Elemental Haiku


mashup image of the Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil, and the Periodic Table of Elements, ssj 2017. falls photo by juffi @ pixabay.com

While everyone is out there exploring the elements with their cameras, we take a break from posting original work for a fun weekend with the elemental table (or more properly called the Periodic Table of Elements), where even the elements of earth, wind, water and fire are drilled down to their elemental composition. We bring you this time a discovery of nifty haiku written by Mary Soon Lee for each element of the Periodic Table — surely, a delight for both the nebulous poet and the nerdy scientist.

Click here for Mary Soon Lee’s interactive elemental set of haiku  (#ChemHaiku) and visit her web site here.  For the non-interactive version of her haiku (and with a downloadable PDF file of the entire set of haiku to boot!), click here.

And to be sure this post does not disappoint the photography buffs who avidly took up the elemental photo challenge posed by Erica V. in The Daily Post, here is a view of the lush hillside forest that greets me whenever I get to visit Selangor, Malaysia. More than just a breathtaking scenery of refreshing thick foliage, treetops and open sky outside my window, whether in rain or shine, cloudy or clear skies, dewy or dry air, this view never fails to impress me with humility and gratitude at the prodigious generosity of the elements, the perfect balance of soil, air, water and light forging life in vivid colors:


hillside forest outside my window, selangor, malaysia, ssj 2017

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walking on sand & sea


unretouched photo of clear sea on sand, @ the red sea. photography by ssj, 2017 

walking on sand and sea

how can i mark time
with my footprints in the sand
beneath glassy sea?

© ssj 2017

Author’s note: 

In the above photo, the texture of the clear sea on sand may seem hard, rough and dry, but put your hand on its surface, and you would feel it soft, smooth and wet as … water ( what else? 🙂 )  Even the sand underneath actually feels soft and just a tad bit rough in a loose, granular way, certainly not hardy rough nor rocky solid as it looks. Appearances can thus be deceiving. Does that mean that the tactile experience is nearer to the truth than the visual experience? But then, we are reminded of the parable of the six blind men and an elephant to realize that our individual experiences, whether tactile or visual, can at best be limited, and the totality of truth can only be found in the respectful sharing of these experiences.   –  SSJ, 6 August 2017

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A Red Rattle Toy

A red rattle toy, my mother’s gift
Rattles violently, bloodshakes my young head.
I could not hold it upright,
Too small my hands, too finite
With ten fingers in vain may clutch
A furiously spinning axis:
The toy rattles, cradles a time away ,
Spherical like the Earth as satellite
Pictures would show.

A world meanwhile
Races more in frenzy than in style,
Leaves ahead in revolution per moment
And leaves behind an innocence
Tending an ancient overthrown regime
Of time and place.

© SSJ 1976

Author’s Note: 

The poem ‘A Red Rattle Toy’ is one of 5 poems of an untitled collection published in the Focus Philippines magazine issue of 21 August 1976. Life, as we know it, is of course more than a red rattle toy, but it might as well be, when it rattles to either confuse or beguile. With man’s predilection to lose control and nature’s tendency to move toward maximum entropy, the rattle toy will end up broken, having served its purpose, its vibrations forever echoing in the symphony that is us.  — SSJ, 3 August 2017

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The Nose-Counting Game

am a child alone,
the neighborhood could not care less.
A nose-counting game today spells
my existence in the monitor of
the Census Man’s computer.

am counted, assigned this number –
this frail figure with a
prepossessing chaff –
entered among a couple of thousands more,
a logbook corner tends a multitude.
The Census Man meanwhile says that
a world is getting too nosy,
‘You can’t hide away from it, 
not anymore in your whole 
damned taxed life.’

Yet hidden now behind a tiny number
who would know I am this face,
this countenance, this mind?
this child slave of the weeping moon
melting with the sunrise in this,
the collective boom.

Society becomes a quantitative heap,
and there is a newly-devised game
of finding who is who behind
the jilting ribs of numerals,
a cluster of pins with which to lance
the individual soul, his identity
gone frog-sticking in the starkest night
without a single bit of light.

© SSJ 1976

Author’s Note: 

The ‘The Nose-Counting Game’ is one of 5 poems of an untitled collection written in late 1975 and early 1976. The collection saw publication in the Focus Philippines magazine issue of 21 August 1976. It is a poem about the conundrum of not being able to hide from the greater power of a system that wants to further hide you under the sheer numbers of its big data.   – SSJ, 28 July 2017 

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rustles of bamboo leaves one fine afternoon (a collection)


i was quite sure that i had taken some alluring photos of bamboo plants on my smartphone a few years back, but i was perhaps not smart enough to have saved them for times like this, so i am instead posting here the better bamboo photo of dragonlee1020 @ pixabay.com. 

‘Rustles of bamboo leaves one fine afternoon’ is not exactly a new collection, though this is the first time that it is being posted for general reading. Written on a bright and breezy March afternoon, in six short parts, shelved and lost, rediscovered, rehashed, it is a collage of thoughts: not totally unrelated, but neither consistent enough to be considered as a single poem, except that they have been written to rustle with the bamboo leaves, and meant to let the readers weave their own images around these thoughts:

i.  sweet strength is 

sweet strength is that which
is felt in being pliant
like the bamboo plant

ii.  rustles of light 

rustles of light shoes kissing the floor,
lilting, dancing shadows hugging the wall
a breath of music, an ether of cool wind,
screwy, but pleasantly, screwy, i see
more than laughing bamboo leaves,
twisting, writhing bodies,
sighing bamboo trees.

iii.  people, who bare

people, who bare their lives, naked,
like a see-through, glass, window,
when broken, like glasses, really break,
bits, and pieces, and fragments,
beyond repair, and, beyond amends,
by, the, blue, god, glue,

iv.  i feel life

i feel life flowing through:
fiery dragons set free
so formless so furious so curious to be
inflicted with the earthly sins
of adam and eve.

v.  cool river touches 

cool river touches my feet
i am touched
and touched back i will
the cool river with my own
bare feet

vi.  rustles of bamboo 

rustles of bamboo leaves
one fine afternoon in march
always bring me the child
the image of the child
i was meant to be.

© SSJ 2017

ps:  and if you ask me where the photo collage is, i hope you find them in your own thoughts. otherwise, can the one below be close enough?  🙂     – ssj, 14 july 2017


graffiti on bamboo trunks from raedon @ pixabay.com

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The Closing of the Eye


© SSJ 1978


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Town Asleep



Mashup of pixabay.com images of DeeDee51, pexels, jrperes


© SSJ 1978




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