Haibun: Compassion

She was a wild cat really. She never moved inside the house, but would show up at feeding time and sleep on the veranda. She used to be a pristine ball of white fluff. Now she can no longer clean herself, big patches of dry skin show through. She used to be playful and loving. Now she cannot hear so well, jumps and scratches when you come upon her from behind.

I looked at her ageing, diminished body in disgust. I thought of all the unsavoury germs and told my younger child: ‘No, don’t touch!’ But he ignored me. ‘Poor kitty-kitty!’ he said, bending down to caress her, not at all dismayed by decay. I love the fact that he is a better person than me. I hope he will be as tender with me one day.

When frost crackles bones
how sweet to find a warming
spot in river’s flow

A lovely prompt about compassion based on the poetry of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) from the dVerse Poets Pub.

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Basenotes

When I bought you the perfume that best described you, you were flattered. Power word to you, not an epithet of shame. I too fell for the gander. Self-belief – so attractive in one gender. I forgot you were no longer sixteen.

Incisive topnotes of tangerine reeled me in then left me stranded in male territory. No heartnote, mere cynical mime of floral romance. I knew it was fraudulent but I soared one brief inkling on spiderly thread and landed with the bitterness of ambrette seeds. Too late to flourish in this sandalwood ground.

The perfume I bought
to celebrate beginnings
soon foresaw our end.

 

Domestic Bliss

I take out the bin for pocket-money. It’s only 10p, she tells me it’s all she can afford. We both hold onto the washing machine for its spin-cycle rock’n’roll. Unhung pictures have collected weeks’ worth of dust, but we vacuum – now and then – and she scrubs. She’s taught herself to program thermostats, heating, even TV, but parental locks are beyond her. So my brother chats inappropriately with Tibetan monks and louche gamesters in France late into the night. She leaves the room quickly when the Skype jingle heralds another call from our dad. She tells us she is learning so much new stuff, foists recipes upon us too exotic for our tastes. Luckily, every two weeks we relax for a couple of days with Dad’s frozen pizzas or chicken nuggets galore.

Doorbell dings. ‘We’ve noticed your patio could do with some cleaning – we kill weeds, pressure wash, spray and all.’ I don’t know why she shakes her head smiling feebly, nor why she leans quite so closely on the door she slams behind them.

Overgrown, from bbc.com

My scabs grow new scabs –

each layer a way

to pave my path out of hell

into good intentions but

I scratch till fresh bleed.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Haibun: One Foot in Fairy Tales, the Other in the Abyss

It’s Haibun time over at dVerse Poets Pub – a form of prose poem followed by a haiku or other form of micropoetry. This time we have a number of quotes to inspire us. I chose Paulo Coelho’s:

At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.

They gurgle fullness of belly and gaze. Like well-trained lapdogs, they sit and never grumble. The occasional whine may escape their lips, but they never bare their teeth, nor lunge forward at the hand that feeds them. They are content with their flat screens and smartphones, their pinging tablets, their remote-controlled houses, their cars racing from 0-60 faster than you can wish yourself away an island. Holidays twice a year in a remote, yet not isolated enough to lack servants or Wifi connection. All these conspire to give you the illusion of happiness, of being in control.

Then there are days when your corporate patter dribbles down on your neatly ironed shirt. When you have to let your best friend go, because of performance issues. When you realise you have no friends. When your children no longer care or know you are around. When your wife has a golf coach or tennis coach or swimming instructor with more muscles than you have hair. When you are never home to enjoy your landscaped gardens and your jacuzzi tub.

As snow melts on roots,
mud clings to last autumn’s leaves:
no room for fresh buds.

walkapril4