Industrialization at a price . . .

On a hot summer day, we ventured back in history, on a day-trip to Lowell, Massachusetts.

A small boat took us through part of the 1796 Pawtucket Transportation Canal, with locks so old, their levers are maneuvered above us by National Park volunteers. Green trees reflect in the water marking a beautiful scene. But we’re told that once these waters were polluted thick with textile dyes as industrial capitalists captured hydro-energy from the Merrimack River falls to turn belts and wheels on thousands of textile machines.

In the Boott Cotton Mill Museum, we stand in a long factory room, filled machines, just as they were in the 1830s. Only three of the hundreds are turned on and the noise is deafening. We drip with sweat and imagine women as young as fifteen, standing in long dresses, no electricity for fans, tied to machines fourteen hours a day, six days a week.

sweltering summer
dogs pant laboriously
tethered to leashes

Frank hosts Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Since today is Labor Day in the U.S., a day to celebrate workers, he asks us to write a haibun (2 or 3 paragraphs of prose — cannot be fiction; followed by a traditional haiku with reference to a season) that is somehow about labor. Canada celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September and more than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1.

Photos and video from our recent day trip to Lowell, MA. An amazing step back in time. The Mill Girls, as they came to be known, were some of the first individuals to stage a strike against unfair wages and conditions. They were recruited to this factory city from rural farms in the nearby countryside. Companies required them to stay in the company boarding houses, attend church on Sunday, and live by “the bells” which woke them befroe dawn each morning, signalled meal times, and times to report to the floor. When Mill Girls left their jobs, waves of immigrants came to Lowell, working side-by-side with locals. Lowell did not stay with the times, keeping the hydrology-run factories until they all left for other parts of the country and Lowell fell on hard times. Warehouses were vacant and fell to disrepair. Senator Tsongas, from Lowell, together with Congress, established Lowell as a National Park and the city was “reborn” so to speak, rehabbing and restoring itself as a place to preserve history. An amazing place to visit!

Walk with me . . .

Warning: Pack lightly when traveling abroad. Leave ethnocentrism at home.
Cultural biased cataracts blur the view of many.

Come walk with me in Busan,
savoring South Korea’s largest fish market.

My eyes espy wriggling, clinging, squid and octopi.
Cartiliaginous skates with long dead eyes,
phallic shaped Gaebuls beside sea worms,
long slithering swarm-swimming eels.

I jerk back reflexively
as red knobby sea pineapple
squeezed slightly by seller,
shoots its swallowed water at me.

So many live fish, tank after tank,
humongous to small.
Dried. Pickled.
Crustaceons. Amphibians too.

Offered sannakji to eat,
small “baby” octopus barely chopped,
some not.
Dipped in sesame oil,  swallowed like that.

I would feel them
squirm down my throat.

I remind myself silently –
Things are not better. Things are not worse.
They’re just different.

Then politely I simply say,
no thank you
and smile . . .
and stroll away.

Sarah hosts Poetics today at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She tells us about her love for visiting markets – especially when on holiday. It’s something we always do when visiting another country…..visit markets and grocery stores. It’s always so very interesting to experience culinary culture. And yes, Sarah wants us to go to market today!

Photos from our April trip where we did indeed visit the amazing fish market in Bousan. Over 500 booths — so many kinds of sea creatures!!!

Woods Divine

Woods beckon,
come walk among the pine.
Steps slow, lighten, whisper quiet.

Meandering deep into the balm,
worries lessen, shedding stress
through leaf-canopied sieve

Shoulders relax. Breath softens.
Warm leaf-filtered sun
soothes like salve to wound.

Some call it forest bathing,
immersion in the ever green.
I call it serenity divine.

Photo: 100 years ago this large forest was planted in Tokyo with the idea of simply letting it grow naturally within the city. It was planted with the express purpose of later constructing a shrine within the woods, dedicated to the first emperor who, by action of the then shogun, transferred power from shogun to emperor, thus establishing a new type of government for Japan. It is truly a serene and beautiful place. Although much much newer than any of the other shrine and sacred places we’ve seen, I found this to be the most beautiful setting.

Ode to the Sea

My moon-blown dreams flutter flit.
‘Tis but water-spoken words
afloat in tide-looped waves,
gently wending their way
wave-seeping through my synapses.
Meanderments that mesmerize,
a ringed-sea within my mind.

Eyes sea-scape.
Islands seemingly afloat
shimmer on reflection,
my ‘scape
from dews of storm-clad life.
I seem to levitate
hover somewhere, not here.

No sound but water-softness,
lapping as if heaven-circling.
Eyes stair cross waters,
climb surreal to starry scrim.
Leaning against ship’s rail,
all railings retreat to insignificance.
Serenity lives upon the seas.

For April 16 Poetics….hosted by guest Laura Bloomsbury. Motivated by her prompt and our current journey, cruising through Japan, China and South Korea.

Beijing

II stand
amidst cherry blossoms,
reborn magnolia trees.

I tread
where dynasties ruled,
savored opulence as others served.

I climb
where men toiled, backs bent
bearing heavy stone.

I walk through history
incredulous to see
to understand,

to know.
We are
but a speck in time.

(photo taken April 5, 2019…me with my husband!)

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.

What moment lies between?

To cruise the seas. Ship of many with restaurants, shops, shows, casino and dancing. Playing on the waves. Yet for me, it is the moments of silence I savor. Sunset on our veranda. Leaning into the salty breeze.  Pondering as body sways naturally. What lies between that place where red melds into black? Between moments in time? Between a last intake of breath and the final audible sigh? Clouds hover like memories floating through my mind. Mixed emotions. Content to stand and savor. Slow ache for loved ones faded from my life. Red streaks lessen, darkness consumes. I shiver in the suddenly cold air.

black cold red-streaked sky
Ursus lumbers to dark den
winter signals sleep

D2538E8C-C8D2-468C-B862-DDB09C71F173

Haibun prompt today at dVerse: think about CHIJITSU, a Japanese Kaigo that means lingering day….can relate to the moments of sunrise or sunset. Haibun: prose (must be true) followed by a haiku that must, in the true Japanese sense of the form,  include reference to a season.  Post also applies to day 16 Napowrimo’s prompt: something to do with play. Photo taken from the deck on our last cruise around South America.

Sadly we say goodbye to Victoria our dVerse host today. She’s been a force at dVerse since its early days in 2011. Thank you, thank you, Victoria.

Bermuda, Tanaga Me

*Tanaga – part of an oral tradition going back to the early 16th century. Stanzas of four lines, seven syllables per line; rhyming each line of a stanza on the same rhyme sound.

Just my tanaga and me
watching the dawn blissfully.
Sailboats rest upon the sea
kiskadees sing from a tree.

Fingers tap relentlessly
counting sevens, never three.
Overhead the gulls fly free
soaring, flapping gleefully.

This place holds a history
many a catastrophe.
Shipwrecks buried ‘neath the sea
part of lore and memory.

For all things Bermudaful
for friendships and nature too,
my spirit ever grateful
sadly I must bid adieu.

IMG_9534I shot this panoramic at Horseshoe Bay on the south shore of Bermuda, said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We’ve spent at least a month of our past four Boston winters in Bermuda and have come to love the beauty of the country and its people. This is our last year here — as we move on to other adventures next year.

Posted for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where Frank introduces us to the Tanaga form. He indicates it comes from the Tagalog language of the Philippines, and does say we may take poetic freedom with the rhyming scheme, which I do in the final stanza.

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?

Edvard Grieg

Concertos orchestrate dawn to dusk,
etudes study dancing shadows.
Sonatinas spring wildflowers,
octaves ripple cross the lake.

Confident fingers crescendo,
crossing ivory and ebony.
Norwegian master of the keys
and lover of the land.

Photos taken in Bergen, Norway as we visited the lake home and composition hut of Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. Bergen averages 280+ day of rain a year. We had incredibly beautiful weather!