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.
Welcome to the After Awards,
bracelet signifiers distributed
Hero. Survivor. Privileged.
Before the Age of Corona
we lived unaware.
Blithely took much for granted.
We thought nothing of what we had
when so many others had nothing.
A home, savings, vacations
books and toys for our kids.
In donning masks
our eyes began to see.
Privileged were we.
We watched numbers
numbly, then fearfully.
Even the privileged succumbed.
And then came the New Dawn.
BC took on a second meaning,
And we understood,
after being assigned
our Privileged bracelet.
It was a jewelry of shame.
now we actually were,
because we lived.
And we would shed that arrogant air,
and we would share
and we would care
and we would love.
Day 7 of national poetry month where the challenge is to write a poem every day.
Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where Bjorn asks us to write a poem about the pandemic, for example, how it might look on the other side. At Toads, we are asked to somehow write about bracelets. Image from Pixabay.com
To all my readers, stay safe. Stay healthy.
Fifty years ago,
we wore bridal veils.
Walked past the elders’
with a cursory but loving nod.
Then family reunions,
joyful raucous gatherings
at the twenty
and thirty-something’s table.
Then babies appeared on hips,
high chairs crowded table seatings,
crayons joined forks and spoons
and the elders watched lovingly.
teenagers rolled their eyes,
talked about whatever they do,
made lists for Santa’s exchange.
Someone tried to reproduce
Auntie Maia’s meringue cookies.
Papa Milt’s son took over
his carving-the-turkey role.
uncles and aunts
disappeared from the scene.
And now, tomorrow,
we gather again,
a new generation
gracing a bridal veil.
And just for a moment I see their faces.
who instilled love of family,
no matter the distance or age.
we walk into the room,
smile knowingly and take our seats.
We now, are the elders’ table.
Another poem by my 10 year old granddaughter, Stella Hallberg.
Led roughly to the gates
forced in by my jockey,
I’m pawing moist earth
waiting for an opening
in this prison.
Photo in public domain at Pixabay.com
Glaciers shed ice tears.
Care ye not for the children to come?
Listen to the sound of wailing winds
as earth reels in shock
and oceans rise in bewilderment.
Why hast you forsaken me?
Glacier actually melting.
Photos from our Alaska trip. Glaciers cracking and melting: global warming and climate change cannot be denied. June 1, 2017: the U.S., under one man’s decision, retreats from its global responsibility.
** A clerihew is a comical biographic verse. See full explanation below photos.
All the ladies admired the young Houdini,
but wished he performed in a thong bikini.
Their screams take it off created a racket
as he hung upside down in a confining strait jacket.
Rip Van Winkle slept away the years,
escaped his wife’s nagging and too-often tears.
Thought he’d be a ladie’s man, a new phenomenon,
instead he limped beside the dames, testosterone gone.
Written for dVerse, a poet’s pub, where today Gayle asks us to write a Clerihew: a comic verse on biographical topics consisting of 2 couplets and an aabb rhyme scheme. The first line is to name the individual. Form invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) at age sixteen. Very challenging to write humorous poetry!!! Pub officially opens at 3 PM Boston time…drop by and read some more of these — or try your hand at comical verse and share yours with other dVerse readers!
Hanks of yarn wound into balls,
worked inch by inch into comforting garb.
Orb turned over and over,
lengths of colors pulled and stretched.
Fingers weave and eyes watch carefully
as a painstakingly beautiful pattern appears.
Would that love be so carefully wrought
upon this orb we call home.
In the quiet spaces
there is hope.
Like tall city buildings
raising their heads above the fog,
we can rise above the mire
lift our faces to the sun
and dare to make it so.
Photo taken flying into Chicago last month.
Last night with you,
there were no eyes.
Touch consumed bodies
and life exploded
as we loved.
Your cardiac arrest
like a lifetime –
until it wasn’t.