A Haibun: What Lies Beneath

Today at Poets United, Susan is asking to write to the theme of Survival – violence against women, those who survived and those who didn’t.  I am linking there today and will link to d’Verse Poets for their Open Link Night Thursday.  For Poets United, here is the link:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poets-united-midweek-motif-survival.html

What Lies Beneath
A quiet neighborhood – tall oaks and magnolia trees, friendly lawns, old houses surrounded by box, old roses, gardenia bushes, children out playing after dark – hide and seek, capturing fireflies to put into lidded jars – holes punched in the lids with blades of grass inside – to set by bedsides to blink blink blink until morning when the jar was opened and the fireflies returned to their homes in the grass or bushes. Across the street from us, a Greek family who owned a small restaurant, next door to us a professor of World Literature at Duke, on the other side, a lawyer and his family, a daughter my age – and so on up and down the block. Respectable hard-working, church/synagogue/mass going people. Well behaved children who studied hard and played harder. Doors were never locked. My best friend, Terri, was the eldest daughter of the lawyer and we were together from after breakfast until supper time. My next best friend, Effie, daughter of restaurant owner completed the trio. From toddlers to tweens – through thick and thin.

When we started middle school, Terri grew distant. She told Effie and me she couldn’t play with us anymore that she was grown up now and needed to study for university. She came home from school and went into her house. She came out the next day and got into her father’s car and was taken to school, no longer walking with us. We had suddenly lost our friend. We’d go to the kitchen door and knock. Sometimes her mother but more often, her father told us Terri could not play. She had to study. We knew something was wrong with the sure certainty of children but we could do nothing. Slowly Terri dropped out of our lives. We saw her in passing or in the halls at school. From plump and amiable to thin and tense. She had the eyes of an animal caught in a trap but was too afraid to chew off her leg to escape the trap. When it was time, she went to university, at Duke, a few blocks away. I went away to university and she passed out of my life. A few months before I graduated, I received a letter from Terri. Simply put she said, “I am sorry. I was always your friend. Please forgive me. “ I returned home after graduation. My mother told me Terri had committed suicide. She had left a letter in the mailbox of their priest. Her father had been using her and her ten year old sister as sex slaves. He had threatened them with death and worse if they did not do as he wished. Her mother went along with it because she was so fearful herself. Who knew such a stolid, amiable, respected man was a monster? If houses could speak, they would scream in the night from the nightmares within.

Weeping for a friend
Who loved firefly nightlights – hate
For the man who stole them.

free public domain image


kuroi akumu: black nightmare

Today Claudia, one of the founding members of the dVerse community, is prompting us to write about our emotions, about how we feel – not the feelings of the world, other people – but how we feel and to avoid using generalities. Metaphors might also be used. Come visit us at d’Verse Poetics. I have a feeling you may be amazed.  Linked to:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/24/poetry-as-a-vehicle-to-transport-emotions/

kuroi akumu
I move through the days like our local
weather report. Sunny and cold
and on the inside a storm is raging
threatening to obliterate me and
like many of those storms in dreams it
cannot be escaped – it rears on the horizon and
then it is there on top of you sucking the breath
from your lungs.

A restaurant.
They specialize in rare natural foods.
A friend and I go – we have been friends
since 1975 –
in the middle of the room dividing the eating areas
a huge fish tank with
fish like flashing jewels.
and then,
and then…
there are creatures in the water
like hairless black cats or small dogs
being held in the water with wires
as they shake and jerk
trying to escape and
waiters stand on ladders and with long tongs
extract long sprouts growing from seeds
embedded in their flesh – and the animals are
almost but not quite dead because they continue
to jerk and jerk and jerk and the water
slops over the side of the tank
wetting the tiled floor with water
stained with black and red.
In horror I scream why is this?
Why doesn’t someone care?
Why doesn’t someone stop this?
How can we eat this food pulled from
the flesh of dead and dying animals?
I turn to my friend – an animal rights activist
and I grab her and scream into her face
and she says but it is delicacy here.
And I stand and scream and no one cares
and the animals on their wires jerk and jerk
like tortured puppets and no.one.cares.

My husband awakens me and holds me but
still I shudder – no.one.cares.

Sunday Morning 10:00 a.m.

orange wreath

Sunday Morning 10:00 a.m. (pray for peace)

Fir trees on display – Christmas is coming!
Mother with two little ones
Walking in wonder in this temporary forest
Smell of fir in the cold air
Green rich incense –
The little ones become impatient
And can’t comprehend the calm
The mother is enjoying walking
Among trees and touching them
All with love.
She takes a small orange out from her pack
And peels and shares among the two
Whiney kids – smiles ensue as
They bite into the treat – they eat
As she walks and finally decides on the one
That best makes her soul smile.
Smell of orange and fir –
I breathe in the smells and the cool
Breeze makes me glad I walked over
To look at the trees.
I look at the little sticky smiley faces,
The peaceful look on the face of the mother,
I deeply inhale the fir and the orange
And pray for the breeze to circle the earth –
To replace sadness with smiles,
To silence the sound of guns with
The sound of laughter,
To replace the smells of blood and death
With the innocent smells of oranges
And fir trees.
Please I pray to the breeze, please.
Let there be peace on earth.


I am posting this for Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Please come visit and read all the wonderful poems by talented people from all over the world.  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poetry-pantry-279_22.html

Vive la France!!!!


Darkness becomes light.  Fear becomes bravery.  God Bless the people of Paris.  Thus, to tyrants.

Smell of Home – haibun

free stock illustration


“He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, long, long, forgotten.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Christmas baking fills
the house with smells of love – stars
look down and make a wish.

Somehow, the tasteful artificial wreath decorated with shiny red and gold balls irked me. My mother-in-law had bought it at an outlet in Williamsburg to replace the small pine swag on our front door. The bright red bow tying it together was a little crooked. She disapproved of that as well. She missed her husband who had died shortly before Christmas of last year. I sympathized but as soon as she left, I fished out my pine swag from the trash and replaced the tasteful one, perfectly hung, on our front door with my clumsy one. We never used artificial things for Christmas when I was growing up. Until I moved to Philadelphia, every year, my father and I went into the woods and searched out the perfect tree and cut swags of pine, cedar, spruce. We knew where the holly with the thickest amount of red berries lived and had spotted the oaks with mistletoe in several oaks the week before. We both had our rifles slung on our backs. It was a contest as to who could shoot down the biggest bunch of mistletoe. We took turns letting the other win. And then to home. My grandmother and aunts had punched oranges full of holes and inserted whole cloves tying red ribbons around each. My mother put the swags of greens together for garlands, wreaths and swags which we hung inside and outside the house. The oranges were hung on the green decorations and the house smelled of the greenery, oranges, and spice.

We each baked our specialty– spicy hermit cookies, snickerdoodles, pecan snowballs, sweet potato pies, Kentucky bourbon cakes, fudge – for a week the house smelled of spices, sugar, bourbon, and fruit. I won the family award for best sweet potato pie – it’s a secret recipe – wink. One year, my teenaged middle aunt wanted Shalimar for Christmas. Somehow, the box with the exotically shaped bottle broke and Shalimar whispered its sweet tale to us all until the New Year. She used some of her Christmas gift money to buy it herself.

Ever since my father, grandfather, and grandmother died, it has not been the same. Walking through years of artificial trees, plastic baubles, white tree lights, and pine scented candles, the year I had been hospitalized for surgery and treatment for cancer I decided enough was enough. I pulled out the ancient fragile blown glass balls, the strings of brightly colored lights, My First Christmas ornament. A friend came and decorated the live tree she had picked out for me because I had asked her and I lay upon the couch for frequent rests. She helped me bake the sweet potato pies and Bourbon cake. That day, for the first time in years, my house smelled of the Christmases I remembered with tears and love. My husband laughed when he came home from work, the last day before the office closed for Christmas.

I sat on the couch that night with only the tree lights glowing. The ghosts of Christmas past were there – my father opening his joke box of chocolate covered cherries, my grandmother laughing as she clapped her hands in joy when someone opened the gift she had given them, my mother and aunts making jokes and then singing together carols –  they are alive but absent but still they came to join in. All the cats and dogs that had loved us lay about sleepy and content, filled with turkey bits sneakingly given to them, as I lay there and remembered, tears slipping down my cheeks. After that Christmas eight years ago, Christmas is happy and not a bit tasteful and perfect. My husband smiles a lot and takes in deep breaths and raids the cookie jar.  In a couple of weeks my home will be filled with those perfumed memories and gentle spirits.  The tasteful wreath has gone to a nearby church that is providing decorations to people who are in need of them. And while the elements of Christmas are here, oh how I miss those people I love. Of all the things so dear, my beloved family I miss the most.

fresh green cedar wreath
hung with oranges – sweet smelling
past whispers in dreams 

orange wreath









Tuesday at d’Verse Poets Pub, at the beginning of this holiday season, Mary is prompting us to write about what we miss during this time.  Come and visit and share.  What do you miss?  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/17/poetics-who-what-do-you-miss/


River of Heaven

Posted for Mid-Week Motif at Poet’s United – Midweek Motif, prompt:  River.  Excellent prompts are gifted each week here.  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poets-united-midweek-motif-river.html  Also posted for d’Verse Poets Open Link Night.  Open Link Night is where we get to post a new poem in any style/form/subject we choose.  Always an interesting array of poems submitted.  Come and check out both websites for excellent reading and hopefully, to submit one of your own poems!  Both are friendly and supportive communities – no snobs!!!!  Huge grin.  Try it, you might like it.  I am submitting a haiku this week.  The word amanogawa is the Japanese word for the Milky Way and means:  river of heaven or, celestial river.  It is one of the  seasonal words for autumn.  Traditional Haiku reflect the changing seasons and have kigo – seasonal word in the first line reflecting the when of the haiku.  This explanation is longer than the poem!!!

shines in the darkness – light flows
around star islands.

free public domain image

free public domain image


ko no ha no ame: falling leaves sounding like rain

Today at d’Verse, Victoria is doing our weekly poetics on the weather – Weather You Like it or Not! Drop by and visit Link your own poem and read those of other talented writers. We all may have different things in our cultures but we all have weather!  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/10/weather-you-like-it-or-not-dverse-poetics/

ko no ha no ame
rainy autumn day –
a burial of dead leaves
swept from branches by –
bitter wind – even the crows
are silent – only the howls
of a stray dog breaks the grey
silence – I walk with the weight
of the heavens on my mind.
leaves fall – sorrow on sorrow.

free public domain image

free public domain image


akai aki – red autumn

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

leaves like fallen flags –
tattered banners sodden by
all day rain stick to
the asphalt – shades of brown and
dull gold – dreams of red still
clinging to branches – a cold
fire burning away gray day.

Autumn is Fall(ing) to Sleep

We have a guest pubtender at d’Verse today who is prompting us to write with the enjambment poetic device. Please come visit and read all the varied submissions for this interesting device.  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/05/lets-get-jambin

Autumn is Fall(ing) to Sleep
Autumn is fall(ing) to sleep and
the creek at the foot of the hill is not
the gurgling child it was. Slower now
and grey around the edges. Stones left
behind from summer flooding dusty
and sad at being left behind. The frogs
have vanished and dragonflies
with-drawn to their secret blue cave in
the sky. Autumn is fall(ing) to sleep
withered sere leaves drift aimlessly
in the occasional breeze. Hum(ming) birds
have flown farther south to the land of eternal
jewels – treasures of another age –
placed carefully
in a museum of warmth and sun.
One night soon the stars will freeze in
the blackness of winter. Frosted morning grass
will crunch under my feet as I won(wan)der
shoulders hunched hands in my pockets
knowing going on without you is like
trying to thread a needle with one hand
with frozen fingers. Autumn is fall(ing) to sleep.

withered leaf

Light Through Leaves – komorebi

For Poets United Midweek theme – tranquility. Komorebi is the Japanese word for one of their specific aesthetics – it means: light filtering through tree leaves – the quality of the light as opposed through direct sunlight, light through clouds, etc. The word is used to denote that particular quality of light and the emotions of tranquility, serenity. Come visit at Poets United to read more poems based on the lovely prompt of tranquility – http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poets-united-midweek-motif-tranquility.html  The Japanese poetic form is Bussokusekika  Footprint of Buddha

komorebi 木漏れ日
in this cathedral
of trees preparing for sleep –
last dreams of summer –
light filters through the leaves –
gentle golden lullaby
spring will soon return – now sleep.

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Pining For Home: kokyo o shitau

At dVerse  today (Tuesday) we have a guest blogger who is inspiring us to write about travel and gave several different words, such as resfeber that means “travel fever”.  I am going with a different take on travel with the both the German word heimweh – homesickness and the Japanese kokyo o shitau – similar meaning: pine for home.  Before I married, I was a prolific world and North American traveler.  Years later, those travels have ended here, at home.  Mr. Linky and Pub opens at 3:00 EST.  Come read the poems about other lands, cities, excitement, homecoming.  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/03/poetics-tangled-in-travelers-heart/

故郷を慕う kokyō o shitau
“Leaving home in a sense involves a kind of second birth in which we give birth to ourselves.”
—Robert Neelly Bellah, sociologist

Close the door – always
Another hill to climb or road
That leads to a new
Sunrise – a city to roam –
New food new smells new bodies –
The road always leads back home

A backward glance at
A house that looks like home used
To look – fried chicken
Smell in the air – crows calling –
A small girl in a plaid dress –
The road always leads back home.

NOLA, London, Rome
Beach at Malibu, Venice
Philly, New York – pearls
From Japan soap from Harrods
turquoise from Albuquerque
The road always leads back home.

Go east or go west
Home is best – dew on roses
In the backyard – a
Creek close by where sylvan friends
play – birds at the feeders, cat
On the porch – back home at last.

The road always leads back home
where we find ourselves waiting.

'Houses near Orleans', oil painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille

‘Houses near Orleans’, oil painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille


Blue and gold Sunday – haibun

public domain - View of the Church of Saint Paul and Asylum

public domain – View of the Church of Saint Paul and Asylum at Remy – Van Gogh

I am writing a haibun and being untraditional by ending the prose portion with a senryu rather than haiku. This haibun is in response to a painting by Van Gogh which Bjorn, hosting our Haibun Monday at d’Verse Poets, asked us to use as our prompt for our haibun – .http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/02/haibun-monday-3/  I am also posting on Poets United for their Poetry Pantry http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poetry-pantry-275.html  (Sunday) Come and visit me at both locations and read outstanding poetry by outstanding poets!  Those of you who write prose and have not yet tried the Japanese poetry/prose form of haibun may be interested in trying your hand.  At d’Verse Poets, the link is good for a week to submit haibun.  Try it, you may like it!  Come visit and read if nothing else for excellent reading material.  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/02/haibun-monday-3/

Blue and Gold Sunday
I was admitted to the Asylum at Saint Remy in August of 1889 because I had the poor taste and wicked disposition to allow my older brother to rape me several times a week after the family had retired for the evening. Even worse, after a few months, when enough had become too much, I stopped his attacks by taking a knife to him – a knife secreted from the kitchen and hidden under my pillow. What a mess! Blood spattered on the hand painted silk wall paper, the chaste white lace and linen of my bed and by a well-aimed and angry stroke, my brother became incapable of performing such an attack again. Running to find out what the screaming was all about, my parents, several servants, and my mama’s spinster sister, discovered my brother emasculated and slowly bleeding to death and me – covered with blood and voiceless. Since that night, I have not spoken and mostly spend my days staring inside myself at landscapes such as never existed on this earth. Our family doctor recommended the Asylum as a place far enough away from Paris for my parents to forget I existed. Our lawyer helped them silence the disgrace and make arrangements for my admittance. I would be surrounded by beautiful pastoral views and treated well by the good Sisters and the doctors.

And so here I am, sitting by the window of my small private room watching the morning sun gild the Sunday countryside, absorbed in the view of the Chapel. The sky is the unearthly blue of an alpine lake. Church bells begin to ring, their sound drifting over the unharvested wheat like gentle wood smoke. Last night, one of the attendants came to do his weekly visit. Klaus had become my brother in this quiet place. During a noisy outbreak at the end of the hall, I took my dinner knife, cleverly hidden up the sleeve of my kimono. I had patiently waited for such a happening. While everyone but lazy Klaus was occupied silencing the creator of the shrieks and mayhem, I took myself to the opposite end of the hall where he spent most of his time napping and smoking hand rolled cigarillos. He did not hear me as I stepped behind him and drew the knife across his throat. Stepping back quickly to avoid blood on myself, I dropped the knife and then returned to my room. I slept well. This morning, when the Sunday doctor asked me how I was doing, for the first time in four years, I spoke. I looked him in the eye and said, “I am feeling much better now” and smiled.

blue and gold Sunday –
madness departs to dissolve
into the blue sky.

Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 916 other followers

%d bloggers like this: