Real Toads: I wrote you a book

Today at Real Toads we are to write a poem to a book – a book of poetry or a collection of poems. I have chosen one of the five most influential books to me – Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North.  It was a birthday gift to me from my beloved and revered friend and tutor.  This is the book which introduces us all to the haibun – prose ending with a haiku.  Basho’s haibun were originally travel sketches.  I have traveled Basho’s route several times at different times of the year.  I wrote my first haibun when I was 14.  I have a written a haibun to it, in the spirit of the book. I am also linking this to Poets United Poetry Pantry: http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2017/09/poetry-pantry-370.html

The Beginning
It was November, two days before my 12th birthday. Jamie Pollard, our lifelong next door neighbor who had started my love of Japanese poetic forms and especially haiku, gave me an old ragged copy of Road to the North by Basho. He had carried the copy with him several times to Japan. He said, I want you to read this. It will introduce you to the haibun. I think you will enjoy writing them. I opened the book in awe touching the pages tenderly and then hugged Jamie. My road was opened to me. I have traveled it all my life.

snow was falling – you
were given to me – a
gift still loved today

public domain image from Road to the North

Haibun Monday: Komorebi

I am doing the prompt for Haibun Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. I have given the Japanese word komorebi to get people started. The word means light filtered through trees, specifically in spring or summer. I am asking them to write about the season-between-the-seasons, specifically summer into fall.  A classic haiku must end the classic haibun form. A classic haiku must have these elements: a season word,a cutting word, and 5-7-5 syllable form. I am not being particular about the number of syllables but I am being picky about the season word being part of the haiku. If there is no season word, you don’t have a haiku. You have a senryu or micropoem.

 

copyright kanzensakura

Komorebi
The cicadas are loud tonight. They clack and thrum, rattle and hum. The night is slightly cool and the dew smells of fallen leaves. Soon the cicadas will burrow down into the earth to sleep over fall and winter. An owl flies overhead, hunting for prey. I hear it in the woods accompanied by a squeal – some creature has become dinner. Small yellow sunflowers peek from the hedge and the butterfly bush has put out its last bloom. The blackberries have all been eaten by birds, squirrels and chipmunks and the bushes are bare except for leaves which are slowly fading to red – here, here, and here. Only the sunflowers have color in this deepened longer night. It is that strange season between seasons – not summer and not yet fall.  The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer.

I stood in my woods today. It is my church, my temple, my cathedral. The light filtering through the leaves give it a holy, hushed atmosphere. Komorebi – the Japanese word for light filtered through leaves 木漏れ. Between the world and the word are three small shapes, the signs for ”tree,” ”escape,” and ”sun.” A beautiful word. I look up and a few of the old oaks are beginning to turn their leaves from deep green to pale yellow. They are still holding tight, refusing to fall. The dead leaves underfoot are damp from the recent rain. They have a moist earthy smell rather than the dry spicy smell of autumn. I brush some of the leaves aside to uncover a large block of velvet green moss. Soon, the little flags they grow to reproduce will turn bright red. A small snake slithers under my boot. I watch it disappear into the safe place of ancient fallen trees. The cicadas are quiet today. But soon they will begin their clack and thrum, their rattle and hum. The moon is full this cool night surrounded by a halo of clouds. Autumn is taking the long road traveling to here.

voice of cicadas –
silent now in the stand of
pine trees on the hill

tani bucho 1817

Real Toads – Monsters

Today at Real Toads Kerry (Shay is in space trip mode 🙂 ) prompts us to write about a monster or monsters, real or imagined. http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-skyflower-friday-monsters.html

The Monster in All of Us
Fear is an all-consuming monster.
It begins its gobbling in our brain
and moves to our heart making it beat
Fastsoveryfast
Fear is an all-consuming monster.
It kills us slowly –
It kills us quickly –
It kills us inevitably.
Fear is an all-consuming monster.
It jumps at us from shadows
It grabs us by the ankles from under our bed
It hides in the closet under the stairs
Fear is an all-consuming monster.
We are crippled by it
Stopped in our tracks
Our dreams turned into nightmares.
Fear is an all-consuming monster.
In the thunder it screams
In the rainy downpour it gibbers
In the darkness it hides
In our image in the mirror it lurks.
In the watching of a loved one dying
it twists itself around our soul and strangles us.
Fear is an all consuming monster.

public domain image

OLN: Rice Planting

Today is Open Link Night at dVerse, meaning, we can submit ONE poem of our choice of subject and form. I am also linking this to  Real Toads Thursday Meme   “The one where you grab a nearby book and flip to a specific page to find a quote that represents your love life. You have the choice of going to either page 13 and picking the 7th sentence or page 7 and picking out the 13th sentence to use as your inspiration for your poem. For bonus points, make it a love poem. As always, this should be a new poem created just for this prompt. ”   So I went to the 13th page, seventh line of Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North”.  It is in this book the haibun is created.  I am writing a haibun. and of course, the haibun must be factual and actually have happened to you, followed by a classic haiku. this is my feeble attempt to write the end of the love story in Japanese poetic form.

Rice Planting
“…a song for planting rice”

The day after you left, it rained. There would be no beach trips this September Labor Day holiday. My mind and my heart were with you in Japan. I knew by now you would be at your home in Hakone. I began to cry, at last. the house still smelled of you – of sea air and sandalwood and oddly, soy sauce. Your skin had that liquid salty taste. I know for you I tasted you enough times! But here I sit – alone. I ate some steamed rice and drank some lemonade for lunch. It took me back years ago to my first trip to Japan, a few years before I met you here in America. I remembered the cold day I joined village women in helping to plant rice. The tour guide had asked them if I could. Some conversation finally to – “sure. Let the white woman try to keep up. She’ll be gone in an hour”.  Somewhat roughly translated. But I kept up with them standing in the cold water, delicately planting the rice plants as I had been shown by the lead woman. I stayed all day – using the stick to make a hole and then putting the plant down into the hole and pulling mud around it to anchor it. It was cold, backbreaking, and mind numbing; I was determined to follow the road of Basho and this was one of the stops along the way – Sharakawa. Where Basho was led to write:

“hands planting seedlings
were hands once rubbing patterns
with ferns long ago”

The end of the day I went back to my hotel room and showered. Looking at the rain outside today made me cold – knowing you were gone froze my heart.

cold rain falling hard
cherry trees will soon lose their
leaves – rice is planted

Shiro Kasamatsu – 1789

dVerse Poetics: Musical Muse

Mish is prompting for the dVerse Poetics today. She asks us to reach inside our musical muse and use lines from a favorite song to craft a poem. This is also being posted for Imaginary Garden with Real Toads – Bits of Inspiration ~ Keep Dancing
Susie is our host and wants us to write about dancing because everything nowadays is sooooo negative  http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2017/08/bits-of-inspiration-keep-dancing.html .  I have chosen the haibun form and Hall and Oates song, One on One…because long ago in a galaxy far far away…

One on One
Two a.m. – hot humid summer night. A fine drizzle of rain has coated everything with a fine sheen of wet, including me. I am sitting on my back steps unable to sleep. Sounds of insects, an occasional insomniac bird twittering – the soft whining and clacking sound as the rare car goes over the bridge across the verge of the woods. From a passing car I hear faint and haunting – one on one I want to play that game tonight…My mind blanks and supplies the internal movie: A hot summer day after we had done sword forms and were sitting on our back steps drinking lemonade and listening to the radio. A new song comes on – Hall and Oates, one of our favorites: one on one and the gold satin voice of Darryl Hall soulfully croons:
“Oh oh I can feel the magic of your touch
And when you move in close a little bit means so much”

“I like this song” , you suddenly say. “Teach me to dance to it” and we stand – I smile up at you and say, “I lead”.  I place my hand on your belly, feel you warm through your tee shirt. “Center of balance – here. Up on the balls of your feet.” I put my arm around your waist, my hand nestled in the small of your back. Taking your hand I move against you, pulling you after me; quick quick slow – quick quick slow. You are light and graceful. “Are we fighting or are we dancing?” I laugh into your chest, “Sometimes my love, it is the same thing.” One on one I want to play that game tonight….You bend and laugh softly in my ear. “Rhumba…you are teaching me the rhumba. You are a sneaky ballroom dancer girl.” I pull your hips tight against me and rotate against you. You sigh….”you are a cruel ballroom dancer girl.” The song ends and the radio on our steps blares out some song we care nothing about.  But later, we dance again, to our own music.

The movie in my mind stops. I open my eyes. Silence now except for the whisper of rain on the leaves of the trees.  The song is past, gone down a road of darkness.

dark music floats in
the summer night – lonely songs
that drench the heart like rain

Crayola Dawn

I am posting this on dVerse Poets Pub for De’s lovely prompt on Quadrille Monday. She requests that we use the word “dream” – dreamer, dreams, dreaming, dreamed – make the noun a verb or the verb a noun – it’s all good! A quadrille is a poetic form that came about a couple of years ago when we were making changes to refresh the Poets Pub. the form has exactly 44 words not counting the title. You must include the prompted word in your poem.  Come read these wonderful humming bird tiny poems. I am also posting this to Real Toads Tuesday Platform.  Here are the links for both:  http://dversepoets.com/2017/08/14/quadrille-38/   and  http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-tuesday-platform_15.html

Crayola Dawn
I see the dawn before the rest
of the world awakens.
I came to this dawn through the moonlight
of my dreams.
I dream of the world in argent shades
and awaken to the Crayola dawn –
It is cool this morning.
I am at peace.

copyright kanzensakura

The Branch

For dVerse OLN 201 http://dversepoets.com/2017/08/10/openlinknight-201/ – one poem of our choice with any subject and the prompt at Real Toads – we are to write about things unseen.   I chose this picture I took last winter after a tremendous wind and snow storm.  The branch transfixed me then, it still does.  http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

The Branch
I know this branch.
When last I saw it,
several small wrens were perched
upon it, settled among the
golden autumn leaves.

A drizzle of rain made
some delicate drips
and a light wind caused it
to gently sway.
The wrens rode the branch
like small sea birds drifting
on a peaceful sea of black wood.
Torn from the tulip poplar
the skeletal branch
pokes up through the snow,
carried by wind and snow
it ends up in this place
in my yard.

Now, it lies in my yard
encased in frozen snow.
When the snow melts and
I clean my yard,
I will take this branch and
move it to the verge
of the woods that border my yard.
I will lay it down gently on
the fallen leaves and pine needles.
Through time, ants will traverse its length,
tiny frogs will sit by its hugeness
blending in with brown leaves –
Their eyes round and shiny,
their tongues reaching out to
feast on small bugs moving about
the ground and on the branch.
A small spider will spin a web
catching gnats and no-see-ems.
On his way up from the creek
a small green snake will curve its way
sliding under the branch, going
about its green snake business.
The box turtle that explores my garden
and that small patch of woods
will make its slow sure way
under the branch.
The branch will rise and fall and slide
along the turtle’s back and
settle back onto the ground,
maybe at a slightly different angle.
Dew and rain will fall,
small birds will perch on
its fragile fingers.
Beetles, slugs, worms –
all will burrow beneath
and crawl upon it.
Time will pass and the wood
inside the black bark will begin
to rot and turn to dust.
On the ground, the black bark
of the branch will lie discarded
like the skin of an ancient snake.

I will be old.
I will make my deliberate painful way
across my yard.
There I will see the
remains of the bark.
I will, with effort
bend over and touch the bark
with my finger.
I will remember the day
I put it there.
I will say
to the trees around me,
I know this branch.

copyright kanzensakura

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