Paul C. Cooper
100 Waka For 2004
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When the mist clears
will blossoms be revealed
this gray dawn-
raindrops cling to bare branches
reflecting the morning light.

The still pond
reflects only bare branches
as the seasons pass-
will fresh blossoms appear
if only for the moment?

Raindrops then snowflakes
swirling in fierce north winds;
Such confusion
under an uncertain sky,
spring's first buds covered in white.

What joy would there be,
if soft blossoms did not wither?
As seasons turn-
each moment becomes dearer,
not sure when the last will fall.

As another day fades,
the moon rises over the pines
this spring night-
though our sleeves may never touch,
say "we'll meet on the path of dreams"

Tumultuous winds,
spread black clouds across the sky
this sunless dawn-
my comforting companion,
the softness of falling rain.

In the midnight sky,
the 'full pink moon'casts its light
reflecting through clouds-
the silhouettes of fresh buds;
the light in your beaming eyes.

Is that the spring breeze
or the nightingale's soft song?
Beneath the full moon-
the purple iris trembles;
ripples spread across the pond.

Withered by winter,
branches gnarled with passing time-
the ancient cherry
issues forth tender blossoms
that glisten in the spring rain.

This dark night,
if not for the nightingale
'neath the cloud veiled moon,
only silence would fill the air
as soft blossoms swirl on the breeze.

Broken winged,
the wounded crane remains still
in the midnight rain-
as raindrops soak the willow
its branches touch the pond.

Being one with spring
underneath a sunless sky,
days and nights merge-
'tween reality and dreams
time passes without notice.


The morning fog
clings to the clifftops
beneath a cloud blanket
the estuary flows cold gray.

Seemingly lost
in the emptiness of mist,
the dawn sun
shines full in each droplet
clinging to rain-drenched petals.

Oh morning,
do not rise too soon
its barely dawn-
already the dewdrops fade
as sun light fills this valley.

Such heat-withered grass
remains still in this parched field
seemingly lifeless--
Where is there any respite
for a heart scorched by passion?

Oh, what respite,
for hearts scorched by passion
beneath the pines-
on a bed of cool moss
in the stillness of midday.

As the sun fades
in the waning summer sky,
unpicked berries rot-
on heat withered vines,
and me ... just a step away.

Soft inspiration,
the silence of the moment;
through an open gate,
the late evening breeze.

Across the bridge,
beneath the late summer moon
among the pines-
dreams and reality merge,
in the unbound realm of hearts.

Oh sweet nightingale,
you have fallen silent
in the night's midst-
late summer's moon waxes full;
as leaf edges start to turn.

The cicadas' call,
seeming more mournful each night
at summer's end-
all that remains of the day;
only the wind in the reeds.


Beneath lingering clouds
amidst the lush green of summer;
forgotten colors-
etched on a single leaf edge
fluttering in the dusk breeze.

Spiraling down,
silhouetted in moonlight;
a maple leaf-
comes to rest on the soft earth
as others begin to follow.

Silhouettes of crows,
vague against the ink-black clouds
at dawn-
harsh caws break the soft rhythm
of the steady falling rain.

Behind gathered clouds
above the misty mountains,
the sun sets unseen-
where memories fade into dreams
along the horizon's edge.

A cooling mist
lingers on the meadow
this silent dawn-
dewdrops cling to grass blades
as geese flocks fly off southward.

In their brief moment
where will they find respite?
Falling dewdrops-
the leaves no longer hold them
in the rising sun's light.

The late day breeze,
sends ripples across the pond
as the sun fades--
further south than yesterday,
geese follow in the distance.

How soon autumn fades,
as the harvest moon melts away
in the dawn sky-
swallowed up by the blood-red sun;
only your words remain.

Mourning, morning,
as dawn becomes the day,
night approaches,
along the path of dreams.

The call of birds,
mingles with the rustling leaves
in the autumn breeze-
your voice stirs everywhere
as dusk spreads its long shadows.

Above blackened cliffs,
sundown burns the darkening sky;
this early dusk-
as lengthening nights intrude;
do clouds have memories too?

Standing motionless
in the steady falling rain,
A lone cormorant-
ink-black against swirls of mist;
so cold, the riverside wind.

Autumn leaves
pirouette on the cool breeze
filling the sky-
A plethora of colors,
swirling this way...that way.

A  fallen leaf,
lost among the bush clover;
this cloudless night--
the full moon slips away
as earth's shadow slowly spreads.

Blurred by falling rain
they appear to be mountains
from my window-
black clouds on the horizon
stretch into the autumn night.


Where is there respite
to rest these weary bones,
in this barren field-
where hues of waning sunlight
glisten on the vast snow blanket.

Who will visit
this far-off mountain home,
after the snow falls-
with no pathway to travel
the moon, my distant guest.

In a stand of pines
bent by the weight of snow,
this silent dawn-
the sole trace of fleeing deer;
white whirling from the branches.

In the night,
how softly they were dusted
the blood red maples-
in the early morning light
etched with freshly fallen snow.

This morning,
waking from dreams of cherries;
snowflakes fill the air-
swirling in the dawns first light,
they whiten the bare tree limbs.

Morning's first light,
translucent as it spreads
sketched on clinging leaves-
autumn becoming winter
as shadows stretch into day.

This dark night,
as winter closes in:
snowflakes, then stars-
embroidered on the ink sky,
my welcome guests.

The cold settles
in shades of morning passing
the days are growing shorter;
frozen dew whitens the grass.

The cold winds howl,
so close to the longest night
your words linger-
after the candle flame dims
they light the path of dreams.

the grasses are withered brown
up on Meenahga-
springtime seems a faded dream
as solstice night approaches.

In your absence,
your words will carry me through
this long winter night-
the moon waxes to fullness
among the shivering stars.

Sustained by silence,
in the long night's ink darkness,
as solstice passes-
though the icy winds prevail,
each day lingers moments more.

The candle burned out
though long night still persists,
all is silent-
as swirls of snow glitter
in the waxing moon's soft light.

Etched on gathered clouds,
the rising sun is revealed
in flaming color-
this burning passion for you
seeps out in my every word.

Time wasted...
moongazing alone:
if in your far-away world
are you longing too?

Waxing in the mist,
does the moon long for fullness
as lovers do?
Even winter solstice night
fades away so much too soon.

Such wonder
gazing out my window:
first sign of snow-
beneath the cloud-drawn moon,
the morning after Christmas.

As dusk descends,
the sun's long shadows stretch out
soft on silent snow-
reflections of crystal lights
shimmering, shimmering.

Year End  

In the end,
it is your words that remain
as the old year passes-
snow settles on the woodpile;
the black crows have all scattered.

The old year passes
becoming a memory...
yet your voice remains
in shades of shadow and light;
in the midst of sudden change.

Your voice lingers,
mingled with the sound of bells
in an empty sky-
so vivid this floating world,
despite the old year's passing.

Year-end wall gazing,
the candle is all burned out,
the moon also wanes-
swallowed up by gathered clouds
in a seemingly endless night.

Deep into the night,
following me into sleep
reflected in moonlight
images of falling snow
swirling silently in my dreams.

Seeming unaffected
by passing time and raging storms,
the leaves yet cling
tenaciously to their limbs
as the year end night arrives.


What image would evoke
the heart's silent opening?
Bursting forth -
embrace what never was
and yet, always is...

Returning geese call
as dawn's sun lights the treetops
the long night dissolves-
as do these tormented thoughts
of the one who is not here

In the spring breeze,
the willows quiver and sigh
despite the distance-
with every breath that you take
ripples spread across my heart.

The tender blossoms
are torn away so quickly
oh spring breeze-
will you sweep away her heart
across this great abyss?

Boundaries broken,
your secret garden entered,
nothing to regret-
the moon shines through outstretched limbs
left bare by the autumn breeze.

Dawn has broken
the morning birds are singing;
please don't run off yet-
the full moon still lingers
as if to lengthen our night.

For the moment,
the hazy white moon lingers
in the daytime sky-
as if to say to lovers
"wait, the night is still with us!"

Is that for me,
or the sun in your eyes?
Such a glowing smile--
as we draw closer,
welcoming approaching night..

Your inviting smile,
eyes wide open lighting up,
hearts beat faster--
clouds overhead disperse,
caught in the wind's soft rhythms.

Passing through the gate
inside your secret garden,
no cause for regret-
the one moon lights reaching limbs
left bare by the autumn winds.

Such raging fires,
they warm the heart of winter
as birds sing-
past yes and no distinctions,
joyful for the sun's return.

Long before the flames,
passion's fires were burning
as autumn's dawn
rages on melting dewdrops,
and burns hues on passing clouds.

The wind in the leaves;
the flowing stream's soft murmur-
mingled together
in a moment of reverie,
your sigh stirs up everywhere.

Though we have not met,
as the moon crosses the sky
your voice lingers-
in dewdrops on the lotus
gathered in the long dark night.

Though you keep silent,
the moon passes by unseen
behind gathered clouds-
your voice echoes everywhere
through the wind rustled pines.

Oh such yearnings
they torment my burning heart;
still this endless wait-
time passes, day and night blur,
no footprints cross the snow.

Your face before me,
is this real or just a dream?
Fever tormented-
moonlight through lace curtains
casts shadows on my pillow.

Who will know these tears,
they fall on the dew soaked grass
this misty morning?
Not the solitary deer
wandering among the pines.

We could mingle
as do my tears and fresh dew
on blades of spring grass-
the moon gleams full in each drop
till consumed by the dawn sun.

Just say "they're dewdrops"
glistening on the spring grass
as the sun rises-
you fade into long shadows
of so many broken dreams.


Tangled as my hair,
this circle of day and night
illusion no longer--
the sound of chanted sutras,
in the morning bird's soft song.

Nowhere to hold on,
falling into the abyss
vast infinities-
is this a plunge into death
or an emerging into life?

beyond heavens and hells,
the vastness of sky-
in the dark night, in daylight;
simply sky, no more, no less.

Full or in pieces
the one moon floats peacefully
in the void-
as passing clouds rise and fall
what else remains but silence.

What remains
in a 'world of constant sorrow'
only smoke and ash-
that too will soon drift away
lost in the rising dawn mist.

this wide-awake dream called life
distant gull's cry-
as waves crash into foam,
memories too rise and fall.

this long solitary night
my only guests-
dreams that rise and vanish;
the sounds of distant music.


In the Kyoto winds,
blossoms swirl everywhere
as spring evolves
greeted by the smiles of strangers
warmth caresses my cheeks.

Where is your fullness,
oh half-moon beneath the limbs?
You tarry in her sky-
beyond the vast horizon
so we may gaze together.

From distant shores,
we both gaze upon one moon
in silence-
beneath this sky that shares us
as raindrops merge in the sea.

What else is there,
but words to bridge the distance
past seen and unseen-
the moon rises in fullness;
faraway hearts beat as one.

Lost in speechlessness,
you hold me captivated
in dreams-
that is where our eyes will meet
as the moonless night ensues.

The flute's rising sound
mingles with the cry of gulls
drifting off-
to where ocean and sky meet
barefoot shadows on the sand.

In the human realm,
where is this place called home?
Among the pines-
that spot where my head will rest
as the sun sets on distant slopes.

The full moon rises
and joins my quiet solitude
as thoughts fade away-
a soft breeze rustles the leaves
in the depths of the dark night.

The ink-dark night
deepens into soft silence
by the ocean's edge-
the calls of returning gulls
rise above the breaking waves.

This endless seashore,
so much lies beyond our grasp
as the tides change-
all these nameless treasures
left still upon the sand.

Such endless longings,
for what lies out of reach
as the tides change-
so many nameless treasures
gathered along the shore.

Poem writing,
sometimes seems impossible
as night stretches out...
on these ancient silent streets;
moon light on the cobblestones


Mother’s Day

Does she know
these flowers from her son
this her special day-
mind worn tired by age,
this dirty trick of getting old
she sees no past or future.
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