Tuesday, 2 September 2014


an upturned skull
white and cold in the moonlight
my empty tea cup

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Records of a Travel-Worn Dig-Bag III

In the absolute silence of mid-afternoon heat, back in the deep trench, alone; bent over a drawing board, carefully planning the remains of long-abandoned buildings.

How conveniently
this sweat drops on to mudbricks
straight as a plumb-bob!

[A brief explanation of the Records is here.]

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Records of a Travel-Worn Dig-Bag II

Arriving at the site, we establish our camp. On the mounds made by the ruins of buildings some four thousand years old, we erect canvass shelters.  Such are the fleeting homes we return to again and again in our scholarly migrations.

Owls below the moon --
fluttering white in the dark
our tents on old tells.

[A brief explanation for the Records of a Travel Worn Dig-Bag is here.]

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Records of a Travel-Worn Dig-Bag I

There is something in us which longs for the past. Whatever this is tugs us away from home every spring, out to the field. First we linger in the oasis of Damascus for a time; then, bags filled, we travel northwards, across the desert.

Tourist buses pass
unmarked mounds covered in grass --

[Basho wrote "The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel" (Oi no Kobumi), an account of his journey from Edo to Suma in 1687-8. ‘The readers will find in my diary a random collection of what I have seen on the road,’ Basho said (in Yobuyuki Yuasa's translation). These Records of a Travel-Worn Dig-Bag are a poor imitation, haphazardly drawing on travels to the Near East for the purpose of archaeological fieldwork: the survey, recording, excavation and processing of faint material traces of past lives. Basho added that his Records were ‘little more than the babble of the intoxicated and the rambling talk of the dreaming, and therefore my readers are kindly requested to take them as such.’ The Student can hardly ask more than does Basho; indeed little here has the full grandeur of either dreams or drunkeness.

This mixture of prose and haiku is known as haibun.]

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

On Possibility

The sea glimpsed through glass --
how many words are held in
this little ink pot?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Smoking Haiku

Curlicues of smoke
write characters in still air --
a craving for peace.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

On the Gift of an Inkpot

This sepia ink
seems to hold a hint of blood --
a trace of old wounds?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

After Summer Rain

Professorial -
gulls walking, arms behind backs,
heads bent for earthworms.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

On the City Preparing for Festival

The same loneliness
of abandoned scaffolding
starting as ending.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

On the Taking Up, and Casting Off, of Spring Raiment

Just as the trees start
donning their new leafy coats,
the students shed theirs.