio, of time to pause with pen
And morning coffee
To note the accomplishments of yesterday in the clarity of the early morning hour
To note the tiny vacant area in my heart
Surrounded by numerous tears and healing scar tissue
Webs of erratic repairs holding the little pains of emptiness.
December 16, 1980