Junie’s House

I remember Junie’s house. She was my best friend until we moved away when I was in third grade. I remember her house as comfortable. A heated enclosed front porch held all her well-used dolls and dress-up clothes. Her grandma always sat in the living room in an old wooden rocker. She was tiny, silent and mysterious to me. Junie’s big dining room was crammed full by just three things: an old upright piano with lots of sheet music on its top, a huge dining room table covered in papers and books and magazines, and a large sidebar that had mail on it and a mish mash of other things. The kitchen was huge. I was entranced by the modern washing machine and dryer next to the big gas stove. That was the only washer and dryer I’d ever seen – until we moved to our new house. Junie had a special white metal chair at the table. It sat her up high and was battered and dented. I was always jealous of it when I had to sit on a regular chair on top of books. Junie’s mother, Bertha, was my mother’s best friend. I remember her in the kitchen, wearing an apron around her ample waist, always happy. She made yummy pb&j sandwiches and cut off all the crusts for us. Junie shared a bedroom with her older sister. First door on the right when you got upstairs. There was a dressing table between the two twin beds, covered with Auberdeen’s lipsticks, dried corsages, and fingernail polish bottles. And strangely, I remember the doorknobs in her house. They were big and white and looked like china to me. I have no idea what the doorknobs in my own house looked like.

I have no photos of Junie’s house; nor did my mother. I find it interesting that I remember it in so much detail. And that I use the word “comfortable” to describe it. But that’s in juxtaposition to my mother’s tiny glass animal collection on display in our dining room and my collection of story book dolls kept on glassed in shelves in my bedroom.

winter storm rages –
farm cat beckoned into house
turns back to old barn

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I host and ask people to “travel down memory lane” with a simple exercise. Close your eyes for a few moments and go back in time to your earliest memories NOT recalled by virtue of a photo or family lore. Now start jotting them down. You’ll be surprised what you come up with. When I first did this exercise, I actually drew out what the first house I lived in was like: rectangles for rooms. Then I labelled them: my room, parents’ room, brother’s room, living room, dining room, linen closet in hall — and suddenly I remembered climbing up in there to hide from my mom! After jotting things down, choose one memory to share.
Remember, a haibun is: 2 or 3 paragraphs of succinct prose that must be true (cannot be fictional), followed by a haiku that is somehow related to the prose and includes a seasonal reference.

Photo is one of the few I have of me and my friend Junie. Junie is on the left. An interesting fact we found out about 5 years ago when we reunited after some 60+ years, we were married on the same date! That’s a Tiny Tears doll she’s holding. Anyone remember those?

Haibun for 2021

As I think back on new beginnings in my life, I’m struck by how self-centered or family oriented they all were. Graduations, the births of our children and grandchildren, weddings, birthdays, rejuvenatement – never say retirement. New Year’s Eves don’t really come to mind as momentous occasions – until this year.

As we have in so many years past, George and I watched the crystal ball drop in New York City’s Times Square from the comfort of our home. We counted down the last ten seconds of 2020. But this time, when we hugged in 2021, I was literally overcome with emotion. Tears flowed and I clung to George. I was surprised at the depth of my emotional response until I realized what it encompassed. Hope on a global scale. Hope in the form of a vaccine. Hope that millions will escape misery, ill health, and untimely deaths. This moment in our lives, was a moment shared round the globe. It was so much bigger than us sitting on the couch. We were simply a microcosm of a weary world, rejoicing in hope.

snow pack melts in sun
trickle grows to waterfall –
like hope rushing forth

Today, I’m tending the bar at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. We open 2021 with Haibun Monday. My prompt is to write about new beginnings. Think about how that phrase may relate to you. Perhpas you’re reminded of a new job, new garden growth, a new season. Anything that comes to mind in terms of a new beginning. BUT . . .
. . . I remind people that a haibun must meet certain requirements:
* 2 or 3 succinct paragraphs of prose that must be true

* followed by a traditional haiku.
Traditional means much more than simply 3 lines of 5-7-5 syllables.
Come join us at 3 PM Boston time and find out what a traditional haiku really is!

Photo: taken on our South America/Antarctica cruise in January 2018. Vincennes Rosales National Park, in Puerto Montt, Chile.

Life’s Design

It seems to me, there is a map to our lives. Imagine that we can draw it on a grid. Each cell is a day. Cells filled in with bright colors are to-dos and pay-attention-tos. Some neon need-tos are so intense they cause a glare. Blank cells appear in chunks. Free days. Times to play, cogitate, and just be.

My early years were chock full of free days. But ultimately, they almost disappeared. The grid became so colorful, it was blinding. Full of responsibilities, accountability. Children to raise. Professional ladder to climb. Even in those few empty cells, vacation days, I found myself calling in to the office; answering emails. The job tinted even the blank chunks on my grid.

Now in rejuvenatement, never say retirement, filling in the grid is largely my choice. And as I look at it, I suddenly begin to understand, the map of my life is not all my own doing. The socioeconomic term “privilege” comes to mind. Circumstances of birth, ethnicity, geographical location – all have affected my life and enabled me to come to this point where the grid is much easier on the eyes. And in these days of Covid-19, I understand even more, how blessed I have been.

for the lucky ones
summer yields bountiful crops –
others slowly starve

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Kim asks us to respond, in some way, to the image above, “Broadway Boogie Woogie”, created by Piet Mondrian, displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Haibun: 2 or 3 paragraphs of prose followed by a haiku that includes reference to a season.

Never to be the same . . .

In 2005, we rented a vacation home on the Big Island. Our back yard included an ocean inlet to Champagne Pond where at low tide, we swam with glorious sea turtles.

Our most amazing adventure was a lava hike, climbing over fields of hardened basalt. Eventually we came upon fissures where hot lava pooled, spit, hissed, bubbled and oozed ever so slowly. Using flashlights on the return walk, lava glowed red-orange in the distance, as if a jack-o-lantern was lit across the horizon. We also hiked across a caldera, over “waves” of Pele’s hair. We found a small delicate fern peeking out of a crevice. Hawaiian breezes deposit plant life in nooks and crannies. Life reappears in the midst of desolation.

Pele’s anger erupted violently in 2018. Kilauea spewed plumes 12,000 to 30,000 feet high. Fissures burst open. Lava flows destroyed over 700 homes. Lagoon House: A Piece of Paradise, the vacation home so many people enjoyed over the years, was entombed in thirty feet of boiling lava, which eventually cooled to impenetrable basalt. As the owner wrote, the coastline is forever changed. I wonder, how long it will be before a single fern, and then a tree, and then a grove of trees take root. Will the memory of Pele’s reckoning disappear? Will humans be enticed to rebuild what was once called Leilani Estates – and is that even possible?

I look at photos
housebound during Covid spring ~
Pele sleeps again

* Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.

Day 22: National Poetry Writing Month. Toads asks us to choose one of four given quotations to motivate our poem of any form.  I wrote a a haibun.

Photos from June 2005 trip with our children to Hawaii’s Big Island. Our guided lava hike across Kilauea, at the time, the longest continuously active volcano in the world, now seems ridiculously dangerous and foolish – given the horrific occurrence in December 2019 at New Zealand’s White Island.

In the first photo, I’m waving goodbye to the incredibly beautiful back yard at our vacation rental, the night before we returned home. Little did I know that 13+ years later, this scene would be nonexistent.

QUOTATION USED TO MOTIVATE POST:  “A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble.” William Jay Smith

Haibun in the midst of these troubling times

It was to be a celebratory long weekend in Washington DC. We would all gather in a large rental house to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary. Our children. Their children. The Circle of Love as we call ourselves. Dinner reservations made. Photographer arranged. So long in the planning. Fifty years in the making.

And then the unthinkable took hold across the globe. It became clear we would not be “eleven total in raucus revelry.” Instead we are sheltering in place in our individual homes. Venturing out for groceries. Taking our own walks on separate unbeaten paths in three different cities, in two different states. We do connect with phone calls and Facetime to insure all are well. We share tales of in-house projects, board games, and home schooling. Love is always heard in our eleven voices  – no matter the distance. And for this we are grateful.

spring time daffodils
untouched by Covid-19
dance closely in sun

IMG_4554Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today Kim asks us to use a previous poem we’ve written about ourselves, and from its core, create a haibun: 2 paragraphs of tight prose followed by a haiku with a seasonal mention.
My haibun today is based on my previous poem Solitude and quotes one line from it.

Photo taken on our walk yesterday — keeping “social distance” from others but enjoying the hope spring brings. So many daffodils planted along the banks of the river Charles…so close together. Would that we can all soon embrace our loved ones and walk arm-in-arm again.
To all my readers:  stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

Darkness and Light: Beginning Anew

October 19, 2013. We walked across the street from Mass. General Hospital into a new life. My question: Is there always darkness before light? Night skies before the dawn. In utero before light at the end of the birth canal. Sleep before the alarm sounds. Death before new life.

Six minutes minus a heart beat. Thirty-six hours of induced comatose state. You suspended somewhere; eyes shut, machines whirring. Me existing in light which felt like the darkest of times.

You returned to us and the morning sun. Five days later, we walked home. Six years later, we are together still. Thankful for every day.

dark in chrysalis
strength builds, body renewing
life’s splendor springs forth

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Bjorn is hosting Haibun Monday and asks us to write about new beginnings. Haibun: 2 to 3 tight paragraphs of prose (must be true) followed by a haiku. The condominium building we live in is actually located directly across from the main campus of Massachusetts General Hospital.

A Cry for Peace

On a typical hot, humid summer day in Washington DC, we visited the National Air and Space Museum.  A favorite tourist stop for young families, there were many squeals of delight and loads of loud chatter around the space capsules and astronaut exhibits. Parents eagerly read placards aloud and answered their children’s questions.

And then we saw the Enola Gay.  Why does that old plane have that name? Because the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, named it after his mother. Why is it here? Is it famous? How do you answer those questions from a four year old who has no idea where Hiroshima is, what it signifies, and stumbles to even pronounce the word?

decomposing raven
lies outside rotting in snow –
infant wails for breast

Col_Paul_W._Tibbets_before_takeoff_6_August_1945

Frank Tassone hosts Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. He reminds us that today is Hiroshima Day 2018. It will be marked by the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony where approximately 50,000 local citizens and visitors, as well as ambassadors and dignitaries from around 70 countries, will] gather in Hiroshima to console the spirits of those killed by the atomic bomb and also to pray for lasting world peace. Our haibun should somehow deal with this theme.

Haibun: Two tight paragraphs of prose, must be true, cannot be fiction; followed by a haiku. I’ve chosen to write a traditional haiku: three lines: 5-7-5 or short-long-short in syllabic form; about nature; includes 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: Colonel Paul Tibbets before take-off on August 6, 1945. Taken by US Air Force employee (unnamed) – https://www.archives.gov/research/ww2/photos/ photo #162, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9162980

Big City Haibun

She returned to her new home, a big city after Iowa. Good day at new job, alone with glass of wine in hand, the familiar chair feels comfortable. Staring at unpacked boxes, lacking energy, two unfamiliar items come into view. Walking closer, she eyes them more intently.

Two dirty, half coiled, frayed bungee cords sit atop an unopened box. Bungee cords? Metal steel curved hooks on dirty elastic cords. Quietly she hurried out the door.

partridge returns to nest
canine impressions mar one egg
nervous feathers flair

Haibun written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today we’re asked to write about an emotion without naming it — evoking it by the use of objects and imagery.  Haibun: prose that cannot be fiction, followed by a haiku. The prose describes what happened, before my husband joined me in Boston, on my second or third day in our new condo.  We moved here from Iowa. Turns out, some workers had entered our unit, without permission, to do some work….and realized they were in the wrong unit. I got security to do a thorough walk-through with me and then found out what happened. Needless to say, I received many apologies from management and I’m happy to say, we’ve lived safely and happily ever since. 

Valparaiso, Chile

I stand atop Casa Galos’ rooftop terrace, seeking the moon which appears in Chicago, Paris, and Vienna. Cities that progressed with time. Here I see only bright orbs. Street lights that blanket the cerros – hills holding once architectural gems beside corrugated metal homes. Erosion defied by vibrant street art.

Twentieth century’s magnificent achievement, the Panama Canal, thief of Valparaiso’s livelihood. And this past month, deserted by the cruiseship industry, as if a pickpocket stole her last coin. A missing moon tonight, and I wonder if it will ever reappear to illuminate this city’s spirit again.

blood moon phenomenon
shrunk to crescent sliver shard –
will you wax again?

My Pen and I

My writing spills out from a deep cistern of life’s experience. Sometimes a bit dank and dark as the pen dips deeper. But never from the despair of a void.

I am a doer. A make-your-own-sunshine-on-a-grey-soupy-day kind of gal. Cheerleader-tap-dance vigor still runs through my veins. Lean machine, gone somewhat dumpy with the addition of an old age belly, I choose to look up and out, not down. My daughter once said to me, “Mom, every movie can’t be the Sound of Music!” But I do choose the channel, right? Write.

sunflowers smile at me
sheets flap and furl on clothes line
summer of my mind

 

 

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Toni, our haibun queen, asks us to write about why we write the way we do. Who are we and how does that come out in our writing? My readers will have to decide if they think I’ve nailed this assignment. 🙂

These are two of my all-time favorite photos from Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We’re in the second week of our annual two weeks here. Even on grey and foggy days, there is a soft beauty to this place! Hmmmm sounds like my haibun! Haibun: a paragraph or two of tightly written prose (cannot be fiction) followed by a haiku. A haiku true to Japanese form, always includes a seasonal word. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!