Coffee Shop Haibun

In an attempt to escape the chill in my house and save on heating bills, I took my writing to a café recently, which finally gave rise to some lighter verse. Over at dVerse Poets Pub, we are focusing on ekphrasis, combining art and poetry, allowing them to complement and lift each other. So, instead of a photo of a current Viennese coffee house, I will show you a picture by an anonymous painter showing the first coffee house in Vienna, The Blue Bottle, and acknowledging the Turkish legacy of the brew.

Zu der Blauen Flaschen, from www.dorotheum.com
Zu der Blauen Flaschen, from http://www.dorotheum.com

There is a constant buzz in the air and I can’t help but catch random nouns, fleeting storm of verbs, wondering about the beginning or end of a story. Here once men (and only men, save for serving-wenches) met for important discussions, philosophy and politics, courtly tricks well played. Nowadays it’s families, business meetings and angsty writers. Spoons clink, raucous slurps, children roll playfully under the table. The names of the beverages seem to change daily, as do the baristas: soy-free double cortado, skinny flat Americano… I need a dictionary. Foam and coffee stained, my cup stands a forlorn witness to my frantic scribbling.

Warm my hands on mug
Waiting for inspiration:
Caffeine soaring lark.

The Seas in a Whisper (Quadrille)

Today is Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. De (Whimsygizmo) is our word prompter and wishes us to write a quadrille (exactly 44 words, title not included) using the word “whisper” or variants – whispered, whispering, whispers. The hush-shushing sounds reminded me of that beloved British institution: the Shipping Forecast.

forecastmap
High winds: birds convene to Lundy to rest
grooves and gaps
wait out Fair Isle tempest
in dwindle of hay nests
reflect polished beaks
in cloudless brown of preys’ eyes.
When Malin gaze darkens
let’s muster the courage to beacon
our Viking coast.

Haibun: Things I’m Done With

I’m done with swashbuckling pirates or panthers, that faint gleam of danger to hasten the pulse and pinprick the senses. Where winds sweep dry, offer me water, not desert fire. Where waters swirl deep, offer me bridges, not islands.
Give me slow, earthy kindness: spilt fruit of joint labours. I open the window and wait for new breeze.

A plant with deep roots
that can catch my tumbleweed
rest sweet for a while.

Tumbleweed caught in a fence, from National Geographic.
Tumbleweed caught in a fence, from National Geographic. Not the kind of rest I mean…

I’m linking this to Haibun Monday prompt at dVerse Poets Pub. If you want a very good explanation of what a haibun is and does, please visit the Pub and check out all the great examples of prose-poems linked in there.

Haibun: A Good Night

It’s the last Haibun Monday of the year and we have all week to link to dVerse Poets’ prompt of a good night, a preparation for this time of year when it’s dark outside but hopefully we find some comfort, warmth and light inside. It’s hard to stay cheerful when I know so many are bombed out of their homes and find no comfort at all, but I cannot miss the last prompt of the year, especially since our host is the lovely Toni, whose mother is currently very, very ill. So here is my memory of a Swiss celebration, the descent of the cows to the valley in autumn.

Desalpe in Fribourg, from myswitzerland.com
Desalpe in Fribourg, from myswitzerland.com

This being Switzerland, of course, we stop at midnight on the dot, but before that it’s all song and games. With apple on dapple cows, boys and girls equally handsome and flag-bearing. In the tent they throw up tables, cheerful chatter, out pops another bench. Communal prancing, booted feet, fun triumphs over grace. Stocky white sausages smoke on the grill, and the wine is hot and spicy, the apple juice well mulled. Children toddle freely to try out the Alpenhorn and the bovine flower crowns. Dogs wait under tables, so well-behaved we nearly forget they are there, until we step on their tails.

Promptly at first dawn

the field forgets our presence –

paper flowers cleared.

 

 

 

 

Van Gogh Erasure Poetry

Picture and art credit to Emily Blincoe at www.emilyblincoe.com
Picture and art credit to Emily Blincoe at http://www.emilyblincoe.com/arrangements

 

Even if I go under in the attempt

this I know:

I have a definite belief as regards art.

The great doesn’t happen through impulse alone.

If one is competent in one thing

one can learn rhythm in other areas.

It’s the succession of little

things

events

even if we’re tired, we go on –

because we’ve already gone a long way.

You may not always be able to say what confines you.

And the Prison is sometimes called mistrust.

If it were that easy

one wouldn’t have any pleasure of it.

That is all I seek:

always something other than heroism.

I try not to forget how to jest.

Based on the Selected Letters of Vincent Van Gogh. The picture above is one of a series of pictorial prompts on the theme of ‘Arrangements’ from dVerse Poets Pub. The colours reminded me so much of Van Gogh’s palette. Plus, I tend to be a stickler for a tidy desk arranged just so before I can start writing…

 

What Poetry Is Not

tumbled_gemstone_pebbles_arpOpen eyes of pearl,  ruby mouth,

wax translucent about gemstones and full moons,

wrap waves in gossamer twinkles,

love’s courage and dejection tear at us

with fixed card-greeting smiles.

Stuffed to the gills

with cluttersome grandiose:

pretty-sounding words

don’t worry about the meaning!

I’m linking this to dVerse Poets Pub, my first contribution there in a long, long time. The form is one created at the Pub: a quadrille, a poem of precisely 44 words, and the prompt in this case was to contain the word ‘open’. I cheated a little bit with some double-barrelled words, but for much clearer and better poems, do join us over at the Pub!

Happy Anniversary, dVerse Poets!

I’ve become a much less frequent visitor to the dVerse Poets Pub in the last few months, but it’s still the friendliest, most fun poetic community that I’ve come across. They are celebrating five years of poems, discussions, shared thoughts and laughter, so join us there , find out what Brian Miller (one of the founders of dVerse) has been up to recently, and take part in the first challenge of the week: a quadrille about ‘Journeys’.

A quadrille is a poem of 44 words exactly. Here is my attempt.

Refugees

The journey’s start
your journey’s end
Ouroboros alone knows
when we are done exploring in porous dinghies
or flour containers
in baroque façade deceptions
carton jungle of dead ends
where our feet move on and on for miles
yet our hearts not one iota

Calais