Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write in response to this Monet painting of his garden in Giverny. I decided to write a haibun as I had a story to tell.
Not Meant for Humans
The walkway seems to have no beginning, and so I tiptoe through the purple and blue blossoms to reach the rough path, feeling naughty and bold but safe for its proximity to a well-painted building. I circle the garden of Iris, the rainbow herself. Round I go three times and then spy a spot of bone under the willow. The sun ray has moved, so now I can see what I have missed. Or did it just appear? I step closer, into the flowers, careful not to crush the blossoms themselves, aware I might be harming stems. My curiosity draws me in. As I bend toward the ground, I part the plants and see a very small skeleton, as of an excruciatingly tiny human. Her shredded wings are faded with age, but once must have been the blue of Iris with yellow dots like bright and miniature suns. Perhaps she fell from the branch above when she was asleep. I understand now why the path repeats itself, an endless spinning trail, meant as it is for those with wings to fly above the garden and to rest in the shade of the well-nourished trees. Still, being human, I invite you to share in my experience.
Watch for tiny wings
hidden by goddess Iris
and her endless path.
I’ve been intrigued by fairies lately. And by the notion of fairy skeletons because, after all, what is left of them after they die?
As you can see from the poem, I also constantly worry over our human enjoyment of and curiosity about nature because we are such destructive creatures, even when we don’t mean to be.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: write a syllabic poem using synonyms for the words green and spring, but do not use those words themselves. I decided to use the form tanka because I am starting to really appreciate that structure.
Rather than a title, a tanka might have a topic. My topic is Arizona seasons.
March in the desert
is verdant, a vernal gem,
budtime under blue
and blossomy without freeze,
Phoenix repeats in the fall.
Vernal and budtime are both synonyms for spring. Verdant is a synonym for green.
In Arizona we tend to have two springs, meaning that some blossoming trees bloom twice a year and that we plant new annuals in both fall and spring. For this reason March and April—and October—are my favorite months in Arizona.
This week’s prompt by Colleen Chesebro is to find a spice in my cupboard and write a syllabic poem about it. I chose a spice that I no longer use that has sentimental significance. And for the form, I chose a hard one, the Kerf. The reason I find it hard is that I think pairing syllable counts with rhymes makes it hard for the poem to be sincere and meaningful.
Kerf with Mild Sri Lankan Curry
When I was in grad school,
she was my daughter’s teacher
in the university’s large day care.
She taught my girl each rule,
was the one who could reach her.
We became friends with times and hugs to share.
We loved her native food--
curry that she loved to cook--
so she gave us dried powder at the car--
richest spices, imbued.
Now we can just hug; time took
her memories, leaving only this jar.
You can see why I want to keep the jar of curry powder, although what is left at the bottom is no longer fresh or at its peak. But when I open the jar I remember the old Elaine, vibrant and chattering and smelling of roses and fresh chicken curry.
About the Kerf: it is 12 lines with 4 tercets. Lines of each tercet are syllable counts of 6-7-10. The rhyme pattern is abc, abc, dec, dec per stanza.
This Sunday and Monday is the release of my new poetry chapbook, Our Wolves, based on the Red Riding Hood story.
I love that Colleen wrote: “REMEMBER… don’t just describe the woman… we can all see her. Like all of us, this woman has a story. Write THAT poem….” I have been working on my ekphrastic poems, as well as syllabic, so this was a fun exercise. I chose to write a Reverse Cinquain. And, I’m sorry if this seems like a strange response, but all I could think about once I put myself into the woman herself is how uncomfortable I feel wearing this outfit. Then, my second thought was, but I sure feel beautiful (and I can’t wait to unhook my bra and the spanx and take off my shoes, etc.).
This week’s prompt is to use synonyms for change and growth in a syllabic form. I decided to write a haibun because it’s a form I feel comfortable with. I like the expansive quality of the haibun. It’s a prose poem, followed by a haiku that sort of furthers the poem or comments upon what comes before. I prefer the prose portion to be aligned on both left and right sides, forming a box, but I don’t know how to do that on WordPress.
My inspiration was the hummingbird mother I reported on years ago on this blog and then two years ago it happened again that a hummingbird mother helped her more immature baby.
How to Mother
She builds an elastic nest of spiderwebs and leaves, twigs and lichen, so small and round it fits in a child’s palm. Then she lays two white eggs, the size of cannellini. All month she warms them with her tiny body and only whirs away to feed on nectar and then whir back again. When the babies burst through the shells in all their wet messy glory, she begins the rapid rhythmic constant search for food for their always open mouths. After the first one leaves the nest, she spends all afternoon with the other demonstrating how to fly. The metamorphosis from nesting to new flight is complete.
The mother directs life’s forward move, inspiring her babies to thrive.
Have you tried writing syllabic poetry for the #TankaTuesday prompt? If not, give it a try!
This week I am participating in #TankaTuesday for the first time. Inspirational photo prompt was shared by Terri Webster Schrandt. I hope I am following the instructions correctly. Apologies in advance if I didn’t!
Terri says: “This is a filtered version of a rose I photographed at the International Rose Test Garden in Portland.”
Tankas are syllabic poems of five lines—5 syllables, 7, 5, 7, 7. Here is my tanka:
Note how the red rose,
velvet worn by early frost,
to its own treacherous stem,
never accursed by mirrors.
This writing prompt and process reminded me of a poem I wrote a long time ago and forgot about. It’s not a tanka, but free verse and about “one particular rose.”
my essay students write of gifts
or if I'm persistent flowers
I have to nurture for a full quarter
to earn violets or daffodils
or simply bouquet
I'm the one with the backyard
full of rosebushes
my husband usually waters
he's in Korea now
with my one particular son
while I water them,
each blossom an individual
that must be noticed
between the time it rises and sets
this particular bend toward the light
this particular black eye-dash of blight
this particular magenta shading into pink
I'm usually too busy
particular about the work I do
teaching show not tell
If you would like to help support (for as little as $1/month) a deserving poetry journal, I can’t think of one I enjoy more than Thimble. Nadia is a delightful person with excellent taste in poetry. I think the statement on the journal’s website is very telling: “THE THIMBLE LITERARY MAGAZINE IS BASED ON THE BELIEF THAT POETRY IS LIKE ARMOR. LIKE A THIMBLE, IT MAY BE SMALL AND SEEM INSIGNIFICANT, BUT IT WILL PROTECT US WHEN WE ARE MOST VULNERABLE.” https://www.patreon.com/thimblelitmag
Thimble seems a magazine by the people for the people. I love it.
Guess what I just discovered? I wanted to start to submit to Visual Verse to practice writing ekphrastically. So for my first try I wrote a flash piece about the art Visual Verse used as a prompt. I didn’t know they published mine, but I just found it: https://visualverse.org/submissions/the-mess-of-mindfulness/
Without saying anything else (because what can be said is endless), I just want to place this link for Tyre Nichols’ photography.
I did post about the beautiful review of Rooted and Winged by Elizabeth Gauffreau in the new issue of Anti-Heroin Chic. Now Liz has recorded a poem from the book–and it’s such a treat! She published it on her post with her link of the review.
I know how precious your time is, and it’s very meaningful to me that you reviewed Rooted and Winged!
These are some tags I made for the first “water” prompt at The Ugly Art Club. Yup, still doing art journalling. I am starting to find little things about my “style.” It’s been slow coming, but–for instance–the half woman (skirt half) in the top library card. I like using women’s skirts. Go figure.
This post is about something exciting to me at the same time that it is sad. Gingerbread House Editor Christine Butterworth-McDermott has interviewed me in the new issue up today. You can read it here:
Gingerbread House Lit Mag, with its emphasis on fairy tale-inspired literature, is one of my very favorite journals. Very sadly, I must say that this is the final issue of GH! Butterworth-McDermott will go on to do exciting things in the literary and artistic worlds (she’s an artist as well as a poet/writer), but this feels like the end of an era.
Please check out the whole gorgeous issue through the link above.