Quadrille Monday: Free

I have written a haibun for dVerse Poets Pub Monday’s  quadrille. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words (excluding the title) which uses the prompted word. In this case the word is “free”.  Come and join in the fun.

Everywhere Blue – (for De)
Oh! To be a cloud in the sky floating lazily or waves in a cerulean lake washing upon the shore . High mountains topped with snow standing guard and smiling.

clouds in autumn blue
sky drifting free – waves below
laughing like children

Lake Tahoe – public domain photo.

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

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

Gold Day

A haibun for Real Toads – http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/ Karin Gustafson is prompting us tonight at Real Toads with A glance at narrative. So, here’s your task for the prompt.  Simply think of some story in writing your poem–it could be the story of a moment or of a lifetime–and it need not be fully detailed.  The poem may offer a bird’s eye view of the story or the small close-up of a magnifying glass, maybe just a sidelong glimpse.  (It does not have to be a story of human beings; it could be the story of a rock or a raindrop.)

金曜日 Gold Day
The afternoon he left was a golden roux of fading autumn sunlight, spicy oak leaves – bright yellow, still holding on to the tree, not yet ready to fall, and bitter salt tears – like the oak leaves – refusing to fall, refusing to join the earlier faded maple leaves on the lawn. Under the trees, quiet and still, I allow the knowledge of his leaving to permeate my being. I am still breathing. My heart is still beating. The sky is still ethereal blue with purest white autumn clouds wafting their way to the end of the horizon. Starlings lift from the telephone wires to follow the clouds. I realize, I will continue on my way – leaves will change color and fall, snow will cover the sepia winter landscape, cherry blossoms will bud, bloom, and fade, trees will leaf in explosions of green, leaves will change color and fall. Seasons and things will pass. Inside, my soul says “Oh!”  I sit as the gold day ends.

early leaf burning –
its incense drifts to heaven
autumn’s voice whispers

 

Notes: Japanese Days of the Week –  The first two days of the week are named after the sun and the moon. To understand the remaining five wemust look at the ancient Chinese theory of the ‘Five Elements’ 五行 (wǔ-xíng). The Five Elements started out as a primitive system for explaining the universe but gradually developed to become an all-embracing cosmological system. Each element was equated to (among others) a direction, a colour, a season, a time of day, a planet, and a musical note in the pentatonic scale.  Fire (火 huǒ) was equated to south, red, summer, midday, the planet Mars, and note 5 in numbered musical notation. Water (水 shuǐ) was equated to north, black, winter, midnight, the planet Mercury, and note 6 in numbered musical notation. Wood (木 mù) was equated to east, green, spring, dawn, the planet Jupiter, and note 3 in numbered musical notation.  Gold or Metal (金 jīn) was equated to west, white, autumn, dusk, the planet Venus, and note 2 in numbered musical notation. Earth (土 tǔ), was equated to the centre, yellow, 18 days at the end of each season, the planet Saturn, and note 1 in numbered musical notation.

Haibun Monday #2 The Rest of the Story

I rarely post more than one poem.  But today calls for a rest of the story post!

The Rest of the Story
Years went past. Even though I survived, it seemed just when I was moving on, some slurpy teary love song would come on the radio and I would begin to cry. The biggest offender was Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg. I’d turn off the radio and then flip it back on and…cry. One day while at a Tai Kwan Do exhibition, I met this man: short, balding, beautiful blue eyes and a wicked one on the sparring floor. Somehow we began to talk and before I knew it, he had charmed me into going out for coffee with him. He was a true Southern boy – soft voice, those eyes, lovely mouth, and like a cat on stainless steel ball bearings on the sparring floor. I remember when he got his black belt. We had been dating awhile and truth be told, I was smitten. But I held back. One day in February – Valentine’s Day to be exact he asked me to come with him to his parents’ home to check on it as they were out of town for a couple of months. He sat me down in the family room and ran upstairs. When he returned, he told me he had something to say to me. I went cold inside. This was the breakup. He went over to the piano and began to chord and to sing. Heaven only knows how long it took him to learn to do this!
“We’re no strangers to love.
You know the rules and so do I…
(chord chord chord).

Heavens! It was Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. I loved that song! And then he asked me to marry him. It was the first song we danced to at our wedding. I still love that song,  Seventeen years later and I still love him.

icy winds blow – sleet
falls – warmth of fireplace and love
inside the home.

dVerse Poetics: Oldies But Goodies

Before Lillian starts her cruise, she is again hosting Poetics over at dVerse. She is asking us to pick a song from the year we were born and to write about it. You’re going to have to look up the song to find out the year I was born! Pub opens Tuesday at 3:00 pm EST.  https://dversepoets.com/2017/04/11/oldies-but-goodies-no-matter-the-age/

How High the Moon
The young woman sat in the porch swing, pushing herself to and fro with her foot.  The full flower moon glinted off her wireframe glasses and in the darkness, her curly hair was coal black.  Inside the bedroom window facing onto the porch she had placed the radio so she could listen to music as she drifted in her thoughts.  The screen door opened and a young man came outside and joined her in the swing.  He looked at her with trouble in his eyes.  “What’s wrong?  You ate nothing at dinner and I cooked your favorites tonight”, he said softly.  The woman glanced at him, swallowed, then licked her lips.  Something was bothering her.  After a few minutes she whispered, “I’m pregnant”.  “What?,, what?”  She hung her head.  The young man gathered her into his arms.  “This is wonderful news, wonderful.  When?”  “November, mid or late.”  She snuggled in his arms and they began swinging again, gazing at the full moon.  On the radio began “How High the Moon” by Les Paul and Mary Ford.

full pink moon shines bright –
drifts of clouds across the moon –
kisses in the shadows

 

My sweet mama aged 16. copyright kanzensakura

 

Haibun Monday – The Shadow Knows

Monday I am doing the prompt for Haibun Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. Years ago I read In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 In’ei Raisan), an essay on Japanese aesthetics by the Japanese author and novelist Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. It deeply influenced me and caused my immersion into the Japanese culture. So I am prompting people to write about shadows today in classic Haibun form – actual shadows, shadows in our lives, walking after dark in the full moon, the fireplace flickering in a dark room, shadows of clouds racing over a meadow, mountain or lake. Come visit us and find out the reason for this quote by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”  The Pub opens at 3:00 pm EST

Moonlight, kendo, and love
Midsummer. The moon was full to bursting and it lit up our bedroom like a klieg light. My lover was sleeping soundly, softly snoring. I was rolling from one half of the bed to the other – the night was hot and moist and redolent with the smells of roses, jasmine, gardenias, magnolia….the rich musk of freshly mown grass floated over the flower smells and made me sneeze. I gave one look at the sleeping man, muttered “bah” and got out of bed. I looked down into the garden in the back yard – the scene was almost surreal, flat with the look of no contrasting shadows. Every detail stood out in sharp detail. I pulled on a tee shirt and shorts and went downstairs. I decided if nothing else, I would practice some kendo forms I had learned the previous week. With my shinai in hand, I began. I started to sweat but continued. Soon I relaxed and to get into the motions. Clouds blew across the surface of the full moon and shadows drifted across the koi pond and the graveled area. A soft breeze began cooling me and I closed my eyes and drifted with the forms. Suddenly, my arms were gripped by strong hands and my lover began to improve on my motions.

I turned to look at him. Taller than the average Japanese man with a beautiful swooped nose and full lips. I loved his mouth and his nose. He smiled. “Dancing in the shadows?” I melted into him and we began the kendo dance. Shadows began to shift as the moon began to dip in the sky. The branches of trees grew longer and one of the koi broke surface, thinking the moonlight on the water was a bug. I watched the shadows from the moon slowly glide along the walkway. We became still, me wrapped in his arms. “I love the shadows on a full moon night,” he whispered. “I love you on a full moon night.” And he started to caress me. Soon we disappeared into the shadow of the dogwood tree, making love in our garden. Fully sated at last, we went to sleep on the grass each holding the other close. We woke just before grey dawn and lay there looking at the sun rise. The koi began to roil the surface of the pond clamoring for food. I fed them and watched them as they swam in and out of my reflection. Shadows shifted as the sun rose higher. I kissed him. “I love you” I said. And he smiled.
flowers scent the air –
midsummer dreams – shadows on
a pond – koi jumps high.

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