Ever since I started this blog three years ago, I’ve asked contributors to send me poems to honor their lost loved ones as part of a single All Souls Day/Day of the Dead post. This year, however, I’m planning something slightly different. During the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting a series of poems–my own as well as others–that relate in some way to the passing of life as we know it. (In Japanese short form poetry, there’s a whole genre dedicated to death poems, or “banka.” And Day of the Dead poets often eulogize their dead with satirical gems called calaveras–named after the whimsical skeleton figures that make their appearance this time of year in everything from folk tableaux to sugar skulls.)
If at any time during the next couple of weeks any of my readers would like to contribute a small poem in honor of a loved one, feel free to use the comment function on any of the posts leading up to All Souls Day and I’ll try to incorporate the tributes into my following post.
Below is the first installment in this series–a haiga I created from a street filled with funeral wreaths that I came across in Naples several years ago. It seems particularly fitting for me to start with this image, as I learned today of the death of a wonderful writer/teacher/adventurer named Bill Harrison, who (along with the late James Whitehead) was instrumental in founding the writing program at the University of Arkansas where I received my M.F.A.
Rest in Peace, Bill. Safe Travels.