Haibun Monday – The Shadow Knows

Monday I am doing the prompt for Haibun Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. Years ago I read In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 In’ei Raisan), an essay on Japanese aesthetics by the Japanese author and novelist Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. It deeply influenced me and caused my immersion into the Japanese culture. So I am prompting people to write about shadows today in classic Haibun form – actual shadows, shadows in our lives, walking after dark in the full moon, the fireplace flickering in a dark room, shadows of clouds racing over a meadow, mountain or lake. Come visit us and find out the reason for this quote by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”  The Pub opens at 3:00 pm EST

Moonlight, kendo, and love
Midsummer. The moon was full to bursting and it lit up our bedroom like a klieg light. My lover was sleeping soundly, softly snoring. I was rolling from one half of the bed to the other – the night was hot and moist and redolent with the smells of roses, jasmine, gardenias, magnolia….the rich musk of freshly mown grass floated over the flower smells and made me sneeze. I gave one look at the sleeping man, muttered “bah” and got out of bed. I looked down into the garden in the back yard – the scene was almost surreal, flat with the look of no contrasting shadows. Every detail stood out in sharp detail. I pulled on a tee shirt and shorts and went downstairs. I decided if nothing else, I would practice some kendo forms I had learned the previous week. With my shinai in hand, I began. I started to sweat but continued. Soon I relaxed and to get into the motions. Clouds blew across the surface of the full moon and shadows drifted across the koi pond and the graveled area. A soft breeze began cooling me and I closed my eyes and drifted with the forms. Suddenly, my arms were gripped by strong hands and my lover began to improve on my motions.

I turned to look at him. Taller than the average Japanese man with a beautiful swooped nose and full lips. I loved his mouth and his nose. He smiled. “Dancing in the shadows?” I melted into him and we began the kendo dance. Shadows began to shift as the moon began to dip in the sky. The branches of trees grew longer and one of the koi broke surface, thinking the moonlight on the water was a bug. I watched the shadows from the moon slowly glide along the walkway. We became still, me wrapped in his arms. “I love the shadows on a full moon night,” he whispered. “I love you on a full moon night.” And he started to caress me. Soon we disappeared into the shadow of the dogwood tree, making love in our garden. Fully sated at last, we went to sleep on the grass each holding the other close. We woke just before grey dawn and lay there looking at the sun rise. The koi began to roil the surface of the pond clamoring for food. I fed them and watched them as they swam in and out of my reflection. Shadows shifted as the sun rose higher. I kissed him. “I love you” I said. And he smiled.
flowers scent the air –
midsummer dreams – shadows on
a pond – koi jumps high.

Haibun Monday – Yum!

This is Haibun Monday over at the dVerse Poets Pub.  I am prompting people to write about one of the best meals they ever had.  Come join us for some good eats!
Down By the River
I remember once when I was 10, my father took me fishing. Through Durham flows the beautiful Eno river. Papa had a place picked out for fishing. It was right before one of the several cascades of white water along the river. We scrambled down rocks and jumped over streams until we came to “The Spot”. My father took several cokes out of the basket I was carrying and nestled them into the rocks at the edge of the river. I knew in the basket were also a couple of bologna sandwiches, a small bag of corn chips, and a couple of Hershey bars. We sat in companionable silence and fished. Time passed slowly and I began to nod. Suddenly my pole began to twitch and I jerked awake, just in time to pull up the large trout. It was a triumphant moment.

It was almost noon and my father decided it was time for lunch. We pulled the cokes up out of the river and I unwrapped the sandwiches. I washed my hands in the river and dried them on the back of my shorts. My father and I gobbled up the sandwiches, chips, and Hershey bars and drank our cokes, cold from the river water. I haven’t eaten bologna since then but that day, the sandwiches were sheer delights, wonders of modern cuisine. We sat there for several hours and finally decided to call it a day. The trout was swimming in his water basket and Papa decided to let him go. I was glad he did. I had been feeding it bits of leftover bread and had formed a tenuous friendship with it. It was the only fish we caught that day. My father packed up all the trash and wound the lines tight. We clambered back over the rocks to our car and then drove home. I told my mother what we had had for lunch and she smiled. “I remember a similar lunch he packed for us while we were dating and we went fishing on the Eno.”

melted butter sun
dapples river and trees – the
river runs silent

 

public domain photo Eno River Org

 

 

Meeting the Bar: Impressionism

Today Bjorn is Pubtender and is prompting us to write impressionist poetry, based on impressionist paintings.  Splashes of color, some scents, some cooking, some blurred edges – all the hallmarks of the great Impressionists, including Claude Monet.  Come visit us at the Pub and view the artisitic offerings:  Meet the Bar with impressionism

Water Lilies in the Kitchen 
In the lemon yellow kitchen
Sunday dinner is being prepared.
aromas of fried chicken and pot roast
mingle with scents of onion, celery, bell peppers
and the sizzle of the fried chicken competes with
the sound of birds outside.
through the wide window framed with red maple
and blue and white curtains
the bright jade green summer lawn
runs to meet the azure sky.
The heavy leafed trees comb
the sky clear of purest white clouds.
Inside the kitchen
the tender green perfume of freshly cut herbs
float on the heavier scents
like water lilies on a pond.

Water lilies – detail from Claude Monet

dVerse Poets Pub – OLN #191

Today is Open Link Night (OLN) over at dVerse Poets Pub. Gayle is our host today and sadly, this is her last go as Pubtender. She is an amazing talent and is one of the kindest people around. She will most definitely be missed. I know I will miss her. So come by the dPub and read some excellent poems. Today I am doing a haibun in order to get in on Frank’s prompt last week of writing prose poetry. https://dversepoets.com/2017/03/09/open-link-night-191/

The Samurai and the Sparrow
Hot summer in the South – a feeling of walking around in a bowl of hot oatmeal when one ventures outside. But the air was sweet with magnolia, honeysuckle, night blooming jasmine, roses…my life was obsessed with smells that year. But this Saturday there was to be an exhibition of Kendo; several Hachi-dan Hanshi sparring against each other. I had just started dating a man who was arrogant, thought his long blonde hair made him look like a Nordic badass, and he was also into Kendo, at a higher level than I. He wasn’t great but he was an amusement. One of the men in the exhibition line caught my eye immediately. He was truly one of the most beautiful men I had ever seen. The participants all bowed and when he looked up at the sparse audience, I gasped. He looked me right in the eyes. You could have walked on the bolt that shot between us. The man beside me heard me gasp and looked at me with a frown. “What’s so great about him?” he muttered. I turned and looked at him with a sniff. “Other than he is gorgeous and dressed in a black silk hakama? Other than the fact that he is obviously good?” I had to laugh. My date got up and left. Fine with me.

I watched the Japanese man avidly. He was a bit taller than most Japanese me and he had his hair pulled up into a warriors knot (not those silly “man” buns of today) and in his belt were tucked the two swords – katana and wakizashi. He was carrying daisho – literally “big little” referring to the two swords. Every once in awhile, he would slightly break his concentration and find me in the audience. I shivered. I clearly had an admirer. Why I do not know. I was plain. My long dark hair was worn in a braid down my back, I was wearing glasses. I was under five feet tall – four feet 10 inches. He was gorgeous and moved like a tiger on ball bearings. Swift, graceful, lethal, powerful, passionate. But something in me spoke to him as something in me answered. Do you believe in love at first sight? Never ever put it down. Something started that day that after 35 years still resounds. It is hidden now but it is still there. I heard when he returned to Japan, he never married.

magnolias scent the
summer air – moths come to the
flame – wings become singed

old snapshot taken in Duke U Medical Library

Haibun Monday – Taking a Bath in the Forest – say what??

Today at 3:00 PM, EST, I am hosting the Haibun Monday prompt for dVerse Poets Pub.  Come join us at this virtual pub for good conversation and good poetry.  I am asking people to write (non-fiction) a one – three paragraph haibun ending it with a classic haiku (using kigo and kireji) and to write about the last time they were immersed in nature.  The subject that prompted this was shinrin-yoku – literally forest bathing.  It is a recognized health benefit in Japan and lately other places.  So please, come join us! I was going to write about getting my vegetable garden ready for planting but decided on true shinrin-yoku. I am an old tree climber from waaaay back.

Having a tree as a BFF is a good thing!
I leaned back into the arms of the old oak tree, it’s warm bark comforting and cradling. All around me in the stillness of the woods that surrounds my home, I could hear the sounds of birds – songs, calling territory, rustling in the branches, wings occasionally flapping as one landed or took off. Every once in awhile, the bark of a crow or several sharp caws would join in. Small creatures – squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bunnies, snakes, frogs – all would make sounds as they went about their daily business. Foraging for food, scurrying from hawks gliding overhead, tunneling, eating, croaking and meditating in the sun – all the woodland sounds.

I come to these woods about once a week to nourish myself. I stand at the edge and decide what path to take today. Often I take the path to this ancient oak, an old friend of mine. I climb the tree until I find the certain conjunction of branches that hide and hold me. Winter or summer, spring or fall; snow or rain, sunshine and cold or heat – I love all the turns of the seasons I can watch from this place in the tree. Last summer, I watched a nest of cardinals hatching over in the neighboring tree. I looked down as a buck and his harem processed majestically beneath me. I have seen much and felt much in this tree. This tree is like the welcoming arms of my husband or my mother or a friend.

It is time. I rustle around a few minutes and bring forth my violin. Today in midsummer, it is time for something light and playful. I place my bow to the strings and begin Boccherini’s La Musica Notturna Delle Strade No. 6. The woods and all its creatures listen for just a space and then, they begin again, going about their business.

summer sounds drift by –
lazy creek at bottom of
hill sings its own song

copyright kanzensakura

Poetics: Muse Mixology

Today De (the lovely and talented WhimsyGizmo) is our prompter for Poetics. We are to use in 33 words or less(hopefully):…”today I’d like us to mix our muses up a bit by throwing some pub and drinking terms in the blender:
shaken,stirred, rum, vesper, name your poison, drown your sorrows, sour, whiskey, last call, etc. etc. etc.
Ah, but here’s the kicker: try to use these words in ways that have nothing to do with the bar scene, alcohol, or drinking. Use as many as you like; pour your poem as tall, short or neat as you like, and come back for another round. And if none of these words or phrases speak to you, go prohibition on us: write anything you want. Just make it short enough to fit on a cocktail napkin. (Keep it at 33 words or less.)” Alas! I went over the 33 words.

Summer Day
Grand Marnier sunrise,
Grenadine sunset,
Laphroaig night.
And flowing from the bottled day
a perfect Southern Comfort
kind of day – I pull a summer tomato
from the vine and take a bite.
Oh glorious Bloody Mary!
I laugh up into the sky
drunk with joy.

tree to produce stand nectarines

summer heirloom tomatoes – copyright Kanzensakura 2010 – 3010

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.

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