Colleen Chesebro has created a new #TankaTuesday challenge based on the 24 Japanese seasons. The season right now is The Autumn Equinox (September 22 – October 7) Shubun 秋分.
My kigo (season) word is date because dates are harvested in Arizona only in the months of September and October. Here is my reverse etheree:
Under the leafy fronds of the date palms
the molasses-rich, honey-sweet fruit
hangs in heavy grape-like bunches.
Pickers with nets try to skim
whole bunches off the tree
without getting spiked
by fierce needles.
These sweet dates
Switching now from autumn to spring, I have an ekphrastic poem up at Visual Verse here: https://visualverse.org/submissions/paschal-moon-at-midlife/. You can see the artwork that inspired it also. Or you can read the poem here (and the link at my name goes to all the poems and stories I’ve had published at this site):
Release yourself from heavy coats and boots of winter, wiggle the toes and sense the air scouting your arms and calves. Consider the mud puddle, slide the long grass along your tongue. Sing in response to the sweet- sweet-sweet of the cardinal. In darkness imagine your guide, the moon a bountiful platter mirroring pink phlox-covered hills of your imagination. Relieve your mind of artificial restraints. Let it loose into the unknown.
I have a micro up at Scribes *MICRO* Fiction, thanks to Managing Editor Edward Ahern . It’s a surreal drabble (100 words). This link is for the whole issue, which is full of fun stories and poem. https://www.fairfieldscribes.com/issue-32.html/ My story is about 3/4 through the issue–if it were in pages it would be page 10 out of 13.
I will also post a screenshot here, but you should really check out the whole issue because it’s chockful of goodies.
This past week I was in Michigan and Ontario (Canada). I got to see my mother, as well as some other relatives who I also saw in April. The main reason we chose last week to travel was to attend our high school reunion. Have you ever done that? This was my first one. The gardener and I went to the same high school, although he had been with those classmates for elementary and junior high, whereas I was the new girl in 10th grade.
Our reunion was put together sort of last minute by mainly one person who was helped by a few others. It was casual, held at a lakeside park. And maybe 15-20% of graduates attended. Although it would have been fun to have a big dressup party, I think this turned out best because people could move around easily–and best yet, we could hear each other talk. A dinner-dance isn’t the best place to catch up with people.
Although everyone there (except for two people who looked as if they have a nasty portrait of themselves hidden in the attic) looked older and in some cases unrecognizable, in general, I think my class has done pretty well with their appearances. It was really fun to catch up with some old friends and to talk to others I wasn’t as close to. In high school, it seems people rarely talk except to close friends.
An upside of going was that it was fun to “catch up,” and I realized I really care about the welfare of everyone I went to school with. We had a good time, and it was especially fun for the gardener to see people he went to school with for so many years. We also had a memory board with names and a memory candle so we could spend some brain and heart cells on those who are no longer with us.
A downside for me was that I didn’t know so many of the people we went to high school with. High school is not the best time to really get to know a large group of people. It’s also hard to see how old we have all become, although that is also an upside because it made me realize that these people are no longer the 17-year-olds I remember, but have had full lives with ups and downs just as I have had.
I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative, but I learned something about myself. Maybe that is really good, although it feels sad. When I was in school, I was quite shy, though not in a classic “quiet” way, but rather I found it very difficult to have poise in social situations. I didn’t have the confidence to participate in the activities I would have liked to, such as yearbook, journalism, and auditioning for plays. I would be too quiet when I should be more open to talking to others, and I would be noisy when with close friends. When I had openings or opportunities to do more, I assumed deer-in-headlights stance. Starting a new high school was very difficult for me, and add to that I had a lot of problems at home with my father during that time.
So what did I learn about myself from attending the reunion? Although I’ve gained in maturity, compassion, and confidence, I am still the same dummy in social situations. Too scared to initiate conversations, mind empty when I should have spoken, etc. Ugh. So, no, I guess people don’t really change although I thought I had.
My high school was known for being very cliquish, and we had a fair share of “mean girls” (not one of them was at the reunion). I only bring that up because my mother has her own social situation. She lives in a retirement community, in a large independent apartment building, and it too is cliquish. My mother is also an introvert (I think this gene is rampant on my maternal side). Is this what tends to happen in large social groups? Is it only the women or do men feel this, too?
On another note, I have a micro up at Scribes *MICRO* Fiction, thanks to Managing Editor Edward Ahern . It’s a surreal drabble (100 words). This link is for the whole issue, which is full of fun stories and poem. https://www.fairfieldscribes.com/issue-32.html/ My story is about 3/4 through the issue–if it were in pages it would be page 10 out of 13.
Here is how it begins:
These Days by Luanne Castle
I look over at the white Waymo as it pulls up next to us. The giant stuffed bear in the driver’s seat, its googly eyes stubbornly facing forward, refuses to glance at me.
For Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday prompt about sunflowers, I offer this shadorma. The prompt includes a beautiful photo, but I couldn’t download it to use over here.
I am very excited to see five of my Remedios Varo inspired micro stories published at The Ekphrastic Review! A huge thank you to EIC Lorette C. Luzajic for this and more. Each tiny story is accompanied by the art that inspired it. Some of these, like the one last week in Bending Genres, are about poets. I am pretty proud of all my Varo stories and think they are some of my best work. Whether or not they are to your taste is another matter. They tend toward the sarcastic. I hope you do like them, though!
As I have been pursuing my new passion of microfiction, I have also been having fun with ekphrastic writing, and my favorite artist to work with is the surrealist Remedios Varo. The amazing journal Bending Genres has published a story I wrote based on a Varo painting; it concerns the idea of writing or art muses that are not complacent “nice” creatures. This story also happens to be completely indebted to Sylvia Plath and her poem, “The Disquieting Muses.” My story is called “Disquieting Muses with Pets and Fruit: A Still Life.”
The Varo painting is called “Vegetarian Vampires.” Here is the Plath poem:
The Disquieting Muses
Mother, mother, what illbred aunt Or what disfigured and unsightly Cousin did you so unwisely keep Unasked to my christening, that she Sent these ladies in her stead With heads like darning-eggs to nod And nod and nod at foot and head And at the left side of my crib?
Mother, who made to order stories Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear, Mother, whose witches always, always, Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder Whether you saw them, whether you said Words to rid me of those three ladies Nodding by night around my bed, Mouthless, eyeless, with stitched bald head.
In the hurricane, when father’s twelve Study windows bellied in Like bubbles about to break, you fed My brother and me cookies and Ovaltine And helped the two of us to choir: “Thor is angry: boom boom boom! Thor is angry: we don’t care!” But those ladies broke the panes.
When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced, Blinking flashlights like fireflies And singing the glowworm song, I could Not lift a foot in the twinkle-dress But, heavy-footed, stood aside In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed Godmothers, and you cried and cried: And the shadow stretched, the lights went out.
Mother, you sent me to piano lessons And praised my arabesques and trills Although each teacher found my touch Oddly wooden in spite of scales And the hours of practicing, my ear Tone-deaf and yes, unteachable. I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere, From muses unhired by you, dear mother,
I woke one day to see you, mother, Floating above me in bluest air On a green balloon bright with a million Flowers and bluebirds that never were Never, never, found anywhere. But the little planet bobbed away Like a soap-bubble as you called: Come here! And I faced my traveling companions.
Day now, night now, at head, side, feet, They stand their vigil in gowns of stone, Faces blank as the day I was born, Their shadows long in the setting sun That never brightens or goes down. And this is the kingdom you bore me to, Mother, mother. But no frown of mine Will betray the company I keep.
This Plath poem is also an ekphrastic poem, inspired by the Giorgio de Chirico painting, also called “The Disquieting Muses.”
August is the month of The Sealey Challenge. Started by poet Nicole Sealey in 2017, the challenge is to read a book of poetry every day for the month of August. In the past, I have used this time to read poetry books that were sitting unread on my bookshelf. While I know I can’t read a book a day as I have other things going on, I am still going to try to read more than usual this month. Want to join me?
If you join the challenge and need an idea, I would love it if you wanted to add one of my books to your list. Here is a link to all four books. https://www.luannecastle.com/bookstore/ Additionally, if you are interested in a copy of my first collection Doll God, for this month I am offering you a copy for $5 that includes shipping if you have it delivered in the United States. If you are not in the U.S. contact me and let’s see if we can figure it out. Think of it in honor of the Barbie movie. Email me at luanne.castle which is at gmail.com.
I’ve been writing a lot of microfiction lately. Some stories are 50 word, some 100, some 200-300 or so. And then I’ve also been writing flash, around 400-500 words. Here is one that was just published by Friday Flash Fiction. It is called “Bed of Roses” and is 100 words, which is essentially a short paragraph. In case you’ve never heard this, a 100 word story is called a drabble. Hope you enjoy this drabble.