Silent Road

This is posted for Poets United Midweek Motif – Meteor showers.  It is also posted at dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.  This happened years ago.  It is an extended haibun.

Silent Road
Delta Aquarids –
escape from city lights – the
veiled stars will unveil

Hot night in July –needing to be out of the city, rolling down a smooth country two lane blacktop, soft roar of the tires – tack…..tack…..tack…..Rock in the tire tread – front passenger, I think. Black countryside, no lights showing in the few houses. Folks have to get up early go to work in town, go to work in surrounding tobacco fields. Rolling past rows of tobacco and corn row after row after row, broken only by the dark houses. The blooms on the green plants show up white in the headlights.

Past another small house, dark. Ahead off to the right a dirt road. I pull off and go down it slowly. Dust invisible but I can smell it, thick whiffs of sharp iron and sweeter lime.  In the headlights ahead. Washboard shadows in the hard dirt where constant tires have cleared away the gravel. In the headlight the road is pale pink but in the daylight, it will be red as blood. To the left, a small drive leading to an empty space by the tobacco field. I pull in and park, cut the engine – the cooling motor goes ting ting ting…

insect sounds rise in
the darkness – chackachacka
hypnotic hum..

Except for the insects, dead silence.  A dog barks some distance away then another closer by answers. In front of me as my eyes adjust I see several empty tobacco slides waiting for morning. Time of year to prime the thick leaves, snap by hand the thick stalks, heavy leaves of the plants, to be loaded in layers in the slides, then hitched to the back of a tractor to be taken to be to ancient tobacco barns and tied by hand to tobacco sticks, loaded by hand into the barn to dry for sale in the fall. I can tell by the snapped stalks on the plants, this is the third priming.

fireflies flicker – an
insect meteor shower
among the dark plants

One comes in my car window and settles on the steering wheel, White dark white dark – flashing its signals to an alien being who doesn’t understand the language. Smells of dust, acrid tang of tobacco sap, smell of cows from a field close by. Tipping the seat back  I lean my head against the headrest And look at the stars through my windshield. The firefly continues its signals. Suddenly, several quick bursts in the dark sky and the stars begin to fall – trails of white falling towards the horizon, silent as dust. Some shimmer, some burst, they all burn in the summer night, streak after streak, fast, slow, dark and again they explode and fall.  In the cool grey dawn, the stars have gone to sleep. The firefly has flown away. I drive slowly down the dirt road back to the two lane black top back to the city.   Tack…..tack…..tack…..

July stars burst streak –
trails of fire in the black night
fade and disappear

 

Poets United Midweek Motif: Silence

For Poets United Midweek Motif – Silence

Afterwards
The silence after the argument between us was devastating –
like the silence after an F-5 tornado –
trailers were coming to that last roll,
electrical wires were still buzzing and popping.
We sat on opposite sides of the fireplace –
burning its warmest friendliest best
but we were not to be lured into its trap.
We were imprisoned inside my house by the snow –
I wanted you gone and you wanted to be gone.
All civility between us was shattered.
I made myself a cup of hot chocolate –
with a bit of bourbon and offered you none.
The snow fell silently
and steadily outside.
I sipped from my mug.
At last the cats came out of hiding.

Haibun: Rice Planting

Part of my life journey, part of a travel journal. As a devoted follower of Basho and Japanese poetic forms, at one time, I undertook a journey to not only travel in France and Tuscany to renew my love of food and cooking, I also travelled to Japan to follow the journey of Basho in his “Narrow Road” – the precursor to haibun. He wrote paragraphs of a day’s travel followed by a haiku. Thus, haibun came into being. A haibun in its best form is an extended haiku which include seasons (kigo), a cutting section (kireji), aware (uh-wah-ray) – delicate sense of melancholy at the passing of things, and the amazing Oh! or as we non-Japanese say, an Aha moment. I hope you enjoy. I am linking to Poets United Poetry Pantry.  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2016/02/poetry-pantry-291.html  This is also being linked to dVerse Poets Pub, Haibun Monday.  Our guest Prompter today is Rajani (thotpurge) who wants us to write a travel haibun in the manner of Basho.  http://dversepoets.com/2016/02/29/haibun-monday-8/

Rice Planting
All journeys may begin with a single footstep but, sometimes that first step is taken because of madness, bitterness, the hope of regaining that which was lost, or renewing a love now gone sour. I stepped away from being a successful executive chef to find again my lost love – food. An exacting lover but one that changes for the better in all the seasons of the year, in all the places of the world. Oddly enough, also the lover who taught me more about writing haiku – classic, real, genuine haiku. The lover who instilled in me a deeper sense of poetry and beautiful discipline – not a tightly constrained discipline, but one that flowed with the world around me. In my burned out madness, I truly believed I could win back this lover. My journey began with stepping on the plane to Tokyo.

It was spring – spring in Japan when the cherry blossoms were merely reddish-brown buds ripe with the promise of a blooming spring. I had arranged a trip that would allow me to follow in the footsteps of my beloved and revered Basho. I arrived at Sukagawa during rice planting season – this time of early spring. Workers were standing in the water planting rice – sometimes in total silence, at other times bits of song reached my ears accompanied by the song of birds. The rich smell of water and mud surrounded me. The air was cool and the distant mountains seemed to make the air even cooler. My guide asked if I wanted to speak to some of the workers. I said that in addition, could I be shown how to plant rice and to be allowed to share in the labor? He hesitated but after money pressed into his hand, he spoke to the supervisor who put me with a group of older, more experienced rice planters – small women with wrinkled faces and tough, surprisingly delicate hands. The guide stood on the side of the field as I rolled up my pants and took off my shoes. The women looked at me with bland faces – hiding thoughts – rich white woman wants to play in the mud – but courteously allowed me to stand by them and then, at my smiles and insistent gestures, showed me how to plant rice.

I followed them on that journey of bending, digging, lightly pressing plants into the mud and when they judged I would not ruin the crop, left me alone to my work beside them. Sometimes I would look around me at the field, the other workers, an early blooming pear tree on the hillside and then bend again. At noon, they stepped onto the side of the field and began to eat a brief meal, while standing. I was gladdened when they began to share out their simple meals with me – balls of steamed rice wrapped in black seaweed, bits of fish, sliced cucumbers and apples and with fingers pressed to lips for silence, sips of sake. Motions from the women told me the rice I was eating came from this field. I looked at the rice ball and felt tears sliding down my face. In my hand, I held once again that lover I had thought I would never find again. Before I left the field that day, I gifted my Nikes, a bracelet, some American coins, a head scarf. Paltry items in return for what they had given me. I was on the way to being sane and whole again, taking the first step to rediscover my soul and reunite with my true love.

pear blooms on hillside –
cold spring day with meal of rice
and fish – rice field waits.

public domain image

public domain image

Peggy: Brave Heart

A friend of mine died last May.
She knew she was dying and every breath
she forced from her battered lungs
only brought her closer to the end.

She was always there for her friends
And always willing to talk
And make your tears go away
By replacing the pain in your heart
With some of her joy.

In the end, I think it was her courage to share
That brought her end more quickly.
But being her, she could do no less.
Five feet tall, 86 pounds of wasted body.

I wonder if I would have the courage
To pour myself out so freely.
I wonder if I would hoard my breath
Or use it to laugh and make others laugh.

I wonder if I would ever have such courage.
I wonder if I would have so much love.

Peggie in Better Days taken by a friend

Peggie in Better Days taken by a friend

First Snow – 2016

Today, hatsuyuki (first snow) finally came! Haiku linked to Poets United, Poetry Pantry. http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2016/01/poetry-pantry-285_17.html

bitter winter night
first light of day first snow falls –
branches bloom white

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

dVerse Poetics – Persona

Tuesday at dVerse Poetics, Grace and guest, KB, prompt us to write a persona poem. We step out of ourselves and comfort zones to write a poem from the viewpoint of another person – true, fictional, mythical, literary. I think this will bring about some interesting poems. Who would you like to be? Do you imagine the life inside another person? Then write it down and come link your thoughts. I have written about a person with whom I have always been fascinated – Dorian Gray.  I am linking to Poets United Poetry Pantry http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2016/01/poetry-pantry-285.html  and dVerse Poets Pub  http://dversepoets.com/2016/01/12/poetics-persona-poem/

Two Faces – One Life
“I am tired of myself to-night. I should like to be somebody else.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

I sold my soul for eternal beauty, for never ending pleasure.
Seduced by the sensational, enticed to explore exquisite forms –
Lured to indulgent lust.
All because of an artist and his besotted attraction
To the man he painted with such loving blindness –
and to the man who stood watching me posing and the painter,
and his words of poisonous temptation to live life
– who said with a sneering laugh –
the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it**.

I admit to you, to anyone  that I am indeed beautiful.
I was beautiful and bored that summer day
A century and more ago.
I am still beautiful and bored.
And so, I sold my soul.
Why does one need a soul when one has eternal life
– and everlasting youth and beauty?
Evenings in opium dens,
dawns in the arms of another lover,
being cruel to those who love me,
committing a casual murder just to know
how it feels to end the life of some lesser being –
and never have to pay – all my sins visible only
on a hidden portrait and no sign of them
upon my public face.

To travel to foreign lands and to feel the frissons of pleasure
in the arms of an exotic woman or a desperate man
or in several during a single evening.
To commit atrocities upon others who
need the money or the pain or the illusion and to throw down some coins
or a few false words or just to leave and never look back
at the face where love has dawned.

And yes I have loved and loved deeply.
But they grow old or mundane or predictable.
And I remain young and beautiful and desired.
And the portrait now after all these years
shows a monster of grotesque visage and in a state
of eternal rut.
But you will never know –
You will never see the private me.
and long after you are dust,
I will remain – bored and beautiful.

**quote from the Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray portrayed by Reeve Carney, Penny Dreadful Season 1, Episode 2

Dorian Gray portrayed by Reeve Carney, Penny Dreadful Season 1, Episode 2

 

 

Beneath the Faithful Stars

Tuesday of this coming week, I will be Pubtender for the dVerse Poets Pub Poetics. My prompt will be Stars. I will be posting this poem for that prompt as well as for Poets United Poetry Pantry on Sunday Poetry Pantry #282

Ursid meteor showers public domain photo

Ursid meteor showers public domain photo

Beneath the Faithful Stars
During the deep night
and only the distant hoot of an owl
breaks the silence.
I lean on a tree and gaze up
at the stars.
Windows around me dark
But above me the windows
of heaven shine.

I only ask of  the stars that they continue
to shine just as they have for millennia.
In this silent night
their heat cooled by unfathomable distance
and their music just the faintest whisper
of glass chimes –
I wrap myself in my grandmother’s quilt
for warmth in the December night.
The faithless world changes from day to day
but the heartbreaking beauty of the stars
ever faithful shines.

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