Book Review – breaking my journey

breaking my journey by Gregory Piko

reviewed by Cynthia Rowe

breaking my journey, published by the prestigious Red Moon Press, is delightfully produced. The cover, designed by Ron C. Moss, a digital photograph, is particularly striking. The book is smoothly finished, and a pleasure to hold.

The collection contains ninety-eight individual haiku, two haibun, a rengay and haiku shuffle, wherein Gregory Piko extols the things we take for granted, the essence of what makes us ‘us’. He extracts beauty from the everyday, makes us see the world in a fresh light; that which seems banal on first viewing is elevated to the extraordinary, universal in its appeal.

Thus, the one-line haiku:

pleasing repetition a plateful of peas

makes the reader smile, then takes us back to when we were children and were made to eat peas by our parents, but, as adults, we look at this legume in a new light, at the amazing symmetry of the natural world.

Flowers and the meaning evoked by their perfume are important to the poet. Hence

second floor flat
heavy with the scent
of geraniums


waking late
only your perfume
on the pillow

Even in troubled times the importance of scent as a calming influence penetrates in

a thicket of thoughts
the scent of jasmine
finds a way through

The latter poem exudes energy, a feeling of optimism despite the odds. We see this echoed in

a pool of light
outside the window
evening rain

The haiku

seaside grave
a humpback whale
breaks the surface

is particularly evocative. We wonder if the humpback whale breaking the surface refers to the afterlife, that death is not the end, that there is a future even through our loved ones that have been left behind. There is also a hint of Buddhism in this poem, the feeling of reincarnation.

We see this in

bleached bones
on the earth, the remains
of a eucalypt

where evidence of death is on the ground, but the remains of a eucalypt ensure that regrowth will occur. Eucalypts have amazing powers of recuperation. After a fire they come back stronger than ever. The “bleached bones” may well refer to a fire that has swept through the land, leaving destruction in its wake.

On a happier note

on the dashboard
painted toes

takes us back to our teen years and the pleasure we had driving along, probably in a sports car with a long hood, foot clamped on the accelerator, wind in our hair, and feeling invincible.

A particular favourite of mine is the haibun; Near a Station of the Metro. Engrossed in the artistry of one of the ubiquitous mimes who busk in Paris, the poet eventually looks down to find his maps still there, but his money gone. Has he, engrossed, dropped it or, more likely, has it been filched by a ragged Romany urchin lurking around this gullible tourist. Perhaps even an accomplice of the mime artist? The concluding two-line haiku is inspired by the poet Ezra Pound.

With alternately one or two haiku per page, interspersed with the occasional black and white sketch of One Tree to refer to the cover art, this is an impressive book. The poet’s gentle wisdom and acute eye for detail trigger a variety of emotions and responses. Gregory Piko’s poems are deftly crafted and make for a powerful body of work.

I had pleasure in reviewing, and can highly recommend, breaking my journey.

Cynthia Rowe

breaking my journey – Gregory Piko
First published by Red Moon Press
Approx. 87 pages
ISBN 978-1-947271-61-6
Print book: perfect bound paperback
Orders may be made from Gregory Piko’s website for A$20.00
or through Red Moon Press

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