Haibun: Who and why

Today I am hosting at dVerse Poets writing about why I write poetry and who inspired me.

Who and Why
I wrote my first haiku when I was six. Our next door neighbor, the last of his line, was a professor of Asian Studies at Duke University. I came and went freely in his home, looking at the antiques, the momentos from his journeys to Japan, and sipping lemonade on his generous front porch. Jamie Pollard was prissy, opinionated, and not afraid to speak his mind. Although I was six and he was 40, we became fast friends. His factotum was a Japanese man who kept the house in order, the vehicles running, and his employer looking perfect. He was also Jamie’s live in lover. At a time when such things were “not spoken of”, Jamie lived his life large. Often in the summer, as I lay on my stomach coloring in my coloring book, he would read Basho and Issa to me and we both sipped lemonade. I suspect his had some liquor added.

When I was 11 and totally bored, my grandmother stopped her preparation of dinner and went to the house library. She came back with several books – T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, and H.D. Thoreau. She put them down in front of me and said, I think these will keep you busy for a couple of weeks. I was inspired by all three writers. Thus began my interest in writing about nature in the form of “snapshots”…haiku. The Viet Nam war was ramping up. I wrote of poems about peace, love, and later, about drugs. Once when I was practicing my cursive writing, my father took out a lovely fountain pen and gave it to me. He said to me, “write your heart”. And I did. I took it with me everywhere I traveled – from the Coast of North Carolina to the summit of Mt. Fuji. I loaded it up with peacock blue ink. I write my heart, my soul, my feelings, my questions about life. I write simply. Like spring rain or snow or the ancient trees in the forest. Inspired by poets and people I love, I write. I will always write about life and how I perceive it.

spring comes in slowly
scattering snow and cherry blossoms –
legacy of love in verse

dVerse Poetics – My Inspiration

T S Eliot photographed by his friend and correspondent Ottoline Morrell. public domain image

T S Eliot photographed by his friend and correspondent Ottoline Morrell. public domain image

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”  T.S.Eliot

Today, I have the happy task of being bartender at dVerse Poetics Pub. This means I get to talk with all the folk in the community who make comments. I also get to choose a prompt. We often speak of someone who inspired us to write. I am asking our community to write about the poet and their poem that inspired them to begin writing. I am also asking them to take the prompt farther and if possible, write the poem in the style of the inspiring poet. My inspiration is T.S. Eliot. I took this poem from one of my few surviving notebooks wherein I wrote my poems years ago. This is from January 1965. It is full of all the angst and alientation of a teenager at odds with the world around her. And it is a bland imitation of several of Eliot’s poems.

January
January – the dark month
The month of moonless nights
And stars hidden by clouds.

Smoke tasting fog – piles of grey ash
In cans on the sidewalk
And the ash men come –
Reaping what the fire has tasted and left behind –
Ash days
Grey and dry – trees cremated to warm
Those flower folk hidden behind lace curtains
And wide porches sipping tea and eating cakes
Made by those below –
Silent in their movements
And almost as invisible
As the skeleton of an oak leaf –
But visible if the flower people gaze hard enough
But who only sip their tea and eat their cakes
who only look away.

A little dog trots on the sidewalk –
He alone has someplace to go.

Two men in black coats walk
Towards him and he shies away from them.
He jumps on the steps leading up
The grey walk to the big house
And whines as the men pass by.
Black hats black coats
Twins of darkness on this empty street
The flower folks entombed behind
Long panes of glass.

In a country graveyard by a long deserted church
With dirt as red as blood
I saw neglected graves and on one was set in a stone
A photograph behind smashed glass.
I assume it was the person buried in the blood red dirt.

Buried behind a pane of glass
In the blood red dirt of January
I sit by a dead fire and sip tea and eat cake.

 

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