Blossoms into Stars (kasen)

Kasen: “Blossoms into Stars” * 

bee on tansy(Gabriola Island, July 18, 2014)

Participating Poets & Verse Allocation:

Sonja Arntzen (sabaki) 1, 9, 15, 22, 29, 36
Terry Ann Carter 7, 13, 20, 27, 34
Kim Goldberg 3, 11, 17, 25, 31
Carole MacRury 2, 10, 16, 23, 30
Vicki McCullough 8, 14, 21, 28, 35
kjmunro 4, 12, 18, 24, 32
Naomi Beth Wakan 5, 6, 19, 26, 33

Side 1 

  1. mid-tide, mid-summer
    a long hot spell offers up
    the hint of change
  1. a super moon, yet
    still a familiar face
  1. the brightness
    reveals a path I thought
    I had lost
  1. along the beach, wave
    after wave after wave
  1. oystercatchers
    cry hysterically lest
    their feet get wet
  1. how we hesitate on the edge
    fearful, yet eager

Side 2

  1. wondering if he will call
    she places a cherry blossom
    behind her ear
  1. almost unseen
    the frog
  1. by the old pond
  1. tick tock, tick tock
    the long day of the retired
  1. people-watching
    in the coffee shop, Santa
    already in the window
  1. the heart in her low-fat foam
  1. coded message
    in his sumi-e scroll
    under the pillow
  1. wrestling once more
    with the wrath of God
  1. slithery sound
    of the pampas grass
    restless in the wind
  1. who comes to my door
    this autumn evening?
  1. spill of moonlight
    and dry leaves
    tumble in
  1. a hairpin holds the pages
    of the handmade book

Side 3

  1. in the mirror
    the kabuki actor changes
    from male to female
  1. the fortune teller makes
    a small prediction
  1. silver spandex stretched
    across the belly
    eight months blown
  1. Edith Piaf’s husky voice
    “je ne regrette rien…”
  1. the time it takes
    for the penitent to leave
    the confessional
  1. full moon
    goin’ swimmin’ without women
  1. goblins
    walk the sea wall
    trail of candy wrappers
  1. stubble left in the field
    as the hay bales pile up
  1. Cambodian land mines
    still active throughout
    the jungle
  1. the overhead fan
    in a hotbox hotel
  1. even for a sun lover
    this holiday
    is a trial
  1. after a long day
    a hung jury

Side 4

  1. when will I reach
    the centre
    of the labyrinth?
  1. evening stroll
    his hand in her pocket
  1. long years together
    they begin to resemble
    each other
  1. the only cure for grief
    is grief itself
  1. as the earth turns—
    into stars
  1. grass for my pillow
    drifting off to sleep


camas & grass* The kasen is a 36-verse form of renku, a type of Japanese collaborative poetry whose most famous practitioner was Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694). This particular kasen, “Blossoms into Stars”, is based on a template found in a kasen by Bashō (et al.) called “Throughout the Town”. For those interested in our process, the seven of us composed this kasen in a 9-hour session (with a 3-hour break in the afternoon). We all sat around a large table in the library of our sabaki’s beautiful log home perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. When each person’s turn came up, she picked up her pad and paper and moved outside to compose her verse, while the rest of us remained at the table sipping green tea and discussing the intricacies and customs and history of renga and renku.


About Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg is a poet, journalist and the author of 8 books of poetry and nonfiction. Latest titles: DEVOLUTION (poems of ecopocalypse), UNDETECTABLE (her Hep C journey in haibun), RED ZONE (poems of homelessness) and RIDE BACKWARDS ON DRAGON: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa. She lives in Nanaimo, BC. Contact:
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