Haibun: Kitten Photos

For Shay’s photo prompt on Sunday Muse BlogSpot. The haibun ends with a senryu and not the typical seasonal haiku.

Kitten Photos
“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus

Decades ago, I was a photographer. Not a taker of pretty of pictures but a paid-for-photographs-by-a-Philadelphia-newspaper. I also took autopsy photos for extra money. The photos I took were a queasy combination of the dead and food styling. Sometimes the paper would use me as a stringer and I would travel to a small town to take pics of mourners at a funeral, an exceptionally bad car wreck, or the local gardening club. Most of the time I hated my job but it paid the rent. Like most young underpaid photographers, I ate a lot of hotdogs at the Pen and Pencil – the local press club. The hotdogs swam in hot water in a slow cooker and were free. The scotch you had to pay for. I used to drink a week’s salary in scotch during this time. This temporary career choice of three years built up in me a hatred of having my picture taken and taking snapshots. People ask, why don’t you take pics of your garden or your food? Well, read what I did to pay the rent. On our 20th anniversary, my husband and I glared at the waitress who was taking our picture as we sat and waited for our dinner.

Like being a chef, being a photographer involves smoke and mirrors. Careful and precise knife work and the right ingredients. My favorite photographers were Henri Bresson and Alfred Stieglitz. They would have made great chefs I think. But I was young, a mere kitten. I learned to combine smoke and mirrors and precise knife work when I cooked. I never really caught on when I did photography. You can only put so much finesse into an autopsy photo after all. I regret the photography phase of my life – especially the phase of intruding in people’s lives. Hold still. Let me take your picture while you sit on the commode or weep for your dead mother (who was vaguely famous) or lie naked on a table waiting for the knife.
photographs
in black and white –
life doesn’t hold still

Change Your Life Forever

For De’s Quadrille prompt at dVerse Poets Pub. Write a poem of exactly 44 words excluding title. You must use the word “change” or a variant of change: changes, changed, changeling… I am not playing today.

Change Your Life Forever
“Change your life forever
The world will change when you change yourself
Change yourself in Silence…”
Change your life by World Order

This poem doesn’t come with trigger messages.
But this warning is given:
Your life will change.
Stop whining. Stop living in a dream world.
Open the door and go in.
If you want the world to change
Get off your ass and change it.

gogyoshi – Life

Happy May Day to everyone! Congratulations to all who did the April 30 poems in 30 Days. It was a grand race but now, it is over. Thank goodness!!! I am posting this gogyoshi for Real Toads Tuesday Platform. A gogyoshi is a Japanese poetic form created by Taro Aizu. It has five lines. That is the only constraint. Five lines – insanely simple. This poem came to me while sitting in my tree this morning.  This poem represents the Japanese concept of mujo – impermanence.

Life
Life is never promised.
We pass through time
like leaves blowing in the wind –
Like dew evaporating in the sun.
Life is never promised.

Onnabugeisha

For Paul’s Prompt at dVerse – soul searching

Onnabugeisha
Katsumoto: The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.  The Last Samurai

Trees blooming in the spring –
cherry, pear, plum –
their blossoms last for a day and then die.
Petals drift and fall to the ground –
pink and white snow of petals.
My lover called me “*onnabugeisha”
And so I am.
I fought my way through grief
through rape, through death
and even through ovarian cancer.
I swung my katana
and cut through them all.
And the timeless prayers
to an Ancient Hebrew God
I know healed me.
I learned that I did not need to fight.
All I needed was to bloom –
To soak up the rain and sun
and gaze at the blue sky.
I should have died I know.
But my petals hung on.
I continue to gaze at the sky
and to allow my soul to bloom.

*Japanese for female samurai or warrior*

 

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dVerse Poetics: Open Link Night

Today at dVerse, Grace is Pubtender. It is Open Link Night which means we submit any one poem of our choice, any form, any subject. Come and read and find your new favorite poet. http://dversepoets.com/2016/08/11/open-link-night-177/

Sands and the River
I read the news today, oh boy…
monks are visiting Richmond
and creating a mandala at the Holocaust Museum
and then will dismantle the colored sands
and take them to the James to throw them
into the river to represent impermanence.
at first I thought, cool.
and then…..
impermanence, change, transience of things
Mujō 無常
mono no aware 物の哀れ
I don’t need visiting monks from Tibet
dressed in saffron robes to tell me of…impermanence.
The river certainly does not need them
with its water that rises and falls,
freezes and thaws and evaporates
nor does the fish in its depths being plucked
from the water and grasped in eagle’s claws
soon to be food for hungry babies
high in the tree in their one ton nest
as they squabble for breakfast.
I do not need them
as I see mujo woven in my life
and feel the clutch at my heart that
all things…change.
we all live a life of impermanence
feel the wistfulness at the passing of…things.
friends and family who die
the now empty grass under a crepe myrtle tree
the melting of snow
the garden growing from seed and sprouting
and bearing fruit and dying and being spread for composte.
the cicadas singing at night
and dying in the dawn – shells empty and bereft
under the dying pine.
we only need to live
to know…impermanence.
we need to live to feel
life moving through us
life moving on.

SamCat last year under crepe myrtle

SamCat last year under crepe myrtle

dVerse Poetics – Contradiction

At Meeting the Bar today at dVerse Poetics, Bjorn wants us to write a poem using “antithesis” as the poetic device.

M45, the Pleiades Cluster (92mm 5DII)

“Begin at the beginning… and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ~Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Truth is a contradiction:
Warped truths lies hidden –
Pretty lies flaunt themselves.
Within us –
Deepest darkness,
Light of hope.

We sail on a voyage of life
That only ends at death.
Progression regression,
Knowledge ignorance,
Joy sorrow,
Deepest darkness,
Light of hope

End of the voyage
We disembark and
Cross the bridge
To another world.

In the darkness
The light of the stars
Remind me of the love
I believed would melt the darkness

 

dVerse Poetics Pub: Follow the Clouds

This is linked to dVerse Poetics. We have been asked to write octets and some have chosen to write about the theme, of the road or travel. Some have written different forms of eight line poetry and different journeys.

public domain image

public domain image

Once a wizard from another
Universe told me:  accept your
Death as a given – you will be
Freed from fear of dying, freed from
Fear of living. Pull your sword and
Step forward. Step onto the road
And don’t look back. Follow the clouds
As they race in the sky. Live free.

Ice Prints – tanka 短歌,

icy prints

footprints in the ice
melt and leave no trace behind
impermanent lives
wash down the gutter and merge
becoming one in the sea.

I Go To Extremes: Rollercoaster of Life

I think I’m going to call June and July The Months of Extremes.  I’ve been energized and exhausted. Happy and Heartbroken, Sane and Depressed, Sharp as a katana and numb as a cube of ice.

I started the day off elated.  got my mid-term exams results and aced them.  Twenty minutes later, anxious and sad – a call my 84 year old mother was admitted to the hospital yesterday and tons of tests being run.  She’s in Florida, I’m up here.

So I’m milling around my kitchen cooking like a crazy tornado lady – when sad/anxious/depressed/afraid – I cook.
This song came on the radio and hit the nail on the head – I Go To Extremes….don’t know what’s ahead at this point. I just know it is another round on the rollercoaster of life.

 

 

Make Every Moment Count

300px-Peach_Glow_water-lily_at_Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden[1]

We do not remember days,
We remember moments.

Cesare Pavese

Photo courtesy of Wiki Free Images

Journal Without Words

I was born on a cold, rainy, and pitiless morning November 16, at 6:35 in the morning. I didn’t want to come out – I was a breech birth and as long as my mother was in labor with me, it was obvious. At last, kicking and screaming and fighting as hard as I could under the circumstances, I at least made my appearance.

Not only a breech, but a blue baby. My mother’s middle sister, who was 10 at the time, recalled my mother as saying “Oh crap” – or something to that effect, the first time she saw me in the incubator. My father was instantly adoring, as fathers are. That spring, he planted a cherry tree for me in our yard. It flourished until I graduated from college. He cut the tree down and made a box from the wood. Lovingly he measured, planed, stained, and used some antique brass hinges he had found somewhere and been keeping on hand. He installed a simple lock and a tiny brass key locked and unlocked the box.

“Sis, this is for you – for your life. Put into things that are precious, reminders of happiness, reminders of sorrow, mementoes of love, symbols of friendship, victory, and defeat. Like life, there are things you will add, things you will remove, and things you will put back into the box. Life is like that. This box is like your heart – only you and God and those special people you allow to do so, can look into it. The key is for you to lock it if you choose. But guard the box well. I have put one thing into it for you. Like Pandora’s box, it holds hope.” And sure enough, in the box was a small smooth stone with “Hope” in gilded letters written on the stone.

In the box are faded obituaries, some photos of human and four legged family, one of my grandma Ninny’s handkerchiefs, my papa’s bronze star, a pair of chopsticks, a small tin of dried sakura, some cat collars, a few letters, smooth stones from my home town, Kyoto (Ryoan-ji), London, Tokyo, Woodstock, the church where my dear friend Father Pete was the parish priest, a small tin box of soil from the peaceful country cemetery where my grandparents, father, and more ancestors lay sleeping, some faded roses, some dried brown gardenias from the bush outside my bedroom in my childhood home, a napkin from my wedding reception, a baseball my mother hit out of the Durham Bulls Ballpark (she won a drawing and was a “guest hitter” who totally amazed everyone with that slammed ball, a picture of her at 16 with her hair in two braids, a skirt and oxfords and a well seasoned baseball glove,, and recently, put back into the box, a cassette tape of my Samurai playing piano to me one night. There are other things in there as well. The box smells of sandalwood, lavender, furniture polish, and time.

Only for a brief period was the box locked. It was always open, ready to receive the keepsakes of events in my life. I was always open to life and all it would bring. I have not always coped well with events and have not always had faith or believed in grace or I was sad and bitter. But I never stopped living. I may have hidden for awhile, but I always came back out. I have long since lost the key. Truth be told, I never looked for it.

Sometimes I open the box and sift through the contents. Other times, I walk past it and lovingly touch it. The stone, with “Hope” is still inside.

The Perfect Cherry Blossom

To the Japanese, the cherry blossom is a symbol of the ephemeral – a bud that turns into a beautiful flower and then quickly fades and the petals drop to the ground, often the same day. They are reminded that such beauty is not lasting and the beauty only remains in the memory.  It is a philosophy that permeates their culture:  Beauty that that is one blink away from perfection, a life that is one breath away from death, love that is one kiss away from fulfillment, joy that is one heartbeat away from sorrow. 

My tagline is from Issa:  “There are no strangers beneath the cherry tree.”  We are all one together in our fleeting existence; we are one as we stand beneath the tree in full bloom and gaze upward at its glorious vision of pink; we are all relieved of the rain as we stand beneath it for shelter; we gaze at the moon through its bare branches in winter and sigh at its luminous glow in the black sky. 

In “The Last Samurai”, Katsumoto sought the perfect cherry blossom.  It was only at his dying, as he looked up at the cherry blossoms above him that he said, “Perfect. They are all perfect.”  Whether at that moment, all the blossoms above him were at that perfect stage or either, he realized, that their being, in and of themselves, were perfect, I do not know.  However, that is what I prefer to think – that the blossoms, in whatever stage they were:  bud, blooming, full blown, faded….were perfect.  They were as they should be just at that moment.

 My blog identity, Kanzen Sakura, means, “perfect cherry blossom”.  At least, I hope so.  My Latin is much better than my Japanese.  If it doesn’t mean “perfect cherry blossom”, please don’t tell me.  Let me live in my illusion that I got something right.  Because you see, I feel that whatever state I am in:  joyful, mourning, pensive, angry, cynical, full of faith, blooming,  fading: I am perfect – I am in the stage I should be at that time. 

We all strive for something and rarely realize, we are as we should be; that we are all ephemeral – we are not strangers beneath the cherry tree of life.  Sometimes when I am roaming around at night outside, or doing something in the yard with my husband, I look around.  I smell the autumn-summer-winter-spring aromas.  The bare limbs-delicate pale green leaves-the lush dark green leaves-the parti-coloured autumn quilt of the trees:  I sigh deeply and tell my husband “These are the good old days.”.  He looks at me as if I was crazy and doesn’t quite comprehend, but he does understand that I have gone to a place he can’t go and chooses to smile at me instead of trying to follow.  He respects my territory under the cherry tree.

 It doesn’t mean we should stop searching or dreaming.  But sometimes…….The perfect cherry blossom?  Hold out your hand and grasp the air in front of you.  You are holding the perfect cherry blossom.

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