Wish Upon a Mermaid

Merm me –
shiny gleaming teal and aqua blue
magically beautiful and intelligent,
free to explore and dare.

Merm me –
flow, glide, glissade
braided seaweed round my wrists
necklaced in seashells and coral bright.

Would that I could . . .
dive deeply
escape earth’s rancor
and rollick in rolling waves.

Of what good are legs
and human lungs
when hell
is inhumanity on earth?

What if only life within the sea
in and of the sea,
can live and love
within the lunar tides?

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Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today De asks us to write a poem that is somehow related to mermaids. Image from pixabay.com  I must admit, I have always been smitten with the idea of mermaids!

The Norwegian Fjiords

Sit with me, bundled up, in cold crisp air.
This aft cabin deck, sailing through fjiords,
the widest aperture to wonder we will see.

The long gaze observes staggering beauty.
Craning to look up provides a granular view,
landscape etched and carved by glaciers.

Snow capped mountains glisten before us,
pearlescent as sunlight touches peaks
grey and darker grey where shadows impede.

Below wintry remnants yet to melt
earthen tones dotted by green patches
compliment the scene.

Not content with singular grandeur,
mirrored reflections ripple,
swaying colors float on ocean’s blue.

Off ship, we explore Geiranger.
Van slowly chugs up hairpin turns
until road stops where winter has not.

Our ship sits far far below us
like a monopoly or lego piece
set in a mural of wondrous beauty.

We simply stare in awe
in profound silence,
and we understand.

We are but a few breaths
in the life of this earth.
She is the grandeur eternal.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. I’m host for today’s Tuesday Poetics.

I have a second poem written today for Toads, with a wonderful video from our walk to day. You may want to check it out as well!

Given that so many people are sheltering at home during these challenging days, and almost everyone has cancelled recent travel plans, I thought it might be fun for dVerse folks to offer a travelogue of sorts….take you places while you’re sitting at home.

So the prompt is this: the title of the poem must be like a pin in a map: that is a place. The body of the poem must take us there with its words and imagery. I’ve also asked folks to post photos of the place, if that’s possible. Given that dVerse poets are from across the globe, literally, I think you’ll have a grand time reading our poetics today. Pub opens at 3 pm Boston time.

Photos from our 2017 trip to the Norwegian Fjiords. 

In Celebration of Matsuo Basho

When we travel, we most especially enjoy immersing ourselves in new cultures. Last April we toured the Asakusa area of Tokyo. Many people strolled these special grounds, photographing the iconic 5-tiered pagoda and praying before the Shinto and Buddhist shrines. We saw a good number of people in formal kimonos, rented from nearby shops to mark a celebratory visit, perhaps a birthday, engagement or anniversary. We stood quietly in front of a temple, in awe of its gold and rich reds. Walking a bit away from the crowds, we discovered a memorial to the poet Matsuo Basho. He lived from 1644 to 1694, during Japan’s Edo period. His haiku are considered the ultimate example of this poetic form. I touched his memorial stone in awe and appreciation.

As we ended our time at Asakusa, I talked with Kaz, our guide. I learned his mother wrote and published poetry in her youth and he told me more about the continued honor that Basho is paid in his country. He gifted me with the special pen he’d been using to jot down notes, in Japanese characters. He also gave me a beautiful writing pad with cherry blossoms etched on it. I was so very touched.

Later, back at our hotel, I did a bit of research and discovered Basho’s haiku about this place:

A cloud of cherry blossoms
the chime of a temple bell
is it Asakusa, is it Ueno?

花の雲    鐘は上野か   浅草か

see with your eyes wide ~
bees visit many gardens
all have sweet nectar

Day 27 of National Poetry Writing Month. Today’s post is written for both Toads and dVerse’sHaibun Monday. ¯¯

Toads asks us to consider the ancient tea ceremony and The Way of Tea which includes a good number of suggestions on how to share tea meaningfully. One, that I used to motivate this prompt is: “See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete.”
My haiku at the end moves beyond humans appreciating other cultures and explains that even the bee appreciates nectar from many gardens. 

Frank hosts dVerse and asks us to consider how similar Basho and Shakespeare were to their cultures, in their own time and for many generations to come. He asks us to write a haibun related to one of these famous literary geniuses.

What Really Happened . . .

Best friends, we met secretly.
Listened in awe to Tituba’s tales.
Barbados voodoo, fortune telling.
So exotic to our young minds.

Betty’s father ranted,
not just pulpit preaching.
Everyday damnation,
spirit squelching abuse.

We craved attention, excitement.
Anything but embroidery
peeling potatoes, praying,
tending garden and the hearth.

Betty and Abigail started it.
Twitching, talking in tongues.
Rolling on the ground,
petticoats be damned.

STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
I joined them and we ramped it up.
Rolled and spit and drooled,
hiked our skirts over our heads.

Center of attention were we.
Eyes on us, tongues wagging,
STOP! THE DEVIL BE GONE!
What? What was he talking about?

Too late. We’d gone too far.
He demanded, WHO?
WHO HAS COMMANDEERED YOUR SOULS?
CONFESS NOW. TELL US WHO!

Scapegoat. We didn’t know that word.
But forced by his shaking
we had to pick.
God forgive them. Betty and Abigail did.

Tituba!
They had the limelight as they screamed her name.
Jealous I was. I craved their fame.
Sarah Good! I screamed.
God forgive me my pride.

Now, two hundred people accused
Thirty found guilty. Nineteen hanged.
Oh my God, what have we done?
Young girls turned miscreants
in a Puritanical world.

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Day 25: National Poetry Writing Month. Toads asks us to write a poem in which we “take on the persona of someone from history; and we write in the first person – as if we are that person.”

I’ve chosen to write in the voice of Ann Putnam who was 12 years old at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. She was good friends with Elizabeth Parris (Betty) and Abigail Williams, the first two girls (ages 9 and 12 respectively) who accused Tituba of witchcraft, thus lighting the spark of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Betty’s father was Reverend Samuel Parris, Putitan minister in Salem and central figure in the witch trials. Tituba was his slave from Barabados who, it is known, shared many stories of her culture and voodoo practices with Betty and her young friends. This is, obviously, a fictional narrative, told in the voice of Ann, as to the origins of the paranoia that filled Salem, Massachusetts in these Puritan times.

Repercussions

Machines roar their voracious appetite.
Mill girls risk hands and limbs,
work fourteen-hour days.
River powers turbine belts,
transforms cotton bales to cloth.
Spindle City’s deleterious result,
more slaves on auction blocks.
Black hands blister in cotton fields.
Industrial revolution’s progress
paves misery’s trail.

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Written for Monday’s Quadrille at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets.  De is tending the pub and asks us to include the word “roar” in our Quadrille, a poem of exactly 44 words sans title. Photos from this past summer’s visit to Lowell, Massachusetts and the Bott Cotton Mills Museum. Lowell, once known as Spindle City, is recognized as the Cradle of the American Industrial Revolution. The first textile mill was built there in 1826. By 1850 it was America’s largest industrial center with many large textile mills and factories. By 1840 there were 8,000 workers in the mills, mostly women between the ages of fifteen and thirty. Within one year, the mills could transform raw bales of cotton into 50,000 miles of cotton cloth. The North’s increased appetite for cotton textiles led to an expansion of slavery. One side note: Some of the Southern cotton was made into ‘negro cloth’ at the Lowell mills and sold to plantation owners for their slaves.

Cape Cod Haiku Quartet

i.
sunrise red softens
sky stains blur gorgeous pastels
tint sea pearly-pink
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ii.
curmudgeon sea gull
squawking, scolding, guarding catch
flaps wings, screaming MINE

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iii.
battle escalates
stealthy no more, gulls swoop in
jealousy explodes

iv.
garnet red sunset
crimson canopy save gull
streaking across sky

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Photos from the past two weeks in Provincetown….all as seen from the deck of our annual rental. No photo-shopping….these are the real colors as we saw them.
Ptown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, has been a muse for many an artist as well as literary giants including Mary Oliver, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Eugene O’Neill, and John Dos Passos.

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There is a waiting . . .

. . . that greets each visitor. A grey clapboard shack-of-a-building at the wharf’s edge. Ferries dock nearby. Disgorge day-trippers to this Cape Cod town. Three rusted, but still operational fishing boats, are moored nearby. A far cry from the fleets tethered to a myriad of docks, back in the fishing and whaling heydays here in Provincetown.

Larger-than-life black and white portraits of Portuguese women are affixed to the shack. They Also Faced the Sea is an art installation, a tribute to the patience and suffering of those who waited. They had no way of knowing when their men would return, until the sailing ships reappeared on the horizon. They waited for their husbands, brothers, and sons. Coastal storms battered their simple homes. Kettles filled with hearty stew simmered as families prayed, then ate at roughhewn tables. One empty chair often haunted their meals. Thunder would roll in and they would silently worry. Was he battling this storm? Would the mast hold . . . or would he be swallowed by a churning sea?

Portraits on a wooden edifice. Reminders of those who still wait . . . still pray.

autumn breeze cools shore
gulls wait, savor shift in wind
as clams, crabs, float in

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It’s Poetics Tuesday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today, Sarah asks us to write about “waiting” — I’ve chosen to do so in a haibun (three succinct paragraphs of prose – cannot be fiction – followed by a traditional haiku).

We are in our last few days of our annual two-week visit to Provincetown. I took this photo on our trip into Provincetown and we’ll see this wonderful art installation again as we leave on the ferry back to Boston on Saturday. This is at MacMillan Pier – photographs by Norma Holt and art installation by Ewa Nogiec. It has watched over the Fisherman’s Wharf portion of the pier for the past 10 years. 

Whether to . . .

Layers of putty grey clouds hover on the horizon. Empty masts jut upward from small boats bobbing in waking waves.

Look right: off in the distance, pale blue sky meets roof tops of white clapboard buildings; the town, a twenty-minute walk away. Look left: eyes squint as water glitter-gleams. The sun appears then disappears, valiantly trying to break through slow moving, darkening clouds. A lone gull perched on jetty’s peak, preens itself then sits, nature so statuesque, as waves slap against stone, lap into shore.

Morning pauses, weather waits . . . deciding on its temperament for the day.

early September ~
dalliance between summer
and crisp autumn days

Posted to dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today Frank asks us to write a poem that includes descriptive detail.

My haibun (prose followed by a traditional haiku that includes a seasonal reference) is about what I saw this morning, sitting on the deck of our annual two-week rental in Provincetown. Photos document the view! Provincetown is at the very tip end of Cape Cod. 

Provincetown Serenity

Wooooshhhh . . .
wooooshhhh . . .
waves sweep in,
rhythmic oceanic refrain.
Sun glittered ripple-path
narrow at shore,
widens to horizon by risen sun.
Solitary floating cormorant
stretches sleek neck,
floats . . . then dives under,
resurfaces yards away.
Provincetown serenity
in the nick of time,
news cycle left behind.

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It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Prompt word for today is “nick”. It must be used within the body of a poem that is exactly 44 words in length, sans title.

Photo from yesterday morning — sitting on the deck enjoying our beloved Provincetown…at the very tip of Cape Cod – just beginning our two week respite here.