“A Few Haiku (43)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#253)

your shadow remains
in the nest of my heart
long since you took wing

…..

(#254)

let me rest my soul
in the cool shadows of the
north side of your heart

…..

(#255)

thoughtless koi in lotus pond
I hover above, god-like
and go unnoticed

…..

(#256)

take the dappled path
through the green konara copse
there I’ll find my way

…..

(#257)

evening mourning doves
will never let me forget
day’s death and night’s tears

…..

(#258)

I arrange the stones
into cairns of memories
lest I lose my way

“A Few Haiku (42)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#247)

barren apple trees
culled from orchards without thought
so many regrets

…..

(#248)

in the desert
all pretense is stripped away
only truth survives

…..

(#249)

wooden ladle and tin cup
and a bone-dry well
life’s futility

…..

(#250)

take the empty cup
drink my fill of nothingness
let me live in peace

…..

(#251)

dragging the river
somewhere in the murky depths
I may find myself

…..

(#252)

leave the stones unturned
let the clouds drift where they may
live in harmony

“A Few Haiku (39)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#229)

snap-beans in a wooden bowl
and tears on her cheeks
my mother’s sorrow

…..

(#230)

pre-dawn mourning
her eyes on the horizon
searching for the light

…..

(#231)

in konara copse
my soul seeks solace
in the still shadows

…..

(#232)

my reflection gone
even the stream forsakes me
as I drift away

…..

(#233)

these numb fingers
I can’t feel the difference
between hope and despair

…..

(#234)–(for Eivor and Pearl)

beneath verdant trees
joy and peace walk side by side
on the dappled path

“A Few Haiku (27)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#157)

memories of her
drift on plains of sorrow
the driving snow

…..

(#158)

the withered forest
cruel winter shames the trees
into submission

…..

(#159)

the blush of winter
cold flirtatious wind kisses
my cheeks and nose

…..

(#160)

clear winter night
moon tends her silver garden
of star flowers

…..

(#161)

my personal winter
heart too deep in permafrost
for love’s healing thaw

…..

(#162)

cracks on pond ice
kintsugi heals frozen earth
as lotus slumber

“A Few Haiku (26)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#151)

drifting blizzard snow
not deep enough to inter
all the world’s sins

…..

(#152)

fallow field
without love and compassion
there can be no hope

…..

(#153)

the thresher’s flail
I am not yet able to
leave my past behind

…..

(#154)

iced boughs bend in shame
winter’s woe too bitter for
weeping willow’s tears

…..

(#155)

silent winter night
sound of my heart’s muffled cries
bereft of echoes

…..

(#156)

bitter reckoning
seeds of love in time shall meet
the harvester’s scythe

“A Few Haiku (24)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

(#139)

snow in hut shadow
bitter heart
refuses to melt

…..

(#140)

abandoned nest
filled with drifted snow
sorrow incubates

…..

(#141)

frozen tracks
my past waits for me
up the road

…..

(#142)

frigid pond
thirsty fox waits in the woods
as I break the ice

…..

(#143)

chilly winter breaths
heron, kitsune and I
speak common tongue

…..

(#144)

no sun no moon
earth in funeral wrappings
all hope is lost

“Kintsugi”

“Kintsugi”
(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

Loneliness
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

Kintsugi
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
Again

“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

“On Kestrel’s Wings”

“On Kestrel’s Wings”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

Must everything have
Pedantic meaning
Must I be ground-bound
By the numbing gravity
Of grim solemnity
Must unrelenting
Earnestness be
The boot heel
Upon my neck
Must I suffocate
On the cloying
Atmosphere
Of grave sobriety

These shackles
Which rub wrists raw
With the weight
Of morose introspection
And fetters which
Render my
Hardened heart
Captive to my
Saturnine mind
Have exhausted me
I am so tired
Of the weight of worlds
Upon my broken shoulders
Of an eternity
Of anguish and woe
My soul begs for respite
A cessation of fear and worry
So that I may open
My sorrow-blinded eyes
And see the sun again
As I saw it as a boy
Golden and eternal
And life-giving

I grieve for that
Little boy
Who lost his way
Who only wished
To be a child
And breathe freely
Of fragrant morning dew
To fly through cobalt skies
Of imagination on
Titian-ashen kestrel’s wings
To feel both wind
And tears of joy
On summer-gilded face
To traverse universes
At the speed of thought
To savor all things
At all times
To live and grow
And play
Sleep the sleep
Of innocence
Dream the dreams
Of truth

Where is he
Where is that boy
Who wears my face
And if I call him
Will he answer
Will he come running
Will he throw his arms
Around my neck
And rejuvenate my
Heart and soul
Will he
Can he
Is it too late
Do I even
Dare to try

“My Jade Remembrance”

“My Jade Remembrance”
(c) 2019 by Michael L. Utley

I used to know you
9,000 tears ago
A tear for every mile
That kept me from you
A tear for every moment
Not spent with you
A tear for every hope
Not shared with you
9,000 tears

A jade remembrance
For my brown-eyed love
A dusky green heart
On a silver chain
I keep in my pocket
It was for you
Everything was for you
Everything I had
Everything gone except
My jade remembrance

You were already dead
Before I ever met you
Your path etched in stone
I was just a detour
A distraction on your way
Into darkness
A temporary reprieve
An unplanned respite
For the lost girl
The girl who would learn to fly
Or die trying

And I was the lost boy
The boy who had
Never seen the sun
Until I saw you
The boy whose shattered heart
Had one last beat for you
A final crescendo for my
Brown-eyed love

I couldn’t fix you
You weren’t broken
You were destroyed
Crushed by the weight of
Damnation
Hounded by demons
Unknown to me
Yet you smiled at me
And pulled me from
My own abyss
And I loved you

My jade remembrance
Are you still there
Did you close your eyes
And take that leap of faith
Did you learn to fly
Or did you die trying
You didn’t just take your life
You took mine too

I keep your heart in my pocket
On a silver chain

(for Lizzy)