“A Few Haiku (19)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


I cast my old net
But time swims by so swiftly
I can’t catch my breath



Silver waves arrayed
In blue moon-hued solitude
In both sea and sky



These old woods have felt
My grand-father’s father’s feet
Walking through the ferns



Hoarfrost memories
Moonless midnights freeze my soul
Crystallize my tears



There is warmth inside
Near the hearth so why must I
Choose the frigid night



Snow covers my tracks
I cannot go back again
All things lie ahead

“Winds of Sorrow”

“Winds of Sorrow”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

My beloved kiku lay in withered waste
Yet their ivory tears still fall
Drift against the sides of my heart
Winter’s woeful weeping

In the northernmost climes
The bitter wind howls in my soul
Frigid lamentations haunt me
Hokkaido’s kanashimi no kaze

Winds of sorrow have frozen me in place
My mind flees on grey heron’s wings
Far away from this futile life
From this land of sadness

There is only whiteness
The aimlessness of a long life
Poorly lived, poorly loved, a life
Bereft of meaning, bereft of color

I can no longer remember the sun
The green of konara copse gone
Faded as the ferns have faded
Spring grass now dusky dun

Memories of flowers
Cause my heart to seize in my chest
There are no more lotus blossoms
Only shifting shadows on lifeless pond

Past the willows, past the stream, bamboo groves
Stand dead and haunted as yurei
Beat strange tattoos on hollow husks
Disappear in darkness

My hut is deserted
Now a silent chill resides there
Only empty bed and one chair
At the table where I broke bread alone

No matter where my mind takes me there is
A sense of a world in mourning
Earth comes to a stop, all life gone
Naught left but winter’s tears

And yet I still endure
Wake each day to a barren world
Pass my time in haze of regrets
Wait for callous night with its numbing dreams

And yearn for winter’s end
Which never comes

“The Snow That Never Falls”

“The Snow That Never Falls”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

The snow that never falls cannot assuage
The sorrow of the autumn’s grim defeat
There is no balm
For open wounds
No gilded cup
To slake the dying season’s thirst
No whispered words to quell the fear
Of failing heart
Forsaken soul
Abandoned hope
There is no honor in autumn’s demise
In absence of the snow that never falls

The tears that never fall have silenced me
Left desiccated bitter memories
Of desert sand
And alkali
That sting my eyes
Abrading zephyrs scour my soul
Abrasive hardpan sears my soles
I walk through life
An empty husk
Of what I was
There is no succor for these blinded eyes
In absence of the tears that never fall

The love that never comes has passed me by
And stranded me along the mountain path
The chilly wind
Bereft of warmth
Has sundered life
There is no trace of hart nor hind
Nor shadowed copse in which to rest
Treacherous scree
And empty tarns
And granite bones
Epitomize my solitary life
In absence of the love that never comes

The spring that never comes can never heal
The grievous pain inflicted on the earth
By autumn’s death
And winter’s drought
And dearth of care
For those who walk the silent path
Through torrid flats and frigid slopes
In search of what
They’ll never find
And stumble on
In darkness spurned by sun and moon and stars
In absence of the spring that never comes


(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

In the winter hour
Of my broken soul
This fragile vase cannot contain
My essence

It sits cracked
On the cornerstone of my hut
Catching melting snow
From which my heart drinks

My soul, old and plain
Cannot match the pace
Of setting sun or rising moon
Or brisk stream

Nor can it
Rival beautiful sakura
Kiku or fuji
But it is my soul

Born in raku fire
Tested by the flames
Etched and pitted by the glaze of
Toil and tears

Has found me at last as long years
Pass by on the trail
Up the mountainside

Misty mysteries
Hidden from my eyes
As I watch my sorrowful tears
Melt the snow

I have lost
Many pieces of myself through
Seasons of regret
Too many winters

How can I replace
All that has perished
All my soul has cannibalized
In my pain

Who can find
A way to patch this vase that leaks
My life on the ground
Draining my essence

Who will knead the clay
Who will brave the snow
To gather golden suisen
Seal the cracks

Make my mournful soul whole again
Gild my wounds and heal
Me with tender care

Fill my soul with hope
Set me on the path
Up the mountainside so I may
Find my way

“A Few Haiku (16)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


How can hope survive
Solitary kitchen chair
And the empty bed



These old feet are numb
Memories are bitter cold
I must watch my step



I sought from the fox
Wisdom; he gave me instead
A flash of his tail



Breeze in bamboo grove
Sake choko clattering
Empty memories



Who has spilled the sky
Into the pond? Sunset fire
Burns lotus blossoms



Once, in the forest
Autumn taught me of sorrow
What will winter bring

“I Cannot Ask the Mountain…”

“I Cannot Ask the Mountain…”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

I cannot ask the mountain
To carry my burden
For it shoulders the
The cumbrous glacier
The forsaken tor
The desolate scree slope
It weeps already
At its heavy load
Remorseful streams
Of alpine tears
Flow into tarns of regret
Secret cirques of sorrow
Hidden in its granite heart

I cannot ask the forest
To assuage my fears
For it attends to
The capricious breeze
Gathers thoughtless birds
To empty nests
Shepherds hind and hart
To twilight copses
Shelters hares among
Sword fern shadows
Its vigilant whisper
An exhausted sigh
I must let it sleep

I cannot ask the meadow
To save my soul
For it is laid to rest
Its cacophony
Of summer essence
Drained of hue and humor
Unkempt autumnal whiskers
Of dried grasses and weeds
All that remain on its
Forgotten countenance
It has no voice left
To perform last rites
For a dying world
No solemn hymns
Drift from dusty lea
To offer salvation

I cannot ask the sky
To forgive my sins
For it cares not
The callous sun
The fickle moon
The incurious stars
Time itself
Oblivious to all
They are occupied
With eternity
Not the pedestrian pain
Of one lost soul
Standing on the edge
Of a clearing
On a random
Autumn evening
Watching the universe
Spin silently overhead
Through burning tears

“Hana no Niwa (Garden of Flowers)”

“Hana no Niwa (Garden of Flowers)”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

In the restless nights
In the small flower garden
Spider lilies weep
Mournful beneath midnight moon
Dreaming higanbana dreams

They cry in silence
Do they know for whom they grieve
Do they remember
It was you who planted them
It was you who gave them life

They are not alone
In the soil of memories
In their moonlit tears
In my hana no niwa
In my place of remembrance

Magenta sweet peas
Bow their heads and bid farewell
To the one whose hands
Long-fingered and delicate
Caressed suitopi blooms

When the frost has come
Ivory chrysanthemums
Lay to rest your name
In autumnal kiku tombs
In dark chambers of my heart

In the pallid glow
Of tsuki and winter stars
Camellias die
Shed their crimson petals in
Snowy tsubaki lament

In the spring voices
Of sakura sing of you
Cherry blossoms mark
Your fleeting days in the sun
When skies were forever blue

In opposing climes
Doleful daffodils remain
Solemn sunflowers
Suisen, himawari
Pay respects with humble hearts

There’s a hidden place
In my hana no niwa
In my broken heart
Where my love for you still grows
Flowers bloom eternally

You are always there
Kneeling in the fertile loam
Under summer sun
Tending our flower garden
Where skies are forever blue

“A Few Haiku (7)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Swathed in winter’s arms
Chilly bosom hushes earth
Snowy lullaby



As heron’s plume drifts
Away on a silent stream
Mem’ries of you fade



Do worms of the earth
Dream of sunlight; are their minds
As blind as their eyes



I have tried to catch
Fleeting breeze in my hands but
I am unworthy



In the thunderstorm
Footprints filled with rain water
I have lost my way



Near the waterfall
Yellow birds drink from the cups
Of purple flowers

“Eleven Days”

“Eleven Days”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

The wind blows
Those shadows deeper
Into gloaming recesses
Of pine corridors
As aspens
Denuded and shamed
By autumn’s fickle fury
Huddle shivering
In dim dusk

In my heart
Those eleven days
Of silence tore me apart
Like carrion birds
My soul chipped
Away like frost-cracked
Rock on frigid granite tor
Mind numbed by gelid

How could I
Have foreseen my gift
For you would shatter your heart
Send you spiraling
Into your
Personal abyss
Disrupt delicate balance
Leave you retreating
In the dark

How could I
Have foreseen my love
For you would turn you away
In anger and fear
When all I
Wanted was to say
I would wait for you as you
Sought to find yourself
Once again

I was so
Afraid that you would
Disappear into the void
Of black depression
Lose yourself
Among demons that
Barred you from the healing flame
Of lucid mind and

I was so
Afraid all was lost
All we built on tenuous
Foundations destroyed
Fragile trust
Dashed upon the rocks
Of hopelessness and despair
Fledgling dreams of joy
Now sundered

And how could
I foresee that when
You returned to me at last
Those eleven days
Of heartache
Gone in cautious hope
Never to return were but
A harbinger of
Our demise

That the next eleven days
Would last a lifetime
Without you

The wind blows
My sorrow deeper
Into gloaming recesses
Of my heart and mind
Denuded and shamed
By regret’s fickle fury
Huddle shivering
In dim dusk

“A Few Haiku (5)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Fronds torn by the storm
Willow bathes her wounds in tears
Heaven cries above



In konara copse
Broken axe is silent now
Entombed by the ferns



In my sorrow I
Doubt that even sparrow’s joy
Can restore my heart



In chill autumn rain
Memories of sakura
Memories of you



There is bird-song when
I see my bare-footed love
Smiling demurely



All I wish for you
Is that you are happy and
You’ll remember me