Shinotsukame, Iowa Tornado in Japanese Style

Cornfields, stalks of silk-tasselled green planted in marching rows, wave in hot humid breeze. Then slowly stop. Stand tall. Sensing. Waiting. Sky shifts from grey to sickly yellow. As if the early morning sun has returned to sulk and leave its stain. A rushing sound begins to fill the air. Decibels increase as dark clouds coalesce. Meld into a funnel shape and roar across the field. Dust swirls up from roads, their surface shocked as rain explodes from sky.

Field mice hide
‘neath towering stalks of grain and corn
as sky erupts in fury.

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Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Toni tending bar talks about the Japanese culture – in particular, fifty shades of rain. There are 50+ words for rain. She asks us to use one of these words in the title or the body of the haibun (prose followed by a haiku). The Japanese haiku: 3 lines, short, long, short;  always about nature. The Americanization of the haiku has shifted to a strict three line, 5-7-5 syllabic form, about any subject. Shinotsukame means intense rain.

48 thoughts on “Shinotsukame, Iowa Tornado in Japanese Style

  1. hayesspencer June 20, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Wonderful. You paint an ominous picture with your words. I know the tornadoes out in Tornado Alley can be intense. And the field mice. They are probably the most likely to be able to survive such chaos and destruction. Love this picture from your past and the experience of the storm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2016 / 3:17 pm

      Yes — the the largest fury of nature to the smallest of her creatures….Glad you enjoyed.

      Like

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) June 20, 2016 / 3:16 pm

    There is something so ominous yet something so much like summer as well… I do love how you moved the word into something familiar for you.. Especially the field waiting is a wonderful image.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 20, 2016 / 3:19 pm

      Thank you, Bjorn. Just once I was in the midst of a tornado in my Iowa days…so this is nonfiction. But I remember best the eery yellow sky….and then the sound while we were in our basement with our dogs and cats and a very young child. It was fields away it turns out — but oh the sound.

      Like

  3. Victoria C. Slotto June 20, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    I’ve lived in the Midwest and you recreated for me that very distinct feeling that comes with a tornado watch or warning. It’s something that almost overwhelms you, you just know what it is. So well described.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 8:14 am

      oh yes — it is the waiting, the watching, the listening. Glad you enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. freyathewriter June 20, 2016 / 3:34 pm

    The calm before the storm! Animals understand i far better than we do. Lovely, evocative work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 8:15 am

      I’m told the animals flee the forest fire before it’s aflame. Same principle — they have that extra ability to sense the changes in nature coming.

      Like

  5. katiemiafrederick June 20, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    Water.. sAnd
    miX.. sandY loAm
    silt as water sanD onE..
    ah.. when feet and sand
    aliGn.. sand.. water.. and texTure
    changE.. RaiN iS alWays
    ingredDiEnt of Change
    mY FriEnD.. yEs..
    A way NoW
    sculPtures
    eArTh
    fAce..

    Lahmu
    Lahamn
    ALL onE..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:03 am

      Rain sculpturing sand and earth….I love that! 🙂 Thank you for reading, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Misky June 20, 2016 / 4:09 pm

    This feels so tense and tight, like a rubber band about to snap and break.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:04 am

      Great metaphor for living through a tornado warning! Waiting, watching, waiting.

      Like

      • Misky June 21, 2016 / 8:05 am

        I’ve been in quite a few typhoons, so know how to wait out a storm. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Linda Kruschke June 20, 2016 / 4:13 pm

    I’ve never been in a tornado, have never wanted to be, and now want to even less so. Those poor field mice. I don’t think their shelter is going to be adequate for the oncoming rain and wind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:05 am

      Somehow, the animals sense when one is coming. I wanted to put one of the smallest creatures against one of the biggest moves of nature…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. sarahsouthwest June 20, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    You really build the tension in your haibun. It’s almost a relief when the storm breaks – though perhaps not for the mice…

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:06 am

      I suspect they also burrow in….Glad you enjoyed the read.

      Like

  9. Michael June 20, 2016 / 6:25 pm

    I really love how in your haibun you build the images, the tension so beautifully to bring us to the ultimate downpour. Delightful Lillian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:06 am

      Thank you, Michael. So nice to read your reply here over my morning cup! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael June 21, 2016 / 7:11 am

        You are most welcome…enjoy your day..

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Grace June 20, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    I admire the slow build up, then the intense fury of the storm. Specially admire that sulking sun and dark clouds coalesce, while field mice hide. Lovely share Lillian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:07 am

      Ah thank you, Grace. It can really be quite eerie before the storm.

      Like

  11. whimsygizmo June 20, 2016 / 10:08 pm

    I just love the personification, color and personality of this line:
    “As if the early morning sun has returned to sulk and leave its stain.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:08 am

      Ah, you found my favorite line. 🙂

      Like

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:08 am

      Thank you, Josslyn. The sky really is turbulent in its changing pallet during one of these….and even leading up to the storm.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. thotpurge June 21, 2016 / 2:54 am

    You paint a great picture of the incoming tornado… love the sun returning to leave its stain!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. kim881 June 21, 2016 / 2:56 am

    I love the way nature stands erect in anticipation of the rain – and that phrase: ‘As if the early morning sun has returned to sulk and leave its stain’. The image is a perfect accompaniment to your words, Lillian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 21, 2016 / 7:10 am

      Thank you, Kim. The Iowa sky during tornado warnings was truly a shifting painting. So fun to work with words to try and describe that scene 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Rosemary Nissen-Wade June 21, 2016 / 8:49 am

    Beautifully done. A lovely prose poem, vividly described and tightly constructed. You paint even more vivid detail in your haiku.

    Like

  15. Walter J. Wojtanik June 21, 2016 / 10:19 am

    I chose this rain as well. Your scene of such a storm is well detailed and your haiku is a treat, Lillian! Thanks.

    Like

  16. Laura Bloomsbury June 21, 2016 / 10:24 am

    the power of the storm beautifully highlighted from the perspective of mouse – love also the prelude to it in tasselled stems

    Like

  17. AnnMarie Roselli-Kissack June 21, 2016 / 3:34 pm

    Hello, my friend
    50 shades of rain – I can’t believe there are 50+ words – that’s pretty wild.
    Your powerful verse with the amazing photo build the dark suspense before a storm.
    wonderful words
    am:)
    so very behind post reading again, geez, too many Italians, too many parties and traveling to get to them, this past weekend it was Maryland

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Arcadia Maria June 21, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    My favorite line: “As if the early morning sun has returned to sulk and leave its stain.” Well done.

    Like

  19. kaykuala (@hankkaykuala) June 21, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    Decibels increase as dark clouds coalesce.
    Meld into a funnel shape and roar across the field.

    There obviously were a lot of din and dust in the air. Very realistic narration in staccato bursts in your poem, Lilian! Fantastic!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 22, 2016 / 8:32 am

      Ah Hank, you write your reply as if you’ve lived through one of these things! I’ve only been near one — it remained cornfields away from us but I did see that sickly yellow sky and hear that noise begin. Glad you enjoyed!

      Like

  20. Bodhirose June 21, 2016 / 10:50 pm

    Tornadoes are truly frightening. Your haibun paints a clear picture of their ominous presence, Lillian. One of my sisters lives in Kansas and has seen them in the distance but none have come her way…thank goodness. They do have a basement, just in case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 22, 2016 / 8:34 am

      It was always the stillness before the storm and the sickly way the sky changed that made me nervous during those tornado watches.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. lynn__ June 22, 2016 / 9:01 am

    You palpably describe the anticipation (dread) and powerful intensity of an Iowa storm! Great pic too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 22, 2016 / 9:06 am

      Thanks, Lynn….glad you enjoyed. Really appreciate your kind words here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Mish June 23, 2016 / 7:38 am

    I like your word choices, Lillian….like “sickly yellow” and “dark clouds coalesce”. You really set the scene and ominous mood in a very concise haibun. We get a few tornadoes our way too but fortunately I have never been in their path.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 23, 2016 / 9:49 am

      It’s the sky, and the quiet and the waiting during a tornado watch…eerie.

      Like

    • lillian June 23, 2016 / 9:50 am

      Thanks, Bryan. So glad you enjoyed!

      Like

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