Haibun: Escape

a haibun in the style of Basho, 44 words exactly, a quadrille

Haibun: Escape
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” – John Muir

The day is so very hot – 105F at high noon. I walk into the forest which is about 20 degrees cooler. My old friends always welcome me to enter and rest.
through the cool forest
a walk on sun freckled path –
escape from summer’s heat

 

 

Welcome!

For Bjorn’s Prompt at Real Toads – Dorogoy droogs, come clockwork the orange. He asks us to write in the slang of the book or another slang. One of my advisors for my Masters of Fine Arts managed to get me an in at the Bodleian Library at Oxford to further my research on Oscar Wilde (who was head boy) and the late Victorian Times. I discovered a language – Polari – a ravishing mixture of Romani, London slang, backslang, rhyming slang, sailor slang, the language of costers, horsetraders, circus performers, and thieves’ cant. It later included some Yiddish and became the language of gay men in the 1960’s. It is said Oscar Wilde spoke Polari but there is no definitive proof. It is a fascinating language used by the oppressed and lower classes in England, especially when homosexuality was illegal. Here is my short poem in Polari. it is about two friends sharing a warm night by the fire on a cold winter’s night.

Welcome!
“Where the fuck did Monday go?” David Bowie, The Girl Loves Me

Welcome to my humble lattie –
Heat your dolly eek by the fire.
Card yer clobbers,
Sit and bevvy a whiskey or dooey.
My bijou fren
Lau your head on my lap
We’ll viddy and laugh
Chupper at the chestnut tree.
Let us warmer
My fren my bijou fren
Lalalalalala
Lavs fail in snow
Lavs lala
Don’t mogue
Mince to the chestnut tree
put on the pig and pot show

The Notes: lattie – cottage, room, or home dolly – good looking eek – ecaf (back slang) or abbreviated eek
card yer clobbers – change or take off your clothes bijou – small or valued lau – lay viddy – watch tv chupper at the Chestnut Tree – drink/eat Chestnut Tree – the Bar in 1984 when the protagonist realized her had no more feelings for his love lalalala – laughs lavs – word mogue – change mince – walk affectedly
put on the pig and pot show – get drunk, let it all out

Haibun: Who and why

Today I am hosting at dVerse Poets writing about why I write poetry and who inspired me.

Who and Why
I wrote my first haiku when I was six. Our next door neighbor, the last of his line, was a professor of Asian Studies at Duke University. I came and went freely in his home, looking at the antiques, the momentos from his journeys to Japan, and sipping lemonade on his generous front porch. Jamie Pollard was prissy, opinionated, and not afraid to speak his mind. Although I was six and he was 40, we became fast friends. His factotum was a Japanese man who kept the house in order, the vehicles running, and his employer looking perfect. He was also Jamie’s live in lover. At a time when such things were “not spoken of”, Jamie lived his life large. Often in the summer, as I lay on my stomach coloring in my coloring book, he would read Basho and Issa to me and we both sipped lemonade. I suspect his had some liquor added.

When I was 11 and totally bored, my grandmother stopped her preparation of dinner and went to the house library. She came back with several books – T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, and H.D. Thoreau. She put them down in front of me and said, I think these will keep you busy for a couple of weeks. I was inspired by all three writers. Thus began my interest in writing about nature in the form of “snapshots”…haiku. The Viet Nam war was ramping up. I wrote of poems about peace, love, and later, about drugs. Once when I was practicing my cursive writing, my father took out a lovely fountain pen and gave it to me. He said to me, “write your heart”. And I did. I took it with me everywhere I traveled – from the Coast of North Carolina to the summit of Mt. Fuji. I loaded it up with peacock blue ink. I write my heart, my soul, my feelings, my questions about life. I write simply. Like spring rain or snow or the ancient trees in the forest. Inspired by poets and people I love, I write. I will always write about life and how I perceive it.

spring comes in slowly
scattering snow and cherry blossoms –
legacy of love in verse

Nishikigoi poem

cat and koi pond - Cat and koi pond by Utagawa kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)  January 1, 1797 -  April 14, 1861

cat and koi pond – Cat and koi pond by Utagawa kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) January 1, 1797 – April 14, 186 

 

Years ago, we had a koi pond – nishikigoi: brocaded carp. It is a pleasure to feed them and watch them nibble bits of lettuce and melon, to watch them break the surfacte and play. A good friend of mine wrote the first three lines, which so delighted me, I wrote the rest of the poem from that inspiration. And, my friend loves my fried chicken!

禁断の愛
A forbidden desire:
A fishing pole, pond,
Carp sushi–and fried chicken.  by Beni

Nishikigoi:
Unmoving, sleeping.
At peace in the sun.

Barely rippling,
Fins and tail calm.
Dreaming of lettuce.

Nishikigoi
Flutters ripples hides –
Carp sushi nightmare.

Looks up and sees
Tall thin one with
Pole is not topside.
Sees short round one
With lettuce and melon.
Safe, he rises to eat.

Nishikigoi laughs.
Tall thin one comes
Eating fried chicken

Bits of biscuit
Float on water – Snap!
Gone without a trace.

The Smell of Home: A true Christmas story

a slice of sweet potato pie

a slice of sweet potato pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE:  I originally posted this in 2012.  We all have stories and memories that are part of the fabric of our lives.  This is one of those stories.  It happened about 10 years ago on a cold, sleety day in December as I was making my way to be with my mama for Christmas.

 

I’m sorry.  This might be a little long for some of you, but I hope you will read.  I was born and raised in the South and except for occasional sojourns on Long Island, Philadelphia, London, Tokyo, and San Francisco, I have lived in the South.  I grew up in a neighborhood close to the Duke east campus.  People had lived there in the same homes for generations.  We knew each other, knew all the stories about each others’ ancestors, who had converted their sleeping porches and when and when finally (we were among the last) who sold their portion of the mews and sent their last horse to live with relatives in the country.

In 1965, the impossible happened – the Pollard family next to us, finally died out.  The house was sold to strangers – maybe even folks from up North!!!  Of course, if they were connected to Duke, it might be okay.  Imagine everyone’s surprise when an African-American family moved in.  Well, nobody moved from the neighborhood or did any nastiness; after all, that Greek family had moved in a couple of streets over and nothing bad had happened.  In fact, they organized block parties and gave away thousands of Christmas cookies!!!

The McGill family consisted of the father Richard, his wife Arlene and sons – Junior (my age) and Bob. Mr. Mc and my dad became instant and best friends.  The two sons kept to themselves and Mrs. Mc considered us all a bunch of jumped up no accounts because after all, she was descended of long standing upper class Creole families in N’awlins, so there!

About three weeks before the McGill’s first Christmas in Trinity Park, the neighborhood was permeated with the most delicious, spicy, mouth watering odor.  It was slightly familiar, but better – richer and headier.  I took it upon myself to go through the hedge and knock on the McGill’s back (kitchen) door.  Mr. Mc himself answered and greeted me with a huge smile and welcome on in.  I looked in amazement – covering every surface in the kitchen and the dining room beyond, were sweet potato pies.  The kitchen was warm from the ovens (like us, he had two stoves – a gas and a wood burner).  My eyes were huge and I looked at him and without having to ask, he said, “Sweet potato pies. Every year, our church has a fund raiser to provide clothing, food, toys, rent, whatever for the needy in our parish.  I bake 100 pies for sale and I do that because I bake the best. I am the king of sweet potato pies.”

“Here’s one that is a little ugly and I was going to cut a slice and have with a cup of coffee. Want some?”  “Yes sir, I surely do.” and we proceeded to sit and eat and chat.  I discovered why my dad just loved him – funny, erudite, gentle, kind, generous….I fell in love with himself.  “That is THE best sweet potato pie I have ever had. How do you make it?”  His eyes twinkled at me and said, “Won’t tell you, it’s a secret.”  And from then until I left for college, sweet potato pie and coffee became a yearly tradition with us.  Sometimes we were joined by Junior who like his dad, was quite a cook.  Like his dad, big, gentle, kind, and funny.

Years later, I was living in Philadelphia.  One morning, I received a call from my mother.  My papa was in hospital and it was not going to be good.  I dropped everything and caught the first flight home.  All the way, I was  truly a wreck.  I jittered in my seat, bit my nails, thought about a future that did not include my father.  I wondered who would pick me up from the airport.  Papa always did.  I came to the baggage area and there was Mr. Mc waiting for me.  when I saw him, I began crying and he folded his big self around me and held me tight.  We grabbed my bag and went to the car.  In the car, as he was driving me home, he handed me his handkerchief and said, “Let me tell you how I make my sweet potato pie. But remember, it’s a secret and you can’t tell.”

My father died. I don’t remember much about the events of the days.  I choose not to.  Hidden in a blur of an unmended heartbreak, those memories will remain that way.

One thing I have learned in past years, is this:  Don’t fight with God. He always wins.  And when he tells you to do something, don’t argue, just do it and save yourself a lot of time, trouble, and stupid. More years later:  I was driving down a lonely stretch of Rt. 360 to go visit my mom.  It was a bleak, wet sleety day.  On the side of the road, a black van was pulled over with the hood up.  Two huge men were standing beside the van looking into the bowels of the vehicle and looked up hopefully as I drove past.  God says “Go back and help them.”  and of course, I argued.  it’s desolate, I don’t know them, they’re big, blahblahblahblah.  God says, “Go back and help them.”  and He said this several times.  About two miles down the road, I pulled over and just gave up.

“Alright already. I’ll do it.  But I’m just going to put my window down a bit and ask if they need help.”  God says, “Whatever. Go back.” I u-turned and headed back.  I pulled beside the van and inched my passenger window down.  The largest man leaned down and looked in the window.  Suddenly, he said, “Kanzen?”   I looked closer – “Junior?”.  Immediately I unlocked my car door and he climbed in.  “We need help. I’m on my way to Clarksville to preach a funeral and the van just stopped.  I can’t get a call through either.”  No good coverage in that area…”I go right past that funeral home. Y’all get in and I’ll have you there shortly.”

As we rode to Clarksville, the associate pastor crammed into my small back seat and Junior with the passenger seat back as far as it would go and our shoulders touching each other like old friends.  We talked about the past years to catch up.  Mr. Mc had died two years earlier. I told Junior how grieved I was to hear this.  “y’know Kanzen.  it’s hard and this time of year, it is just harder.  The house don’t smell right.  I know you understand.”  I nodded.  I did indeed understand.  “I’ve tried to fix those pies, but they aren’t right.  Mom lives with us now and she has talked about how she misses Dad. How she would love to smell one of his pies, just one more time.”

I sat in silence for a couple of miles.  I thought of my papa.  I thought of Mr. Mc and his grieving son beside me.  I smiled and though I had tears in my eyes, I turned to him.  “Junior, I know how to make your dad’s pie.  He told me when papa died.  I’ll tell you, but it’s a secret. You can’t tell anyone.”  and I began to tell him the secret of Mr. Mc’s sweet potato pie.

A couple of weeks later, I received a note in the mail.  “The house smells like home.  The home smells right.  God bless you.  Merry Christmas.”

And no, I’m not going to tell you.  It’s a secret.  Merry Christmas and God bless you. May your home be filled with love and joy and making of memories for your heart.

On the road again…

Tomorrow I fly back to Tampa. This time, instead of visiting my ailing mom, I will be getting there for her to be discharged from the rehab facility! so much improvement.

I am going to load up her stuff and move her to live with her youngest sister in Tennessee. It will be quite an adventure driving from Tampa to her new home.

The picture in my post is from the last visit. This 4’5″ lovely, true grit southern lady is the person for whom so many of you sent the kindest of greetings, best wishes, prayers, positive thoughts, love, and light. I thank you all so much! I hope you all will continue to think of us as we travel – two days worth of driving and resting along the way.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks and yet again, will try to catch up as best I can. Take care of yourselves.  I’ll be back now, y’hear?

copyright Kanzen Sakura

copyright Kanzen Sakura

 

public domain free image

public domain free image

Heartbreak….not really

facebook engancha

facebook engancha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay.  So today I received notification I had been “unfriended” by three people on Facebook.  Gee.  I am devastated.  I think the last time I went on Facebook was sometime early last year.  I thought I would have been exiled from Facebook by now.

Truthfully, I can only take so many pictures of grandchildren, the Christmas tree, OMG LOL look at this…., I’m sick and have diaria (at least spell it right), somebody I don’t know but who knows somebody that knows somebody, that knows somebody that knows a distant cousin wants to be my friend.  Wow.  I am complimented (not. LOL).  I don’t really care that 10,138 people in North Carolina are curious about how my Farm-something-stupid game is going and if I will trade a duck, tractor, shovel for a horse, barn, row of peas.  And RG3 (who?) and his knee.

Life is about what you do – not what you post on Facebook.  Take some time and personally email the people you REALLY want to see your new house with pictures of said house.  Instead of blurbing…Happy New Year to all of my 1,249 closest friends (gush, goo), call or email those truly dear to you and let them know you are thinking about them.  In the time it takes you to peruse several hundred useless daily posts, you can contact quite a few people.

Please Facebook….exile me.  I have important things to do folks!!!  Like doing this blog.  So……IMHO, BTW, OMG, LOLOLOL…..whatever.

 

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