Just One Tree

Just One Tree

What is my life to a cedar,
with all of my paths leading here,
contemplating age and survival,

or to an oak, with no false starts,
each of its branches offering
the possibility for growth?

A walnut will stand tall and continue
bearing fruit, while my back bends
and my options grow fewer.

Brief as my life may be, there is
solace in its ending if it should
spare the life of just one tree.

This poem originally was inspired by the first photo above, taken ten days ago on a walk at Runge Conservation Center in Jefferson City, Missouri. It sat unfinished, until I realized today that it could be used to meet the Sept. 20 prompt, earthweal weekly challenge: A TIMBERED CHOIR.

 

 

The path that once was ~ American Sentence

The path that once was is no longer, yet it was always meant to be.

Thanks go to my friend, Bruce Anderson, whose photos inspired this American sentence.
The location is in the Northern Sonoran Desert near the base of the Catalina Mountains,
near Tucson Arizona. (Click images for larger view in new tab)

~ The American sentence is a form created by Allen Ginsberg.  Read about it here. ~

Sevenling (the journey)

Sevenling (the journey)

The journey is never over.
Never complete.
Always open to interpretation.

Destination, always changing,
a matter of conjecture.
Beginning and end have no significance.

The return is just a stop along the way.

I have been inspired by Ron. Lavalette, the master of the sevenling, to write my first.

Sevenling ~ created by Roddy Lumsden, a Scottish poet
~ a seven-line poem composed of three stanzas
~ first stanza ~ three connected or contrasting statements, or a list of three details, names or possibilities. (all of the three lines ~ or ~ contained anywhere within them)
~ second stanza ~ similarly contains an element of three, connected directly or indirectly or not at all to the preceding stanza (again, anywhere within the three lines)
~third stanza ~ a single line that should should act as a narrative summary or punchline or as an unusual juxtaposition
~ the tone should be mysterious, offbeat or disturbing, as if only a fragment of the story has been told
~ title is optional ~ if used, then “Sevenling (first few words)”

Image source: pngegg.com

Once Broken, Healed

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
                                                  Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

Once Broken, Healed

What is loss, but an empty space?

And what is an empty space,
but that which waits to be filled?

The last generation that was,
at the time of your passing,
was not the last generation.

That which follows holds a place
of its own that encompasses
that which once was, always will be,
you, knowing all that you were
and all that you held.

 

This poem is another response to dVerse Poetics – One True Sentence, the prompt from Lisa at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use one of the sentences provided, quotes from the works of Ernest Hemingway to write a poem.
When my father died in 1993 he had eight grandchildren, aged from one to twenty-two. There are now fourteen great-grandchildren (including two adoptions). All of them know, or will know, him.

Shared with Open Link Night #295 – Midsummer Live at dVerse Poets Pub.

Long Past Spring

It is very hard to write this way, beginning things backward…
                                                  Ernest Hemingway, The Torrents of Spring (1926)

The Torrents of Spring_coverLong Past Spring

Each passing year,
I think more of my youth.
But what words to write,
when memory grows dim
and tales that come to mind
could be mine or belong
to another? Would the world
know the difference? Would I?

 

This poem is my response to dVerse Poetics – One True Sentence, the prompt from Lisa at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use one of the sentences provided, quotes from the works of Ernest Hemingway to write a poem.
Hemingway’s novella, The Torrents of Spring, is one that I have not read. Ironically, after writing this I read the Wikipedia article about the novella to learn that there is a character who, regarding the protagonist, “enthralls him with her store of literary (but possibly made up) anecdotes.”

Image source: Wikipedia.org

What Is Nine Hundred Miles? ~ prosery

What Is Nine Hundred Miles?

What is nine hundred miles to a man when family is a short flight away, or a drive in a day? Is there separation when connection is as simple as a message, a call, or FaceTime? What is the separation when the difference is measured in split seconds?

The heart will guide where the mind cannot see. And so the man made the move. Both baggage and cartage. A relocation of nine hundred miles to be with the woman he loved, loves still, and to know happiness. He learned that nine hundred miles is actually eighteen hundred miles, for the heart must always return. He has traveled that distance many times over the years, so that he could know the two sides of happiness. So it is, and will always be, for crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.

This is my response to Prosery: Finding Your Way, the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. With Prosery, the challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction with a 144-word limit. Included in the bit of prose is to be a complete line from a poem. For this prompt, the line to be included is from “Map to the Next World,by Jo Harjo.

“Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end”
                                                                                                    – Jo Harjo

I’ve met the additional challenge of hitting the 144-word mark, exactly.

July will be nine years since I moved from New York to be with Bonnie. We were married three years ago, but there have been many trips back to Buffalo to visit family.

Caught in the Undertow

Caught in the Undertow_1

Caught in the Undertow

Caught in the Unadertow_2Direction undecided, a leaf floats
on a narrow stream that trickles
over loose stone, approaches a side channel
in the bedrock, the product of years
of heavy rain. Water must flow, underground
when presented with solid rock. I watch
the leaf emerge to rejoin the stream.

There’s a hole in my heart. Hidden from
prying eyes, it provides a shortcut, one taken
at high risk. By a broad stroke of luck,
that risk paid off for most of a lifetime.
But blood must flow. If it carried a leaf
to the brain, what thoughts might it bring?
I know those thoughts, as I know that leaf.

I’ve taken shortcuts, felt drawn by currents
beyond my control. Directions I’ve taken,
decisions I’ve made, have brought changes
I should have had the foresight to predict.
Drawn this way by my heart, I’m still drawn
that way by thoughts that have always flowed
beneath the surface, waiting to emerge.

With this poem, I tried to connect three thoughts: a rock formation in a stream that runs beside a trail I frequently walk, my recently discovered PFO (“hole in my heart”), and the fact that not seeing my granddaughters (6 months old & 2 ½ years old) is a consequence of my move to MO 9 years ago.

Shared with dVerse – Open Link Night 293.

Silent, Like Sleep

Silent, Like Sleep

Within the depths of my dreams lies the comfort
found in my mother’s arms, the same offered
in return, no words needed, when she was in need
in the last years of her life. While no soul is
ever truly silent, hers was gentle to the end,
and so she appears in my dreams.

The short poem is my response to Twiglet #227 from Misky, which offers this line as a prompt: “silent, like sleep.” Unable to adequately care for herself, my mother lived with me for the last two years of her life. Although it was a difficult time, I don’t regret a moment of it.

A Journey with Bashō ~ solo renga

Matsuo Bashō

A Journey with Bashō

 faithful servant
gains high regard for renga
chained cherry blossoms
~~~
learning the art of a craft
by following a master
~~~
once mentor is gone
student becomes a teacher
butterfly takes wing
~~~
thoughts turn to honored poet
with the voice of a master
~~~
a reclusive life
beside a banana tree
plagued by loneliness
~~~
follow master’s example
find solace in distant friends
~~~
seeking peace of mind
traveling on narrow road
snow on the mountain
~~~
learn new lessons every day
while discovering friendship
~~~
lightness discovered
in search for satisfaction
until last snowfall
~~~
willing to learn from the past
even as my years grow long

 

For Poetics: Poems to a Poet, Laura Bloomsbury at dVerse ~ Poets Pub asks us to write a poem about, or addressing, a favorite poet, trying to employ something of the poet’s style. To create this chain of verse regarding Matsuo Bashō, I decided to write a renga (Japanese linked verse poetry, typically collaborative), with haiku referencing his life and responses that reflect my own journey.

Matsuo Bashō was a master of haiku and renga, culminating with the publication of The Narrow Road to the Interior in 1694. As a page or servant, he learned a love for renga and went on to become a teacher, respected for his haiku. Bashō was known for his many travels from Edo (now Tokyo), vacillating from seeking friendship to an escape from the company of others. Near the end of his life, “he relented after adopting the principle of karumi or “lightness”, a semi-Buddhist philosophy of greeting the mundane world rather than separating himself from it.” (per Wikipedia) Also, “rather than sticking to the formulas of kigo [seasonal words], which remain popular in Japan even today, Bashō aspired to reflect his real environment and emotions in his hokku.” (early term for haiku)

Images from Wikimedia Commons
Poet Basho and Moon Festival, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
Portrait of Matsuo Basho, by Hokusai