The First

Today the theme at Toads is first, one….It is the first of April. Everyone seems to be jumping onto the nanomopomo or whatever it is. I don’t do it. I follow the advice my father and my mother gave me many years ago.

My First
I wrote my first haiku when I was six.
I write my first poem when I was eleven.
I kissed my first boy when I was fourteen.
I kissed my first man when I was twenty.
But the first poem…
It was as devastating as the first ocean wave
that roared over me knocking me down
and rolling me about on the sand,
That first poem was as astounding as the first
falling star I saw,
As miraculous as the first time I walked barefoot
in the dew bedecked grass.
It was as mind blowing as the first book I ever read
from beginning to end –
The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe,
I remember the fountain pen my father have me –
Write from your heart he said.
The small black loose leaf notebook
given to me by my mother –
Write in this everyday wherever your soul leads you.
After my mother died
I found the cedar chest she had bought when she was fourteen
crammed full of my notebooks, school work,
poems and stories…
I closed the lid and the door to her room.
Maybe one day, I will open the door again.

dVerse Haibun Monday: The Now

For Kim’s haibun prompt over at dVerse. A haibun is a real, not fictional writing of several tight paragraphs closed by a seasonal haiku.

 

public domain image Emily’s bedroom

The Now
I remember the first time I read the poetry of Emily Dickinson.  I pulled the book out and opened it up halfway through. ‘The soul selects her own society and then shuts the door”. I caught my breath. I read the poem again. I had seen the tattered book down in our library. It was one of the books my grandmother had picked up at a yard sale and brought home. It was tucked in between the Iliad and The Turn of the Screw.  I immediately began reading from the beginning: the short biography, the introduction, and poems arranged by category. I stood there that afternoon and read from the first page to the last. I was 12 years old and I had just discovered one of my favorite poets. The sun faded through the windows and then became dark. I came out of the library in a bit of a fog. “Where have you been?” asked my mother. I showed her the spine of the book. She smiled. I took the book up with me to my room and it was never replaced in the library. It traveled with me everywhere. It lives on my bedside table after all these years.

When I was a junior in University, I decided on a whim to drive to Amherst and visit the Emily Dickinson Museum. I paid for my ticket and wandered along behind the tour guide. I snuck away and stood at the doorway of her bedroom and looked and pondered. After an hour, the tour guide noticed me. She was a middle -aged lady and could sense I was totally entranced. She took me on a private tour. I even was allowed to go into her room and touch her desk where she often wrote. I saw the kitchen and the library and touched things that Emily had touched. I sat on the back steps and inhaled the summer day. I wandered around the yard and looked up at her bedroom window. The museum closed and I had to leave. I went back the next day and the next. I didn’t want to visit her grave site. I wanted to see her as she had lived. I still visit there about every three years. I am always fascinated and enthralled. I felt her presence everywhere, I heard her voice – in the words she wrote, in her home, in the samples of her handwriting. I felt that unique communication of souls in a select society.  “That it will never come again is what makes life sweet.” “Forever is composed of the nows.”

the garden is silent
except for the singing of birds –
I live in the now

public domain image Emily Dickinson museum

public domain image

Haibun: Nyuk nyuk y’all

As a child of the 50’s, I spent many hours in front of the TV. When I got home from school I would plop in front of it with a snack on the floor in front of me. Often an apple or an orange, sometimes a dumdum sucker or a an oatmeal snack cake. The consistent part was always the Three Stooges. I loved them. Or at least I loved Curly. He was always being poked in the eyes, bonked on the head, or catching his suspenders in the door and being dragged backwards to his original starting point. I’d imitate his bark, the way he would twist his hips and do the Curly shuffle – he’d put his head down and pump his feet making the Curly sound: whoopwhoop! Ruff ruff! Nahhhhhh. As he once told bully Moe, don’t hit me in the head. I ain’t normal. Nope. Curly wasn’t normal and neither was I. I’m still not normal. I hated dolls and loved dogs and cats instead. I began reading Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot at the age of 11. I began writing haiku when I was six. I stood on a chair so I could make pancakes for the family when I was four. I hated school but loved studying. And I would bark at people I didn’t like. I still do. Not.Normal. Nyuk nyuk. Ruff ruff. Y’all.

times change – people change –
children discover strange heroes –
laughter and not tears

Haibun: Man Poses

A few months ago, I did a prompt for dVerse called, What are your plans? In it I wanted poets to write about their plans for their lives, their poetry, their loves…This is what I wrote for that post with a few additionsI wrote this after an ugly contretemps with one of the so-called “poets” at another prompt website. I decided life was too sort to be polite and civil to those who do not reciprocate in kind. In short, I was ready to be a civilian again after being a staff member who had to be “polite”, even to assholes. i stepped down and I feel much freer. This is posted on Real Toads in response to Bjorn’s prompt to write a mainfesto to 2018.  So, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you all have a year filled with joy and poetry.

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, continuing to critique poetry and to be criiqued, I am not going to take myself too seriously but at the same time, I am not going to be flippant and “cute” about sujects, I am going to get my chef recertification (I was originally certified in 1986), and I am going to be howling down the roads on 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 will not be carrying as baggage sycophants who worship everything I write, even though most of it is crap; I will however be making new friends who are honest about my poetry. 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

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

dVerse Poetics – Summer

Walt is handling the Poetics for us Today (Tuesday) at dVerse Poets Pub.  He is asking us to write about summer and gave us some examples to us use or for us to choose our own (selections by Eliot, Whitman, Sandburg, Rector, Issa) to name a few. I have chosen one by Issa which I have used for inspiration before and probably shall use again and again.  Come visit us and dive into summer!

“summer night –
even the stars
are whispering to each other” K. Issa

The Mermaid and the Stars
It is high summer.
I sit on my back steps watching
the stars above me and listening
to the cicadas scratching and clicking
from different points in the yard.
So still it is!
So hot even at this late evening time.
I catch a whiff of the gardenia bush
at the edge of the house –
gentle and sweet and reminding me
of summers long ago.
The moon is high and bright
and surrounded by stars.
A cicada on my right and then
the sound of a cicada across the yard.
Back and forth –
I look up again and the stars
twinkle – I come up for air
like a mermaid gasping for water filled breath.
The stars tell me to be still.
They giggle with each other like little girls
telling secrets.
The mermaid swims to the gardenia
and plucks one for her hair.
She looks at the stars one last time
before she drowns in the scent.
The stars fall silent and go to sleep.

Waterhouse, John William; A Mermaid; Royal Academy of Arts

Waterhouse, John William; A Mermaid; Royal Academy of Arts

Quadrille 11 – Stars

Another Quadrille for De’s word prompt of “Spill” over at dVerse.   https://dversepoets.com/2016/06/13/quadrille-11/

Stars
spilling across the night sky
stars –
we can look at the blackness
still see the light –
there is a star for each of us
a bit of silent music
a blithe spirit of hope
a reminder that no matter what
we all are one

stars

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