stark branches

against a gray sky

the falcon’s trill


days grow shorter

keening of coyotes

in the dim light


winter evening

a stray dog barks

to his echo


morning fog

a gray heron

stitches sky to sea


tossing breadcrumbs

out the back door

a night of snow


last day of the year

the incense ash

leans towards Buddha



the tireless squirrel

finally tips over the suet

peppered with chili—

those forbidden things that left

a bitter taste in my mouth


strains of Chopin

from the house next door

those late nights

when my aunt played piano

in the cold parlor


frozen igloos

we made as children

the simplicity of

one door in

one door out


how I hated

Nana’s homemade borscht

and even now

those stubborn red stains

on her cutting board


this morning

pale white light

shines through the window

it’s snowing again

and Mother is gone


Perigee Moon

By Margaret Chula

MARGARET CHULA lived in Japan for twelve years where she taught English and creative writing at universities in Kyoto. Her books include Grinding my ink (Haiku Society of America Book Award); This Moment; Shadow Lines (with Rich Youmans); Always Filling, Always Full; The Smell of Rust; Just This; and most recently, Daffodils at Twilight. Her collection What Remains: Japanese Americans in Internment Camps, a seven-year collaboration with quilt artist Cathy Erickson, features poems in the voices of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Kyoto Journal, Poet Lore, America’s Review, and Runes, as well as in numerous haiku journals around the world. One of her haiku appears on Itoen tea bottles sold in stores and vending machines throughout Japan. Her one-woman performance of Japanese women poets (“Three Women Who Loved Love”), premiered in Krakow, Poland in 2003 and toured to Canada, Japan, and the U.S.

Margaret lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to teach and give workshops at universities, poetry societies and Zen centers.



A writer’s purpose is to say the unsayable.
To put into words what we feel, experience, and yearn for,
our continual search for that which is always just beyond us.

It is the courage to say what others have been unwilling
or afraid to acknowledge. It’s the voice of a child, speaking truth
through the experience of discovery.

And if we remain open to the abundance of this universe
moments of inspiration will come unbidden:
the book that falls off the shelf into our hands
the dream that calls forth the Muse at dawn
a palette of words that moves and shifts
into the kaleidoscope of creation
once we let go.

Writing is a catharsis, a way to explore the darkness within and around me. It’s what I turn to in order to make sense out of chaos. It’s also a way to preserve the joyous and transformative moments of life. I began writing as soon as I could form words with a pencil. When I nearly drowned while learning to surf in France, I recorded the experience. Years later, as I sat outside watching my house burn, I composed haiku. After our first grand-daughter was born, I celebrated the occasion with a poem. And, like Japanese poets, when I leave this world, I hope to have a death poem on my lips.