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
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.
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
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.
*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.
I 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.
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?
There is a place where one man has made all the difference.
The people’s Bali lies far from glamorized honeymoon Bali. In Banjar Guliang Kangin, three hundred+ villagers survive. Men toil in hot humidity tending rice paddies. Trek barefoot in muck, guiding bovine through shin-high waters as they pull hand-carved rakes, furrowing mud. Others stand in water, backs bent, sticking rice plants in wet soil. Women rise daily at five AM. Walk to village market and buy day’s fresh food supplies as mangy dogs and cocking roosters run underfoot on dirt road. They use firewood to boil rice, cook fresh chicken and vegetables in clay pots. Weave flowers and seed as offerings to Hindi gods three times per day. Balance bundled lunch on heads, walking into fields toward hungry men. Children, who can afford books and uniforms attend free school through tenth grade. Farmers make $7 per week, Their children work in fields and family gardens.
We are among the privileged few taking a cooking class from Chef on this hot Balinese day. He meets us at market and humbly explains vegetable names and uses. Takes us to his village, walks us though rice paddy fields to open air school he built with bamboo poles and thatched roof. Teaches us Balinese cooking and at class end, smiling broadly, serves us foods we’ve prepared. “This is not my school. It is my community’s.” Chef left this village as a young man. Traveled to Australia to learn English and culinary arts. Worked in kitchens, ultimately a Hyatt, saving monies. Two years ago at age fifty, he returned. Built this school. Established relationships with cruise ship lines and hotels. He buys food and teaches multiple cooking classes every day. His work has literally built a bridge, improved homes, and insures that each village child attends school. As women toil at home and men plant fields, he is feeding a village, dish by dish.
Pale female cardinal
daily builds nest, stick by stick
winds of change blow by
Wonderful day in Bali. So very glad we did this excursion, experiencing Balinese culture and helping this village by working with Chef. Such a humble, giving man.