Haibun: Housing Insecurity

Here in Richmond, as in most cities, there are lines of cheap motels that become nominal homes to the almost homeless. At the foodbank where I volunteer time, the people with their children come in for their daily meal. They are always polite, the children often shy or charming. You learn a lot working among the poor. A quadrille from De today using the word box or forms of box at dVerse Poets Pub.  Will also be sharing at Real Toads Tuesday Platform. A quadrille is a form unique to dVerse with exactly 44 words excluding the title and using the prompted word.  Also today at Poets United, Sherry has an excellent feature about the grieving orca. I have a poem or two in it:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2018/08/poems-of-week-whale-heard-around-world.html

Housing Insecurity
She and her brother from another father sleep in boxes on top of the dresser in the hotel room shared with her mother and four siblings. Roaches run over them at night.
hot summer days
they play behind the hotel –
toys from dumpsters

photo from the Richmond Times Dispatch

Hiroshima Day

A haibun for Frank’s prompt at dverse for Hiroshima Day.  Will also be posting on Real Toads Tuesday Platform.

On July 8, 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, seeking to re-establish for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and the western world. Ironically, on August 6, amost 100 years later, America dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima. People were going about their normal activities that day. Women were shopping for food to prepare for dinner that night. Children were playing and men were going about their business preparing to continue facing off against the Americans. They went about with living not knowing death was in the skies.

Suddenly the sky turned white and within a few seconds Hiroshima was almost obliterated from the face of the earth. The death toll was approximately 90,000 – 120,000 men, women, and children. Some walked after the blast until they collapsed and died. Others died of burns and being crushed by falling buildings. Skeletons could be seen in the debris. Still later, people died from bone marrow disease from the extreme radiation. A few skeletal structures remained standing, notably the white gate Shinto. “Photos” of people etched into stone by the blast- their bodies obliterated but replaced by the radiation remained. We bear a guilt so deep time will never leach it from our bones as the bomb turned people and buildings, plants, and animals into dust.

children jumping rope
on hot August day – becoming
shadows forever

shadow images of children remain when the A Bomb hit Hiroshima

Haibun: Ghost Cat

The cat in the picture is my boy Sam Cat the Ripper.  I had to have him euthanized last October due to a huge tumor growing on his heart.  He lived a happy life.  This was his favorite place to lie in the yard.  A quadrille is a form unique to dVerse.  It has exactly 44 words, excluding the title, and use the prompted word which today is puzzle.

Ghost Cat
Deep pink petals  fall on the wet green grass forming an ideogram. The crepe myrtle blooms are drifting to the ground. A ghost cat lives there waiting forever, switching his tail.

life is a puzzle –
a clam to pry open –
symbols mean nothing

Haibun – Kitchen

Today Lillian is giving th prompt for dVerse Poets Pub. She is asking us to write about the first room we remember. She has given us many details on correctly writing a haibun and a haiku. Thank you Lillian. the first room I remember is our kitchen in our old home place. It has traveled with me around the world, in restaurants where I cooked professionally, in homes I have lived. This will be posted on dVerse Poets Pub and on Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Haibun: Kitchen
“For me, the cooking life has been a long love affair, with moments both sublime and ridiculous. But like a love affair, looking back you remember the happy times best —the things that drew you in, attracted you in the first place, the things that kept you coming back for more.” Anthony Bourdain

Our house was old. It was built by my grandfather’s great grandfather. There were three stories and a basement and root cellar. There was a system of dumb waiters going from the kitchen up to the second floor, a butler’s pantry, water closets that were still in use when the house was sold in 2000. Ceiling fans had been installed in 1900 – the kind with the long chains that went down to the floor and the chain slowly travelled up to the ceiling. There were also wrap around porches with ceiling fans on those as well. But my favorite room in the whole house was the kitchen. There were two kitchens actually. The original that was out back under a walkway and the inside kitchen. The inside kitchen was the stuff of dreams with high ceilings, cabinets galore, long floor to ceiling windows, the butler’s pantry (not that we ever had one since the depression), two real ice boxes, a wood stove, an eight eye gas stove, and three ovens. There was a long table at which we all ate and a plain white pine table on which bread was made – biscuits, yeast breads, popovers, donuts – all of them rolled out on the table and formed or cut out. This table was where the veggies were prepared, cakes were mixed, meat prepared for roasting or frying.

I remember standing in a chair watching my grandmother or father and later my two aunts, preparing the food. Then I began to cook for the family when I could. I was the one sent down to the root cellar to bring up potatoes or onions, turnips, or jars of canned veggies, pickles, or preserves. The attached outside kitchen was where we did the food preparation for food preservation. My grandfather crafted a long iron ladder like affair where pots and pans hung. It was my first ideal of a kitchen and remains such today. My professional kitchens were always arranged according to the plan in the old house and my kitchen at home mimics the same plan. There was a huge zinc sink big enough to bathe a pig in plus the regular sink with built-in drain. So many meals in that kitchen! Fresh garden produce grown in our garden was a summer staple. We often ate meatless meals before it became popular. I will safely bet a ton of greens were prepared there thought the years, Hams hung in the cold pantry along with ropes of sausage, baskets of eggs, bins of flour, cornmeal, rice stood about. I miss that kitchen. That kitchen was where I learned to love food, where my love affair with food began.
gentle snow falls –
inside the smell of soup lures –
love and joy abounds

Haibun: Theater Seating

Today on Toads, Brendan has an involved prompt about dreams, writing a poem about your dreams.  First off, most of you know I am a chronic insomniac sleeping about two to four hours a day, usually the two hours with an occasional nap.  My sleep is peaceful and undisturbed by dreams I do not remember.  I kept a dream book for a week in the ’70s when it was stylish but quit after a week, having nothing to add to it.  So, here is the best I can do without making something up and telling a lie.  This is one of the few dreams I remember.  Haibun are of course not flash fiction or a work of fiction.  It is a true accounting, usually one to two paragraphs ended with a haiku.

 Theater Seating
“They’ve promised that dreams can come true – but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too.”
Oscar Wilde
The theater is huge. Flickering light comes from the screen and peoples’ heads, like dark balloons bob and weave in front of me; some of them lean towards each other, others are tilted upward watching the movie, others are firmly down avoiding the vision playing out in front of them. I am sitting there in my underwear and slightly shivering in the cold air conditioning. I have to pee – badly. We were told not to get up during the movie that we would lose points if we did. I had already lost a thousand points according to the lighted tablet in front of me. My score read -1364. But man, I really had to pee. Finally I give up and let it go, rushing from my body streaming down the seats to pool at the bottom of the auditorium. Nobody noticed. I suddenly awoke afraid I had wet myself. My waking thought is: I have to pee! I got up and stumbled to the bathroom. What relief! I was dry and now my bladder had been emptied. I look out the bathroom window at the moonscape outside and go to sit on the back porch.
the lawn looks flat
in the moonlight – outside
the song of a mockingbird

Haibun: Yuudachi

Today at Real Toads, I am doing the prompt for Thursday. I have given different Japanese words for rain – all of them seasonal. The Japanese have at least fifty words for rain. I have chosen yuudachi – sudden evening rain. I am asking people to choose one or several and write about the rain. If writing haibun I am asking for the classic form which is non-fiction and if writing haiku, the classic form which uses a seasonal word.

Haibun: Yuudachi
It was a long hot dry summer. Plants withered, animals died. I added another birdbath to the one already in use. Every day squirrels would line the thing, sipping and vying for places to drink. Several shallow birdbaths watered bunnies and the occasional cat or dog. The koi pond was down a foot, the koi clustered at the deep end in the shadow of plants. The night after you left, I sat on the back porch listening to the cicadas doing their raspy singing. I sniffed petrichor and suddenly rain began to pour down – a loud roar pounding plants into the ground, drumming on the roofs, and washing trash down the street gutters. The koi swam to the surface of the pond opening their mouths acting as if they were eating the drops of rain. I stood holding on the porch post and getting thoroughly soaked. I whispered – yuudachi, sudden evening rain. After the heat of the day the rain was cold. I wondered if it was raining where you were.  I bowed my head and wept hot tears of sorrow.

long hot dry summer –
cicadas cease their songs –
rain mutes all sound


Kuroi to Suzume

Today is Tuesday Platform at Real Toads – we can post one poem of our choice. Rommy has told us of how she and her husband met and are celebrating 23 years of marriage! She is asking what interests drew us to our lovers/husbands/spouses/mates? I was 25 when I met my Black Dragon, my Japanese lover. He was 35 and a forensic pathologist and instructor in Kendo and kantana. I am of course interested in all things Japan and have been since I was six. I have visited Japan many times and at several points, followed in Basho’s footsteps. My lover taught me the culture, the history, the language of his country, honoring the changing seasons. We were together 10 years and visited several times his home in the mountains, Hakone, and then he returned to Japan. I did not go with him. I always thought of him as Black Dragon – kuroi ryu and myself as a sparrow beside him – suzume. This haibun is an old one and one I have shortened and reworked for future publication.  I follow the classic form which means it is non-fiction rather than made up. I hope you all enjoy.  The first full moon is of course the first full moon that appears in early spring – mangetsu no haru.

Black dragon and Sparrow

“Come, let me show you” – Indeed the spring moon was full and lit the yard Like a klieg. Although in jeans and tee shirt, he still looked lethal and royal and somehow the katana and wakazashi tucked into the makeshift obi around his waist did not look ridiculous. Hands arm and dry, he took my hand and pulled me outside into his yard – “such tiny hands you have” and he smiled his singularly sweet smile down at me. In the gravel place, between the pond for his nishikigoi and the karesansui, he pulled me. Always when he touched me, heat and electricity flowed from my heels to the top of my head, always drawing me closer to him. The song of steel as he pulled the katana clear – the sound to my ears like the sound the scales of a dragon would make as it moved across the earth.
Standing behind me his arms enclosed me and he placed the sword in my hands – like this and wrapped my hands around the hilt and now, hold it like this as he moved my arms into position and corrected my stance and how I held the sword. Move with me…awkward at first and then like magic it seemed, I was moving with him. Beneath that huge moon the black dragon and the sparrow began their dance. The moon drawing us together, warmed by each other, our breaths frosted in the cold of an early spring night. We could not move from that place. The earth held us captive as the moonlight pinned us in place. Who knew that gravity was heat and electricity? Who knew that gravity was choosing not to move, to stay suspended in one place?

spring night warmed
only by the first full moon –
tides and lovers rise

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: