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

The Last Cherry Blossom

This week in dVerse Poetics Pub, the whole theme and prompt is about chivalry, knights, ladies, armor, jousts, courtly love, etc. going back in time. I have gone back in time to a different type of knight – the Samurai. There was also a joust where we chose a line from Brian or Claudia’s poem.  I have carried out this prompt for this poem, along with the medieval theme. The lines from their poems are in italics. This is for Open Link Night. dVerse Poetics link is: http://dversepoets.com On my About Page, I have noted I am guided equally by the Ten Commandments and Bushido – a later term for the code of the warrior. It was traditional for the Samurai, before committing seppuku or going into battle, to write a death poem. One of the greatest writers of haiku, Basho, was Samurai.

red armor

It was an omen –
He knew it.
Last year the cherry blossoms
were in full bloom.
During the night
a cold wind blew
and in the morning snow was on the ground.
Pink petals fell too early
and gleamed like blood
on the snow.
He knew – it would be the
last time he saw the cherry trees bloom.

In the summer, he had
acted as second for his brother,
dying of a wasting disease.
A brave warrior,
he wanted to die with honor.
And so, he had committed
the ritual seppuku,
freeing his soul.

The night before leaving for battle,
At evening meal he looked
at his wife and children.
The two eldest sons would join him
in battle.
The two youngest and his daughter
would stay behind.
Inside he mourned
for his two sons who
would never wear the red armor
passed to him from his father
and his grandfather.
He knew they would die
in the plain armor
of first battle –
Well made of leather
and iron scales and
lacquered black.
He would die in the red armor
and unless their enemies
had honor, the armor
would never be returned to his wife.
In the matters of life and death,
of battles and births, he said
within himself,
we’ve lost our capacity
to count

He looked at his wife,
the oldest and plainest of her sisters.
But she was graceful and had added
much to his life – intelligent,
she educated his children well
just as he taught them
the code of the warrior.
He looked at his daughter
and she smiled.
She was his sunlight
and one of her dimples
could not be bought for all
the gold in the kingdom.
Intelligent like her mother
but with the winsome beauty
of his mother.
She was brave and fierce
when she fought.
When paired with Maggi’s
son, he bested her
but she broke his nose
of which he was too proud.

His wife went into their store
room and brought forth a roll of
silk, the clear blue of an autumn sky
as a gift for her.
Her brothers clapped her on
her shoulder as if she was one
of them and praised her swordsmanship.
His heart burst with pride
at his daughter warrior.

He would be leaving his home
in the capable hands of his wife
to be maintained and defended.
The small chest in the store room
was full of coins and
there was cloth and silk
and food for them and their
servants and animals.
Should another man take her to wife,
if he were wise, he would find his
life greatly enriched and enlarged
by her wisdom and bravery.

That night, they made love
with the fire and speed
of youth.
As she slept, he touched
her cheeks to find them
wet with tears.
He realized the tears were his own.

He walked that night
in his garden.
Time stands still…
Tomorrow, he and his sons
would ride to battle.
A cold wind blew off the mountain –
he reached up to touch the
cherry buds, tightly curled.
He would never see them bloom.
He then wrote his death poem
to leave for his wife.

Death Poem of Masashi Kenata – 1538 – 1580
bitter winter winds –
in the garden the sleeping
cherry blossoms wait
for spring sun to awaken –
I can only dream.

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Father’s Day and Flag Day: Blood and Honor

I miss my father. Not a day goes by that I do not miss him. Not a day goes by as I remember, not only his contribution to my life, but his contribution to this country and to all nations being smothering under tyranny. He was a sharp shooter during WWII and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. And in a round about way, and in my unique way, I will seque to something entirely different but end up back here. And I know you will see the point I am making between our fathers who swear their blood and honor to take us through our lives and protect and guide us, and those soliders, past and present, who swear their blood and honor to protect us and to allow us our freedoms.

A few days ago, I was watching the movie, 47 Ronin. It is a faulty movie and much has been said about all that is “wrong” with it. But there is a scene that tells us, quietly and strongly, all that is right with it. The movie is based on a true story of feudal Japan. A shogun, lord of a province, was wrongly and deceptively killed – no honor by the persons involved. As a result, his samurai, loyal to him and his family and the people of the province they protected, became ronin (samurai without a master, a deep dishonor). Normally, they would have committed seppuku (ritual suicide), but they instead, plotted revenge so their wronged master could rest in peace, his honor restored, and the province united and freed from tyranny.

The leader of samurai, Oishi, brings his men back together to plan for this revenge. In a scene that had tears coursing down my face, they swore to bring honor to their master’s name and each one signed his name. They each pulled their sword enough to cut their thumbs and under their name, pressed their thumb sealing their pledge in their own blood.

Oishi told them, “When a crime goes unpunished, the world is unbalanced. When a wrong is unavenged, the heavens look down on us in shame. We too must die for this circle of vengeance to be closed – there is no other way…” (quote from 47 Ronin).  They pledged their lives to justice, just as countless men and women, through the centuries, have pledged their lives and their sacred honor.  With their inevitable deaths, they knew balance and honor would be restored.

I thought of this putting by of self for a greater calling.  My father did not know if he would live or die.  He only knew there was  a great wrong in the world that must be righted.  His brothers in arms were of like mind.  So are those today who seal their pledge to us with their blood – whether it is shed or whether it still courses in their veins until their hearts cease beating.

Let us honor today, those who do this for us.  I know my father is in heaven looking down on me and smiling.  My American flag will be proudly displayed for Flag Day.  Thank you to our fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, friends who protect us.

Happy Father’s Day.  Happy Flag Day.  Bless you all.

flag day     CAM00489









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