The clouds are cold, still
heavy with winter. Layers
reveal blue borders.
Earth holds its breath, forecasting.
Throw spring, uncautioned, to wind.
(…and we will catch it, gladly.)
If you see fire, if
fire is spilled, smothered by rain,
stolen from the sun–
are bridges burned, rivers run
dry? A cold flaming. Unquenched.
James Taylor released his album “Sweet Baby James” in 1970, the year I graduated from high school. It was a constant in my life for the next few years, and remains a touchstone for remembering that time.
When Colleen title her tanka challenge this week “Fire and Rain”, James Taylor’s song immediately began to play in my head. Almost all the songs on “Sweet Baby James” talk about the sun, yet there’s a touch of melancholy in every word. Colleen’s prompt photo, too, seems to reflect these contradictory feelings. Endings, beginnings: fire and rain. My tanka is an imagined conversation with the album and the song.
You can read the lyrics to “Fire and Rain” (the source of my tanka’s title) and listen to the song here. James discusses some of his songs for Rolling Stone, with musical accompaniment, here. (But you don’t need to explain yourself, James. We understand these feelings only too well.)
“Watch out strange kind people
Little Red Rooster is on the prowl”
–Howlin Wolf, interpreting Willie Dixon
This embroidered painting was inspired by a Mexican Carnival mask and the blues, and also in honor of the Year of the Rooster.
Red as a rooster. Red
as a heart that bleeds with
fire. Red as the rose
that blooms inside the heart’s desire.
Red as the anger that
is trapped inside the flame. Red
as the burning blood that
saturates the vein. Red red. Red.
The poem uses the red rooster as a starting point. I finally managed to do a quadrille properly: 44 words. The rhymes just happened.
Happy Draw-A-Bird Day!
Drawing constellations in skies of dream,
landscaped as colors growing wild, extreme,
pulsing surrounding vibrations unseen,
in star-gathered moonlight, whispering beam
unconscious, unlimited, in between
Continuing my recent star theme…I actually did this awhile ago, but I’ve been tweaking the poem on and off. This is for Jane Dougherty’s last poetry challenge posted back in the end of September. The poetic form was her own invention: a single stanza of five lines of ten syllables each, and the five end of line words all rhyme. Here’s the artwork she provided:
I miss Jane’s prompts.
on the road of souls
golden swan dreaming music
in between the stars
Many Native American tribes consider the Milky Way to be the pathway where souls travel to the spirit world. The Northern Cross, part of the constellation Cygnus, points towards the Milky Way.
Sue Vincent’s luminous and mysterious photo prompt this week gave me another reason to consider the stars.
Swans are symbols of transformation. They have been seen as forms of souls, messengers between worlds that accompany souls on their journey, or even shape-shifted angels. “Swan song” is not just a random expression–it comes from the belief that swans sing a beautiful song whenever someone dies.
circled by spirit
reflections of peacefulness
written as heartbeats, spoken
in smiles, awakening warmth
I keep returning to the seven circles of the seed of life symbol. It makes a beautiful mandala.
The oracle was, once again, brief.
the fertile song
of deep winter
A Hard Rain
has fallen shadowed
by endless endings, ghosts both
multiplied and lost
Yesterday Michael Kimmelman, in a feature article in the NY Times, noted: “Truth be told, no sane person wants to see these images….What’s happening in Aleppo is almost unbearable to look at….
Bana looks us straight in the eye and asks us to save her, please.
We have done nothing to help.
The very least we should do is look back.”
I’ve been working slowly on this embroidery, a companion to the first Syria headline haiku I did, because these images are hard to look at, hard to draw. The first piece, above and below, was done over a year ago, September 2015.
We can turn our eyes away, but that will not make Aleppo disappear.
the world is flat and old
and yet it reels
my brain throbs silver gold
just like dead air
it isn’t there
this heat grows ever cold
in pulsing swells
a taunting hell
an absence that won’t hold
Long ago and far away, Jane Dougherty posed her next-to-last poetry challenge, “Painful Silence”, with this evocative migrane-inspired image:
The end of September was right when Nina and I began our break and it took me several weeks to complete the embroidered collage. The repetition of stitching is very satisfying and a good antidote to agitation for me though. So it worked on many levels.
I did Jane’s final poetry challenge too; to be posted at some future date.
My brother wanted to go to the 9/11 Museum.
We paid our money and waited in a long line of tourists for our timed entry to the steel and concrete underground crypt, complete with a gift shop (which we steered well clear of) and endless tape loops replaying the day’s events.
The new glass and steel monuments to commerce surrounding the plaza, with its beautiful pools, enclosed the space above the museum.
I found this ad from the NY Times of May 29, 2015, when I was cleaning a few weeks ago. I must have saved it, intending to do a headline haiku, but it got lost in the shuffle. Having visited the site, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
There is nothing “free” about the Freedom Tower, or the museum. Is this the best way to remember this day and those who died?
in the dazzling morning sky
surround this opening
remember to breathe
Let there be light, and air, and songs, and sky, and running water, and the living earth and new growing things. That’s what I think.
air misted with light
transparent, a shift
blurred softly, anew
silences weep, anew
cloudbursts reveal light
displaced as words shift,
as disguises shift,
transitions of light–
light weightless shift expanding tears overflow anew
Jane Dougherty’s challenge this week was a tritina poem, with the painting above, and the word “parting”.