Prompt Schedule

We are all travelling some kind of road – the road of life – the road to the deep interior – the road to nowhere – the road to recovery – the road home …  Our journeys can be physical and/or metaphorical;  inner and outer.

On the Road prompts focus on various aspects of the journey.  Prompts will be posted on Friday (Australian EST).

The prompts are offered as suggestions for haiku, tanka, haibun and haiga.  There is no cutoff date for responding to prompts.   If an old prompt inspires you, feel free to respond to it.  Enjoy



Following the heart


Thank you to everyone who responded to my “On The Road” prompt last week.  It was a pleasure to read your beautiful and inspiring poetry and haibun.

This week’s prompt is inspired by the life and work of the wandering nun, Kikusha-Ni or Tagami Kikusha as she is sometimes called.


Kikusha was a woman who defied the conventions of her time.   She refused to marry again after being widowed at 24.   Instead she became a Buddhist nun and took up the life of a wanderer.

At 29, inspired by haiku and Basho’s journey she made her own journey to the deep north.  It took her four years for she often stopped for extended periods to study subjects that interested her.   At one point she spent a year learning from the haiku master, Chobo-en Sankyo.   Moving on from there she visited the hometown of the poetess Chiyo (1703-75) and stayed overnight at the home of Chiyo’s adopted son.    From there she journeyed on visiting many of the shines and temples Basho had visited.

This style of wandering from place to place to study and to visit sacred sites became a way of life for Kikusha.   During her forties she became very interested in Chinese music and poetry and spent years in Nagasaki studying with Confucian poets and painters.  There she developed her own unique style of haiga which often incorporated Chinese style calligraphic painting with Japanese haiku.

This independent spirit comes across in her haiku.   There is an immediacy to her connection with the world around her that speaks to me of the Buddhist concept of the interconnection of all life.

on the summer hills
I saw a cloud – that’s all
there was in Yoshino

That first cry
it was not my imagination
– a mountain cuckoo

‘puppy’ by Kikusha-N

We are just
the moon and I –
cold on the bridge

When she was 64 Kikusha-Ni returned to her home town following the death of her mother.   There she stayed until her own death at age 73.

Throughout her life Kikusha-Ni followed the dictates of her own heart – guided always by her own free spirit.

To walk
with the moon as a hat –
the traveler’s heaven

PROMPT:  Create a haiku, tanka, haibun or haiga inspired by Kikusha-Ni’s love of life and her appreciation of the natural world.   Please post a link to your work in the comment thread below.   Thankyou.



A moment on the road…

For Basho wandering was a form of spiritual practice.   His pilgrimages to religious sites became portals into a direct experience of the sacred.   A haibun in The Narrow Road to the Deep North reads:-

‘In Yamagata Province, the ancient temple founded by Jikaku Daishi in 860, Ryushaku Temple is stone quiet, perfectly tidy.   Everyone told us to see it.   It meant a few miles extra, doubling back toward Obanazawa to find shelter.  Monks at the foot of the mountain offered rooms, then we climbed the ridge to the temple, scrambling up through ancient gnarled pine and oak, gray smooth stones and moss.   The temple doors, built on rocks, were bolted.  I crawled among boulders to make my bows at shrines.  The silence was profound. I sat, feeling my heart begin to open.

Lonely stillness-
a single cicada’s cry
sinking into stone’

(translation found on –

Of course it is not always necessary to clamber over rocks to come to an awareness of the sacred.  Sometimes it is there, right in front of us, just waiting for us to open our eyes and notice.

“As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, “Pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven.”  ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

A haiku by the wandering nun, Kikusha-Ni (1752-1826) speaks of a similar moment of transfiguring awareness:-

‘the spirit, the truth
of silent prayer –
just the moon on the road. ‘

leonie-copy[1] (1)

This week’s prompt is to use these haibun and haiku as inspiration for your own haiku, tanka, haibun or haiga.   Please create a pingback to your work or leave a link in the comment section below.    Thank you.   I hope you enjoy the prompt.























The call of the Road

“As we turn every corner of the Narrow Road to the Deep North, we sometimes stand up unawares to applaud and we sometimes fall flat to resist the agonizing pains we feel in the depths of our hearts.  There are also times when we feel like taking to the roads ourselves, seizing the raincoat lying near by, or times when we feel like sitting down till our legs take root, enjoying the scene we picture before our eyes.”  –  Soruyo

This week’s prompt is to use Soruyo’s words as inspiration for a haiku, tanka, haibun or haiga.   Please post a link to your work in the comments thread here or create a Pingback by copying and pasting the URL for this post into your response.   Thank you.   I hope you enjoy the challenge – Suzanne


The road is life

This week’s prompt: –

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”

― Jack Kerouac, On the Road


“I set out on a journey of a thousand leagues, packing no provisions. I leaned on the staff of an ancient who, it is said, entered into nothingness under the midnight moon.”

-Matsuo Basho, The Record of a Weather-exposed Skeleton – his first travel travel journal.

The challenge is to create a haiku (or a related poetic form) inspired by either or both of the above quotes.  Please create a Pingback so others can find your work or post your response in the comment thread.   I will be setting up a Link Up but time got away from me this week.




The Road to the Holy Grail

This morning I decided I would post “The Holy Grail” by the Australian band, Hunters and Collectors as my next “On the Road” prompt.

Before I did that though I needed to go down town and get some groceries.   While I was there a wild rain storm blew in.   Seeking shelter I went to a second hand store where I found a treasure trove of interesting books.   In a little volume called “Reflections on the Art of Living” edited by Diane K Osbon I read:

“What the Holy Grail symbolizes is the highest spiritual fulfillment of a human life.  Each life has some kind of high fulfillment, and each has its own gift from the Grail…   It has to do with overcoming the same temptations that the Buddha overcame; of attachment to this, that or the other life detail that has pulled you off course…   In the Grail legends, the land of people doing what they think they ought to do or have to do is the wasteland.

“Holy Grail” lyrics

Woke up this morning from the strangest dream
I was in the biggest army the world has ever seen
We were marching as one
On the road to the holy grailStarted out seeking fortune and glory
It’s a short song but it’s a hell of a story
When you spend your lifetime trying to get your hands
On the holy grailWell have you heard about the great crusade
We ran into millions, but nobody got paid
Yeah we raised four corners of the globe
For the holy grail

All the locals scattered, they were hiding in the snow
We were so far from home, so how were we to know
There’d be nothing left to plunder
When we stumble on the holy grail

We were full of beans
But we were dying like flies
And those big black birds, they were circling in the sky
And you know what they say, yeah, nobody deserves to die

You know I, I been searching for an easy way
To escape this cold light of day
I been high and I been low
But I got nowhere else to go

There’s nowhere else to go


I followed orders
God knows where I’ve been
But I woke up alone
All my wounds were clean
I’m still here
I’m still a fool for the holy grail

I am, I’m a fool for the holy grail

PROMPT:   create a haiku, tanka, haibun or haiga in response to “On the Road to the Holy Grail”.    Please post a link to your response in the comment thread.

The journey begins


From the moment I started thinking about this site I’ve been remembering songs and poems about roads and travelling.

To get the ball rolling on the prompts I’ll start with the first one that popped into my mind – a line from an old Irish blessing – May the road rise up to meet you.

Please post a link to your response in the comment thread below so that others can find your post.  Thanks.

Country road - western Ireland

Country road – western Ireland

Here’s a link to my own response to the prompt   🙂