Haibun Monday: What are your plans?

Today is Haibun Monday. The prompt is, what are your plans for your writing?

Man Poses
My mother died in June of this year. It was a long hard death for her. And watching her die broke my heart. But…she wanted me to continue on with my education (I have three degrees but hey, I never cared for odd numbers!) and to continue writing my poetry. She wanted me to continue to grow and to shake up the world.

In honor of my mother, I am going to do just that. I am going back to Duke University to get another degree (MA as opposed to my original MS), I am going to be writing, critigueing, and continuing to critique, I am going to get my chef recertification (I was originally certified in 1986), and I am going to be howling down the roads in my 916. I am planning on publishing a book of haibun and I am going to be visiting other poetry sites and not just those that are safe and polite. I am honoring my mother who was *onnabugeisha” long before I was. I am honoring myself. I am honoring my poetry.

autumn turns to winter –
winter turns to spring – horizons
open before me.

*Japanese for woman warrior or samurai

Quadrille Monday: Rock

Today Mish is in charge of prompting for the Quadrille.  What is a quadrille?  It is a form unique to the dVerse Pub. It has exactly 44 words, excluding the title and it must use the prompted word in the body of the poem.  Not a representation or definition of the word, but the word itself.  I have been going through a lot of changes.  I have been thinking that most of what I write is crap.  Plain and simple. It is part of the process  –  some of it is actually good.  So today I am writing my manifesto in 44 words using the word “rock”.  That is the prompted word:  rock.  Use it, skip it, throw it, paint it, build with it, dance to it, build a fire with it.

throwing rocks
A boy with a rock slew a giant years ago.
What is your giant?
What will you slay today?
Intolerance? Racism? Hunger?
Sexual abuse? Animal cruelty?
My poems are my rocks.
I am letting them loose today.
Let loose the brave poems.
*Yūkan’na koto.

*Japanese for: be brave as in bushido

piles of rocks in Japan – public domain photo

Sevenling Poem: He survived

Today at the dVerse Poet’s Pub, De has given  us the deceptively simple poetry form:  Sevenling – two tercets and one line at the end – a refined list poem with the last line to bring resolution to the poem.  Another short form!  Easy to read but more than the sum of its parts.  Come join us for exceptional poems from exceptional poets. http://dversepoets.com/2016/04/07/dverse-meeting-the-bar-the-sevenling-form/

copyright kanzensakura

He survived after being thrown away by his person’s heirs
roaming the neighborhood living off stale popcorn and bread thrown out for the birds.
Feral dogs, snow, thirst he fought to live.

I saw him and brought him in and he loved me instantly.
unconditionally through my days of darkness
he guarded me and forgave me.

Who would have thought so great a heart would ever stop beating.

 

The Walk: Part Vl – Tsunami: One year Anniversary, 2012.

In 2011, I became friends with a Japanese engineer who was transferred by his company in Fukushima to one of their branches in the USA. I was in charge of reviewing and approving applications for licensure made by foreign engineers, specifically Japan and Canada. There were items needed to complete his application and he had been notified of the deficiencies. A back and forth of emails and phone calls ensued. One day, he just showed up at the office and was sent to me. A handsome and proud man, he asked me to see the man in charge. I told him I was the “man” in charge of his application and licensure. I removed us to a private conferring room and went over his files with him. He said he could never get the information needed. “Don’t you understand? Do you have any idea what a tsunami is and how this was total devastation?” I was dealing with frustration and deep grief. Eventually, we found a way for him to obtain the required information.

The day after I called him to let him know that finally, the process was complete and he had been approved for licensure. On Friday, he came to the office again requesting to see me. Because I had worked so hard and helped him so much (at one point serving him green tea and homemade udon during a long session. I had brought my lunch from home that day and shared it with him) he wanted to take me to lunch. When I told him that was not allowed, he asked if I would take a walk instead. It was peak cherry blossom season and in the office park were over 65 cherry trees. I knew exactly where I would take him. This began a long and deep friendship. Every Friday, if he was in town and I was in my office, we would walk and talk. We learned much about each other.

I wrote a series of poems about this friendship – The Walk – and there are various parts to it. This is one of those parts, posted in memory of those who lost their lives during the tsunami of 2011 and in honor of those who survived and rebuilt.

free public domain photo

free public domain photo

She looked at the calendar and sighed.
It was not Friday, the usual day of their walks.
It was the one year anniversary of the tsunami.
She knew he would be there
In their place under the cherry trees.

The cherry buds were barely beginning to show color.
A bit of pink, bit of white, bit of red.
Holding themselves tight
On this day.
No blooms today.

She walked to their place.
He was standing
Huddled in his coat
Looking diminished by his grief.

Tears coursed down his cheeks –
Rain running down a smooth brown rock,
A statue, the bark of a tree.

Softly she walked until she came beside him
And gently touched the sleeve of his coat.
She looked into eyes that had witnessed hell
And still was looking through that broken window.

“That day, the sea ate up our town.
I lost friends at the nuclear facility.
We tried, we tried but we were helpless.
The sea washed away my home,
The graves of my wife and son,
Friends, people I knew in the neighborhood.
Pets, belongings, altars…
All eaten by the wild animal sea.”

“And now I am here.
Alone. I eat alone, I sleep alone,
I drive alone.
I try to fix a meal to remind me of home
But it doesn’t smell the same
Or taste the same.
Gone…gone…so many just gone,
Swept away like garbage.”

She listened.
She took his hands in hers.
“I promise you –
Japan will rebuild.
The cherry blossoms will bloom.
Children will be born.
I am your friend.
You will make more friends.
Let us light candles for the souls of the lost.
Let us light incense and send our prayers
Out for those who live and who rebuild.
I promise you, on my honor.”

Fitful flakes of snow
caught in his hair
as he lit a candle and set it
at the base of the cherry tree.
He bent down
And she held him close as he wept.
She could only be his friend.

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

free public domain image

free public domain image

Chains

free public domain image

free public domain image

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol

*The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Eliot

When you are dead,
What chains will you wear?
Will they be layered around and around and around
Your body from the top of your head
To the soles of your feet?

Today, I listened to a woman
standing on a street corner
Ranting shrilly angrily about how
Those savages are brutally murdering
Those who speak for peace,
Those who are giving aid to the helpless,
Those who try to report the truth
And open our scaled eyes.
“They aren’t human. We should just bomb them.”
“bomb all of them over there
And let God sort them out.”

I turned and walked away
Dragging the chains of my silence
As I walked to my car.

I sat.
I sat.
I sat.
The echo of her anger
Beat against the windows of my
Car like a terrible storm,
Buffeting and howling
Like some kind of crazed monster.

I sat.
I sat.
I sat.
“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?”*

I opened my door and walked
In her direction.
I felt a section of my chain drop.

I spoke to her softly and reminded
Her that fighting fire with fire
Only made more fire.
That hate only fueled the fire.
That we should try to love and forgive.
That we should work together
to stop the madness and
start the healing.
Fuck you hippie bitch.
She snarled.
I said, God forgive us all
And show us a better way.
Fuck you she said.
I turned and walked away

Today in dVerse Poetics Pub, we are using our poetic voices to speak against injustice, murder, and terrorism.

Veteran’s Day: Thank you

My father lied about his age so he could join the Army and fight for our country’s freedom during WWII. He was a sharpshooter and made the landing on Omaha Beach. He spoke of walking, in the water, on the bodies of fallen comrades as he made his way to shore. He wept, deep wrenching sobs. He was a frightened boy from the Virginia countryside but he moved forward to try to keep more of his comrades from dying from enemy fire. He rarely spoke of the war and he always cried when he did. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor. My father felt he didn’t deserve it and that all those who died around him should have been given the award. They gave all they had.

Thank a veteran today. If you see a service person in line in front of you, buy their lunch, breakfast, coffee. Say thank you. They are giving you all they have.  If you have the freedom to disagree with our government, protest against wars, speak your mind about anything, then thank a veteran.

vet day

Portrait of a Lady

As I entered her hospital room, my first impression was of all the monitoring equipment around the frail figure.  Then, as she heard my footsteps, her head swiveled and a smile, a glorious smile of joy, drove away the expression of pain.  I smiled back and she exclaimed, “Oh Glory, I knew some of my people would come. I knew they would come!”  I went to hug her as best I could and to kiss her cheek.

Behind me was another friend from our church and my mother in her wheelchair.  We clustered about her, touching her and loving her. “Praise God, some of my people are here. Thank you, Jesus.”  By now, she was radiant.

We found seats and beamed at her.  Mama presented her with a couple of homegrown tomatoes.  To her, they were the crown jewels.  “I’m gonna have that nurse come in and slice me up one of these for my snack after y’all leave and then I’m gonna have the other tomorrow with my tired ol’ breakfast.  Oh my goodness.”  I told her they were special because mama had stolen them from our neighbor’s little garden and as she was escaping over the fence, almost got a load of buckshot in the butt when the neighbor came out of his house and caught her.  She gave a low chuckle and said, “you go on now, you know she can can move faster than that.”  We all roared with laughter.

Our friend presented her with a card in which people in our church had signed greetings.  Because her glasses were someplace noone could find them, Elizabeth read the greetings to her.  Every word was clutched to her heart and brought words of praise and thanksgiving.  And they all had to be read again.

Our lady looked around at all of us and said, “God is so good to me.”  I looked at her and saw her wig, in spite of her uncomfortable position on the pillow, was immaculately styled.  Her nails were done in a glowing coral polish and her skin was still lovely  – rich and pure as coffee with lots of cream.

“Precious, I know you can’t be comfortable all scroonched down in bed like that”, I said, so I went around and raised the head of the bed a bit and then helped her forward and adjusted the pillows behind her.  “How’s that?”  She gave a deep sign and closed her eyes.  “That feels so good. I had gotten all down and that nurse tried, but didn’t know what I wanted.  You know just what a girl needs to feel good in bed….Oops, I didn’t mean it like that.”  I told it was fine and that yes, when it came to hospital beds and pillows, I did know just what a girl needed.

“My feet aren’t as swollen, you know. I can tell.  Look and tell me what you think.”  Elizabeth and I raised the cover over her feet.  I looked at her grossly swollen feet and when I saw matching nail polish on her toes, I had to look away from her so she wouldn’t see my tears that suddenly just sprang in my eyes.  Elizabeth swallowed and said, “Yes they do look better.”  “Celia, don’t you think so?” She asked.  Mama said, “I can’t tell from her but if they say so, then it is true.” We put the covers back down.  Again she said, “God is so good to me.”

The nurse came in then to give her her meds, which included something for pain.  She never once complained about pain while we were there, but when we left and stopped by the nurses’ station and asked, we were told she was in a great deal of pain, but always was gracious and praising God and apologized when they had to do something for her – that she knew there had to be people in there worse off then she and not to tire themselves out on her.

The pain medication began to work and she started to yawn.  We told her it was time we left so she could sleep.  We all gathered around and held hands and prayed with her.  “Glory. Glory, Yes my Jesus.”  and after we said amen, she began to pray for us.  We left feeling we were the ones who were blessed by that visit.  Her Jesus truly was with her and anyone with any sense would have felt it.  I think even doubters would feel that loving presence that was so close to her.

We were silent as we went down the quiet halls and the elevator.  As we stepped out into the summer air, I looked back up at the floor where her room was and said, “Oh glory. Thank you God for letting us get so close to you.”

%d bloggers like this: