This is the 1st week of the Light Snow (November 22 – December 6) Shosetsu 小雪 Northern Hemisphere & Fine Weather: Shoman 小満 Southern Hemisphere season for Colleen Chesebro’s #TankaTuesday challenge based on the 24 Japanese seasons.
For a kigo word I chose turkey because even though we have spectacular summery weather right now, it is Thanksgiving week–even in Arizona! I decided to try a new to me form, tanka prose. I hope I did it right.
Grateful for Our Blessings
Once again our family will meet for Thanksgiving amidst the beautiful Phoenix weather. How grateful I am that we can be together. There will be ten plus one this time. The “plus one” will be brought by DIL and son . . . and is due in two months (or so).
Our Wolves, my Red Riding Hood poetry chapbook, was reviewed by fantasy and science fiction writer D. (Diana) Wallace Peach for her October Book Reviews: https://mythsofthemirror.com/2023/10/31/october-book-reviews-2/. I love her review. She says, “these are thoughtful and provocative poems that I found stirring, raw, and deeply insightful. They’re also beautifully written with gorgeous but accessible language, providing glimmers into the lives and stories of girls everywhere.”
For #TankaTuesday, Colleen Chesebro challenged poets to write three tankas using specific kigo as either first lines or pivot lines. #1: “the first month with sleet” #2: “late winter garden” #3: “blanket by the fire”
Here are mine. It took a little weirdness since we still have gorgeous weather in Arizona.
the first month with sleet
and a howling, freezing wind
first weeks of snowfalls
that melt even as they touch
the earth not yet full-frozen
outside I linger
among the curling petals
late winter garden
a place for thoughts of the past
a place for wishes to come
we look ahead to winter
blanket by the fire
both cuddling with the kitties
will it come or will fall stay
I also wrote a tanka about the contrast of our Arizona weather and my family’s Michigan weather.
[Beginning of Winter in Arizona versus Michigan]
A fall breeze upset
my skirt on my daily walk.
Lone sign of winter.
My brother in Michigan
raked fallen leaves for hours.
My kigo is fallen leaves and fall breeze (instead of autumn wind).
Jen Michalski, Managing and Founding Editor of JMWW Journal, has published my poem, “Edna Pontellier Needed a Bagpiper.” Edna Pontellier is the protagonist of the novel The Awakening. I don’t think you need to have read the book to understand the poem or Edna’s “fascination” with the water.
If you’re so inclined, comments may be left on the site.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve experienced a bagpiper on the shore, as well as many other wonderful places. I used to think I was a reincarnated Scottish person because of my love of the pipes. But it might have started with ballet classes. My ballet teacher also taught Scottish Highland dancing (which I wanted to take SO BADLY but my mother said no), so I was used to hearing the pipes at the studio and at performances.
You really have to be paying attention to see the beginning of winter in Phoenix. It is a little cooler, but it is still as warm as a Michigan summer. The sky is still bright blue. Our flowers are brilliant, and the sun shining through the leaves of the bushes and trees is a painting.
Still, according to #TankaTuesday, this is the first week of The Beginning of Winter (November 7 – 21) Ritto 立冬. I thought I would try a new-to-me form, the gogyohka. This form is not truly syllabic, but Colleen Chesebro’s research has shown it to be more about breaths. It is a five-line poem, like a tanka. A gogyohka does not need a kigo word, but I am playing along with the seasonal prompts, so I am including “long night” as a kigo.
I’m so pleased with how my books have done with the awards, but they could both use more reviews on Amazon (and Goodreads, too, but especially Amazon). It only takes one or two sentences to help the algorithm, so if you have read the books and liked them, please consider taking the time to drop Amazon a line or two.
It’s been over a week that I have been walking every day. I am so happy that I have been able to sustain this routine, and that my health has permitted. It’s a beautiful walk near me, and so far it’s been almost eventless. I am a little dismayed, though, how few birds I am finding this year. Has anyone else noticed this where you live or is it just here?
Strider Marcus Jones, Editor of Lothlorien Poetry Journal, has published five of my poems. Four are brand new, including one about my high school reunion in August, and one is from my first book Doll God. Two of the new poems are about living in Arizona.
I’m very grateful to Mark Danowsky, Editor of One Art, who has published a poem I wrote when I visited my mother in August. I traveled with my bad knees and my husband to see Mom and attend our high school reunion. We stayed in a guest room in the retirement community where Mom lives. And this is what happened the morning we were leaving. I hope you enjoy this narrative poem. It all happened just like this . . . .
Cristina M. R. Norcross, Founding Editor of Blue Heron Review has published one of my new poems in the new issue of the journal. The theme is Heart Source & Haven. In these dark, anxiety-ridden days, what a wonderful issue to read. My poem is about a magical place I found when I was a kid. It was in the woods across the narrow rural road near Caledonia, Michigan.
A Very Specific Opening in the Woods Near Caledonia
The road lilts through the thick woods on either side. There are no mailboxes to denote location, but that heart-shaped patch of lupines marks the entry if I remember to balance across the moss-covered log and bend down to pass under the sugar maple leaves. Follow the burbling creek down past the grasses nestling the tree trunks and saplings and when I’m lulled into the rhythm of the path, it appears in front of me—an open meadow sparkling with sunlight on the kaleidoscopic array of poppies, Sweet William, and phlox—hummingbirds and butterflies—even dragonflies—rising amidst the motes of pollen and seed, a bluebird’s chest pumping its song, and an alert squirrel scolding. At the top of my basket is the tablecloth—red and white checkered, natch—and I lay out the wine and chocolates, the ginger cake and oranges. Later, I drowse with my head on my doubled sweater. That’s when they arrive in their gossamer tutus and green tights, with their silvery voices. In the haze of my half-opened eyes, I watch them for memory’s sake. I will paint them later, as if they are a dream.
I wrote a tanka with Dia de Los Muertos as the kigo word for #TankaTuesday.
[Topic: First Frost]
Before winter’s here
on Dia de Los Muertos
we remember ones
we have lost to the Reaper
and celebrate life and love.
Although we are not in danger of a frost in Phoenix, the days and nights are cooler than they were. When I wake up in the morning, we are in the low 50s. I’ve been walking in the morning to take advantage of cooler air.
BONUS: to use Trick or Treat. Here is my lune:
Trick or treat, smell my
feet, give me
something good to eat.
(stolen from the childhood jingle)You can’t improve on a classic!
This is the 1st week of the “First Frost” season for Colleen Chesebro’s #TankaTuesday challenge based on the 24 Japanese seasons.
Although we don’t have a first frost in October ever in Arizona, and some years no frost at all, there are other aspects of the season that we do share with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, as Colleen points out. She mentions Halloween and All Saints. I, of course, think of Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. Two years ago I created a nicho to celebrate the day and the lives of my kitties who had passed over the rainbow bridge. https://writersite.org/2021/10/06/making-after-loss/
This year I bought a Count Dracula costume for my black cats. I wanted to capture Meesker’s little white fangs, but unfortunately, he is not a model. My daughter had to add in the fangs for me. Meet Count Meeskula!
My old lady Kana, on the other hand, is quite the ham. She loves dressing up. She does not have fangs, though. Meet Countess Grannyula!
So when I saw that black cats for luck is a kigo I knew I would write about them!
The gardener and I went to a lovely Halloween costume party. I wanted to go as Edgar Allen Poe with a raven on my shoulder. That would have been soooo cool. The gardener would have been my editor, which would have fit him just fine hahaha. But after looking at all the photos of Poe with that high tight collar I knew this hot-blooded person could not wear an outfit like that in Arizona.
I wanted another poet, but it needed to be somebody who lived to be as old as me, so Sylvia Plath was out. A friend suggested Edith Sitwell because she dressed eccentrically in turbans and caftans. She was a well-known British poet active in the 1910s to 1960s. She was an aristocrat and her two brothers were also poets. So I put together a costume as Dame Edith Sitwell, and the gardener dressed as Sir Osbert Sitwell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Sitwell
Of course, the gardener won’t let me post his photo on here ;). But here is an image of the vintage purse I carried (that belonged to his aunt) and the calling cards I had made! Just so you know how color-coordinated I was, the pattern of my caftan has lots of yellow from the waist down.
On the back side of the calling card it says: I will be working on my American accent this evening. [I don’t do accents.]
This is the 2nd portion of the “Cold Dew” season for Colleen Chesebro’s #TankaTuesday challenge based on the 24 Japanese seasons.
At this time every year in Arizona, we pull out the “summer flowers,” the annuals that we plant in May. We replace them with “winter flowers.” Usually red geraniums are featured, as they are this year. In the last few years we have much fewer choices than we used to have. This year, we had even less choice–and the red geraniums don’t look very good. I hope they perk up once planted. Today is the day we plant!
The topic of my tanka is our winter flowers.
Our summer flowers
have drooped and browned by the house.
Today we release
them from the earth to make room
for winter’s colors.
I made up the kigo “winter flowers” because it is such a part of this season.
On another note, I heard yesterday that my poetry collection Rooted and Winged, which was a Book Excellence winner, is Runnerup in the PenCraft Book Awards 2023. Woot!!!!
On another note, I don’t know how about anybody else, but I am feeling very drained and saddened over world events. I am also horrified by the anti-Semitism rampant on Twitter/X. I’ve joined Bluesky and am only following writers and people I know. Friends, if you want to join, I have a couple of codes. First come, first served.