Cinnamon and Snow: Haibun

 

Valerius_De_Saedeleer_-_Winter_landscape

It snowed, and the earth was devoid of color. The wind howled and shook the house, knocking to get in. Robins, sparrows, tufted titmice, and cardinals huddled in their nests. Wise squirrels had gathered acorns from the old oak tree, but now they, too, sought shelter. The roads were unplowed, and the schools were closed for days. I baked an endless supply of cookies, bread, cakes, and donuts. My comfort for the storm. The house was scented with cinnamon and love.

 

frosted white-veiled world

sighs drifting from cloud-draped moon–

from home warmth beckons

 

It’s midsummer, so to be contrary I thought I’d write about a blizzard. When my children were young—perhaps in kindergarten and third grade—there was a blizzard that left two feet of snow, and more in the drifts. I know that some of you live in areas that have more snow, but I think it wasn’t only the amount, but the intensity of the storm and the drifting afterwards. It might have been this one. 

 

 

 

 

Picnics at the Lake, NaPoWriMo

So many picnic dinners at the lake. We are all younger and thinner. I wear my hair in braids; my skin is smooth and summer-brown. Summers seem full of warm promises—and gentle breezes carry magic. A butterfly perches on the flowered center of my purple bathing suit. I watch her in delight, though I can’t understand her whispered secrets. Still, I keep them.

 

Rose petals turn brown,

traces of perfume lingers–

ghosts drift from the past

 

Day 30, the last day of NaPoWriMo! We’re asked to write a minimalist poem–so the haiku here. I’m also linking this to Haibun Monday on dVerse, where Gina has asked us to write about picnics.

 

 

 

 

Little Deer, NaPoWriMo

GUGG_Red_Deer

Franz Marc, Red Deer

I see you, Little Deer, in the pre-dawn gloaming as you graze on my neighbor’s grass. I watch you, afraid to breathe, knowing that magic can vanish in a blink. But did I move? You raise your head, sniff, and dart down the block, bleating, bleating, bleating for your mother. A chance encounter–you probably will not remember it, but I won’t forget you. I walk inside, as the sun peeps over the horizon.

Moon croons farewell

as dawn whispers promises

fawn sprints after them

 

Day 23 of NaPoWriMo challenges us to write about an animal. I decided not to write about cats or birds because I always write about them, and I remembered this little deer I saw one morning a few years ago. But I guess I’m predictable because I discovered that exactly three years ago, on April 23, 2016, I wrote a poem for NaPoWriMo about a different deer in a different neighbor’s yard, but I mentioned this one. Here’s the link. It has a slide show, too.  🙂

 

 

 

 

Surrealistic Spring

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Yesterday morning, the almost full moon set in a glowing, misty haze. Birds chattered and scolded me just before dawn, the day of the vernal equinox. Today, I bring some of the Purim Hamantaschen I baked to my mom. Philadelphia is a smeary charcoal drawing—damp and dreary. The day seems surreal. My mom is seeing birdcages. As we leave, a sad clown, tall and silent, walks out of the lobby of her building. We listen to news of mourning in New Zealand on the car radio. But when we get home, I see the first daffodils blooming, bright beacons in the gloom.

 

shimmery moon hums

songs float between here and there,

mockingbird echoes

 

I wanted to post a poem yesterday for World Poetry Day, but it was just one of those days where I was running around, and then dealing with family issues. . . This haibun is for Frank’s Haikai Challenge, March Equinox.

AND Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Challenge using synonyms for Spring and Sing.

AND for dVerse, where Kim is hosting Open Link Night (which was last night).

 

 

 

 

Spikes and Shackles

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Slave Shackles JvL- from Netherlands [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D Wikipedia Commons

I see the spiked collar and the shackles. These may have been meant for a child, the exhibit label states. They would fit my wrist, I think. Ghosts hover; my heart aches.

mothers’ cries echo

soar across Atlantic sea—

gale winds thrash the sails

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse. De asked us to use the word spike. A quadrille is a poem of 44 words. Mine is in the form of a haibun, though perhaps not totally traditional.

 

 

March Madness: Haibun

Small white crocuses push through the soil, seeking the light. Soon, they’re covered in snow. Here, now, this bipolar month swings between seasons, sometimes in a day. But March gusts will turn to gentle April breezes. Soft showers will carry the scent of flowers, and the trill of birdsong will float through windows opened to the light. I see the beauty of the snow-dusted trees, but I long for spring.

Another year turns,

tender greens peep through soft white–

dreams roll in on clouds

 

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This is for my March Madness prompt on dVerse.

I’m also linking  this to Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge on light snow.

 

 

 

 

Walls, Again and Again

Monday Morning Musings:

From a window I watch the birds flocked together to find food, to feed, fueling before the chilly winter rain begins again, following each other ground to sky and back again. I watch a couple of black birds—starlings perhaps–pecking at an old light fixture hanging below the eaves of my house. We think they don’t think or love or dream. Perhaps they think the same of us?

Species to species,

is there communication?

Walls between us all

 

I watch my cat dreaming and wonder what he sees. I wake from my own dream. It fades to mist. I remember only my sister. Her hair is styled in coils on each side of head—a 1940s hairstyle. She slowly morphs into my grandmother, my mother’s mother–

dream walls dissolving

past, present, future merging

an uncertain message

 

On a chilly day, we see a production of Romeo and Juliet. The cast wears modern street clothes, Mercutio raps. There is a band and a “Greek chorus” of local college students. There are curtains of shimmering golden strands; the actors part and walk through them. They also wheel these golden strand curtains into place to form walls on the otherwise mostly bare stage. There is another wall at the end of the play, where the singer and band sing about love being “a waste” if it is only “a wall to keep the truth away.” Some of the beauty of Shakespeare’s play has been lost, yet we enjoy this imaginative production. We talk as we walk through city streets. Then within walls, where it is warm and dry, we sip some wine, and eat some cheese.

enemies fated,

or find love notwithstanding—

what is in a name?

 

We walk past garden gates and walls to see another play. Ripped from too many headlines—the far too common killings of black people by white law enforcement officers—the play is set in the jury room where the jury is deadlocked. They decide to try to react the circumstances of the case giving all those involved a backstory, which leads to the final, surprising, and powerful conclusion. The play is not perfect and some it is a bit contrived, but it seems designed to help tear down some walls. Every performance has a talk back session. Some people say they like how the characters are made human. No one here is evil, even if we do not agree with their opinions. There are walls of human misunderstanding and conflict in both plays.

conversations help

break down walls of distrust

challenge our notions

And yet—we finish watching the third season of The Man in the High Castle. I am chilled by the vision of smiling youths tearing down monuments and burning the New York Public Library. This is a fictional world, but lately there are too many similarities to the real world. The petulant baby foments hate. We should all be behind a slogan to Make America Better, not to the one he champions that looks back to world where racism, sexism, and homophobia flourished. I see too many posts railing against “illegals,” the ignorance astounds me. And on Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating when Auschwitz was liberated, too many do not believe it happened, while there are some who would like it to happen again. I watch Rent, and I think of the Parkland students singing “Seasons of Love” at the Tony Awards last year.

“It’s time now to sing out,

though the story never ends”

still walls of hate here

Every family has its secrets, its walls. Every family has its tragedies and comedies, a play in several acts. We live out our stories within the walls of homes, schools, workplaces, or in confinement somewhere. My mom rarely ventures outside the walls of her building now because she can’t go out by herself. We drive her to our daughter’s house for brunch. We talk, eat, and watch the dogs play. We laugh. We love. Sometimes that is enough.

Walls can shelter us

from bad weather, and from life

but love helps us grow

The moon hums a lullaby for birds, cats, and me. Walls dissolve, and we share a dream.

 

I guess this is more prose and verse rather than a series of haibun. And also, sorry, WP won’t let me delete the video below.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold, Wars, and the Music of a Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

For a brief time, the world is shot in black and white. Silent, like an old movie, till the wind sighs.

Quiet morning snow

soft sugar sprinkles glisten—

finch flits from bare branch

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I sit at the computer. In my head, a fantasy world. On the screen, test items, following a prescribed style. Test takers will read these sentences and answer questions, never knowing that the people and places they read and promptly forget about lived a full life somewhere in my imagination.

black lines on white screen,

silhouettes in the snow,

whispered world awakes

 

The world is grey again—and again. The world seems broken and full of ignorance. I finish a project, find comfort in baking. I used to bake these cookies for my children. Sometimes I bake them for my mother. Today, I bake them for me.  Mommy cookies.

Scent of cinnamon

stirring up memories, dreams—

tastes of yesterday

Mandelbrot   Merril D. Smith, 2019

Mandelbrot

 

We walk cold city streets. Above, I hear a hawk cries, echoing. Ghosts stroll beside us, as we walk across cobblestones. Free and enslaved. Immigrants and native born. Shades of white, brown, and gold. In life, some had wealth, education, and fine homes; others died illiterate and in poverty. The promissory note has yet to be paid.

Spirits sighing

wondering when and why they died

dreams left unfulfilled

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We go to a movie that opens with a scene of a cold, Polish winter with a car traveling on snow-covered rural roads. There is a search for folk music, or something that fits the bill. They become choral tunes, resurrecting a past that never was, as one government replaces another with slogans and rules. There is still prejudice and inequality in the workers’ state. Cold War politics. Realpolitik versus ideology. A couple that can’t live together, but who can’t live apart. We see time pass and locations change—rural Poland to Warsaw, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris. We see velvety black and white images, shadows and light–the woman’s blond hair haloed as she sings, cool jazz. Polish becomes French and Polish again. The soundtrack of the film is a soundtrack of their lives. The unofficial theme song, in all of its permutations, a story of lovers who cannot be together.

Caged bird sings in hope

waits for a door opening

to fly, free at last

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I stock up on spices and examine all the angles. We laugh at whimsical signs. Over coffee, we discuss the movie. My husband says he would like to have seen the costumes in color. “They were in color in my head,” I say. He replies, “of course they were.”

Imagination

seeing color in the grey—

blue eyes and red lips

 

On the radio, I hear the writer/director/producer of a new documentary, Who Will Write Our History. She discusses the film about the clandestine archive kept by residents of the Warsaw Ghetto. They know that they will probably all die, and the Nazis, who think they are the master race want to rewrite history. Even in the ghetto, they were filming propaganda. The Jews bury their records in batches, so that their true history will be known. “A time capsule of a murdered civilization,” the director calls it.

buried underground

bulb emerges in the light

truth flowers and grows

 

The world is grey and broken. Still, I laugh as our cats play and chase each other around the house, then plop–toddler-like–and fall asleep. Our path sometimes looks straight, but then circles around. It is cold, but spring will come again. The moon rises, and tomorrow, dawn will come, again. In my dreams, I hear the music of the stars.

Blood-red, frosted moon

hums tunes of what might be . . .if

dreams rise, set, and rise

 

 

Sweet Dreams  Merril D. Smith, 2019

Sweet Dreams

 

 

We saw the movie Cold War—beautifully photographed with wonderful compelling performances. Trailer here.  The main song has been playing in my head on a loop—well, perhaps I’ve listened to it a few times, too. Dale–highly recommend this one.  🙂 Music is definitely important in this film. I may have to get this soundtrack. We also enjoyed the previous film Ida, by writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski, which won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Last night was the super blood wolf moon eclipse. The eclipse occurred after I was in bed, but the moon was certainly bright last night and early this morning.

Today is Martin Luther King, J. Day here in the U.S. I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai Challenge on equality. Here’s a link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The current resident of the White House is not participating in any MLK activities today. Of course, it would be a bad joke if he did.

 

Grey Clouds, White Snow, and Beautiful as You Feel

Monday Morning Musings:

We’re frozen in a shadow world of dreary grey clouds, not even interesting enough to be chiaroscuro, just day after day dismal bleakness. Finally, the sun appears, and though the wind is gusting, and it is cold, I am thrilled to see sunshine. I have a doctor’s appointment, and we decide to make the rest of the day into an afternoon date—lunch and a movie. Before the movie, Green Book, I discover a little pond by the multi-plex parking lot. Beauty in unexpected places.

sun shines one fine day–

cold white clouds on blue surface,

rippled by webbed feet

Pond beside Multiplex, Voorhees, NJ--Merril D. Smith 2019

A friend stops by–just for a moment to drop off a belated birthday gift. The presents are lovely, but it’s the thoughtfulness that I cherish more. We’ve been friends since our college years when our now husbands were roommates. She’s a friend I could call in the middle of the night if I ever had to.

know you’ve got a friend

in January’s dark cold

to bring glimpse of spring

 

We’re watching The Man in the High Castle. In this alternate reality, the United States is split between the Nazis on the East coast and the Japanese on the West. In one episode, a Jewish man (who practices his religion in secret) tells another character to continue to create art, to find beauty so that “they” don’t win. He says Jews have outlived evil before, and they will do it again. I hope he’s right.

creating beauty,

wondering if it’s too late

for seeds to flower

Sylvia Schreiber Painting

One of my mother’s paintings.

Sun and wind, then grey skies again. A Sunday morning snowfall, quiet and beautiful.

there, up on the roof

snow lays a silent white quilt–

inside all are warm

 

We eat mussels and pomme frites at a Belgian bar. Then we walk through the cold city streets, where some holiday decorations remain.

 

small blankets of white

lights twinkle so far away–

city winter night

In the beautiful Academy of Music, we see Beautiful. The show tells the story of Carole King’s life, focusing on her relationship with Gerry Goffin, her husband and writing partner, and their friendly rivalry with songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The show ignores the social and political events going on at the time, though her declaration of independence got a cheer from women in the audience. Still, the songs that carry the show along—and they, of course, are wonderful. The show begins (“So Far Away) and ends with Carole alone on the stage at the piano (“Beautiful”).

light so far away,

you’re beautiful as you feel—

hope in dark of night

 

We go home to dream–of some kind of wonderful.

White Cat on Grey Couch, National Park, NJ

Each of the haiku–and the final line– includes a line from a Carole King song:

“One Fine Day” (Gerry Goffin and Carole King)

“You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole King)

“It’s Too Late “(Carole King)

“Up on the Roof “(Gerry Goffin and Carole King

“So Far Away “(Carole King)

“Beautiful “(Carole King)

“Some Kind of Wonderful” (Gerry Goffin and Carole King)

And here’s a bonus for you from when Carole King was honored at the Kennedy Center.

If you’ve never seen this, then you’re welcome. And if you have, then you know–Aretha Franklin, the Obamas, and Carole King herself–all the feelings!

 

Grey January Blues

January—the new year begins with day after day of grey skies and rain. I sit in a medical center. The light here is muted, the voices are hushed, except for those on the TV set, which no one is watching. I wait for a fax to arrive so that I can have a test done. Like Godot, the fax never appears. After three hours of waiting, I reschedule the test for another day. I walk outside to find it’s now sleeting. I travel home, only a few miles, but it’s another world, one of warmth and light. The cats greet me. My husband naps in front of the TV.  I defrost some homemade soup for dinner for us and drink a glass of wine. It is dark now, but somehow the world seems brighter.

unrelenting clouds,

sun and moon sheathed in cold grey–

wind sighs lonesome blues

Onion Soup

Warmth for body and soul

This Haibun is for Haibun Monday at dVerse, where Kim asks us to write about January. This was my afternoon yesterday. Thank goodness I had a good book to read. In case anyone was worried, I was simply getting a routine test to check my bone density.