Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gardeners

A Renga by David Irwin and Bill Graffius

White blossoms push out
from the wood. Wet dirt wisps steam
almost all morning.

Nothing worse than too much time
on one’s hands while the ice melts.

The forest dances.
Blossoms fly from meadow trees.
Tall grass undulates.

Seize the moment to watch this
in the mists before the storm.

A clutch of young grass
falls from your hand. Did the wind
take it as it fell?

Ahead, summer's horizon;
Today, sweat and more planting.

Baskets on the porch
filled with trailing spring flowers
will bring summer joy.

Dirty hands, satisfaction,
Sense of zen captured in now.

The dirt hands you your
meal - this is where we first taste
the too-young tartness.

Berries, when ready to fall,
are different, not better.

When plucked before ripe
fruit and berry are less sweet.
Taste is the victim.

Life must fully gestate
or bitterness will prevail.

There are still cold winds
to make us forget breakfast
and stay in our beds.

Blossoms are a memory.
The flowers do not make spring.

Cold dew at daybreak
glistens on the fresh mown lawn.
Wake! And join the day.

Blossoms are the memory
and midwife to spring's rebirth.

Clouds are not bleak or
joyous. Understand the rice
you bring to the meal.

Do these blossoms understand
how little time they have left?

Time is circular.
Which season begins the year?
Which one marks the end?

The cycle is a circle.
No beginning and no end.

The moon's white halo
is no sign of anything
but rain tomorrow.

A bicycle replaces
the ox. The field goes fallow.

Preparing to change
with feelings of unfolding,
a sense of blossom.

Rain today, sun tomorrow,
life grows from the excrement.

The verde blossoms
are already a carpet
here, gathered by wind.

Thus each gray morning begins
with the usual triumphs.

Daffodils abound.
Yellow pollen everywhere!
Summer approaches.

Gaia is blessing us with
rain for our emerald world.

Sweet morning chill is
disappearing. Open doors,
plain tea our pleasures.

The hills are changing daily
when I take the time to watch.

Our labor brings joy
as the sun paints our skin brown
and backs bend weeding.

Hummingbirds thrum at feeders.
Ice water is our reward.

Their furious wings
lift them through the warm evening
to sip one more meal.

Tomorrow, summer's journey
up the mountain will begin.

The flowers offer
nectar to the travelers
in their migration.

Bees and butterflies partake.
My efforts are rewarded.

Savor sun and growth -
not that there's a choice - because
the cold will return.

Endless vistas from the peaks,
but our crops need the river.

Standing deep in green
our joy is restrained, knowing
fall follows summer.

Until the cycle renews
we celebrate abundance.

For those who visit this blog regularly, you have seen two previous "in the middle of things" postings of this poem. It is now officially finished.
For those seeing this for the first time: David Irwin, a poet, writer, musician and longtime friend (I hate saying old friend, even though we're both getting there) read one of my haiku poems and invited me to Renga with him. Renga is an ancient style of Japanes poetry wherein two or more poets collaborate to create a poem by writing alternate stanzas. It is also the original source of the haiku. It uses syllable counts of 5-7-5 and 7-7. In its strictest, original form it goes to 100 verses. Google it for more information. Here is the result of our initial foray into this form of poetic conversation. Hope you enjoyed it!


  1. What a wonderful, conversational piece. One of my haiku books is didvided by themes and you sometimes get a feeling, if you're reading through one of them, that the haiku masters are having a chat about something - spring, chrysanthemums, old men getting drunk on a rainy night, whatever. You feel a real sense of exploration and progression through the season, as well as the essential 'thinking about things' quality. It reads as if you had a good time doing it. I felt as if I was going back over this year's very protracted spring.

  2. Hello Bill, I sort of happened across this blog while trying to fill my insatiable appetite for literature and find your poetry to be breathtaking.

    I actually wanted to extend an invitation to you and ask if you might be interested in sharing your work for publication in my new literary ezine Muse Cafe Quarterly.

    I am looking for professional, high-quality poetry and you have much of that.

    If you are, indeed, interested in sharing your work with my magazine please email me at so we can start planning which works to use.

    And thank you so very much for sharing your work with the world via this blog!