Haibun: Winter Humpbacks

For Margaret’s prompt at Toads, A Whale of A Tale, a haibun.  Humpback factoids:  Humpbacks can grow to 60 feet (18 meters) long, and they can weigh a whopping 40 tons, according to the NOAA. Their flippers can grow up to 16 feet (5 m) long, which is the largest appendage in the world. Their tails are also massive and grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m) wide. Like most whales, females are larger than males.   They feed off fish and crustaceans, especially off menhaden and brown shrimp which are plentiful for their diets and migrate every winter passing by the NC coast from December to January on their way to the Caribbean.  They often calve off the NC coast with their babies following them to their summer homes. This is also being posted on dverse for Open Link Night

Winter Humpbacks
“Let faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.” Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

My ancestors came here generations ago from England. They settled on the North Carolina coast and changed from being farmers to watermen. My great-grandfather in particular was a salty old man and often said he would stop looking at women when they screwed his coffin lid down. He would leave Durham during the fall and winter and trek down to his hometown – to live in a shanty on the beach and fish. It never went out of his blood, that fishing. He would serve as a cook on fishing boats and once cooked for Teddy Roosevelt when Teddy was a middle-aged man. Pap as we called him, loved his time on the water. He loved telling me tales of the boat going out and casting their nets and hauling in the load of fish.

But my favorite tales were of the migrating humpback whales, longer than the boat, breaching up and often destroying the nets. The humpbacks migrated down from Maine and on down to the Caribbean. They often spent a month eating menhaden and brown shrimp to build up their fat layer on their way farther down south. Pap said many a day a humpback or two would breach and often lunge up out of the water. Fishing would be forgotten as the men watched these gigantic creatures swimming along side of the boat or breaching. The calves were the size of the boat.. I loved the tales. As an adult I would always go down to the coast in fall and winter and go out on one of the fishing piers, empty now that it was cold winter, and watch the whales feeding or swimming or breaching. Like my great-grandfather, I inherited that love of the ocean.
cold winter ocean –
humpbacks lunge towards the sky
singing their songs

whale off NC coast in winter


Ways of Looking at Autumn Leaves

This is in the style of Wallace Stevens: 13 Ways of looking at a blackbird. This is my take on that. Although it is still late summer here in the Southern US. I am dreaming of autumn and the coming of winter.  This is being posted for Real Toads Tuesday Platform

Ways of Looking at Autumn Leaves
“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

autumn leaves float
on the surface of the pond
dreaming of summer
wind blows through the trees
rustling the leaves.
they become
an ocean of sound
an owl sails through
the night sky –
the autumn leaves sleep
leaves sunk to the bottom
of the pond
are the color of the eyes of deer
crows in the trees
cackle and crow –
the leaves fall in silence
blown by the wind
the lacy foliage of a cedar
captures an autumn leaf
cold wind causes the leaves
to shiver and shake –
bitterness under a full moon
the last leaf clings to the branch.
snow begins to fall –
the last leaf finally lets go

copyright Kanzen Sakura

Kogane no aki ga hajimarimasu

As I do not do rhymes, I have elected to do a free form sonnet.  Yes there is such a thing and many lovely ones have been written.  A free form sonnet is 14 lines long.  That is it.  This is for Kim’s rainbow of sonnets over at Real Toads. I have used the colors golden, black, blue, white, cream, and gold in my sonnet.  The Japanese title means:  Golden Autumn Begins.  Also posted on Posts United Poetry Pantry.

*Kogane no aki ga hajimarimasu
The golden voice of autumn whispers –
a breeze across the dry leaves,
A wind in the reeds at the creek.
The little black priest cricket delicately moves his legs,
a small voice among the pine and bell crickets,
alto to the larger cicada and their metallic thrum.
A new coolness in the air, the coming of autumn is somnolent today,
No rise or fall, a steady tone of almost silence.
The first storm of autumn has washed the sky clean.
Autumn is clearing – the sky is brilliant blue
With luminous white clouds drifting and peaceful.
The harvest moon is fading, bright gold coin in the black sky
dims and wanes to a partial dish of cream.
An early leaf burning, its incense wanders and drifts to heaven.


Haibun: The Charity of Strangers

For Poets United – Charity.

Haibun: The Charity of Strangers
Several years ago I had to drive the long distance to Tennessee to bring my mother home. She had been staying with my aunt and my aunt could no longer take care of her. It was a hard lonely drive. I arrived and visited a few days with them and then I loaded mama and her things into the car and began to drive. She was immobile and in the throes of Alzheimer’s. I had her “rolling walker” in the car and when we made bathroom breaks I had to lift her into the transport chair and wheel her into the rest area. I then had to wheel her back to the car. I had to feed her and remind her to drink. I was frightened. I didn’t think I would be able to take care of her. We stopped halfway and spent the night in a Marriott. I was struggling to get her into the transport chair and a man who had just pulled in saw me. He smilled at us and said, “well little lady, looks like you need some help.” He reached into the car and gently lifted mama into the chair and said, “I’ll take her in for you.” I was so grateful and thanked him over and over. He told me how he had looked after his father in similar circumstances.

The next day I finally got mama ready to go and began wheeling her out to the car. A young black woman who told me she was a CNA saw me again struggling, got out of her to car to help me. She gave me some tips for lifting mama that would make it easier for me. Later that day. A teenage boy took over my wheeling mama to the restroom. At the car, a middle aged woman helped me get her back into the car. As we drove I pointed out the mountains, the changing color of leaves, and the small towns we passed along the way. That night I was getting mama ready for bed and she lid through my arms. She dropped. I tried to get her up but couldn’t. I went across the street to a neighbor who was also taking care of her mother. She immediately came and helped me get mama up off the floor and into bed. Until mama went into the skilled nursing facility in January, angels along the way helped me. Many days I was on my own and lived in fear I would drop her. But the fire department came or the rescue squad came and helped me. No charge. When she went into the nursing facility, there were loving people who took good care of mama and also helped me to deal with her dying.
seasons come and go –
leaves change color – but kindness
flourishes through all



For Mish’s prompt for Haibun Monday – morning.Also for Tuesday Platform at Toads.

The morning my mother died was one of the most glorious I had seen in many a year. Birds were singing loudly, dew was sparkling on the grass like diamonds, the temperature was perfect. They called me from the skilled nursing facility that morning. I hung up the phone and walked outside, looking and hearing the beauty around me. I stood in the midst of it, numbed. A small finch lit on the grass a few feet from me and chirped then flew away. I began to weep. My mother was dead.
butter yellow sun
coats the grass – birds are singing
my mother to rest

Haibun: Rainy Day

For Victoria’s prompt over at dVerse for Haibun Monday. the kigo and prompt for today is korogi – cricket. It is a kigo for early autumn/late summer. Summer ends August 7 approximately, in Japan.  Will also be posting this for the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Haibun: Rainy Day
The day was hot, humid, and tight. I knew it was going to rain because this morning, I heard the tree frog’s deep groaning. Mama always said to listen to what the insects and frogs tell you. So I listen. At about 2:00 pm the sky poured down hard rain. The humidity cleared out for about 15 minutes. Now it is humid again and still – except for the voices of the cicada (semi in Japanese) and the crickets (korogi). The sound is almost overwhelming, as if they have to make up for the time lost during the downpour. The feral cats I feed have taken shelter down at the far end of the porch, as far as they can get away from me. I love the smell of the rain – not the pre-petrichor smell but the lush liquid smell of the rain as it drenches everything. It has apparently not drowned the insects though. The lone kitten is running around, chasing something. I take a few cautious steps closer and realize she is chasing a cricket, minus one of its legs now. I sneak back to my rocking chair and sit. Listening. Inhaling. It is almost the end of summer. The crickets and cicadas tell me so. The frogs open their throats and sing. More rain is on the way.
kitten plays intent
on crippled cricket – rain pours –
tree frog groans loudly

cricket and morning glories



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

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