Iowa Scene

Thirty acres of Iowa farmland surrounded our country house ~ the first home we ever owned. We tended a huge garden, had six apple trees, and rented out the rest of the land to a nearby farmer.

It was a magical place in all seasons. Spring time brought apple blossoms and the sound of tractors moving up and down the fields. Our summer garden overflowed with zucchini while wind-blown sheets flapped on the clothesline. Fall harvest coincided with our consolidated high school’s homecoming parade around town square. Winter storms left corn stalk stubs peeking out from a blanket of white snow. And if we were lucky, we might spy a migrating snowy owl, perched atop the fence post next to our old wooden barn.

blizzard blows in night
red barn awakens to white landscape
snowy owl hoots in delight

winter-barn-556696_1920

Victoria is hosting Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. A Haibun is a Japanese form of poetry that includes one or two paragraphs of tight nonfiction prose followed by a haiku that must include a seasonal reference. Today, Victoria tells us how the Japanese associate the Kigo, Fukuroo with the season of winter (Kigo is owl; Fukuroo means the snowy owl). We are to write a haibun about owls. Photo in public domain from pixabay.com

 

Ode To My High School Gym

 

Home to . . .

blue onesied teenage girls
delicately batting badmintons,
and pimpled boys man-upping
in raucous dodge-ball games.

Crew cuts and ratted Aqua Net dos.

School assemblies.
Seats assigned by homeroom,
alphabetical misery.

Six-foot hoopsters.
Full-skirted
ball gown under-frames
and the tall gangly ball-shooting kind.

Hand-wringing game-ending cacophony,
and teenage clutching
Johnny-Mathis-crooning
sock-hop last chance
he-has-to-be-the-one dance.

Crepe paper.
Gathered in strips,
duct tape hand grips
bouncing in pompom cheers.
Stretched————————–
transformed to ceiling
with hanging mirrored ball
above parading bouffant heads.

Embarrassed girls
side-lined on folding chairs
watching nervous girls
lined up in pretended calm,
waiting to learn
if they would be the one
adorned in prom queen crown.

Fifty years later,
we stand on your creaking boards.
Is it possible? Is this the space?
Old age does not become you,
our once hallowed place.

IMG_6666

Frank hosts dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets, asking us to write an ode (poem of praise). No required form, meter or content. Photo: from my 1965 senior year high school annual, Waukegan Township High School in Waukegan, Illinois. Prom court….I was on a folding chair 🙂 And yes, there’s a metal hoop skirt under that second gown. You had to be really careful when you sat down! In the actual photo, you can see the basketball court lines on the gym floor. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.

Haibun of Bygones

In the neighborhood where we raised our children, there was a beautiful weeping willow in the front yard next door. Our children loved to have picnic lunches beneath its low bowing branches. Other times, all the children in the area gathered and played tag, running in and out of the green lacey-leafed cascading curtains, sometimes tripping on the roots that made the ground lumpy beneath its shade. Laughter abounded around the tree.

The only day it earned its name was the day the arborists came. They sawed it into pieces. Drilled out its heart-stump, and carted it all away. My children watched the scene in horror and cried their hurt that night as we sat at the dinner table. Mother nature wept her disappointment in a summer evening storm. Strands of weeping branches littered our street, until the street cleaner arrived early one morning and swept all evidence away.

birds sing sweet sorrow
weeping willow cracks in grief
earth disrobed by man

weeping-willow-186940_1920

Thursday is Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Gail is hosting and asks us to come imbibe some words and post one poem of our choice – no prompt given. We’re a friendly bunch. Come enjoy!

Appreciating Differences

My mother and father were very different from each other. She was volatile and outgoing. He was quiet and non-demonstrative. A draftsman by trade, he had neat block printing. His basement workshop shelves contained Skippy jars of nails, nuts and bolts, each with its content duly noted on labels, printed in his steady hand. My mother was brought up in the Catholic Church in the days of “sister school.” I was told that at a young age, the nuns wrapped her knuckles with a ruler when she tried to write with her left hand. Consequently she became a right-hander with almost illegible script.

Our Christmas tree is a memory tree. On the bottom branches, I hang gift tags from years gone by. “To Lillian, Love Mom” written in her horrific handwriting. I also hang wooden ornaments made on my dad’s jigsaw, inscribed on the backs in perfect block letters, “Love Dad.” Nostalgic during the holidays, I occasionally peruse my 1947 baby book, not so much to look at the old black and white photos, but to see my mother’s script which fills the pages. The ramblings of a young harried woman, writing about daily life with me. It takes time to decipher, but I feel her presence more if I can make out the words.

My dad’s perfect printing. My mom’s wild scribbling. They fought, they loved, they played pinochle together. I treasure each for who they were and who together, made me. And I wonder, when I’m gone, will anyone keep these mementos? Or will the ink be so faded, they will be lost to time.

wildflowers constrained,
exhuberant colors vased
bonsai, controlled art

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday. Today Victoria is hosting and asks us to explore the Japanese art of Wabi Sabi – the art of revering authenticity, appreciating imperfections, slowing down to appreciate rather than perfect. The haibun form begins with non-fiction prose and concludes with a haiku. The haiku must deal with nature. 

Transient Beauty

It was the first summer after we bought our Iowa farm house. City transplants, we planted a huge garden. Tomatos, sweet corn, carrots, beets, cucumbers, radishes, green and yellow beans, peas, zucchini, squash and pumpkin, all kinds of peppers, and oak leaf and ruby red lettuce.  I planned to can and freeze vegetables. Enjoy our harvest through the winter.

On this particular hot and humid day, I was seven months pregnant and exhausted, but very proud of my first attempt at canning stewed tomatoes. I’d picked and washed the tomatoes. Dipped them in boiling water to loosen the skins. Chopped them with celery and peppers. Cooked the mixture and poured them into sterilized glass jars. And finally processed them in the pressure canner. Deliciously, gloriously red, the mixture was now displayed in mason jars, standing tall on my cupboard.

And then I heard our German Shepherd barking — a lot. I took two steps into the back yard and stopped dead in my tracks. The smell was unbelievable. Skunk. And all those beautiful stewed tomatoes, gone in a flash. Rubbed into the coat of Toby. At least he had the grace to lick his chops.

nature thunders rain
magnolia blooms fall to ground
magnificence gone

harvest-14420_640

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Grace asks us to write a haibun related to summer. This summer memory is from many many years ago. Haibun: prose (cannot be fiction) followed by a haiku (should be related to nature).  Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come on over and join the fun! Photo in public domain – from Pixabay.

 

My Dad

My dad was a quiet man. He wasn’t an exuberant fan of any pro or local sports teams. But I do remember him sitting on our fake leather hide-a-bed couch, watching Cubs games on our blonde console TV. Televisions in those days were cumbersome pieces of furniture. My mother stacked Readers Digests on top of ours.

I never saw my dad swing a baseball bat, but he wielded a mean croquet mallet. It sent many a competitor’s wooden ball sailing into our neighbor’s yard. And rather than joining the popular winter bowling leagues, he stayed late after work, one night a week, competing in a checkers club. He also loved pinochle and rummy. He taught me all these games, using very few words. And he never let me win — until I really did. I never participated in sports. But I did become a high school and college debater. I wonder how much the man of few words had to do with that?

tall oak canopy
acorn roots itself below
reaches for new heights

IMG_5328

Haibun written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Bjorn asks us to write about sport. A haibun is a piece of prose (cannot be fiction) followed by a haiku. Generally, the haiku must be about nature.

 

The Bed

We fancied ourselves antiquers in those days. In reality, we bought used furniture at farm auctions, garage sales, and dusty second hand stores.

In its day, it was called a sleigh bed. We spied the slightly warped high headboard and frame propped up against a wall, and bargained for a price we could afford. Back home, our daughter was fast approaching the age to move out of her crib into a “big girl bed” and my parents were with us for a visit. We enlisted my father’s help. He sanded then painted the headboard white and stenciled it with blue tulips and red hearts. Our daughter slept with that design above her head long after my father died. Until she left the nest and began her college years.

robin gathers twigs
nesting haven grows crowded
wind tussles emptiness

IMG_5274

Grace is hosting Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Haibun: one or two paragraphs of prose (not fiction) followed by a haiku. She introduces the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, asking us to write about finding beauty in broken pieces or imperfections. Photo: headboard from the side. This is my daughter, many years ago, being awakened by a surprise birthday party from her friends.

The Old Lamp Lighter

Lamplighter of yesteryear
resides light years away.
Nightly strolls relocated,
he illuminates the stars.

Written for dVerse where I’m hosting today, asking folks to write a poem that contains the title of a Billboard Magazine #1 hit recording from the year they were born, or their early years of growing up. The Old Lamp Lighter, recorded by Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra, 1947. Below is a drawing my 10 year old grandson did for this post.

FullSizeRender