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

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.

Haibun Monday – Taking a Bath in the Forest – say what??

Today at 3:00 PM, EST, I am hosting the Haibun Monday prompt for dVerse Poets Pub.  Come join us at this virtual pub for good conversation and good poetry.  I am asking people to write (non-fiction) a one – three paragraph haibun ending it with a classic haiku (using kigo and kireji) and to write about the last time they were immersed in nature.  The subject that prompted this was shinrin-yoku – literally forest bathing.  It is a recognized health benefit in Japan and lately other places.  So please, come join us! I was going to write about getting my vegetable garden ready for planting but decided on true shinrin-yoku. I am an old tree climber from waaaay back.

Having a tree as a BFF is a good thing!
I leaned back into the arms of the old oak tree, it’s warm bark comforting and cradling. All around me in the stillness of the woods that surrounds my home, I could hear the sounds of birds – songs, calling territory, rustling in the branches, wings occasionally flapping as one landed or took off. Every once in awhile, the bark of a crow or several sharp caws would join in. Small creatures – squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bunnies, snakes, frogs – all would make sounds as they went about their daily business. Foraging for food, scurrying from hawks gliding overhead, tunneling, eating, croaking and meditating in the sun – all the woodland sounds.

I come to these woods about once a week to nourish myself. I stand at the edge and decide what path to take today. Often I take the path to this ancient oak, an old friend of mine. I climb the tree until I find the certain conjunction of branches that hide and hold me. Winter or summer, spring or fall; snow or rain, sunshine and cold or heat – I love all the turns of the seasons I can watch from this place in the tree. Last summer, I watched a nest of cardinals hatching over in the neighboring tree. I looked down as a buck and his harem processed majestically beneath me. I have seen much and felt much in this tree. This tree is like the welcoming arms of my husband or my mother or a friend.

It is time. I rustle around a few minutes and bring forth my violin. Today in midsummer, it is time for something light and playful. I place my bow to the strings and begin Boccherini’s La Musica Notturna Delle Strade No. 6. The woods and all its creatures listen for just a space and then, they begin again, going about their business.

summer sounds drift by –
lazy creek at bottom of
hill sings its own song

copyright kanzensakura

dVerse Poets Pub: Haibun Monday – The Best Things in Life are Free

Monday I am doing the prompt for Haibun Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub after a fairly long absence. While a bit stressful, it is still good to be back in the Pub writing prompts and reading and commenting on poems. My prompt for everyone is: the best things in life are free – as in without cost – not liberated from something – one of the other meanings of “free”…Come nd join us for the prompt on 02/20/2017.  Haibun Monday – The Best Things in Life are Free

Daffodils are Free!
Daffodils. I love them. I wait for them to come up every year in the very early spring. This year with the winter being so warm, you can spot clusters of green spears springing up from the dead winter grass or they are topped with the golden flowers. The smell of daffodils – I have yet to smell anything that smells like them. A heady mix of honey, jasmine, and butter – the perfume of them has not and probably never will be duplicated. Watching them blowing in the wind or dripping with rain or sticking out of snow, one can only sigh and know we are looking at one of our Creator’s most beautiful miracles. Ever since I was a child, I have loved them and I love them still at the grand old age of 65. They still make me smile, no matter how hard, sad, grey, or difficult the day has been.

Once when I was a child I pulled green blades of a daffodil still wet with rain. I wanted to see how  it tasted. I placed the green blade between my lips – slowly pulling using my tongue to feel the sharp edge and the soft green and the cold wetness of it. Years later after kendo, my lover and I stood in the rain and kissed. He had daffodil lips and I drank in their cool wetness and my tongue probed the sharp edges of his teeth and the slightly bitter taste of his lips.

in the spring rain
daffodils bloom with hope – true
love is in the air

public domain photo

public domain photo

 

Haibun Monday: And to all a good night

I am hosting the prompt for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, my last post for the year. I was struck by the last lines in Moore’s A Visit From Saint Nicholas: He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!” So I am having people write of one good night they remember. Any good night! Come visit us to read about all the good nights!

Fire From Heaven
It happened 35 years ago. A friend and I had gone to the desert to watch the Geminid Meteor showers. The desert actually was all the way across the United States in the Mojave but hey, we were younger and much more foolish. I was reminded of that wonderful glorious night while watching the Big Bang Theory and seeing the crew head to the desert to watch meteor showers and by the way, unknowingly getting high off some really good cookies given to them by some teachers in their sixties. Odd how life imitates art and art imitates life. This friend and I had, gotten high as kites from marijuana and sat back to watch the show. Other people had the same idea to watch the meteor showers and you could see camp fires and lit tents all about. My friend and I talked softly and continued to watch the skies and sometimes, light up.

Suddenly, we spotted the first meteor! I cannot describe to you the wonderful raining down of fire from the heavens for about an hour. Quickly they fell. I explained to my friend that many of the meteors were no larger than a grain of sand. Whoa…he said, dude. And we collapsed into giggles. But the fires in the sky that night were totally incredible. I was reminded of this night a few nights ago when I camped out in my back yard to again watch the Geminids. I sat until the sun rose. I was all snuggled in the quilt my grandmother gave me. I watched the last flicker and whispered, Dude…

fire in the sky lights
my way to heaven – a night
of rare freedom

public domain photo

public domain photo

Haibun Monday: Free for All

Today I am repeating an early submission for one of our first Haibun Mondays. I wrote this about 25 years ago. Come join us today: https://dversepoets.com/2016/11/28/haibun-monday-free-for-all/ I am doing the prompt which is Free For All. This means a person can write about a one to two paragraph Haibun on any subject they choose as long as it is non-fiction and happened to them. Gold day is Friday – kinyobi in Japanese.

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

Haibun Monday: Outside my (hospital) Window

Today it is Haibun Monday and I am giving the prompt for today.  The post accidentally went live Friday – sorry!  Accidents do happen in the real and the poetic world.  I am asking people to write a haibun (one or two tight paragraphs with a seasonal, classic haiku at the end) about a memorable birthday or, a full moon or…both combined!  These last few days shows us a super moon in the sky – the closest the moon has been to earth in 69 years!  Enjoy the moon, enjoy the haibun. Come Join us at dVerse Poets Pub for some splendid reading.

Outside my Hospital Window

I spent my 55th birthday in hospital.  I had been diagnosed with uterine cancer and I had just been operated on to remove the cancer.  Luckily, it was caught in its very early stages and I was one of the few lucky ones who did not die of this form of cancer.  But…I was sick with complications from the anesthesia and deeply depressed.  All I could eat was some pond scum broth, water, and coca cola.  I had thrown up everything but my toenails.  And I had been presented with a birthday cake by my mother, husband, and mother-in-law.  It ended up at the nurses’ station for them and anyone else to eat and enjoy.  November 16 was a grim birthday for me but I was alive.

Outside my hospital window, the sycamore trees were alive and golden, waving their leaves in the breeze.  I could see them from first to last light.  They reminded me I was alive and at this point, I had been pronounced cancer free.  I spent a lot of time in silence in that room, watching those tree leaves, watching birds hopping from branch to branch, gazing at the clear blue sky during the day and the huge full moon at night.  I was sick as a dog but I was alive.  I was alive.  Happy birthday to me…I sang.  Happy happy birthday to me.

golden leaves shimmer
during the day – full moon shines
bright during the night

public domain NASA photo

public domain NASA photo

OLN #182

Today is Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub.  I couldn’t resist posting this spooky haibun I wrote a couple of years ago….Marie Leveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans during the 1830s – 1850s.  A tignon is a scarf women of color had to wear over their hair in public.  Some of the ladies worked the various scarves into confections or topped with standard stylish millinery.  A loa is a spirit of the voodoo gods. Offerings are often given to thank the loas for favors or to ask for one.  Offerings frequently include sweets, coins, rum, cigars, pound cake.  I cheated and did a double haiku. http://dversepoets.com/2016/10/20/open-link-night-182/

Graveyard Dust
In the cemetery St. Louis in Nawlins I wandered at night.Under a summer sky the cemetery reeked as only a cemetery in Nawlins can reek In hot wet summer. Resurrection ferns sprouted from the crumbling soft bricks and a fresh tomb
lurked, bright white in the full moon. Wreaths of flowers -some fresh and Others faded decorated the various tombs. I wandered seeking the tomb of the one, the one with the tignon of flame twisted into seven points. Other tombs showed signs of dirt being scraped from beside – graveyard dust – or plates Of pound cake, coins, the smell of rum and tafia spilled and unsmoked cigars, offerings laid out. The voodoos had been busy this past full moon,  seeking the spirits of the loas. A footstep behind me…I turned and my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth. The hair prickled on my arms and at the nape of my neck. In the moonlight, in the shadows stood she of the seven pointed tignon with her giant king snake coiled about her. In a voice like frost killed weeds and granite she asked,  What seek ye here Child? And reached out to me. I awoke with a start…The smell of the cemetery, the moist dirt,  the smell of burned rum in my nose; the bottom of my feet coated with graveyard dust and cut from the broken bricks  along the path.

under the moonlight
stood she of the flame pointed
tignon – Marie Laveau

seeking I found her
and the night buzzed with the sound
of cicadas

public domain photo St. Louis Cemetaery No. 1

public domain photo St. Louis Cemetaery No. 1

Haibun Monday: Butter Yellow Morning

I couldn’t resist this prompt from Grace.  I am still on hiatus and doing fairly well.  thank you!http://dversepoets.com/2016/10/03/haibun-monday-22-extraordinary-days/

Butter Yellow Morning
It is early in the day and I have just awakened. My husband left for work an hour ago. I lazily stretch and get out of bed and wander into the kitchen. I fill the coffee maker and switch it on. Soon my house is filled with the lovely smell of fresh coffee. I pour myself a large mug and add the dollop of cream. I then go outside and sit on my back steps, sipping and listening to the sound of the morning getting its start. The mockingbird and brown thrasher are up on the wire trilling the first six notes of the X-Files theme, over and over. The birds that will winter over are busy twitting and rooting through the bird feeders. My Swedish neighbors from next door pass by on the lane for their morning walk and wave but do not speak. They know this is my special time of day and do not intrude. My neighbor across the lane puts her two daughters on the school bus. She waves and heads back into her house. From the farm at the end of the lane, the sound of a rooster cock-a-doodle-doing and the soft lowing of cows add to the morning sounds. I sip my coffee. For right now, all is well, all is at peace.

autumn finally comes –
the morning is cool in the
butter yellow sun

 

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