Naomi Beth Wakan has written/ compiled over 30 books; these include Haiku — one breath poetry, an ALA selection, and her recent book of poetry, Segues (Wolsak and Wynn, 2005). The UK rights to the series of quotation books she compiled with her twin, Ruth Artmonsky, have just been purchased by Courtauld's Institute, London, UK. The latest in this series, Scienceworks, came out this spring.

When not writing poetry herself, Naomi is a poetry coach for other poets. She is a member of HaikuCanada and hosts the annual ginko of pacifi-kana (HC's western wing) at her home on Gabriola, which she shares with her sculptor husband, Elias Wakan ( Her books are available at, through a local book store, or, on Gabriola Island, Page's Marina or Artworks.



Monday's Poem

©Naomi Wakan

Our Clay

(based on the lines by Kuan Tao-Sheng —
"I am in your clay, You are in my clay")

Am I in your clay
and you in mine?
I've never thought
of these thirty years
that way; not even once.
I've thought of making
good meals and a comfy home;
flowers from the garden
for the table and a good poem
occasionally, and royalties
to pay the mortgage.

Am I in your clay
and you in mine?
The question makes me uncomfy.
It's too exaggerated for
my English conditioning,
too demanding for something
I had taken for granted.
Still it won't go away,
so I start to count more carefully
the five to ten fruit and veg
I prepare each day,
read the odd book
you have recommended,
and self-consciously wash
the sheets more frequently.
I have sex a little more than I want,
and plump the pillows every morning.

Am I in your clay
and you in mine?
Still the question remains
unanswered between us.
Besides the added zest
I am trying to add to each element
of our partnership
is now attached guilt and shame
and embarrassment at my
somewhat less than perfect love.

Am I in your clay
and you in mine?
The quote has become a koan,
so one dawn I wake
in a fever of failure.
I note you are lying against me,
hand on my breast,
and I have a determined
arm around your shoulders.
Then, in an instant,
I know not how, all dissolves
and I ask myself in confusion,
Whose hand? Whose breast?
Whose arm? Whose shoulders?
And the tears run down over my clay
and your clay, your clay
and mine.