with his ivory foot resting
on a polished rock
the great wave off Kanagawa
breaks over his toes

one knee bent
a look of serene intention
greets us

his cormorant
with roped neck
and fish filled bill
sits in the crook of his arm
wings etched in black

he cannot swallow
his master’s livelihood
not now, not yet
not the big ones

but where is his boat?
his lantern, glass river?
Nishiki, Mikuma
Takatsu, Nagara

he stands
gracefully bent forward
right hand clasping the rope
that leashes the bird
to his will

a playful smile
accentuates his cheeks
we can almost see
his beard twitch

the wave crash
the night closing in
the burning lantern
there to attract fish
cast rippling reflections
as it dives beneath

and all within
the mock Tudor walls
of this suburban bungalow

the cormorant fisherman
has found a home
and stands alone
a lost tourist amongst
the royal wedding tea set
and Sylvac shire horses

in a mahogany alcove
Nan’s nik-nak shrine
where us children looked
but never touched

his imagined past

Description: Antique Carved Ivory Okimono: Fisherman elaborately carved antique, Circa 1900, Japanese ivory okimono; of a cormorant fisherman, standing on rockery among waves and holding his bird with a fish in his beak, signed on red lacquer plaque; H: 7"; Provenance: the Estate of Zoltan Shaw, collected mid 20th Century

(Antique Japanese carved ivory
okimono cormorant fisherman
circa 1900)


In Meditation

Layered hills one beyond another beyond
The rising sun from smokey green to
Pellucid pink wands of paper folded clouds
Hung above a waterfall, framed by pine
“Where nothing in the cry of cicadas
Suggests they are about to die”.

I hear the chime of the meditation bell,
The sweep of rush brushes on gravel lawns
And sliding, the screen wall opens, reveals
Mountains too high to climb in one lifetime;
Ink splashed, an empty space silenced,
Unanswerable, mysterious, islands, islands.

She clips the wings of the bonsai tree,
Feeds red crowned cranes from her palm,
Gifts cherry blossom kisses to the wind.
Gone in a week, flown away to the north
On a gold foil sunset, venerated, veiled;
We link our arms around the cedar tree

But the wave engulfs us, octopi fingerlings
Fan out with great speed in straight lines,
Bullet fast in perfection, twisting the aesthetic,
The seas, skies and conscious far horizons,
Entering the shrine, contemplating nature,
We are animated and energised by the land.

She takes hold of my hand, flickering
Spirits reshape on a forest path winding
Upwards, summiting the vast view of blue
Bewildered hills, layered one beyond
Another beyond her eyelids and fingertips,
Blinking into a future migrating heartbeat.


(Quote by Matsuo Bashō, 1644 – 1694 Japan.
‘Haboku-Sansui’ ink on paper by Sesshū Tōyō,
1495, Japan)