Journey to the Deep Midwest

I recently traveled to Illinois to visit family and help my grandpa move from his assisted living facility back into his own house. That is a move not many people get to see, he had been through a lot since the time he left his house, which he left due to an injury. In and out of hospitals and nursing homes he managed to get himself back into the house he bought with his wife after returning home from WW II.


Driving to the airport
Under 4 am moonlight,
Windshield wipers

And wet pavement

With the winds
go the cherry blossom petals,
standing at the departures terminal.

We left the gate without too much of a big deal made of the whole thing, which in these situations is exactly what you’d hope for. The views were grand, especially with the sunrise perfectly in line with our flight time. It occurred to me that these views should inspire poetry, as they are views the ancients would have climbed for days, climbed the highest peak around, just to see such a similar sight as we, who sit with our heads buried in screens for constant entertainment! Though our experience didn’t yield the wind blowing mist in our faces and the smell of cedar wood and moss, it still provided me with much inspiration for poetry.

Pink sunrise 
Clouds form lakes in valleys,
Misty mountaintops.

If I were single, and sat between two beauties, I’d probably sit in silence, all the same. I used to feel a compulsion, driven by the awkward feeling of silence, to create conversation. Now though, I know my role and won’t beat myself up for any missed opportunities, or accuse myself of dullness.

Instead of asking to excuse me,
I’d rather nearly piss my pants.


Departing Denver
In an afternoon dust haze
Clouds and mountains indiscernible
Other than inky feathered daubs.

From Denver to Moline, Ill such a small plane that I sat in a row with a single seat, while the other row only had two seats! A girl, about the same age as my daughter, sat with her dad across from me. They were visiting family too. Moments after take off she became restless.

She cares not for her fathers comfort,
ah the consequences of love!

I’m pretty sure that if it weren’t for landscaping the only trees I would’ve seen are oaks. They are massive and quite intimidating. Here, in the pacific northwest, we have the Oregon oak which doesn’t enjoy the same stature as the oaks of the Midwest. Probably due to the variety with which it has to vie against. I didn’t have much time to spend with them, but it was clear that this was Their country! so it was very refreshing to see in the very corner of mom’s backyard a hemlock gracefully curtseying at the stand of oaks in the ravine.

Somehow 
In the land of the oaks
I found my friend

the hemlock

Going through a drawer of old papers and photos:

Under sepia photos
And pale dusty papers,
A picture of my kids


While moving my deceased grandmother’s recliner, which she bought and the next day passed away in…

perfume lingers
on the house cat’s recliner

On the last day of the trip we had more idle time than that of the previous days and so some things that had been building up had the chance to come out.

Grievances aired.
Grandpa sits in his recliner.
Legs folded, stock returns in his lap,
Powdered donut on his lips.


As the trip started I had a lot of poetry coming up and I really wanted to write this travelogue in the style of haibun as made famous by Basho, (especially since I was reading Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Basho on the flight out) but as the trip went on and the responsibilities grew I was unable to write down as much as I wanted and so was left with quite a few poems from my departure journey and really not much else. As I read what I had I felt a sense of incompleteness from the original intention. However, I still want to share what I have and practice the craft so I decided to put it together and just make the notation that it’s not the full journey in many ways; I wished to express the depth in range of emotions and experiences that such a trip provided. Nevertheless this attempt still, hopefully, took you on a journey.