Community of Hands (Haibun)

making

He thought much of these disembodied hands, pictured them moving to the light of the burnished lantern, weaving patterns intricate as those in the most delicate hummingbird nest, textures and shades of light with traces of webs and soft fibers of unknown origin, making knots of shadows and their companions.

*

It was not that they were so very much like his; they were hands of another sort, hands that touched nothing held by another, hands that knew no lips or wooden hearts or curves in a quiet moment, hands that knew only themselves in the community of unnatural hands.

waking to the rain
he hears a far-off whistle
oh, the neighbor’s tea!

* * *

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“Community of Hands” first appeared here in April 2017.

Incongruities

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Years ago, I worked in a library…

Incongruities

so little depends
upon

the half-Japanese
bookman

reading Italian
haiku

in the Texas
library.

Once again, my apologies to William Carlos Williams, whose poetry inspires and therefore often bears the brunt of my little diversions into whimsy. “Incongruities” first appeared here in October 2015. The original WCW poem can be found here.

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Shaping (Haibun)

 

Shaping (Haibun)

He needed to shape things, make them his. Stones in the garden, carved wooden bookstands, the absence of light in certain corners of the house, all captured this need. His was not so much a desire for control as a means of learning, of observing and participating in processes not ordinarily viewed as such. To watch shadows develop in the presence of trees and vine-covered walls, flowering for brief moments, their entire lives encompassed in seconds: he wanted to hold and be held, to breathe in what the air brought him and return what he could. To live.

what greeting is this?
bugs tapping at my window
tell me winter’s gone

In the evening he often sat in a room lit only by a candle in an old iron lantern. He preferred candlelight for it did not obliterate darkness as did the electric lamps, but diminished it, allowing a room new life. Each crevice in the book shelves became a new world, each doorway an entrance to something beyond one’s perceptions of black and white, the difference of moon and sun. Corners lost their edges. Shadows flowered with every movement of the candle’s flame, became hands without bodies, fingers tapping time to an unheard music.

no gods in this room
singing the blues
darkness lights the way

 

Creek Haibun

Creek Haibun

The creek’s waters flow so quickly that I make little headway in my attempt to cross. A water moccasin slips by, and my left boot takes on water. This is not real, I say. We’ve had no rain and I would not be so foolish as to do this. Asleep? Perhaps, but I’ve passed the halfway point and have no choice but to move forward. I slip and nearly pitch headfirst into the dark current. Lightning stitches the sky.

 

dreaming, the snake

swims against floodwaters

oh, what have I lost?

 

Dispatches from the Pandemic: This Old Desk

Dispatches from the Pandemic: This Old Desk

This old desk whispers hints of lives lived in separate peripheries, of unseen treasures and thoughts and deeds. Whose fountain pen scrawled love notes on the inlaid leather pullout, which daughter broke a crystal finger bowl and wept for a lost pet? What books rested behind these glass doors? What curiosities? Old pocket knives, polished stones? Spent cartridges? And in these slots? Perhaps perfume bottles and note pads. Or unanswered letters and a worn deck of playing cards. A tin box of regrets, another of joy.

Haiku and Whitman
mingling behind beveled glass
Look: my mother’s ashtray

The desk and I are slowly making our acquaintance. I pledge that I will never take its untold history for granted, that I’ll respect its presence and do my utmost to fill it with purpose, with cherished objects and the satisfaction of good work. In turn it offers me solidity, an altar at which to sit and think, to rearrange words, create lists, read, conjure fantasies, breathe. I’ve only just realized that I’ve lacked such a base since abandoning my Texas shack fifteen months ago.

Another window
frames the distant crow
Home at last!

Pain (Haibun)

Pain

Pain reminds me that I’m breathing, still able to appreciate the fragrance of French roast coffee brewing, the diced red pepper, onion and jalapeño mixture sizzling in the pan. Today is a good day. When I roll out the dough for the onion tart, the leg barely protests, and as I sip ginger tea while the tart bakes, no throb interrupts my pleasure.

Sometimes the hip shocks me with its barbed lance attack, or the knee rasps “not today, sonny,” and I grimace, concentrate on deliberate forward movement, one short step followed by another, into the kitchen or down the steps to the shack.

Music soothes, as does poetry, but occasionally the weight of the guitar is more than the leg can bear. Still, when I manage to lose myself in a tune or a few phrases, I drift in their currents, weightless, free.

Oh, to climb that hill
among those lost maples
Look — my shoe’s untied

* * *

“Pain” first appeared in The Zen Space in July 2018.

Poem a Day Mini-marathon is Not Quite Over

Reflections

If you submitted a sponsorship directly through Brick Street’s donation link, and you have not been in communication with me about it, I may not know of it. Please contact me via comment or email if you’ve done this, so that I may write your poem! In the meantime, the poem a day mini-marathon (to raise funds for Brick Street Poetry) is winding down. I’m so pleased that we’ve surpassed the original goal of ten sponsored poems (we’ve received sponsorships through the 22nd)! The mini-marathon will end with Wednesday’s poem if I do not receive any more sponsorships by Tuesday evening. Thank you, everyone, for reading along and providing inspired titles and words. This has been great fun, and we’ve earned a few bucks for Brick Street, which was the idea, after all!

Poem a Day Mini-marathon Winding Down

Reflections

This poem a day mini-marathon to raise funds for Brick Street Poetry is winding down. I’m so pleased that we’ve surpassed the original goal of ten sponsored poems! But, as I’ve not received any sponsorships in the past two days, the challenge will end with Sunday’s poem (unless more sponsorships come in by tomorrow evening). Thank you, everyone, for reading along and providing inspired titles and words. This has been great fun, and we’ve earned a few bucks for Brick Street, which was the idea, after all!

Poem a Day Mini-marathon Continuing, but…

Literary Cat

The mini-marathon of writing a poem a day to raise funds for Brick Street Poetry is continuing, but we could use a few more sponsors! I’ll keep going for as long as you keep sponsoring poems, or until month’s end, whichever comes first. 

I invite you to join me in this project and help out by reading, commenting, heckling, encouraging, insulting, cajoling, praising and yes, if circumstances allow, sponsoring me and donating funds (to Brick Street, not me). This might not be of much interest if the poems were simply going to languish in a file somewhere, but such is not the case. They will be posted online daily, warts and all, for the world to peruse. That’s right – you’ll see my daily work, unpolished and raw, finished or not. Thus far, I’ve not been reduced to whimpers…

I’ll post each day’s offering sometime in the morning, and will leave the poems up for a few weeks. I consider these poems drafts, and will eventually revise and send some of them to journals/anthologies for publication consideration. Many journals consider poems posted on personal blogs to be published, thus I’ll take them down, so as not to violate their sensibilities (odd though they may be).

Like many nonprofits, Brick Street Poetry, Inc. depends upon donations to augment their projects, which vary from a monthly poetry reading series and podcast, to placing Borrow a Book boxes in state parks, publishing a literary journal and various anthologies, and establishing a neighborhood literary art park (to offer free workshops), just to mention a few.

This month they’re raising funds by asking people to vote, via PayPal donations, for favorite haiku in a just-published online anthology.

I’ve decided to help out by — what else — writing poems. See my post of September 5th for details.

Why am I doing this? I love poetry. If I, poet, reader and book buyer, don’t support Brick Street’s mission, who will? 

Make Me Write a Poem!

Reflections

I’m trying to raise funds for my favorite local literary nonprofit, Brick Street Poetry, Inc., and am hoping that some of you might be able to help. This month, Brick Street has published an online anthology, Haiku for Hikers, and in an effort to raise funds, is asking people to vote on their favorite haiku from the anthology via PayPal donations. Disclosure: I have two haiku in the anthology (on pages 47 & 48), and it’s been announced that the poet who generates the most income will receive a monetary award. To this I say: please don’t feel obligated to vote for my poems, AND if I somehow happen to earn the most donations, I promise to donate the award money back to Brick Street. The goal is simply to earn funds for this stellar organization. And, as luck has it, during September, Brick Street will also receive matching funds for all donations!

So I’m pledging to write at least 10 poems in 10 days, from September 8 through September 17 (as of today, we’re scheduled through the 18th, and will continue if donations come in). If you have the time and inclination, please follow along (I’ll post the new poems daily) and consider supporting poetry by making a donation. Every bit helps, especially with matching funds. To make this fun, and with hopes of enticing you, I’ve instituted a few incentives:

Name That Poem! For a $15 donation, you provide a title, and I’ll write the poem during the mini-marathon. Be imaginative. Make the title as long or as interesting as you wish – consider this a dare! But this incentive is limited to only ten titles (unless forced by demand to extend the challenge). Titles from previous challenges ranged from one word to upwards of 80, and also included such atrocities as “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” and “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven.” These were, of course, among my favorites to write.

Use These Words, Poet! For a $16 donation you can offer 3 words that I must use in a poem. Why only 3? Because I’m (a) chicken (pawk, pawk!), and (b) I hate relinquishing control of my poetry’s language. Yes, yes, I know. This says horrible things about my character. But look at it this way, you could combine the first two incentives (for a $25 donation) to force me to use your title AND three words that I likely wouldn’t use otherwise, which is about as much control as I’m able to give up (shuddering). Be kind. Or not. But it would be nice to produce  publishable poems…

Isn’t Broadside a Military Term? Well, yeah, but in this case it’s also a printed poem. For a $10 donation, I’ll send you my broadside of “Mayflies” or “The Loneliness of the Last” — your choice — or perhaps one from the current challenge.

But feel free to donate any amount. These are just suggestions.

Brick Street has provided this information for those interested in voting:

Please check out Brick Street Poetry’s new anthology “Haiku for Hikers” and help the author of your favorite poem receive recognition and monetary reward.

Instruction for voting for “Haiku for Hikers” Poems.

Readers can access the online version by clicking on “Anthology” at the top, far-right of this Brick Street Poetry webpage http://www.brickstreetpoetry.org/  Reading is enjoyable & free!

Then vote for your favorite poem or poems by clicking the Pay Pal Donation Button and making a donation of any dollar amount and placing the poem’s number for which you are voting in the comment section. You may vote for as many poems as you want but need to describe the split of funds in the comment section or make a separate donation for each individually if voting for more than one. Donations of less than one dollar can’t be split. If more than one # is listed without splitting instructions, all money will be credited to the 1st poem listed.

Poems receiving $10 in donations will be included in the printed version of the work, and the poet will receive 3 free copies of the printed version. The poem with the most public support will receive an honorarium equal to half of the donations received for that poem.

Your support will mean a lot to the poet for whose poem you vote and it will mean a lot to Brick Street Poetry too!  We thank you for reading the work of the poets included in our anthology and for your support of your favorite or favorites.

Thanks very much for considering this!