Fog veiling her cheeks
The sun abjures this dewdrop
Life and dons drab robes.
The mist's chill embrace gives no
Solace to one in exile.

    - January 26, 2007.  The gang on Outlands Bardic started a waka sequence all about snow. Between the demands of work and the fact that we don't get snow here, I had nothing. Then I went out for my walk on a grey, dank, Bay area day. The portrait at right is of a 13th century Buddhist nun named Eshinni.

A new year

The moon getting full
As the year grows old then new,
Dampens silken sleeves.
The need to hear a friend's voice
Outweighs the need for silence.

Those who have not met
May share paper and black ink
And feel like siblings.
Writing brushed with thoughtfulness
Evokes the mood of sharing.

Too long in my cave
Did I sit and view the world
Alone and depressed.
There are silken sleeves out there
That show subtle shades of hope.    

The changeable moon
Reveals her moods at a whim
As the season turns.
After weeks of chill silence
Her heart warms - at last he writes!

Each face of a coin
Cannot see that of its twin
Though they are so matched.
If all they may share are words
It is at least a kinship.

Too long in silence
Did she wait, lost in the mists
On the wintry bay.
One far away remembers:
Spring cannot be so far.     (Saionji)

The coins of the realm
Given at year's end to those
Deserving, are cold.
Mulberry texture lacking,
A note does so much better.

When friends can comport
In sublime ways, innocent
Then the god shall smile.
Who knew that the messenger
Would bear so sacred a slip?

But forgive the man
Ensconced on his veranda
And his solitude.
For he sees in the distance
Robes lined with gleaming sunlight.    

Warmly gleaming, yet
The hard edges of a coin
Chill the outstretched palm.
Fragile brushstrokes on paper
Warms pallid cheeks with blushes.

How strange is karma
That two who have never met
Share such amity?
Such blessings are manifest
In the joy his letter brings.

How does one forgive
A pang that catches one's breath
And blurs this poor page?
Does the moon that watches him
Veil herself with dampened sleeves?    
     - January 30, 2007. The mad two month scramble to complete my karaginu mo for Twelfth Night was a resounding success. 72 hours later I was felled by a nasty flu that kept me in for days and sapped my strength for weeks after.
I came home from a particularly draining day at work to find waka from my Unmet Friend waiting for me. Since he began with a sequence of three, I responded in kind.

A waka sequence for Their Majesties of Aethelmearc
Winter grass whispers
On Aethelmearc's battlefields:
"Our land is legend."
Dread Christopher, Fierce Morgen;
Mountain thunder boasts their names.
Snow robed branches wave
In Aethelmearc's sylvan glades
Like winter dancers.
A peaceful countryside rests
Safely in Christopher's hands.
Laughter echoes in
Lanterned halls of Aethelmearc.
The realm is merry.
Yet lanterns pale beside
The light that is Morgen's smile.
Winter stars blaze bright
In Aethelmearc's boundless sky,
Singing in silence.
Hail Christopher, Hail Morgen,
Names praised by all their people.
     - December 20, 2006. Their Majesties Uther and Kara wanted to present poems to their Royal Brothers and 
Sisters at the Estrella War. Beaten out by other Western poets for the chance to write for the East and Outlands, 
I asked to write for Aethelmearc. While I have not yet met TRM Christopher and Morgen, I know them by 
reputation as members of the same household as Date Saburou Yukiie, Clan Yama Kaminari.

For my brothers
A late winter gale
Lashes the house with its fury
And yet she is cheered.
A storm cannot wash away
Memories of shared laughter.
       - February 24, 2007. Of all my SCA "brothers", I think the Japanese ones are truly special. The Estrella War
is where I first met Otagiri Tatsuzou face to face - was it really only two years ago? This year I got to ring in the
Chinese New Year and share some sake with Atenveldt's Yagyu Tametomo and Li Hsiao Lung and friends, and 
welcome newcomer Ryuyama Hideyoshi to our ranks.  You inspire me, you make me laugh, you warm my heart, 
my brothers. Kampai! Our time together, as always, is too short.

For someone
First he tugs her hat,
Then tweaks streaming locks of hair
And snatches at sleeves.
The wind teases, remorseless
As any favored brother.
     - February 28, 2007. Written for a very special person who knows I do not mind his teasing.

Nagashi bina (Floating doll)
'I, sent running down
to the vastness of a sea
I had never known,
as a doll runs, can but know
an overwhelming sorrow.'
     - Murasaki Shikibu, Chapter 12, "Suma," The Tale of Genji (translated by Royall Tyler, p. 252).
The doll's rebuke
Why must my sleeves soak
With the weight of his folly
As I float, tideborne?
Conscienceless straw, I dance
And soon sink, unremembered.

     - March 2, 2007. In the above passage from The Tale of Genji, a yin-yang master enacts a purification ritual for the exiled prince, 
transferring evil spirits or disruptive influences into a straw or paper doll. The doll is then placed in a small boat and
floated out to sea (or down a river). This centuries old tradition is still practiced in some parts of Japan as part of Girls' Day
 celebrations on the third day of the third month. Genji's bad luck was of his own making, hence the doll's lack of 
sympathy for his troubles. Photo from Shinto
Priests from Awashima Shrine in Kada, Wakayama City, hold a memorial service for old dolls offered from all over 
Japan, and float them into the ocean.

Shadow gardens (For Saito Takauji)
A silent garden
Lies in ruin, bloom trampled
By his heedless feet.
Thoughtless cruelty burdens
Her sleeves with a thousand griefs.

The pale, graceful arc
Of a waning moon bows low
In the western sky.
Shadow shapes wait for the dawn
To reveal their flower selves.
     - March 15, 2007, part of an exchange on the Outlands Bardic Yahoogroup. 

Uther's Crown Tourney
Warriors striving
To match the spring sun's glory
A throne to be won.
     - March 26, 2007. "Epic" was the watch word throughout the reign of Uther Schiemann der Hunt and Kara 
Bareksdottir, so much so that spontaneous cries of "Epic!" were heard throughout the land. I was prompted to
cry "Haiku!" in return one evening, posing the conundrum: can haiku be epic?

Sea winds do battle
With green budded treetops
Outside her doorstep.
She shakes from hair and sleeves a
Blizzard of cherry petals.
     - April 12, 2007.

A volley of rain
Crashes against the shingles,
Racing off the coast.
To the east, the cloud veiled hills
Huddle beneath greening robes.
     - April 14, 2007.

Bay and sky alike
Are milky with mystery,
Revealing nothing.
Small boats creep through the channel,
Morning mist belies the spring.
    - June 4, 2007

To the east, the hills
Glow golden in the sunset,
Roof tiles gleam like gems.
What lies beyond lambent slopes
In places where she is not?
- July 2, 2007

Lofty Capital,
Seat of wisdom and culture.
Poets, priests, and nobles
Enchanting one with fashion,
Else one's clothing draws critique.     (**Takeda)

Storied Capital,
Seat of the Exalted One
Reigning in beauty.
Oh, to quote nature's delights
In one's many-hued garments.     (Saionji)

Palette of nature,
Garments like Ko-No-Hana,*     
(*The Blossom Princess)
Splendid is your dress.
Wit like a Kunimitsu,*               (*A blade by Rai Kunimitsu, 14th c. sword maker)     
Buke respect her cruel fan.   

The Smackity Fan...
...weapon of mass destruction,
wielded with a flick.
Who dares to stand against it,
when all who have done so, wailed?     (*Date)

The simple truth is
Despite its lethal balance
It is but a fan!
Honorable men need not
Fear mere paper and bamboo.     (Saionji)
    - July 6 - 10, 2007, an exchange on the Tousando that got a bit silly. 

Misty hued sake
Swirls its subtle sorcery,
Silken on the tongue.
The mist's chill on her cheek
Reminds of a warmer caress.    (Saionji)

The pale ghost of rice
distilled to sweet perfection a biwa song.
Complimentary flavors
enjoyed with good company. 

Like a biwa song,
Sun and bay breezes banish
Melancholy thoughts.
Summer branches wave like old friends
Welcoming fond company.     (Saionji)
    - July 22, 2007

Summer storms cannot
Dampen these kindred spirits
Gathered in the rain.
Friendly hospitality
Lends new meaning to shared robes.
    - August 6, 2007.  Once upon a time, a lady and her two escorts ventured into a dark forest upon an adventure. They never found the party they were invited to and so made their own. Thanks to Honda Saburou Taremitsu for Puddle Watch, to Otagiri Tatsuzou for hot tea and dry clothes. and to both for their fine company.

Two for Tanabata
Buddha's dozing smile
Floats lambent in the dusk sky
As we below smile.
Surely heaven's lantern's shine
To bless a newfound friendship.
    - August 18, 2007. For some guy.

The seventh month moon
Watches our merrymaking
And hears our laughter.
Weaver and Herdsman perform
Their loving dance above us. 
    - August 18, 2007. Written at the Fettburg Midsummer Feast in celebration of Tanabata. 

O complacent moon
Your fatuous smile does not
Soothe my solitude.
Nor is my loneliness warmed
By cold silk's icy embrace.     (Saionji)

Is the dew still wet
Upon the summer grasses
as the sun rises?
To sit so in solitude
Oh such an inconstant moon     (***Ki no Torahime)

Summer grasses parch,
Withering as the sun climbs,
Whispering their woe.
Impermanent as they are
Such a moment feels endless.     (Saionji)
    - August 27, 2007

Hope, hidden
Does he think of her
In that moment between sleep
And waking, or no?
Perhaps he too wraps his hope
In silk to hide 'neath floorboards.
    - September 8, 2007


Copyright 2007 Lisa A. Joseph, except
* copyright 2007 Christopher Wright. 

** copyright 2007 Mike Lehman,
**copyright 2007 Maria Szabo.

Profile photo of Saionji no Hanae by the author. 

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