The Owl: Haibun

It is my birthday. Now in the middle of December, it is cold outside, and darkness descends earlier each day. But the house is filled with light, warm and scented with the aroma of holiday baking. My husband, our two young daughters, and I are to meet my father at a restaurant north of us, in the Philadelphia suburbs to celebrate. It will be a highway trip through rush hour traffic, but the reward will be an excellent meal and the company of my family. I turn to a living room window to pull down the shade—and stop. A white owl with black and brown markings sits in the tree directly in front of me. I stare at her, and she stares at me, both unblinking. I am transfixed, knowing that this is a special moment, not knowing I will remember it in twenty years, still uncertain about its meaning.

 

The Owl dispenses

winter wisdom from oak trees–

time paused in passing

 

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Caspar David Friedrich, Owl on a Tree,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is a Haibun for dVerse, where we asked to write about owls. I’ve combined it with this week’s prompt from Colleen Chesebro , using synonyms for the words, smell and cozy.

 

 

 

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Wind Sighs of Dreams: Haibun

I woke to hear the wind sighing and moaning, the lonely sound of a train whistle at midnight. The house creaked, like a person turning over in bed, trying to get comfortable. The branches of the maple tree tap against the window. I try not to think of Wuthering Heights. I fall back asleep, my bed creaking like the house, as I toss through strange dreams: a woman with a mission, possibly dangerous. She may have been someone I know, in a costume, in disguise. Then there was poetry, lyrical snippets, now forgotten. Perhaps it was all an eerie visit from my muse.

 

Red gold trees ablaze

light flows through sun and shadow

dark-clothed ghosts hover

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This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Poetry Tuesday. The prompt words were eerie and costume.

 

 

 

Two Trains: Haibun

“Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Please don’t tell what train I’m on
They won’t know what route I’m going. . .”

–Elizabeth Cotton, “Freight Train”

I sit in the movie theater watching a documentary. Mississippi, June 1964–Freedom Summer. Two groups of idealistic white men search for African American delta blues singers, Skip James and Son House, they know of them only from old recordings. The seekers are unaware of what the segregated South is like. While they search, other idealistic, naïve, white college students are heading to Mississippi to set up freedom schools and to help with voter registration. Black activists know those in power do not react to black lives lost, so it’s crucial to have these white civil rights workers involved, too. On June 21, 1964, African-American civil rights worker, James Chaney disappears from Philadelphia, Mississippi, along with white colleagues Michael Schwerner and Andrew Chapman (their bodies found weeks later). They vanish as the musicians are found. The stories converge—two trains running–music and the civil rights movement. I watch all this—the old film footage, the animated scenes, the talking heads. I hear those lonesome, vibrant, haunting blues. The music train arrived, but the civil rights train is still running, fueled by hope and persistence, despite the obstacles on the tracks.

 

Ghosts still walk these roads

haunted sighs in summer winds

rhythm of the blues

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Tuesday. The prompt words were ghost and haunt.

We saw Two Trains Runnin’. More info here.

 

 

Dreaming Shapes in the Mist: Haibun

I am dreaming. I traipse across the moors in Brontë country. It’s almost Halloween, and back home I’ll soon be carving jagged smiles on pumpkin faces. As I walk, the sun sinks lower in the sky, deepening the grass’s golden glow. Shadows walk with me, till they are obscured by the darkness. Night lays a black shroud over the naked trees and heathered knolls, covering them completely. A fine misty rain obscures my vision even more. It kisses me all over, lightly like a playful lover, until I am weakened and drenched. I stand, uncertain where to go or how to find my way home. At the sound of a ghostly screech, I jump, then laugh a bit at my fright. It’s just a barn owl. There’s nothing here to frighten you, I tell myself–until cold fingers wrap themselves around my wrist. I try to call out, but no sound emerges from my throat. I try to wake, but I cannot. I am dreaming I tell myself as the bony fingers pull me down to the cold, damp ground.

 

Shapes in the darkness

nightmares come in autumn’s mist

Jack’s crooked mouth laughs

 

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George Lambert, “Moorland Landscape with Rainstorm,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been told a true Haibun is supposed to be based on a real experience, but I decided to have a bit of seasonal fun with this. I suppose it is flash fiction with a haiku, but I’m calling it a Haibun. This is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were mist and shape.

 

 

Earth and Stars, Music: Haibun

I wake to news of carnage. I wonder, fraught at what is wrought by men and guns and crazed ideas. My spirit feels wounded, unable to summon the joy. Yet I know it is there, buried in my heart, waiting to soar. I know that above me, the stars still sing, and the moon hums her changing melody, calling the tides. Come play, she croons, come roll and prance.  Music of the universe, music of Earth. Listen–there the mockingbird, and there the robin, and there up at the top of the oak tree, the blue jay squawking. The gift of song, it’s all around us.

Joyful spirits sing

the sound of a summer breeze

laughs through a window

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Frank Bramley, “When the Blue Evening Slowly Falls,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This Haibun is a for Colleen’s Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were spirit and joy. Since I didn’t participate last week, I also used that week’s words, gift and song.

 

 

 

 

Journey through my Mind: Haibun

A thought, and my brain takes off on a journey. Turns me around, mind-wandering through worlds we cannot see, time, and space, a trace of Chaos theory, the hard problem, history and mythology. I seek connections, new directions.  I wonder about ghosts, hosts, and cat dreams. Streams of thought, or so it seems. In the end, I hope (familiar trope), looking for the good, the light. I wake up happy to see the sleep-bound moon and the growing dawn. Nothing is foregone. My heart sings and wings with the birds.

 

birdsong as night falls

cardinals’ red echoes leaves

summer sighs farewell

 

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This Haibun is for Haibun Monday at dVerse. We’re asked to write “a haibun about why you write the style of poetry you write. Not why you write poetry, but the why of your style.” This is to be followed by a classic Haiku, which must include a season word. We were also asked (an option) to post a photo.

 

Liminal Skies: Haibun

The days grow shorter, and I wake in the dark. The mockingbird no longer sings through the night on a branch outside my window. It made me happy to hear him, comforting somehow, familiar like the tree itself. Has he gone, or merely changed his timing and repertoire as early summer moves inescapably towards fall? Yet through open windows, I hear other acquaintances, robins and cardinals, still warbling and chirping. A few leaves have changed from green to gold. The bright blue skies of September soon will yield to violet, then grey. The air is fresh, the days warm and the nights cool. The vibrant corn moon blazes in the morning sky. She hums a song, autumn is coming.

 

liminal skies sigh

chasing shadows round the sun

leaves whisper and fall

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This is for dVerse Haibun Monday. Yeah, I’m a bit late.

Toni asked us to write about the in-between seasons. She wrote, “I was thinking intensely of the Japanese word, komorebi (koe moe ray bee) which means specifically light that is filtered between leaves and usually occurring in spring and fall…but in that in-between-season.”

It occurs to me, too, that many people right now (my family and friends among them) are in an in-between state waiting for Hurricane Irma to arrive. My thoughts are with you. This seems to be a time of catastrophe and upheaval everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stones Turned: Haibun

I’m in bed thinking about the day, turning over thoughts and deeds, like stones, to see what lies beneath. Perhaps I’m looking for deeper meanings. I dream of a dead woman I never met, the ex-wife of someone I do know. She is funny, wise, and kind–vital and alive in my mind. She invites us to dinner. “Let’s dress up,” she says, “I think I’ll wear red velvet.” Perhaps she has the answers. But what is the question?

 

thoughts rolling in waves,

an ever-changing shoreline

doors to other worlds–

pipe dreams floating on seafoam,

or ships navigating home?

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This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were stone and turn. I really did have this dream last night.

 

Storm Music

I’m awakened by the rain hitting the window, the barker for the upcoming show. Step right up, folks! This one’s a dazzler of light and sound. The lightning takes center stage as it illuminates the sky, followed by the chorus of thundering kettle drums. One cat leaps off the bed; the other snuggles closer to my side. My husband sleeps, but I’m held captive, an unwitting, unwilling audience for this production. Do hours pass, or does it just seem that way? The endless percussion, the strobing encores? The fortissimo storm music finally ends, drifting off, pianissimo, until it’s gone. I dream then of shadows and golden light, of distant seas and far off worlds, until at last, the sun rises, waking me again, with a gentle song.

whirling midnight storms

shadows flit through worlds and minds

in dawn’s light, vanish

 

 

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge.

The prompt words were shadow and light.

I’m also linking to dVerse, where Gayle is hosting an open link night.

 

 

August: Songs in my Heart

You would have been ninety-eight today. I mark the date as the day awakens—crickets chirping, and birds beginning their morning chorus, a little later now in August than June. I imagine you as you were before you got sick—larger than life, or so it seemed. Until you shrank, encased inside a body that had become frail, and then your life shrank, too. In your last apartment, filled with bric-a-brac (a word that always sounded like a magical game to me), the Chinese vases and statues, the antiques that shared space with other collections–books and papers, drawings and old art projects we had made—later, after you were gone, and the space echoed with silence, we found the old school lunch boxes and report cards in your closet.

 

Your grandchildren, my daughters, played on your balcony. I remember red geraniums there, but perhaps I’ve added them in my mind, as I’ve added them to my kitchen window box. I think about my daughters playing and singing, wonder if their love of music came from you. I wish you could have seen the women they’ve become. You would be so proud of them. (I hate that you are gone.) I suspect you, and not my mom, bought the Broadway soundtrack recordings that my sister and I listened to so often when we were little, making up plays in our Dallas bedroom. I remember you singing. Did you have a soundtrack running in your head, as I do?

When I was a teen, you drove me crazy singing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” over and over again. I hated that song (I hate that you are gone); I’d love to hear you sing it again. With age, I’ve realized the universe is filled with music, though we don’t always hear it. Some songs drift through your brain, others you hear in your heart.

 

Heart-songs float through time

stars, the proud troubadours, sing,

tones linger like dreams

 

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My dad’s birthday was yesterday, August 9. This Haibun is for Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were hate and pride. I had another idea that used the words much more definitively, but this happened instead.