Richard’s Old Haiku Blog

Richard's Wabi Sabi World

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I water his bonsai –
the trees

Monday, May 22, 2006

son’s paper route
the same child’s marbles
on five different driveways

Saturday, May 13, 2006

the littlest guppy
finds the food

Saturday, May 06, 2006

after cutting the grass
I hear the neighbour –
cut his

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

holding her hand –
dark sky over black water
all those years ago

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Beyond the gate
his school path
blurs with growth

Friday, April 28, 2006

alone on the bench
but eventually
a Towhee

Sunday, April 23, 2006

fifth week of rain
still when I mop it
the floor dries

Saturday, April 22, 2006

dried paint on my hands
green spring leaves
already open

Friday, June 24, 2005

spring breeze
the climbing rose
does Tai Chi

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

the alley narrows
squeal of thorns
against the truck

Thursday, April 28, 2005

the winch on their PC
yet soft words
these female police officers

Thursday, April 07, 2005

bright green leaves of spring

Monday, February 28, 2005

on the dying alder tree
old initials
new catkins

carpenter – silent on the roof
points his hammer
at the sunset

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

right into her hand
the stick
the dog brings

Thursday, February 03, 2005

from frozen forest soil

an ember

with wings

Saturday, January 22, 2005

heavy rain

even the fog

has trouble rising

Sunday, January 09, 2005

first snowfall

the pleasure of seeing

my footprints

News Flash: Wabi Sabi Simple Published. Regular readers of Richard Wabi Sabi World will be pleased to know that my long anticipated book, Wabi Sabi Simple released in December and is selling well. The book is a practical and inspiring guide to incorporating the beauty and wisdom of wabi sabi into daily life. For an introduction to the book visit and the book’s description page listed there.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

pause in the Christmas rush

a fisherman

his long slow cast

Friday, November 19, 2004

see our breath

yellow leaves strike the concrete


Sunday, September 19, 2004

the old fear

retired immigrant harvests

more beans than he can eat

Thursday, August 26, 2004

door held open by the wind

styrofoam cup

clops across the parking lot

Saturday, August 07, 2004

half asleep

mystery scents from the flowered cuff

of mothers party dress

Thursday, July 22, 2004

mother’s nurse

high school friend

I didn’t recognize

Monday, June 21, 2004

first day of summer

clouds the shape of jelly fish

sting the sky

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

waiting in the bank

the rubber foot on her cane


Monday, May 24, 2004

three neighbourhood girls

run down the lane

inside a hula-hoop

Thursday, May 06, 2004

smiles at everyone in line

on her finger

sparkling new ring

Friday, March 19, 2004

morning wind

finch stops among plumb blossoms

to eat one white petal

Thursday, March 04, 2004

at the stop light

in the car in front of me

little dog’s head still bobs

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

noticeable bump in the tightly cropped hedge

undisturbed bird’s nest

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

theological debate

very telling

which side listens

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

frosty morning

hanging from the school yard fence

a lavender bra

Thursday, January 29, 2004

click after click

face after face

the train passes

Friday, January 23, 2004

giant snowballs rolled together

melt in the rain

to a ring of leaves

Thursday, January 08, 2004

in the wind

one leaf

my son

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

clinging to the spiders web

needle snowflakes

Sunday, December 28, 2003

under the memorial bench

in the cracks between the stones

wet leaves


inside the aquarium

guppy lights

Saturday, December 27, 2003

My Teapot

Thursday, December 11, 2003

quiet house

children sick in bed

wrong kind of silence

Monday, December 01, 2003

he waves at the pretty receptionist

with his cane

I thank the volunteer

she thanks me



light frost light

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Cenotaph wind

in a woman’s black hair

dry brown leaf

Sunday, November 02, 2003

between the office computers

white clean safe

Halloween spider’s web

Thursday, October 23, 2003

getting wet

the girl beside the bus stop

in the shelter, two boys

Monday, October 06, 2003

on the coleslaw bag

my writing deadline

the expiry date

Friday, September 26, 2003

to keep a promise

as well as the sun


turning to face me

as I stoop to face her

jumping spider

Thursday, September 25, 2003

in the library

watching people


in the second hand bookstore window

my old book

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Working Definition: Wabi Sabi is a way of life that appreciates natural beauty, values simplicity, and nurtures an authentic self. It acknowledges that nothing lasts, nothing’s finished, nothing’s perfect, including you, but affirms that contentment is possible when you accept genuine unvarnished existence, with clarity and grace.

Friday, August 29, 2003

lost in talk

outside the tea shop window

son silently mouths, “lets go.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

putting on sweat pants

the luxury of coming home

Monday, August 25, 2003

not home til midnight

the northern lights

kept distracting us

his heels flat

I hold the ruler level

pencil in the date

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Son’s bike

The right socket still on the wrench

proudly shows me

the skateboard

his bleeding leg

children’s hushed voices

discuss best ways to avoid

being over heard

Friday, August 22, 2003

evading our paddles

grey feather the heron dropped

Monday, August 18, 2003

The pen in open

The sky in skylight

The wind in my window

Distant street lights wink

dark trees sway and sound like surf

through open windows

“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence.”

“When we consider how small after all the cup of human enjoyment is, how soon overflowed with tears, how easily drained to the dregs is our quenchless thirst for infinity, we shall not blame ourselves for making so much of the tea cup.”

Okakura Kakuzo The Book of Tea

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Monday, August 11, 2003

flat shelves of shale

the dwindled august river

water shoe highway

ribbed stone cup

in the river smooth stone

ammonite, gone

Monday, August 04, 2003

blond brittle grass

lights this summer evening dusk

dry as fire

De Courcy Island  – July 2003

Sunday, July 27, 2003

friends in lawn chairs

hillside graveyard


blackberry bushes

elderly man in a straw hat

lips purple

Wabi Sabi Forum, Moderated by Richard, now available at Delphi:

Sunday, July 20, 2003

to watch the birds

slow cat maneuvers herself

a gap in the thorns

Saturday, July 12, 2003

black asphalt path

a trail of wet paw prints

and the place the dog shook

Sunday, June 29, 2003

communion service

pastor talks, mother and baby


Saturday, June 28, 2003

wave undulates along the curve of stone

reveals, then hides


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

silver trout scales

stuck on the hood of my truck

hear his laugh again

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

spring walk in the woods

clinging to his dark blue sleeve

bleached leaf skeleton

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Mother’s Day

my neighbor

talks through the lilac branches

our winter broken

Saturday, May 03, 2003

That Old Ace in the Hole

Lovers of Wabi Sabi probably already know about Annie Proulx. Her book, The Shipping News, is filled with textured and aged Newfoundland images. Sven Birkerts, writing in the Jan/Feb 2003 issue of Book magazine says of Annie’s new book, “The prose may be slow and demand care from the reader, but Proulx repays our attention with a thousand shocks of charged recognition.” And isn’t that what we all want in a Wabi Sabi novel?

Monday, April 28, 2003

business meeting

outside the window two sparrows


Monday, April 07, 2003

In Love with Meaning

prickle of rust set in dust

lips as dry

as iron

rustle of flight inside words

out of their mouths


light of a fire of silence and sound

echoes of flames between teeth

rains of age on garden throats

gargling crops of pain

alone on the field of memory

hoeing the weed-eating words

stone full of water

spit full of clay

cracker dry speaking

feather tongue squeaking

words are birds

Friday, April 04, 2003

finding the store closed

spilled across the floor at home

the last of the nutmeg

Sunday, March 23, 2003

holding open the wind

I prick my finger on brown

sparrows wing

Monday, March 17, 2003

polished white mustang

glints in the driveway

of the delapidated house

beside the swollen Chase River

smelling and then finding


Saturday, March 15, 2003

from the house I watch

one son’s elaborate gestures

other son sits on the ball

March snow melts in rain

lift the white bucket cover

bonsai’s new leaves

Monday, March 10, 2003

Hope of spring blurs

White plumb blossoms

disappearing in falling snow

Thursday, February 27, 2003

An Unlikely Hero

Fred Rogers died today. I remember being 17 at Matthew Farris’ house listening to a record by a group of comedians that made fun of the Desiderata and Fred Rogers, among other things. For teenage boys the sappy sentiment of Desiderata and the effeminate way that Rogers talked were funny in themselves but the spoofs by the comedians had us reeling with laughter. 20 years later I started to revise my opinion of both. I read the Desiderata with renewed interest, surprised to find that I no longer found it trite and wishy washy but rather melancholy and stoic. I had been watching Fred, too, and found in him now a strange sort of hero. Here was a man who had convictions and education and who quietly implemented a way of relating to children that was radically different, and from all reports, effective. I researched his life and found that he had touched many people profoundly and actually shaped our culture. I am sad that he has died, but glad that he lived and had the courage to be a very different kind of man; the kind of man I hope and pray the world sees more of. Well done Fred!

Monday, February 24, 2003

Fat black dog chases seagulls

Short legs and tail


Thursday, February 06, 2003

night scents the dark street

someone baking, someone bathing

dryer going

Friday, January 31, 2003

mother and daughter

browse greeting cards together

same smile lines

man skates lazy circles

round and round

his 4 year old

here on the frozen lake

I remember

paddling our yellow canoe

where have all the pens gone?

cat sleeping happily.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Just read that Blogger has over a million people using their service. I guess that makes me one in a million.

outside the theatre

two men smoking

no guns

on the frozen pond

last summer’s water bugs

now skate and spin

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

The Art of Humility

My son has a penchant for both humor and self-deprecation. The combination of the two was delightfully exhibited last night while we were playing Balderdash around the kitchen table waiting for the new year to arrive. Graham was in last place and feeling pretty bad about it. He started saying, “I’m the worst, I’m so dumb,” and other negative things. Finally he got up from the table with a sigh and sought solace with the cat who was sitting on the living room floor. Matthew seeing an opportunity to cheer up his brother calculated the last round and artificially inflated Graham’s score. “Look Graham,” he said, moving Graham’s game piece to second place, “Your in second place.”

There was a small silence and then we heard from the living room floor Graham’s despondent voice, “Yeah, I’m in second place if everyone is on the same square.”

Saturday, December 07, 2002

winter ironwood

one solitary brown leaf

soft as a cat’s chin

Friday, November 29, 2002

sun behind cracked clouds

on this cool winter morning

I think of china

In line at the bank

little girl jumps with both feet

over a bug

Sunday, November 24, 2002

teenage boy walks down the hill

at the corner

meets my neighbor’s daughter

Saturday, November 23, 2002

smelling the rosemary

hours later

on my hands

someone else’s pen mark

by a poem

I don’t like

Monday, November 18, 2002

winter rains

strip the trees

of blazing autumn leaves

waiting for my children

fir needles on the windshield

redirect the November rain

first sip of the Kenyan tea

so bitter!

hours after, wanting more

Laying in bed half asleep

My toe keeps beat

To my wife’s printer

to keep pace with her friend

on each second push

she drags one skate blade

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

watching the gerbil

eat the November raisin

my son eats one too

Cenotaph on Remembrance Day

war planes fly low

then two seagulls

Sunday, November 03, 2002

ambling autumn walk

looking up at yellow leaves

he misses the turn

Sunday, October 27, 2002

in fallen yellow leaves

he pilfers old fence boards

for his plum tree fort

Friday, September 13, 2002

Getting my keys out

Under the buzzing porch light

Gentle moth thumps me


Hot September afternoon, I’ve just backed into my parking spot at home, opened the door, and stepped out onto the dusty gravel. I’ve just moved the seat forward and am reaching in the back seat to get my brief case.
“Guess what?” a voice says. It is a high, excited, little girl’s voice.
“What?” I say lifting out my brief case and turning around.
“I’m in school.” The voice says.
There is a circle of little girls on the grass under a tree on the neighbor’s lawn, and detaching herself from the rest is one of the youngest of the group. “I have homework,” she says holding up a pad of paper in the shape of a book of tickets. She is beaming.
I take the book from her to look at it. It is 5 layers of tracing paper stapled to a piece of cardboard on which, in large careful schoolteacher printing is the word, Heather.

I look down at Heather and say, “oh, this is for you to practice writing your name?” and she nods. It is an excessive nod. The kind of nod that looks like it might hurt it is so big and jerky.
But Heather is still beaming. “My teacher gave it to me.” There is something in the way she says it, something in the way she emphasizes the word “my” that makes me realize that this is not a chore, not a burden to be rid of so that other things can be done, like playing with Barbie’s or talking with her friends. This is a badge. Heather owns this task, she is proud of it. She wants to write her name on a piece of paper until it is as neat as her teacher’s example.
One of the other girls is standing beside Heather now and holds up a piece of tracing paper that appears to have been torn from the others. This is Hannah, one of the older girls. “See,” Hannah says, “she gave us one.” And Hannah emphasizes the word “Us.” I look back and forth between the two girls. I am glad they picked me. They are sharing their life with me. They don’t know this, of course. But I do. I tell Heather that it looks like she was very careful when she wrote out her name. And she just nods that big nod and returns to her friends.
I stand for a moment trying to remember when I was that openly proud, vulnerably unaware of the obviousness of my feelings. I have learned over the years to ration my outbursts, control them, and not give too much away. When, I wonder, will Heather be teased for her exuberance over schoolwork? This blindness to the potential for ridicule worries me. She will be hurt, I think, when someone, probably an older boy, says something, perhaps not even to her, “She wants to do homework, she can’t even write her name yet.” I am thinking of the neighborhood boy most likely to say this. I can see his face, can see his friends laughing, can see Heather’s face dropping. But perhaps Heather will not care; perhaps she is made of stiffer stuff. I hope so, but I doubt it. As I walk into the house, leaving Hannah doing summersaults on the grass and one of the other girls climbing the tree, I say a little prayer, not for Heather, though as I write this I feel guilty that I didn’t. No, all I do is smile to myself and utter the word, “Thank you,” remembering that the world moves fast, and I have felt it stop, if only for a moment.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

On the dry Island

Red rose hips round as marbles

Still warm at moonrise

Wednesday, July 10, 2002


What is it about the margins that attract us? Not just the margins of pages but all the margins between the cluttered riotous “where its at” and the mute lonely “no mans land”? Think of the Hebrew prophets in their caves, the early Christian monks erecting huts in the desert, the Tibetan Buddhists in their high mountain cities. We as humans, at least some of us, seek out places where life seems the most hard-done-by. Sure the rainforests are beautiful, cities exciting and fun, but barren places seem to speak to us, or open us to that kind of beauty that comes from hardship. For me it was the alpine meadows of Kokanee Glacier Park.

As a young teen I made the journey with my parents and family friends. We all loved the place, its wild rough grass, house size boulders, audacious flowers and miniature trees. We enjoyed the squeaking of the Picas and the calling of the Marmots. Humming birds zoomed around. They seemed much larger in this environment where scale is extreme. Alpine trees take a long time to grow, the alpine growing season is short, and so when the sun is warm every living thing shifts into high gear and the frenzy to store food for the next winter is as earnest as plants and Picas can be. But do I want to live there? I did, for many years, until the hardship of actual survival became less an adventure and more a drudgery. Still the question is valid. What is it about these places, this harsh spare environment, that attracts us?

For me it is this: Life keeps trying.

There is something fundamental in life that attracts me, and while I know that all life is really just a creative use of an ultimately dwindling energy, still what life does, in the raw and merciless zones of desert and mountain, is make an art out of entropy. And that, for me, is something worth learning.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

car door creaks open

echoes off dark houses

only the moon is still up

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Book Recommendation: Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why intelligence Increases When You Think Less by Guy Claxton, published by Fourth Estate.

The author explores how business centred cultures that value high productivity and fast analysis, foster active thinking that renders the world as problems and solutions.

This is the Hare brain; analyse the problem quickly, prescribe a precise solution. But the actual complexity of life limits the usefulness of conscious, deadline driven ways of thinking. Hare brain solutions and prescriptions work in the short term, sometimes, but often lead to a recurrence of the problem or a manifestation of the problem in other ways. What is really needed is the Tortoise mind.

The Tortoise mind involves mulling, reflection, contemplation, gut feelings and intuition. Given time to work these slower processes offer better solutions to complex problems.

So why is the Tortoise Brain undervalued? Partly because life is viewed as a race, but also because race-conscious individuals now hold the power and control in society.

A more subtle issue has to do with what it means to really understand something.

“Knowing emerges from, and is a response to, not-knowing. Learning – the process of coming to know – emerges from uncertainty. Ambivalently, learning seeks to reduce uncertainty, by transmuting the strange into the familiar, but it also needs to tolerate uncertainty, as the seedbed in which ideas germinate and responses form. If either one of these two aspects of learning predominates, then the balance of the mind is disturbed. If passive acceptance of not-knowing overwhelms the active search for meaning and control, then one may fall into fatalism and dependency. While if the need for certainty becomes intemperate, undermining the ability to tolerate confusion, then one may develop a vulnerability to demagoguery and dogma, liable to cling to opinions and beliefs that may not fit the bill, but which do assuage the anxiety.” – From the book.

Friday, April 19, 2002

Swift spring mountain stream:

black rubber boots against legs

pebble sounds below

Sunday, April 07, 2002


Yesterday Marilyn bought “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reaching Your Goals” by Jeff Davidson at Value Village for $2.99. She says it is the best $2.99 she has ever spent. She showed me the various sections she had highlighted and stopped to read a paragraph on how to sort out wishes from goals.

I asked what the different colors of highlighting were for.

“I usually highlight in yellow” she said, “but the person who had the book before me used yellow already.” Then she laughed and held up the book to me saying, “Here is where they stopped highlighting.”

I looked down at page 66, about ¼ of the way into the book, and observed the last highlighting by the anonymous previous owner. To Sleep Per Chance To Function.

It looks like they never got back out of bed, except perhaps, to discard the book in the value village contribution box. I guess setting goals was more of a wish than a goal for that person…

Sunday, March 24, 2002


done cleaning the fish

dad’s thermos of steaming tea

cup warming my hands

dad likes Orange Pekoe

says mom’s Earl Grey tea tastes like

his childhood hay loft

thinking of parents

I stand in Overwaitea

six long shelves of tea

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Unexpectedly Light

I’m downstairs putting wood on the fire. I pet the cat; ask him if he likes the heat from the stove. He yawns and puts a paw on my hand. I put on my sheep skin slippers and head upstairs. Half way up, the light makes me blink. The room is filled with light from the snowstorm outside. The flakes are rolling round and round in little eddies and the sun is backlighting the clouds. Although I know it is cold, must be because the flakes are so light, the brightness makes it seem like the fog in the bathroom after a shower. Now the flakes are going up, the wind drives them across the field and they arch over the house. Fast, at first, and then back to that soft dance.

It is pleasure profound to see the wind.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

I came across this poem tonight. I have worked on it on and off for over ten years. It belongs here.

Wabi Sabi

Our first fall together

waxwings ate rain

marks as bright as berries

what I looked for I still look for

stretched out across the cooling lake

Our second fall you collected rotten apples behind the grey house

stuck out your tongue at them, rinsing your hands quick

me and the grass laid down by the rain

orange poppy petals

silence about them

that year we had no friends

When we lived on the hill, fall was in the lane

I stood, hands in pockets, in a light rain

while someone else talked,

looked up and saw you in the window, poking floss taut into Aida cloth and the winter white light

your hands quick

the proper tension

Finally we hunched our shoulders

a cat put out in the rain

while the leaves tumbled cold

brown feather caught on Autumn

In Victoria

winter starlings

dappled and hungry

clutch thorns with their toes

Looking out of the St. George House

orange cat in the grass

picks its way through the color

paws coat steps with silence

only eyes quick

How many falls now?

second pregnancy a two story house

In out of the rain, petals under the porch curled dry

Slocan river moves as I think about it

Finally this year, after seeing smoke from our own chimney

I roll my wheelbarrow full of red leaves and two giggling boys

and am able to smile

knowing this cold flame of joy

has a name

Sunday, February 03, 2002

My Mug

This is the mug that is sitting on my desk as I type this. I have had it since I was fifteen, when I first started drinking tea in my room. That was over twenty five year ago. There have been many different desks in many different dwellings but the mug has traveled with me from place to place.

It came into my possession in my childhood home and no doubt my mother bought it. Perhaps she liked the flower pattern. They remind me of poppies. I like poppies. It seems that my mother and I have the same taste in mugs. On the bottom in black letters is the word, “Japan.”

It has a nice handle. This mug is Wabi Sabi. If I had to run from the house in a fire and the mug was near by I would grab it and when I was sitting in a new house I would set it down and have a mug of tea. Wabi Sabi is this way that things define us. It is the casting back and forward that objects do to us. Old things hold more than new things do. This mug holds more than tea. And it is I who too hold it.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Wabi Cycle

I’m in the truck waiting at the stop sign for the traffic to clear and I see the bicyclist. First thought, “I’ll have to wait for her, too.” Then, as she passes in front of me I see the shopping bags hanging from her handlebars, I glace up at her face. She is sitting straight peddling with strong strokes, wearing a safety vest with the luminous reflective X on front and back. She has the serene and slightly amused look of someone enjoying a thought. And then she is past and the traffic clears and I head out into the street and I think, “Good on you!”
“And while zero emission electric cars have died in the marketplace, electric bicycle sales, according to Electric Bikes Worldwide, rose sharply to 2.1 million units in 2000. A typical car emits about one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile driven, so every auto outing replaced by a trip on a wto wheeler eliminates a lot of green house gas.” – Sarah C. Greene Discover, August 2001 Vol 22 #8. pg. 11 (By the Numbers)

Monday, January 14, 2002

Stumbling into Wabi Sabi

Such Joy! I got a new book from the library today that I had called for and I started reading it tonight after vacuuming and tidying up. Page 12: “There are two fundamental principles which permeate Chinese and Japanese art and culture: The concepts of “wabi” and “sabi.” Wow, fundamental principles, that’s big! The author goes on to explain:

“Wabi means, quite literally, ‘poverty,’ although this translation does not begin to convey the richness of its true meaning. Poverty, in this sense, means not being dependent on material possessions, rather than simply not having them. A person who is poor in these terms can still be inwardly rich because of the presence of something of higher value than mere possessions. Wabi, therefore, is poverty that surpasses immense riches. In practical terms, wabi is exemplified in the contentment of a family living in very Spartan conditions with simple food and few possessions, but surrounded by and in tune with the events of everyday life. In intellectual and artistic terms, wabi is found in the person who does not indulge in complexity of concept, over-ornate expression, or the pomposity of self-esteem. He, or she is quietly content with the simple things in life, which are the sources of their everyday inspiration.”

“Sabi, on the other hand, denotes ‘loneliness’ or ‘solitude’, although in aesthetic terms, its meaning is much broader. An antique element is also implied, especially if it is combined with a primitive lack of sophistication. The utensils used in the traditional tea ceremony of Japan are a good example of sabi. The essence of sabi, therefore, is gracefulness combined with antiquity.”

“In addition to wabi and sabi, there are seven other characteristics which are regarded as expressive of Zen in a work of art, and which link the concepts of Wabi and Sabi. These are: asymmetry, simplicity, austere sublimity, naturalness, subtle profundity, freedom from attachment, and tranquility.”

Cool. I love this stuff. And it is like this big thing! How come I haven’t heard of it before? I’ve lived on the planet over 40 years and only heard about this idea several months ago. It is introverted, stoic, but balanced and serene. It is where I want to be. Is this what happens when you get older? The question now is, how to accomplish it without getting severe and aloof. Perhaps the Bonsai will help me find that way.

(The book I refer to is: Bonsai Masterclass by Peter Chan)

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