We had a little bit of snow today and my wife took this picture of the bamboo bench on our porch. When her sister commented that there is a haiku in there somewhere, I was inspired to whip up this one. The description may not exactly match the photo, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration…
As 2013 winds to a close, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the past year, during which this blog has come a long way: on this day last year I had three followers and only posted sporadically. As I began posting with more frequency (concentrating on my travel stories) my audience grew, which in turn inspired me to post even more frequently, and so on . . . it’s the circle of life. 😉
This year has been very rewarding for me as a writer and I want to thank all of you for inspiring me to stick with it. I’ve never been much for resolutions, but if I were to make any, they would be to work harder on getting my novel published and to set aside more time for visiting the blogs of everyone who has visited mine.
In 2014 I will continue writing and sharing the journal from my recent trip to Mexico, and I am considering a trip to London this summer to see the Monty Python reunion (and build a trip of the UK around it). Until then, and in keeping with the tradition of year-end countdowns, here is a countdown of my own (or I should say count-up since I’m starting with #1). The following posts were my most popular of 2013 based on “likes.”
It’s been a while since I’ve posted something to the creative writing section of my blog, so in honor of the large, nasty mosquitoes that have already begun assaulting us on our patio (looks like it’s going to be a bad mosquito year), here is a haiku cycle devoted to the abominable bloodsuckers (a slightly modified version of one I wrote back in college).
Humid August dawn;
mosquitoes swarm into black
Mosquitoes cling to
Damp August darkness;
voracious frogs devour
All of the haiku I have posted so far have dealt with worms, crickets, and mosquitoes. Perhaps I have some sort of insect fixation. 😉
As the weather continues to warm around here, it won’t be long before the songs of crickets are once again dominating the night. In anticipation of their return I thought I’d share this haiku, which is excerpted from the same haibun as the worm haiku I shared earlier:
Rapid little bells—
Crickets sing under the stars
through razor-cold wind.
The “razor-cold” line may seem an odd choice when discussing creatures of the summer, but I promise you it makes more sense in the context of the larger haibun, which I should probably get around to sharing one day. 🙂
This is one of my most personal poems, dedicated to my grandfather. Like the previous poems posted here, this was published in the literary magazine of Rowan University in the 1990’s.
Photographs and Memories (for Pop Pop)
I remember finding the tattered snapshots
in a dresser in the guest room of Mom Mom’s house,
old, black and white pictures,
delicate, flimsy, warped photographs
of you as a World War II soldier
posing with various men in your squadron,
along with photographs depicting battle-torn fields
blanketed by blizzards of debris
where cities had once stood,
and one vivid picture of a building
in which the second floor had replaced the first.
Your handwritten descriptions
in decaying blue ink,
addressed to Mom Mom with love,
occupied the backs of the photographs.
I remember how well you looked in these photographs,
young, thin, handsome, vibrant, happy,
in sharp contrast to my childhood memories
of a heavy, gentle, gray-haired man
whose brain suddenly exploded
like a carefully hidden land mine.
I remember visiting you in the hospital.
Sometimes you saw me as a baby and
sometimes you saw me as a young man.
Sometimes you saw me and asked me who I was.
Sometimes you were calm and
sometimes you were volatile.
Sometimes you laughed and
sometimes you cried.
Your emotions were at war with your memories.
I remember Dad taking long walks,
staring at dead, brown autumn leaves
blowing in the whining wind
above sparse, hollow, dying grass,
as Mom dragged me the other way.
I remember the front yard of your red brick house,
playing ball with Nicky
on a hot summer day when
the garage roof snatched our ball
and our parents would not help us,
but you immediately fetched a ladder
to retrieve the ball.
A seemingly insignificant memory
it is among my most cherished,
my only concrete memory of you before the aneurysm.
I remember eighth grade English class
when Aunt Sherry pulled me out
to tell me that
you had finally lost your long battle
you were at peace.
I remember crying at the funeral.
I don’t know if I cried more for you or for Dad.
Despite his best efforts
he could not hide his suffering,
nor could Mom Mom or Uncle Nick
or any of those whose lives you touched.
They were not ready to tell you goodbye.
I remember photographs
of all your grandchildren being buried with you.
I remember placing a rose
on your closed casket
that merged with the other roses
to form a blood-red blanket
that covered your shiny black coffin.
I remember the American Flag.
I remember traveling with my family
to the cemetery every Christmas,
standing in the biting cold
and warming your grave
with a blanket of flowers.
Recently, Mom Mom had a picture of you
in your World War II uniform
reprinted and framed
as a Christmas gift to Dad.
Your picture still stands proudly at attention
on Dad’s dresser
an otherwise dark room.
Sometimes I venture into his room
and stare at your picture through watery eyes,
wishing I could remember you better,
but thanking God I remember you at all.
Here’s another poem I published in the literary magazine of Rowan University back in the 90’s. It will probably seem quaint to those who have grown up in the era of remote controls and flat screen TVs, but anyone who knows me will not be surprised that my poetry catalog includes an ode to a television. 😉
An aging television rests
on a giant, black footlocker
under the low, slanted ceiling
of a small stuffy attic.
I turn on the television,
receiving a shock
when my hand touches
the metal power knob.
An electric tingle runs up my arm
as my fingers move across the screen,
gathering dry, gray dust
and leaving a clear line in their wake.
I cut the power
and light shrinks
toward the screen’s center
like water falling down a sink’s drain.
Even powerless the television breathes
for in its screen I see myself,
in ethereal blackness.
Author’s Note: This is a slightly modified version of a poem I wrote in the early 1990’s (which explains some of the dated references) and published in Avant, the literary magazine of Rowan University.
beneath a blazing blue sky…
from the Sea Serpent seared my ears…
I kissed Kayla’s lips as we caressed
in the sand, singing a lover’s song…
At night we walked
the boards, our hands a single limb,
the wood creaking beneath our feet,
Dracula’s Castle’s eerie organ
… echoing …
in our ears…
An abundance of carnival games beckoned
my business and I finally gave in,
blowing twenty bucks on a ten-buck teddy bear
By the amateur singing studio
a group gathered to guffaw
at a girl’s butchering
of Mariah Carey…
Across the boardwalk sat the
Old Fashioned Photo Booth
where Kayla and I
were once Bonnie and Clyde…
We stopped at Mack’s and I
as my nose picked up
the scent of scorching pizza.
The cheese, still boiling
when I took my first bite,
stuck to and stung my tongue
while the excess oil
… oozed …
out the corners of my mouth…
We washed the pizza down with a Lime Ricky
and indulged in some chocolate fudge
before suddenly jumping to avoid
a yellow monster shouting at us to
watch the tram car, please…
As the night grew old
the piers closed and the people departed,
leaving me alone with Kayla,
lying in the sand and
staring at the starlit sky
accented by the crescent moon,
and listening to the sweet soothing sound
of the ocean in motion