Naked With A Book.

Naked with a book

Primitive and enlightened

Disciplined and wild.

That’s it. The last one.

I’ve been writing a haiku a day during the entire month of April because April is National Poetry Month, and that haiku up there is the last one. It’s a dedication to the book that inspired my  haiku-a-day art project (more on that in a bit).

It's also an ode to my  naked-outdoor-haiku-reading-to-the-redwoods art project.

You didn’t know about the naked-outdoor-haiku-reading-to-the-redwoods art project, did you? That’s the thing with me. I’m full of surprises.

Let me explain.

Recently, I became interested in the rise of groups promoting social justice through nudity. Their strategy is to turn the human desire to objectify one another towards noble ends, and I began wondering if this strategy would likewise be effective in encouraging people to read and be thoughtful.

But the genesis of my naked-outdoor-haiku-reading-to-the-redwoods art project actually came to me much earlier. It came when I moved from Los Angeles to my hippie cabin in the redwoods, and soon realized that the neighbors couldn’t see me if I ran around outside naked. I went from living in an apartment where I could reach out my bathroom window and touch the wall of the apartment building next door, to living in a place where I couldn’t see anyone from my yard - and no one could see me.

Transitioning from an urban landscape to the wilderness of Northern California in such an abrupt way was intentional. I wanted to “pull a Thoreau.” I wanted to see how transferring my ape mind from the over-stimulation of the city to an environment structured by natural rhythms would impact my thinking.

I have a theory that humans share a primal urge to see the stars and feel a wood fire and touch water as it runs in a creek. We feel these actions deeply and profoundly because evolution has wired our brain to have an abiding love for such “pleasures” - precisely because they enhance our ability to survive.

I’ve written about these theories on occasion here - in both poetry and prose - in order to challenge my own perceptions and to hone my abilities as a writer. With this in mind, as April rolled around, I made the decision to write a haiku a day in celebration of National Poetry Month - and as a simple exercise in self-discipline.

I thought that writing seventeen syllables a day would be a piece of cake. However, I ran into problems almost immediately.

For starters, on April 1, I hiked for the first time to the Russian Gulch waterfall. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and high on nature, and writing a haiku was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I did, and the haiku was kind of crappy, and I felt discouraged starting the month out on such a disappointing note.

Until I got to day two, and the haiku was even crappier.

Day three wasn’t much better, nor was day four. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, less than a week in, and about to fail at my self-imposed exercise of writing seventeen measly syllables a day.

But the Russian Gulch hike reminded me of something else. While at the waterfall, I sat there soaking in the beauty of a gorgeous veil of water tumbling into a magical green pool, and I tried to remember last time I had gone skinny dipping. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it took me a minute or two to come up with the memory.

And I can’t tell you how sad that made me.

Because being in the buff in the wilds of nature should be something we all do eagerly and often. It ranks right up there with the bit I said earlier about the stars and fire and creeks and stuff.

We are meant to be naked, so it makes us happy to be naked. If you don’t believe me, look at any naked baby. I rest my case.

So, in addition to WRITING a haiku a day, it seemed perfectly normal to add on the task of READING a page of haiku a day to the redwoods in the forest out back.


You heard me.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I decided to read outside, naked, daily, from one of the most beautiful books I own - a 1969 first-edition of Australian author Harold Stewart’s A Chime of Windbells.

(All of the book photos here are of this volume - Stewart translates Japanese haiku by famous authors like Basho and Buson into rhyming couplets, which he then pairs with beautiful illustrations modeled on traditional Japanese silk paintings.)

So starting at mid-month, every day, I stripped down to the buff, stepped out onto my deck with my book, and read haiku out loud to the redwood trees.

I felt like a complete idiot.

At least, at first. It’s not that I didn’t think the redwoods were listening - because they TOTALLY were - it’s that being in the all-natural in nature felt completely...  Unnatural.

But, as with the daily haiku writing, I stuck with it, and two things happened. First, I started allowing myself to enjoy the outside naked time. I relaxed, I laughed, and I gave those redwoods the best naked haiku slam they’ve ever seen. And that’s saying something, too, because those trees have been around a very, very long time.

And second…

My own haiku writing got better.

There was no denying it. Once I had embraced the outdoor naked poetry reading, the haiku writing improved.



Just because I had already gotten into the swing of haiku writing based on the previous two weeks of failure, and just because reading haiku aloud will invariably improve one’s own writing, that doesn’t mean that the outside naked time didn’t play a big part in the overall improvement of my haikus.

Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

As a result of my April project, I’m thinking of making it my mission to remove the stigma associated with naked reading. After all, whether it’s in bed or in the tub, we’ve all done it. It’s completely natural. Nothing to be ashamed of. Heh.

In fact, maybe I’ll start a nude reading trend. It can be like planking, only naked and with a book.

Happy National Poetry Month.

I hope yours was as naked as mine.


A Trail Of Footprints.

A trail of footprints

Leads to a destination

I will never know.

Second-to-last haiku for April - National Poetry Month.

The journey hasn't always been easy, but now that it's at an end, I see its purpose.

So it goes with journeys.


Misplaced Camera.

Misplaced camera -

Just driftwood in my pocket

To conjure the day.

I took a lovely hike on Big River today, but I accidentally left my camera at home. I was devastated, naturally - until I became completely distracted by the tactile pleasures of collecting driftwood and rocks and shells and seaglass...

I don't remember the last time I felt so entirely absorbed with examining nature and holding it in my hand. In fact, I think I'm going to bring nature to the camera more often...

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


She Finds The Center.

She finds the center

And snares what light she can catch

Before it escapes.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


A Fish On A Hook.

Two bits for a book?

I'm compelled to stop and look -

A fish on a hook.

Could you pass without stopping?

Didn't think so.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


Give No Thought To Fall.

Kissed by springtime sun,

Apple blossoms dressed in dew

Give no thought to fall.

The apple tree I wanted to chop down last year to spite my landlord now has beautiful blossoms on it.

Well played, landlord.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


A Profound Moment.

A profound moment,

Compared to a life so long,

Passes unnoticed.


Happy World Book Night!

Books shared with community;

Reading loved by all.

Happy World Book Night (and day).

A haiku a day for April - National Book Month.


Drink! Fight!

Drink! Fight! Drink! Fight! Fight!

Fight! Drink! Fight! Drink! Fight! Drink! Drink!

Drink! Fight! Drink! Fight! Fight!

Hummingbirds are my kind of creature.

Happy Earth Day!

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


Golden State Of Mind.

Bright day by the bay.

A bridge away from trouble.

Golden State of mind.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


The Right Kind Of Day.

Funyuns and Twinkies;

Cylons, Vogons, and Tribbles -

The right kind of day.


Fullness And Heartbreak.

Breakfast for ravens;

Devastation for seagulls -

Fullness and heartbreak.


A Morning Captured.

Moss snared in sunshine.

Bars of trees split beams of light.

Bright morning captured.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


And Poppy Flowers.

Soft April showers

Bring music to my hours -

And poppy flowers.

Poppies always put me in a Golden State of mind.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


Rusty Whetting Stone.

Rusty whetting stone -

Can you sharpen memories

As well as a knife?


Unfold And Expand.

Don't be shy, sorrel.

You hold the world in a cup;

Unfold and expand.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.

Maybe this haiku a day exercise isn't meant to improve my poetry. Maybe it's meant to make me more spontaneous with my photography.

Sure. That must be it.


From Mendocino.

From Mendocino

To San Francisco, then back

To Mendocino.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.


Poetry Is Not.

Poetry is not

Always present in my heart.

I write all the same.

One Two Three Four Five.

One two three four five.

One two three four five six seven.

One two three four five.


Big Magic.


You to me; me back to you.

Great art. Big magic.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.

Artwork by Lance Tooks.

Poem by yours truly.

Thank you, Lance, for the collaboration. It was a pleasure and a privilege.



Tuesday's haiku is

An effort through a blur of



No Title Haiku.

No Title Haiku.

This was NOT a good idea.

Maybe I'll just quit.

A haiku a day for the month of April - National Poetry Month.



Afikomen And Zombies.

Easter. Passover.

Afikomen and zombies.

Signs that spring has sprung.



First night of Pesach;

A whole day to soak it in -

And then it's Easter.


Last Minute Haiku.

Last minute haiku.

Almost forgot this today...

Better if I had?


At Least Their Words Stay.

Many great poets

Leave us too soon and too sad.

At least their words stay.

Eighteen years ago today.

I wish he would have found the strength to stick around.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


The Silence Resounds.

Gone but remembered.

Though forty-four years have passed,

The silence resounds.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.

Today is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. He gave voice to the voiceless and paid for it with his life. He is the definition of a hero. My gratitude for his wisdom and courage knows no bounds.


There's A Cat About.

There's a cat about,

Medowlark. A cat about -

Lurking in the duff.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.

Happy writing!


Duck, Rummy!

Okay, Rummy Duck -

Moby Dick is big and thick.

Now put some pants on!

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.

Two down!!

(Cartoon by Art Fuentes.)