You got a employee, you’ve got an employee problem …

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rÓbert of rŌbear Repor fame will be the guest lecturer, speaking on the use of spiritual guidance and miracle working with the problem employee. He should know, he’s an expert.

próspero año nuevo

Year’s end –

still in straw hat

and sandals.

BASHO

Come, let’s go

snow-viewing

till we’re buried

BASHO

Wintry day,

on my horse

a frozen shadow.

BASHO

Through snow,

lights of homes

that slammed their gates on

me.

BUSON

Deer in rain –

three cries,

then heard no more.

BUSON

Temple in

deep winter grove,

a bonfire’s glow.

TAIGI

Just by being,

I’m here –

in snow-fall

ISSA

Winter lull –

no talents,

thus no sins.

ISSA

Cold, yes,

but don’t test

the fire, snow Buddha.

SOKAN

Such silence:

snow tracing wings

of mandarin ducks.

SHIKI

“if your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life” … Wumen

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Unknown

Wumen Huikai 无门慧开  (1183–1260), Chán master most famous as the compiler of and commentator on the 48-koan collection The Gateless Gate. In many respects, Wumen was the classical eccentric Chan master. He wandered for many years from temple to temple, wore old and dirty robes, grew his hair and beard long and worked in the temple fields. He was nicknamed “Huikai the Lay Monk”. At age 64, he founded Gokoku-ninno temple near West Lake where he hoped to retire quietly, but visitors constantly came looking for instruction.

POEMS OF PROTEST AND POLITICAL CONSCIENCE ~ Tricycle

The winning poem from the Tricycle Haiku Challenge surveys the political landscape of America in 2022.

By Clark Strand

WINTER 2022

Poems of Protest and Political Conscience
Illustration by Matthew Richardson

frost on the pastures
in rural America
adding to the white

—Dana Clark-Millar

Although haiku poetry is governed by certain time-honored conventions, there is no universally agreed-upon rule about what subject matter can or cannot be addressed within the form. Poets are always testing the limits of haiku, pushing it in new directions to see what can be said using just seventeen syllables.

Japanese haiku took a political turn during the lead-up to World War II. In 1937, the most influential magazine of the day, Hototogisu (“little cuckoo”), created a special section devoted to patriotic haiku—poems that became increasingly militant after 1939. But Japanese fascism was not without its critics. Some poets wrote haiku that opposed the war, and many of these poems are considered masterpieces today.

Saito Sanki (1900–1962) was the nominal leader of the antiwar haiku movement. Here are two famous poems of his:

Machine gun bullets:
right between the eyes a red
blossom blossoming

At Hiroshima,
to swallow a hard-boiled egg
the mouth opens wide

The first haiku is shocking in its nontraditional use of the season word hana, for “cherry blossom.” About the second, written in Hiroshima on a dark night one year after the bombing, it is best to let Sanki speak for himself:

Sitting on a stone by the side of the road, I took out a boiled egg and slowly peeled the shell, unexpectedly shocked by its smooth surface. With a flash of searing incandescence, the skins of human beings had as easily slipped off all over this city. To eat a boiled egg in the wind of that black night, I was forced to open my mouth. In that moment, this haiku came to me.

The Kobe Hotel, trans. Saito Masaya

Sanki was imprisoned by Japan’s Special Higher Police for writing haiku like the first one. The second was published in a magazine but was omitted from Sanki’s second collection for fear that the book would be censored by American Occupation officials, who suppressed information about the atomic bomb.

Political protest haiku have been written in English, too, but they have rarely succeeded as well as this season’s winning poem. The first two lines offer a panoramic landscape of rural America, its pastures covered with frost. The scope is national, not local, as we would ordinarily expect in a haiku. Only in the last line do we understand the significance of that choice. We are being shown not just a visual landscape but a political one.

A good haiku works through the subtle nuances of spoken language, and this one is no exception. Expressions like “killing frost,” “hard frost,” and “frosty reception” inevitably influence our reading of the final line, making it clear that the spread of white nationalism through the American heartland is the real subject of the poem.

A poem like this is unlikely to be met with censorship in 2022 America. But it still takes courage to write it. The chill I felt when I first read it gets deeper with every day.

The Tricycle Haiku Challenge asks readers to submit original works inspired by a season word. Moderator Clark Strand selects the top poems to be published in Tricycle with his commentary. To see past winners and submit your haiku, visit tricycle.org/haiku. To read additional poems of merit from recent months, visit our Tricycle Haiku Challenge group on Facebook.

MAKE AN OFRENDA FOR DÍA DE MUERTOS

November 1, 20225:31 AM ET

AYANA ARCHIE

An altar for Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his wife Mercedes Barcha, is set up in the studio of their home in Mexico City, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, the annual Mexican tradition of reminiscing about departed loved ones with colorful altars, or ofrendas, is celebrated annually Nov. 1. Garcia Marquez died on April 17, 2014 and Mercedes died on Aug. 15, 2020.Fernando Llano/AP

Each year, Nov. 1 marks the beginning of Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, in Mexico. 

The holiday is a day of remembrance for those who have died. Its origins can be traced to pre-colonial Mexico, when it was believed that the souls of dead loved ones returned to their families once a year so that their lives could be celebrated. 

Today, families commemorate the day by creating ofrendas, the Spanish word for offerings that colloquially is used to mean altar for Día de Muertos.

What goes on an ofrenda?

Ofrendas can be customized to your liking, but many of them have some key elements. 

  • Photos of your friends and family 
  • Candles and incense 
  • Water
  • Cempasúchil, or marigolds 
  • Sweets
  • Your loved ones’ favorite foods 
  • Decorations, such as skulls and tissue paper flowers

How to build the ofrenda 

  1. The first thing you will need is a table – any kind will do. The table is then draped with a decorative tablecloth. It is customary in Mexican culture to use a serape, which has its own distinct striped pattern. Ofrendas may also have several layers – the top layer represents heaven while the base represents earth. To achieve this, you can stack boxes underneath the tablecloth. 
  2. Add marigolds. The bright color and strong scent of cempasúchil is believed to make it easier for deceased loved ones to find their way back to you. 
  3. The light from candles is also an element that helps spirits return.
  4. Add your loved ones’ favorite foods to the altar as an offering.
  5. Decorate with things such as figurines and colorful skulls, which represent the cycle of life and death. 
  6. Put up pictures!