Thornewood Poems

A collection of haiku written on Sunday afternoon, 27 March 1994, at the Thornewood Open Space Preserve in Woodside, California (see the Wikipedia page). Many of these poems were published in various journals, appeared in Thornewood Poems (Foster City, California: Press Here, 1994) and in Thornewood Poems (Napanee, Ontario: Haiku Canada, 1998; same title as the 1994 publication, but with a different selection and format), and also appeared online at Captain Haiku’s Secret Hideout in 1997 (see old site). The 1994 chapbook includes an introduction explaining the genesis of these poems. The entire sequence has also been translated into Hungarian by Gergely László. You can read all of these poems translated into Romanian by Olimpia Iacob. Five of these poems also appeared in the book Haiku Meridians, translated by Olimpia Iacob.

Dedicated to the late D. Claire Gallagher, whose words inspired many of these poems

as she described the various flowers, trees, and other plants we saw together.

a red berry on the trail

I look up

to the chickadee’s song

miner’s lettuce

beside the trail—

fallen toyon berries

a red toyon berry

at the trail’s edge—

the tinkle of a stream

first on the trail—

the pull of a spider’s strand

across my face

a switch-back

in the trail—

I glance at her face

a climbing pea

has lassoed a blade

of crab grass!

trail dust settles—

a shooting star bobs

over a spider’s turret

a slow breeze . . .

sticky-monkey flower

barely moving

noon sun—

fallen bark moss

swaying in a thistle

dried horseshoe prints

more frequent

by the blackberry bramble

passed from nose to nose,

a torn leaf

of pitcher sage

swaying in the shadows

of the ancient oak,

honeysuckle berries

lifting mugwort to her nose . . .

the hangnail

on her thumb

pausing on the trail—

I run my hand

through brush grass

white cabbage butterfly

rises from scattered toyon berries

through the horse’s hooves

the cool of shade—

a swarm of midges

brushes my arm

dried leaves on the trail—

a thistle bends

in fern shadow

broken to the heartwood—

an old meadow elm

after thunder

stopping on the footbridge

to gaze at still pools—

a sparrow’s wings flutter

voices on the trail . . .

the heap of deadwood

clogging the stream

blossoms in the wind-shadow

a hiker stops

to sip his water

dried thistle

bent across the trail . . .

trill of distant chickadee

between the brambles,

a fern’s curve

up the trail

before I sit,

I blow an ant

from the stump’s center

a turn in the trail—

sky in the branches

of red madrone

scent of jasmine . . .

a butterfly’s shadow

over trail mud

just off the wood path,

a mouse’s bones

under a curled leaf

first glimpse—

white swan

in the forest pool

valley coolness—

the trail widens

near the wooded pond

clouds of pollen

drifting through sunbeams—

a sparrow’s sudden flight

the web between stumps—

a tree frog answers

the pond frog

stones on the trail . . .

a downy feather

wafts in the breeze

new shoots

on the big-leaf maple—

how blue the sky, how blue

a mushroom cap

tilting in the sun—

I feel for my bald spot

a white swan shakes her tail

at last the ripples

reach her mate

jays squawk

from redwood tops—

the hush of distant traffic

water striders

keep turning back

from the weir’s edge

at the trail’s end,

the way we sit

beneath the redwoods

late afternoon sun—

jumping in the leaf pile

to hear the crunch

roots exposed

at the trail’s edge . . .

a banana slug’s path

afternoon shade—

moss rubbed off

where the branches touch