Haibun Monday: Killer Heat

Today I am the host/pub tender for dVerse Poets Pub and it is Haibun Monday. The topic for poets to write haibun about is heat: horrible heat, falling in love in the hot summer, getting married, divorced, fired. The haibun can be sad or heavy in tone or light. So come and visit us at dVerse for this Hot Hot Hot Edition. Haibun are not flash fiction or fiction but true accounts.

Killer Heat
Sunday Night: It is midnight and still the temperature is in the high 90’s. When I walk outside, the heat grabs me and sucks the air from my lungs. The air is close and hostile. I go back into the house. No gazing at the stars tonight. It’s too darn hot. In our city, four people have died from the heat. Cooling centers have been opened for those elderly or poor who do not have air conditioning. They can sit in the cool from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. But then it is back to their hellishly hot homes. Monday at 6:00 am, the temperature is already at 95F. I shower and head to the Feedmore food kitchen to start help putting together breakfast for Meals on Wheels and for various program leaders to pick up for feeding programs for out of school children who will not be getting the meals they normally get during the school year. With the meals for the Meals on Wheels program, two extra bottles of icy water are packed so the elderly or disabled will have some necessary hydration that is cold and refreshing.

By 9:00 am, the meals for all programs have been made, distributed, and cleaned up. Now it is time to begin on lunch. Sweat rolls under my clothes in the hot kitchen. We all wear tee shirts and have bandannas to keep the sweat at bay. But none of us falter. We laugh and complain about the heat and make up jokes or songs to cheer us while we work. It’s so hot, the life span of a popsicle is 10 seconds…it is so hot, trees are looking for shade. Heat Dome the meteorologists say about the heat that covers parts of our nation. On the noon news, another death from heat: a young healthy construction worker. Hunger and heat stretch in front of us like a highway from hell.
heat has no mercy –
it murders the young and old
and does not care.

Peace is a Tomato

Today Bjorn is Pubtender and has poetics at dVerse. He wants us to “write about peace without making it trite, too sweet, or just against the horrors of wars. He wants us to capture how much pain and work it takes. But maybe also how big the reward is”. Come visit and at this time of the season, read some poems about Peace.  http://dversepoets.com/2015/12/08/poetics-war-for-peace-or-just-hard-work/

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Peace is a Tomato
Like my mother taught me I prepared the soil
and when the oak leaves in spring are the size of a squirrel’s ear,
I take the tender seedlings and gently put them
into the holes dug at 24 inch intervals and pull
the soil around the stems and using my hands
push the soil down around tight – soil too loose
will cause the roots to rot. The soil must be
just.right.

Through the months weeding, adding nourishment
driving in tall stakes and lifting the
now full and looped branches of the plant
tie with cloth strips over under around and
finish tying up to the stakes – supporting
the branches full of bright yellow blooms and
tiny green gonna be tomatoes.

And when the sun is hot and almost unbearable
the large green tomatoes begin to turn red.
You can stand beside the plant after a rain shower and smell
the bright green of the plant and the red tomato
beginning to ripen. On the perfect.day. I go to the garden
and find more red ripe tomatoes than I can deal with at the time.
I gently cup each tomato in my hand pull – ever so delicately.
The tomato comes loose in my hand and I begin to pile them up
in light split wood baskets waiting in my red Radio Flyer –
up and down our quiet road I go from house to house sharing out
tomatoes. All want at least two and some want more
and my neighbors smile and smell the tomatoes
and hold the baby soft warm tomatoes to their cheeks.

And I still have more tomatoes!
More baskets are piled full and I
drive to our local Food Bank and ask if
they can be used? And the workers smile
in delight and one woman grabs two – I know the person
who is going to get these tonight with her Meals on Wheels supper.
The tomatoes will be turned into salads, into soup, into
marinara sauce – happy tomatoes making food cooked with care.

I go with the volunteer to help deliver those
two special tomatoes.
The old lady is tiny and her hands are knotted
and oh how she smiles when she sees Karin
at her door with her nightly meal!
Karin and I go into the tiny senior residence
and Karin says, Mrs. Pearl, I have a surprise just for you.
This surprise has been waiting since April for you.
She holds out the tomatoes.
Mrs. Pearl looks at them with tears in her eyes.
She takes them as if afraid they will disappear
and then she holds them up to her lips
kissing them as if they were a long lost child.
Just for me?
I haven’t had tomatoes like this in years
and she tells us how she used to love her garden.
We get back into the car and I cry like a baby.
It is hard to feel peace when your stomach is empty.
It is hard to feel peace when your soul is hungry.
Peace is a tomato.

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