In addition to my own shinrin yoku poems, you will find below other examples of the
genre contributed by members of Eliteskills
Walk barefoot and breathe deep.
Tread lightly on hallowed ground.
Toes burrow in forest soil,
The squirm of witchety grubs.
Fingers linger in leafy litter,
Scrabble like centipedes,
In touch with sweetly crumbled,
Warmly moist and furtive fumbled,
Humid, revitalizing humus.
In time-lapse see tree-birthed earth
Heave and seethe with hidden life,
The busy zone of cryptozoans,
Termites, slaters, springtails, snails,
A helter-skelter welter, whirligig,
Wonderful invertebrate world.
Breathe and absorb the come-hither
Odour-winks of lascivious flowers,
The heady, perfumed glances
Of voluptuous fruits,
The mealy mushroom aroma of decay.
We breathe out the miasma of the city
And breathe in a cocktail of delight.
Our limbic system is gently massaged
By a myriad forest scents.
Petal caressed and fern frond fondled,
We walk lightly under a canopy
Of filtered rays and mosaic shade.
We are haloed and sanctified.
In cathedral close given solace
And sanctuary from woes
By the blessing of the trees,
Baptised in the fragrant breeze.
ARTHUR BENNETT (New Zealand)
Walk in the coiled springtime
And hear the incremental ticking
Of the seasonal floral clock.
The flowers rouse early
To steal the pale sunshine
In the cold sleeping, leafless woods.
Dog’s Mercury, the harbinger,
Green flowered, insignificant,
Fleet, first-footing spring bringer.
And on that herald’s heels anemones,
Snow white, whimsical windflowers.
Delicate porcelain tea service laid
For the first night-wandering moths.
And hurrying after, the vivid, scented,
Bright bee-bait, daytime flowers.
The bluebells ring perfumed carillons,
The woods awash in water-colour seas.
The waxwork groups of yellow celandines
Make shining examples of themselves,
The gold gloss on their lips still wet.
And last perhaps before the oaks
Unfurl their spinnakers of leaves,
The Lords and Ladies, arum lilies,
Elegantly coifed and wimpled,
But with a smell to lure flesh flies
And a cage to imprison them.
Most mortal souls have never seen
The shy, elusive moschatel.
Four faces, four musketeers
Guarding each other’s backs.
A miniature town-hall clock,
A chronometer to measure longitude,
The perfection of springtime.
ARTHUR BENNETT (New Zealand)
What thoughts we poets have!
My brain sprouts a basketful of fungi:
Wood blueits and chanterelle,
Brain morel and Jew’s ear,
Destroying angel, panther cap.
One errant little whimsy,
Worse than gothic imaginings,
Must be the lowly cordiceps,
Body-snatcher of the fungal world.
I found them on the forest floor
Like pieces of kinked brown wire
Topped by a spore shaker pepperpot.
Beneath the soil each sprang
From the mahogany head
Of a shiny wooden grub.
Bumbling along as larvae do
On their caterpillar tracks,
It would have met a single spore
Of its dreadful nemesis.
The alien invader multiplied,
Seized motor control.
Seek no longer the green leaves of youth.
Your salad days are over.
Do not assume the lapis lazuli and gold
Of the chrysalis king.
Dream not of an angel’s life
Afloat on butterfly wings.
A darker metamorphosis awaits you.
As the scarab buries the dungball,
As Ra drives the sun into the pit,
Inter yourself, my bride of death.
Just a wooden crate of jarra wood
Sitting on a Seattle wharf.
Just the faint laugh of a kookaburra
In the boreal forest of Canada.
Just the odd few thousand spores
Of a fungus known to favour Eucalypts.
Just the seals dying off the beach.
A straight line from Vancouver Island
To Brisbane in Australia crosses only sea.
Nothing much in fact to suggest
Invisible death stalked Vancouver Island woods.
Trampers and trekkers out to shinrin yoku
Under the tall hemlocks, Douglas firs and spruce,
Breathed deep the perfume of the trees.
Sneezed perhaps as the motes in God’s eye
Drizzled down in the filtered rays of sun.
Their minds occupied with other things,
They went home to their beds and died.
An autopsy showed their brains riddled
Like blue vein cheese with cells of mould,
Cryptococcus, the hidden one.
Unsedated, unrestrained, untended,
They might have sleepwalked in hospital gowns
Through the streets of the midnight town.
They might have found freshly dug gardens
And buried themselves feet first
Like retreating moles.
Come spring who knows
What glorious inflorescence
Like a magician’s bouquet
Would thrust out of an eye socket,
What reincarnation of beauty and truth,
What strange immortality.
What thoughts we poets have!
ARTHUR BENNETT (New Zealand)
Don't walk upon the winding path
chiseled into this tropical sanctuary,
this strict distasteful walkway
created by human hands.
Nature is controlled in our modern world,
So follow your heart instead
into the throbbing, thriving, pulsating centre
of this wild, tangled, savage-space.
Break through the barriers
of your cold metal world
and sink to your knees in
squelching waterlogged soil.
Release yourself from the unnatural
fabrics stifling your longing skin.
Toss them over the spiraling
liana tendrils as they reach for the light
suddenly shining through the
tall canopy tree tops,
a golden shimmering hue
settling over swaying branches.
Slowly lower your head against
caressing fronds of gentle palms
and the buttresses of moist,
moss sprinkled tree trunks.
Feel the warmth of soft humus
beneath your aching limbs
fragile ferns lightly brushing
your naked back as you shiver
and shift slightly against the cooling
heads of sweet smelling orchids
as they bob to the rhythm of a sudden breeze
swirling around you with the scents
of wild flowers and ripening fruits.
You feel slightly dizzy,
tracing with trembling fingers
the mossy crevices of living bark
nostrils tensing, testing, flaring....
until your swelling pleasured spirit
can stand your stillness no longer
and your back arches involuntarily
as you take a deep, intoxicating breath.
Light headed from the pure and untainted oxygen
wafting in from between the rustling
deep green leaves and swirling about your body,
soothing your slowly relaxing muscles,
let yourself go and joyfully bathe.
ALEXIS FEETAL (Australia)
You lie with me in the forest deep
In the sun dappled shade.
Moss is a soft green cushion,
And violets are sprinkled on our bed.
Our skin, green with crushed flora,
Is covered with leaves and sticks.
We laugh and groom each other,
And then lie down again.
The musky leaf mould smell
Mingles with our sweat.
Toadstool, mushroom, fungi funk
Mirrors the smell of sex.
We lie side by side
And watch the sun through the trees.
The breeze blows across our skin,
And gives blessing to our bodies.
LYNN KEILER (U.S.A.)
Culled from the brambled ceiling
of my wide-eyed latter nights,
I stand a limber pale absence
lingering in the warm suggestions
under the forest’s hushed breath.
Lavished by moonlight and fair-skinned winds,
the guttering grasses whisper against my ankles
and my bare feet sink into moss-slippered earth
when I leave my shoes behind.
Free at last and looking up
my eyes wade through the cloudy dregs
of the wide, sparkling cup of the milky way,
my thrown back head a-swim
in the grand kept appointments of the air
save where the tallest pine tapped the rim,
causing a rich spill of stars to fall to earth,
and I, kneeling now, beheld in gold,
see nothing but a galaxy of flowers,
dense and manifold, which lift about my knees:
Love-divining white daisy drifts
clashing their clumsy heads,
half-lost to dignity till now seen
slurring in a telepathy of shrugs
and eyebrow cockings.
A nuance of striking serifs
and dancing curlicues flirt free
and stoop; bushy culprits of cotoneaster
among metallic glares of barberry,
wit-cocked heads of plume’s thistle
rising stealthy above a long charade
of purple’s heart-ease and trillium.
Wild thyme blooms peppery fragrance,
small implicit leaves and spikes,
I find, lost in light tawny sedge,
each dandelion’s sun-ringed head
fluffed in continuous rhyme,
consoling tussocks of a dusty unknown flower.
Here, upon a mossy trestle, I lean,
stunned at last, by all the twinkling.
EMEYA WARREN (U.S.A.)
Flocks of drowsy clover grope a green love bed
and the curling fronds of dozing ferns
lay their cheeks on fragile stone,
careful to avoid to rosettes of sedum
decorating smooth girders of rock.
My skin receives the fleecy touch of lamb’s ear
as I lie down in the comber break of an alcove
where from the coddling saw-edged foliage
of the Honey Flower, I hear sweet music
begin to swell the gentle moss declivities;
Each lofty promise and pleasant burden
fill with lasting aromas of poems and prayers,
causing poison berries and rose hips to nestle,
sleek and flushed as the flesh of yawning girls,
their dew-wrenched tears blessing the quilted ground.
Here the blur colors of sleep and dream conspire,
the stillness being gleaming in growth;
leafy streams and terse boughs,
alder-darkened brink and Thracian strings
descending past muted staves of bedrock
to sing a lullaby to the mammoth oak;
a soft hum for the blanching season
in the unfathomed recesses of the wood.
EMEYA WARREN (U.S.A.)
SHINRIN YOKU: WITHIN CITY LIMITS
The woods which give me their silence,
their ancient Douglas firs and red cedars,
their ferns, are not the wilderness.
They are contained in the five-mile
circumference of an almost-island;
a park within city limits.
at weekends into the small bay.
Eagle and heron speak of solitude,
but when you emerge from the forest shade
the downtown skyline rears up,
phantasmagoric but near, across the water.
Yet the woods, the lake, the great-winged birds,
the vast mountain at the horizon, are Nature:
metonymy of the spirit’s understanding
knows them to be concentrate of all
Thoreau or Wordsworth knew by that word;
Nature: ‘a never failing principle of joy
and purest passion.’ Thoreau’s own pond
was bounded by railroad, punctuated
by the ‘telegraph trees’ and their Aeolian wires.
All of my dread and all my longing hope that Earth
may outwit the vast stupidity of her humans
who find their signs and portents here,
their recapitulations of joy and awe.
These fine, incised stanzas of leaf-work
just drifted down, can speak as well for tree
as a thousand-acre forest,
and tree means depth of roots,
uprisen height, outreaching branches.
This musical speech of wavelets jounced against reeds
as a boat’s wake tardily reaches the shore,
is voice of waters, voice of all the blue
encircling the terrestrial globe
which as a child I loved to spin
slowly upon its creaking axis—
blue globe we have seen now,
round, and small as an apple,
afloat in the wilderness we name so casually;
as if we knew it or ever could own it
by keeping it wholly out of grasp
yet within reach.
EMEYA WARREN (U.S.A)
CROSS MAIDAN SHINRIN YOKU
In the middle of a world
of one air-conditioner piddling on another
and embroiled sewer mains
hugging the splintered plasters of tenement backsides
he steps amongst the streaks
of ochre black mould
spread like the ghosts of street lamps.
Surmounting the buckled pavement
terraced by the toothpaste
of crow shit shaded trees
and the red juiceless slag of betel nut
he merges into inner city parks
more an experiment in agoraphobia
than a breath of fresh air.
Relishing the flavour of caution
he adheres religiously
to the graphite lines
of pencil thin paths
with fresh faeces lying in ambush either side
under the studded blanket of Autumn’s first casualties
and bleached cigarette papers.
The respiration system splutters distant gurgling coughs
from a constant waterfall of traffic
manifesting the sky in a puff of smoke
like some laid off genie bereft of boons.
A giant monoxided lens brings the sun into focus
like a dusty shoal of sky borne plastic bottles
too numerous for any Aladdin to polish..
Corroded chrome and marble arrayed in stagnation,
the fountain of joy is dysfunctional this morning
so what can a pilgrim do but gather whatever grace
lies in hell’s possession
and catch the next taxi spurned from the asphalt ocean
and ignore the ignorance
that neither himself nor the driver know where they’re going.
KANUPRIYA DAS (India)
HERE MAGIC LIVES
The mighty ancients don the latest moss fashion.
And as Pan’s lute plays in the soft rustling leaves
I know that here magic lives.
Helios’s rays catch like diamonds in dew drops
On the spring petals of Gaia’s unbound rose buds
While her heart beats underfoot.
A nymph pops bubbles on the surface of the brook.
Then cups her small hands to gather living water
For a thirsty unicorn.
A waterfall roars, casting a misty blanket
Upon lightning wings and the unsaddled back
Of Medusa’s Pegasus.
And as Selene weaves her pearl-white chariot
Through silver-backed clouds,
I pause to thank all the Gods for the memories of trees.
nature’s carpet, naked feet;
towers bold in steamy heat.
in purest green,
fed by rain from crystal sky;
fungi tiny, timber high.
eyes awash with colors bright;
breathing deeply, pure delight.
Peat moss sodden,
metamorph to feed anew;
breathe virgin air,
show their sex in multi hue.
my soul entrance,
Earthly worry soon dissolves;
this humble man
sees God’s great plan,
marvels as his heart evolves.
GRAEME KING (Australia)