Come Inside My Haibun

He was an immigrant. A painter. A Swede who arrived at Ellis Island many years ago. I was privileged, as were many, to experience his journey in a most unlikely place. A basement room, in Chicago, Illinois.

Entering that underground space, we stepped onto a ship sailing across the mighty Atlantic. Sky cerulean blue overhead, dipped to meet the horizon, forever brightened by an invisible sun. Gulls hovered above waves rolling with white caps, dabs of paint that never splashed. We sat in the midst of many family celebrations, our chairs backed up against basement walls, as if leaning on Grampa Hallberg’s painted ship rails. A lifeless life preserver hung never-used, drawn not quite round.  It was a room like no other. It was the USS Sweden, frozen in time.

young beaver crosses pond
gathers sticks and stones and spring time mud –
journey revealed in lodge

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It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets and I’m hosting today – asking everyone to delve into the traditional … and at the same time, take us on a trip into an interior they remember from their past. A room they can recall.

The Haibun must include 2 or 3 tight paragraphs of prose describing the interior (cannot be fiction); followed by a traditional haiku: 5-7-5 or short-long-short in syllabic form; must be about nature; must include a kigo (reference to a season) and a kireji (a cut achieved by a hyphen, ellipsis, or punctuation mark, that shifts to an added insight within the haiku.

Photo: Grampa Hajalmer Hallberg on the left in 1972, two years before his death. He immigrated from Sweden in 1906 at the age of 22. He’s sitting in the basement he painted to remind him of his journey to America on the USS Sweden.

Dad, You’re in my Haibun

What is a venial sin? What is the Immaculate Conception? What are the Ten Commandments? What are the seven mortal sins?

As a young child, I had to memorize answers to Catholic Catechism questions before I could make my first holy communion. One of the greatest benefits I gained from my early Catholic education was the ability to memorize. I spouted off those answers quickly and matter-of-factly as my father patiently sat in his big green fake-leather chair, asking the questions. He never went to church – except for mother’s day, Christmas and Easter. Yet he sat patiently, testing me on my catechism questions.

I remember my father as undemonstrative. I don’t remember being hugged or hearing him say, “I love you.” But I understood years later. He showed his love in different ways. For example, listening to me spout off doctrine he didn’t believe. The one answer I parroted, but could never ever understand, and never dared to ask a nun or priest about, was the one that basically told me my father would go to hell because he didn’t believe. No way. He had the patience of Job. He was a good man. And he was my dad.

huge white pelican
rules of gravity be damned –
soars in autumn skies

white-pelican-1926545_1920

The White Pelicans migrate every fall to Florida. With a 9′ wingspan, they are one of the largest birds in North America. And they soar.
Amaya hosts dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets. She asks us to considerthe 7 deadly sins, and/or the 7 virtues. We may consider our relationship to them — or how they affected us at some point in our lives. I’ve written a haibun: 2 or 3 tight paragraphs of prose (must be true), followed by a traditional haiku.
Missing my dad….

Tale of the Hats

Two men, not brothers
married two women, not sisters.
One man brother to one not-sister.
If you’re counting, that’s four in all.

Christmas means a family gathering
cousins and those two not-brothers,
Bob the wee man, wicked funny
Bud a big man, comic not,

Laughter, carols, dinner done,
friends and family sit to leave.
Expectantly they wait,
tittering they anticipate.

Bob and Bud step forth all clad
coats, galoshes, mufflers too.
But to hats the family looks
as Bob and Bud, snicker not.

Bob stands small, beside big Bud.
Simultaneously they seriously say,
We’re ready to go dears
as all guffaw at what they see.

Bud looks sheepishly at Bob.
Bob’s small hat sits daintily,
perched
on top of Bud’s big head.

Bob cannot see Bud,
his eyes covered by Bud’s big hat
sitting precariously balanced
atop two pencils
protruding from Bob’s ears!

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where Mark Walters guest hosts Tuesday’s Poetics. He asks us to write humorously about something humorous from our lives. The Tale of the Hats is absolutely true! My Uncle Bob (very small head and a very fun-loving guy) and my dad, known as Bud, (a much more serious guy) exchanged hats every year at the end of our big Christmas gathering. Uncle Bob made sure he had two pencils in his coat and they’d come out looking absolutely ridiculous! No matter how many times they did this, we always laughed and laughed. Family lore now….I miss them both. 

 

 

Generations Shall Pass

Raw winds blow. Rusted lock bars entrance to dark, dank family crypt. Souls long forgotten. Generations ceased their lineage, lost in the dust of time. Undisturbed cobwebs ensnare no prey. Nothing lives here.

Steps away, a young mother’s tears salt the ground below open-toed shoes. Her gaze locks on the small white coffin. Follows it lower, lower, and lower still, until its sides are nestled by mother earth. Stunned mourners file by, gently releasing miniature white roses into fresh dug grave. Wind shifts. Breeze rifles through nearby trees. Magnolia blossoms, rift from spring green leaves, rain quietly on forlorn scene.

Rest little one, love shall follow you. Mother, father, sisters too. All will come in time. And more. And more. Until the dust of time consumes them all.

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Used for Napowrimo day 28 where the prompt was to write prose poetry. Photo taken several months ago at the cemetery in Valparaiso, Chile. Shared with dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, on Thursday, May 3rds OLN. 

 

Bud’s Daughter

I have
a morning mirror routine.
Mine for sandman’s deposits.
Eyes clear, smile appears.

There it is,
thick wavy hair.
Left side front
waving, brow-over.

Morning mirror bud,
dad’s reflection waves.
Cascading silver,
my inheritance.

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where it’s Poetics Tuesday. Kim hosts and challenges us to write a poem in the first person about a body part we’ve inherited. Yep, that’s me and my waves. My dad, affectionately called Bud by his friends and relatives, had a full head of hair – beautifully silver and always wavy, till the day he died. I miss him.
PS:  did you read that last line aloud? It’s all about hair.
Also posted as off-prompt for Napowrimo Day 24.

 

Mother’s Junk Drawer

Teeth-gnawed yellow #2 pencil stubs.
One Avon Coral Pink lipstick.
Rosary missing crucifix.
Emery board. Eleven rubber bands.
Antique roller skate key.
Three packs Juicy Fruit gum,
never opened.
One white Sunday glove.
Thirty-two S&H green stamps.
A gathering of . . . what?

Green-Stamps

Written for dVerse where I’m hosting Quadrille Monday, asking folks to write an exactly 44 word poem (sans title) that includes the word, or a form of the word, gather.  Junk drawers: quite a gathering place. Do you have one?

Enigma, Mother Dear

There once was a woman named Helen Cecile
married and happy, her life surreal.
Many an escapade made us laugh,
silliness multiplied gaffe by gaffe.

I remember a day we spent at the zoo
where she created quite the to-do.
On the visitor’s side of the animal’s moat
she suddenly blanched and cleared her throat.
Shaking she stood near the pacing jaguars
knee red and swollen, stuck between bars.
Zookeepers rushed to embarrassing scene,
saving the day, they applied vaseline.

Seeking calm and less to-do
we headed to the petting zoo.
She laughed out loud patting the goats
who gathered round her petticoats.
Closing time near, she strolled through the gate,
stopped short and turned, sensing less weight.
Waving at us, with her once-flowered purse
she swore at the goats. You are perverse!
Her purse, you see, was now quite bald
they’d nudged and ate, till it was mauled.

My mother’s name was Helen Cecile,
life with her was surely surreal.
In between faults lie love and gaffes
missing-her-tears, softened by laughs.

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I’m behind here….written for day 17 of Napowrimo: Prompt was to write about a family anecdote. Need to catch up with days 18, 19 and today, 20.  More to come.

Not Her

Inherited from her,
the quick-to-explode gene.
Eyes down, fists clenched,
we stood silently passive
until the flame was spent.

Her sudden verbal lashings,
see-what-you-made-me-dos,
fury flung horiffic words.
Perhaps, in those moments,
I learned to control anger.

But she can fester within me.
Like termites gnawing
eroding the core of sanity.
Pause. Breathe.
Seek a good. A beautiful.

Take up pen and feel the script.
The flow. The ebbing.
I am not her.
Not that way.
I will it to be so.

Shadorma in the Grave Yard

family
mom, dad, son
me, last born
they waited nine years for me
now they wait again

mist hovers
floats above their graves
hushes sounds
muffles grief
head bowed, I know they miss me
I whisper, not yet

A shadorma written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Amaya is our host today and explains that a shadorma is a syllabic poem consisting of six-line stanzas, each stanza defined in lines of 3-5-3-3-7-5 syllables. She asks us to be motivated by the title of the form and perhaps write about “fog, the paranormal, or the unexplained phenomena of death and life. ” I’ve also posted a second shadorma, Bermuda Beautiful. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Scheherazade

Across the page my pen does fly
If, not, why
A pathway straight to and from my . . .
He, she, I
. . . Brain

I tell my story, tell again
First, next, then
Revise and edit with my pen
House, place, den
Me
Scheherazade
Storyteller

Written by Stella Hallberg, my granddaughter, who will soon be 11. She and I trade poetry prompts each month. She decided we would start the year with the same word, scheherazade. This is her poem….as she wrote it. No edits by me. It fits beautifully with Bjorn’s prompt for today at dVerse. He asks us to recognize the importance of silence in poetry. Silence can be illustrated with various punctuation, including the ellipsis . . . which Stella uses in her poem. Stella explained to me “The syllable pattern is something I might have made up. I did 8, 3, 8, 3, 1 twice, but at the end I added 5, 4. Do you like it?”  Yes, Stella, I do! 🙂