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.
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.
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.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing a syllabic poem about our spirit animal. She provided a quiz to find our spirit animal. I took the quiz and discovered that at this moment mine is the turtle. The website, spiritanimal.info, says that “The turtle totem symbolizes our peaceful walk on this earth. It represents the path we take as we embark on our journey through life. In contrast to emotional or spiritual development occurring in bursts, the way of the turtle anchors our personal unfolding in a slow, more grounded series of steps and longer cycles of transformation. The turtle is associated with our physical and embodied evolution on the earthly plane. Call this spirit animal for help to be more grounded. You can also get help slowing down and pacing yourself, so you can take your next step with more confidence.” While I doubt my spirit animal is always a turtle it does fit right now. I’ve had this torn meniscus and other issues since January, and I am trying to resolve myself to stop fighting it and just proceed in the right direction, working hard at physical therapy, icing, and REST. Yes, this past week it was so bad that I actually rested, and wow, that actually helps . . . a lot. I had a good physical therapy appointment today. Fingers crossed. Moving at my turtle’s pace, in the right direction.
For this poem, I wrote a tanaga, which is a form from the Philippines. This is a 7-7-7-7 Syllabic verse, with an AABB or AAAA rhyme scheme.
Accepting the Turtle as My Guide
For this part of my journey
I learn to walk with this knee.
A turtle guide teaches me
to keep on without hurry.
Another thing that I like about a turtle is that while they are slow and seem clumsy on earth, they are quite graceful and fast in the water. With my Sun in Cancer, I was born under a water sign. And grew up in and around the lakes of Michigan.
When I was a little girl, I had a beautiful painted turtle as a pet. The turtle’s shell was at least 4″ long. I must have been about five. I took him or her outside to play a few times. She would fall into the window well and need help out. I recall my father helping me release her to live free, but I don’t remember the details. Today it is illegal to release a captive turtle into the wild. But I do remember that I felt wonderful letting that turtle go have her own wild life.
Then when I was in 4th grade, I was given two tiny turtles to live in an aquarium. I don’t remember what happened to those turtles, but I did used to love to feel their scratchy claws scrabbling at my palms when I held them. Looking back, I wonder if the idea of releasing the big turtle was sympathy for it because of it’s size or if I was too young to take proper care of it.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing an acrostic poem based on a word from a list she provided. She asked every line to be 8, 9, or 10 syllables long. I used the word ORACLE. Each line begins with a letter from that word so that if you read down instead of across you see the word oracle. I created a form of 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8 and rhymed same count lines with each other.
Voice of the Gods
On the sunwarmed rock she holds court
Ruling a man’s world with prescient words.
All listen and quake, even mighty kings
Clothed in velvet vestments and golden rings.
Love and riches–often doom–they heard,
Even took heed or to the heart.
A couple of years ago Memoryhouse Magazine published an acrostic poem I wrote using the title of my favorite Whitman poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” Note that my title starts the phrase and then the first letters of each line the last part, “endlessly rocking.”
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested we write a syllabic poem using synonyms for the word “work” and “play,” and to contrast the two for this week’s #TankaTuesday.
I have to admit that the synonym prompts are not my favorite. I prefer a little looser prompt, and this was even tighter by the need to contrast them. So go ahead and hate my poem, which is three Badger’s Hexastitch stanzas put together. I used that form because I LOVE the name. It’s like a cross between something a witch does as a hobby and the town that Loretta Lynn sings about in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (Butcher’s Holler).
For work I used the word “toil,” because it reminded me of two of my favorite poems (see below). And for play I used “entertain” and “rest.”
like Hopkins and Shakespeare.*
Entertain sounds lazy
as if I should
does not toil much
except to wash himself
or hunt food if he must,
that I can be
more like the cat than me
and rest when I need to,
toiling just as
Hopkins is the Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur,” and Shakespeare is Will himself, “Song of the Witches” from MacBeth. I loved to entertain my kids when they were little with the latter.
Here are both poems and you can see where I got “toil” from.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
SONG OF THE WITCHES
by William Shakespeare
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38
Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)
Now if you’re still reading, here’s a sonnet that I wrote based on the Hopkins poem which was published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal by editor Jenny Kalahar. After that you can see a pic of my cutie pie Meesker.
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod* by Luanne Castle
and I am shackled to the backlit screen, subjected to technology’s caprice, my feet immobile, hidden, and benumbed, my thoughts dispelled by cumbrous messages of discounts, password problems, and a troll, and so I scroll my Twitter notices and scan What’s Happening, then Google God, procrastinating still and find, alas, my spirit drifts away, mere haze, but then the images of light dividing clouds is how we see the brightest wings and warmth and you appear and take me by my hand to share the garden, smell the sweetbush, hear the cactus wrens, and trill for butterflies.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this beautiful photo byTerri Webster Schrandt as a prompt for this week’s #TankaTuesday.
I wrote another tanka as I first tried a different form (tetractys), but couldn’t make it work for this image. Though the actual setting was the Sacramento river delta, I saw a lake. That also worked better syllable-wise.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write a syllabic poem using this 19th century painting as inspiration. She mentioned how it looked like the girl is on her cell phone. For a time it was hard to unsee that cell. But then, after I saw something hanging down from the “cell phone,” I realized how important our own world views are to how we see something. As I researched, I read that Hitler loved the paintings of this artist, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, and made his work Nazi favorites. But the artist (blessedly) never lived long enough to see the Nazis come to power or to know the name Adolf Hitler. All these different perspectives are where my poem today comes from and it is what complicates the form, creating an ekphrastic contrapuntal tanka string with haiku.
I’m sorry that the poem had to be a screenshot as I couldn’t make it stay on the screen otherwise. If you click on the poem image a couple of times you might be able to make it larger. Please let me know if you can read it or if I need to figure out something else. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write a tanka using our own inspiration.
Since I just traveled to Michigan to visit my mother and other family, I used something from that trip as inspiration. When I was a baby, a friend or coworker created a caricature of my father and me. It always hung in my father’s basement workshop. I spent a lot of time with him in that workshop; therefore, I saw it often. The last few times I have gone to Michigan, I have looked at that caricature and tried to figure out how to get it home to Arizona. Now my mother is moving from her duplex into an apartment in her retirement community, so I shipped it home to myself. I kept the chipped old frame because it is part of the experience.
In this old cartoon Daddy diapers baby me, the tweety bird babe, as if time is paralyzed by memory’s insistence.