Archives for posts with tag: woodblock

by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Early summer rains
so heavy
they obscure the waterfall

ART: “Rain,” woodblock by Hirokazu Fukuda. Limited edition prints available at

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Hirokazu Fukuda (1944-2004) was born and raised in the Tochigi prefecture, an area about an hour north of Tokyo surrounded by mountains and hills to the east, west, and north, with the Kanto Plains lie to the south. Hirokazu planned to become a professional classic guitarist but suffered a hand injury at a young age. Seeking a medium to express his creativity, he first worked with the canvas, then moved on to become a master woodblock artist. According to family and friends, he always hoped that his work would touch the heart of those around him.

Poem for my Persimmon Tree and the Crows Who Visit It
by Gerald Nicosia

There’s a persimmon tree I see every day
Outside my bathroom window
I’ve seen it at least ten thousand times
But I’ve never actually
Looked at it
Today I wondered why I’d never paid attention
Before when it will
Probably outlive me just
As Kesey’s apple tree outlived
Him in the photo of them together just before
He died with his sad face knowing
He’ll be saying goodbye soon to the apple tree
So I thought it was time
I pay attention to this persimmon
And try to learn its lessons
Its fruit are barely orange now,
They’re born in May and
Take months to ripen and
As they do the crows
Start to come and test them and
Finally start eating them
And eventually the tree is leafless and
All stark Halloween colors
Dark rain-wet bark, bright orange-red globes and
The moving black patches of crows’ wings
But today there are still many of
The faint green, yellow, brown-mottled and sere leaves guarding
The still swelling fruit and I note
How the branches never move in straight lines and I wonder
How the tree knows just when to make a new
Branch from a bough and I realize there are lessons
Here waiting to be learned
That people including myself
Pass by every day and
I wonder how we can
Presume to live and die without
Ever having even tried
To learn them
As the crows do.

IMAGE: “Crow eating a persimmon,” original woodblock print (1910) by Koson (1877-1945).  For more information, visit


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerald Nicosia, born and raised in Chicago and transplanted to the San Francisco Bay Area in his late twenties, is a poet, fiction writer, biographer, historian, and playwright. He is best known for his biography of Jack Kerouac, Memory Babe. Long associated with the Beat and post-Beat writers, he has organized and taken part in hundreds of poetry readings, including a reading at Bob Weir’s Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California, that drew over three hundred people and celebrated the release of the movie version of On the Road, on which Nicosia worked as a consultant. He has also spent a good part of his life studying, helping, and chronicling the story of Vietnam veterans; his book Home to War on their struggle to heal and readjust was picked as one of the “Best Books of 2001” by the Los Angeles Times. He is currently at work on a biography of Ntozake Shange, and published his fourth book of poetry, Night Train to Shanghai, with Grizzly Peak Press in the summer of 2013. He has also taught and lectured extensively on the Beats, the Sixties, and modern literature.