he informs me . . .

he informs me
I’ve been working for years
on this garden–
as if there were limits to love
buried deep beneath the ground

A Hundred Gourds 3:1, December 2013

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homecoming . . .

Each April, Oklahoma poet Ken Hada gathers writers together for three days of readings,  camaraderie and celebration of the written and spoken word at East Central University’s Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, Oklahoma. This was the second year I’ve had the pleasure of participating  in Scissortail by reading a selection of my haibun to festival-goers.

The last day of the festival was the 12th anniversary of my mother’s death, and the haibun I read at this year’s Scissortail paid tribute to her. (My mother grew up in Ada and attended East Central before moving to Norman, Oklahoma, where she graduated from law school, married my father, and set about raising a family.)

I’m happy with my reading, and grateful, as always, for the opportunity to share my writing with a live audience that is warm, receptive and responsive. Still, I wish I’d included the following haibun (which I’ve previously posted here) in my reading selection. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Perhaps this story is still too close for me to speak the words out loud.

Winter’s Light

It’s late January—one of those rare, balmy winter days that occasionally happens in Arkansas—and my mother and I have taken advantage of the break in weather to take a day trip to one of our favorite places.

We’ve been making the trek to this mountain town—together and individually—for almost three decades. Its Victorian architecture and cobblestone streets always captivate us, no matter the season. But winter—when it’s quiet—without tourists—makes us feel this is our own private playground. Today, we’ve wandered through the few shops that are open; ambled through a woodland chapel; driven to the panoramic crest overlooking the surrounding valley. We’re happy.

As we head west out of town, winter’s light—the kind that’s clear and golden and makes you want to testify—bathes us and the receding streets with more warmth as the sun begins to set. It’s then that my mother, one eye to the future, says to me, “Perhaps you can live here.” When I’m gone, she means, but she doesn’t have to say more. 

soapsuds . . .
mother tells me how
she’d like to die

Contemporary Haibun 15, April 2014

fear of dancing: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2013

Contemporary Haibun Online 9.3, October 2013

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tanka news . . .

I’ve said it before: If you write tanka–or have been considering writing tanka–the Tanka Society of America is a great resource. Not only does this membership group publish a tri-annual journal (Ribbons) it also provides a sense of community and support for writers of this five-line form. In addition to its journal and annual contest, for example, the society recently announced the resumption of a members’ anthology set to be published in the fall of this year. (The last members’ anthology was published in 2009.)

M. Kei, editor and publisher of Atlas Poetica, has agreed to edit the 2014 anthology–with a complimentary copy to be mailed to current TSA members, who (between now and April 30) may send from 5-10 unpublished tanka to be considered for inclusion in the book. For more information–on both joining the Society and submitting to the members’ anthology–visit TSA’s website.

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it’s that time again (for NaHaiWriMo) . . .

Ah, February . . . the shortest month but not the cruelest. This year, once again, I’m joining other haiku enthusiasts in the online challenge to create 28 (hopefully halfway decent) haiku from prompts provided by National Haiku Writing Month founder Michael Dylan Welch. And, once again, I’ll be trying my hand (with the help of online translators and my pocket Cassell’s) at translating my daily haiku into French for the NaHaiWriMo en français Facebook site led by the inimitable bilingual poet and artist Jessica Tremblay. (This year there’s even a new site for Bulgarian poets to share in the month-l0ng haiku frenzy.)

As many already know, the NaHaiWriMo site went viral a few years ago when participants decided they wanted to keep the daily prompts going year-round. But the site really soars in February when slackers (like me) return to the fold that has become a tight-knit group of writers willing to whet their haiku skills on the prompts MDW provides his fold. All month long, the prompts will, appropriately, center on words that start with the alphabet’s second letter “B”. Today’s word: “Banjo.” And here’s my first (of 28) responses:

bound for glory . . .                                        lié pour la gloire . . .
one last time he strums the strings            une dernière fois, il gratte les cordes
of his old banjo                                               de son vieux banjo

for “Pete”                                                       pour “Pete”

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the cherry master . . .

the cherry master
nurtures each tree like a child
offering petals
one by one without question
to the wind, to the world

red lights 10:1, January 2014

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remembering Kat . . .

This week I, along with other members of the haiku community, learned of the sudden, unexpected death of Kat Creighton. Kat was a photographer as well as a poet, combining words and images to create the poetic form known as haiga; her work, which often focused on the landscape of the Jersey Shore that she knew and loved, was featured in online journals like haiga online and A Hundred Gourds during the past several years. (Click on links for examples; or visit Kirsten Cliff’s blog Swimming in Lines of Haiku to read the beautiful, collaborative tanka sequence the two of them wrote called “Uncharted Depths.”)

Like others who knew Kat only through the virtual world, I’ve found some of her poems particularly haunting in light of her recent passing. (The day before her death, for example, she posted a haiku about the “three quarter moon” and the impossibility of distinguishing “what is/from what isn’t”.) And, like others who knew Kat far better, I too will miss her voice, her vision, and her presence in this world. 

for Kat:

memorial
so many empty chairs
touched by moonlight

A Hundred Gourds 1:1, December 2011

 

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coyotes . . .

coyotes–
I lie awake listening
for the sound
of your footsteps, your breath . . .
the heavy stillness of life

Fire Pearls 2: Short Masterpieces of Love and Passion

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ghost moon . . .

 

In tribute to the first new moon of the New Year, and all the loved ones we also may briefly have lost sight of:

 . . . Camera-in-hand, I stand, watching, waiting, thinking I might capture some long-lost image; that through some magic transformation of the eye, my lens might transpose the house I see before me for the house my father, his father, his father’s father and mother once filled with sound and life. I close my eyes and try to imagine the swell of stringed instruments rising and falling under rosined bows that covered the parlor’s chairs with the fine, soft dust of music. . . .

ghost moon . . .
the three-quarter time
of a lost generation

(from “Three-quarter Time,” A Hundred Gourds 3:1, December 2013)

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dark of the moon . . .

dark of the moon . . .
she resolves to take a walk
on the wild side

Today marks not just the first day of a new year but also a new “super” moon (the first of two this month) that has the distinction of revealing the moon’s “dark side.” With that in mind, I’ve resolved to let my wild side loose a little more often than I did in 2013. I think that’s a good thing, and I’m looking forward to where it might take me in the year ahead.

Happy New Year 2014! May it be filled with hope and joy . . . and more than a little wildness!

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waxing gibbous . . .

waxing gibbous–
the visiting cat comes
out of hiding

A Hundred Gourds 3:1, December 2013

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