Haiku

Frederick Buechner, in his book, The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life, explained the haiku better than I have seen it explained before:

The whole genius of the haiku is that they don’t mean anything. People who try to figure out what a haiku means are beating up the wrong path… The haiku settles for doing, as I read it anyway, one very simple but very crucial thing — it tries to put a frame around the moment. It simply frames a moment.

Since I was a child, I can recall pausing and thinking, “If only I can remember everything about this moment forever.” My everythings ranged from listening to my mother cook in the kitchen, seeing the rainbow circles around the lights in the pool after swimming without goggles, the raucous cawing of crows for no apparent reason, the smell of freshly cut alfalfa, the toad in the garden that startled me when I was weeding, and so on. If I had known that the haiku served that purpose, I might have worked harder on my haiku-ing.

Today’s prompt, Planet, got me thinking about all the times I tried to see the planets as my brother pointed them out to me. He can read the night sky so well. (He even knows zombie and wolverine constellations that nobody else does.)

I would squint and try to follow his finger to the tiny red dot that he said was Mars. Sometimes I saw it, but often I didn’t.

How could I write a haiku about that time I didn’t see Mars?

Squinting in darkness
His finger pointing at stars
I couldn’t see Mars

Then I remembered his favorite marble, a small blue glass orb that resembled planet Earth.

When we played marbles, I could barely balance the shooter marble on my thumb in order to plink it into the ring. If his Earth marble was in play, though, that was the target. Winning that one meant winning everything.

Pretty glass marbles
Inside a corral of string
(flick) – plink – Earth is out

Glorious Country Life

I stopped at the Farmer’s Market
Early Saturday morn
Heard some vendor’s talking
(They both look tired and worn.)

“Went to the tractor pull,”
One guy said to his friend.
“Didn’t get home ’til 2 AM.
Helluva start to the weekend!”

“Damn rooster woke ME at 4 AM,”
His friend to him replied
And he passed him some maple syrup
To carry the jugs inside.

Oh, this glorious country life!
With tractors and roosters the only-est strife
Stars in the night, sun in the day
Cows in the field, newly mown hay
So thankful I live here every day
So thankful I live here every day

On Sunday at the Harvest Fest,
We visited the pig —
Half in wood shavings, half in mud
My goodness, the sow was big!

She had been the champion
At July’s livestock show
For this festival’s Parade of Champions
They wouldn’t let her go

So her owner brought a steer
To parade in her stead
While she wallowed – half sun, half shade
Mud on her snout and head

Oh, this glorious country life!
A parading steer lest the sow run rife
Stars in the night, sun in the day
Cows in the field, newly mown hay
So thankful I live here every day
So thankful I live here every day

For Ken

The weight of being youngest of thirteen
Like starting in the middle of a book
Unaware of what will be and what has been

This brotherhood — primarily of gene
Familiarity that never took
The weight off being youngest of thirteen

Age differences far outside the mean
Busy lives — too oft we overlook
Unaware of what will be and what has been

Roads diverge — picture, please, the scene
We traipse along and nary take a look
At the weight of being youngest of thirteen

Checking in — “Hey! How’ve you been?”
Connections never made and never took
Unaware of what will be and what has been

Substance solace sought when still a teen
Became a gap impossible to brook
The weight of being youngest of thirteen
Unaware of what will be and what has been


My husband’s youngest brother passed away last week, and I’ve really struggled to find words for my feelings.

When I met Ken he was two years old and running naked through the yard, laughing. Bud caught him, scooped him up, and in a move that amazed me at the time, still amazes me today, and told me that Bud would be a great dad someday,  put child and diaper back together in a fraction of a second.

Over the next few years, I played countless games of Strawberry Shortcake In Big Apple City with Ken and his sister, Jeannie. Like every 3 or 4 year old, he cheated to win, because he understood that the point of the game was to get to the Strawberry House, but he didn’t necessarily understand that there were rules involved.

Zaengle family walk — 1984 — Ken on a bike in front

Bud and I married, moved away, started our own family, came back again, and Ken was school age.

By the time he was a teen, our family had expanded and kept expanding. When Kenny made some poor choices, Bud tried to be involved with getting him on the right track — but a 23 year age difference doesn’t make for an ideal brotherly relationship. Lord knows, though, they tried.

And life goes on.

Every family has struggles. And splinters. Ours was no different.

We lost touch.

No, I’ll say it — I blocked him on Facebook because I couldn’t handle the weight of his struggles along with the weight of my own. Does that make me a terrible person? Probably.

But it doesn’t change the fact that we loved him — even though we didn’t know the right way to go about showing it.

I’m sad that Kenny’s gone.

And I’ll treasure the memory of that little boy laughing in the front yard — back when demons weren’t chasing him, only big brothers with diapers.

My sympathy goes to Sarah, Oden, Ellie, and Evan.

Rain

I’m beginning to anticipate
What his response might be —
My mother blamed “the others”
For things we didn’t see,
But my father’s not a blamer
So, when he can’t explain
“It fell down from the sky,” he says,
Like some mysterious rain.

I crawled around the other day
With flashlight in my hand.
Half his hearing aid was missing
And I tried to understand
How these darn things fall apart so much
Half in one room, half another
I would have blamed “the others”
Had I been my mother.

Then Laurel called me from the kitchen
“Wha-T?” I said, but I
Emphasized the “T” too much —
And I can tell you why —
I was getting irritated
At the time that it had cost
Looking for a hearing aid
Half of which was lost.

“Grampa wants you,” she said timidly
And so I went to see
What it was he wanted now
From irritated me
“I found it!” he was saying.
I was surprised at what I saw
The missing piece of hearing aid
Resting in his paw.

“Where’d you find it?” I demanded.
I knew I should happy
But, you know, I wanted answers
And he’d better make them snappy.
“Can you fix it?” he was asking —
Not answering my question
It’s a skill he has in conversation –
Changing the direction

But I was dogged — “Where’d you find it?”
“It fell out of the sky,”
He said, as if that answer
Would satisfy my cry.
He told me again yesterday
When I asked about a pin
He had fastened to his sweatshirt
And I asked where it had been —

Apparently the sky inside
Varies precipitation.
Outside I see it raining rain
Inside, to my frustration,
It yields an odd assortment
Of hearing aids and stuff
That I couldn’t have imagined.
I should be thankful; it’s enough —

The lost hearing aid was found
I’m not still crawling on the ground

Rain


For Peter:

Perhaps another explanation is that a wolverine
Creeps into the house at night, stealthily, unseen
And hides my father’s hearing aids
Tapes them to the ceiling
Whence they fall on Dad, while I am searching, kneeling.

Tell Me Something Good

A friend said, “Write a poem,” to help me start writing again.

 

So I pulled up a poem that had been sitting in my draft folder and tried to finish it. It’s not perfect but Brené Brown says that we should have the courage to be imperfect. With a little courage, I give you this —


“Tell me something good,” she said
“Please tell me something cheery.”
The corners of her mouth turned down;
Her eyes were slightly teary.
Teenage girling is the worst —
Well, that’s my working theory.

My mind returned to dark things thought
When I was still a teen
Of feeling that I just don’t fit
Of watching pretties preen
Of wishing I were different
Of people being mean

She said, “Tell me a good story —
A princess-dragon tale
With a female superhero
Who tries so hard and fails
Then with grit and perseverance
She finally prevails.”

I remembered watching her go out
And our lawn just lie
Watching jet trails drawing lines
Across a summer sky;
I imagined an adventure
Where she’s a secret spy

Who, by studying that one small thing —
The white smoke on the blue —
She deciphered secret messages
Most people wouldn’t view
Because they’re too busy doing stuff —
Do I do that? Do you?

The world is sometimes cold and cruel
And difficult to beat
But through stories we see bravery,
Learn ways we can defeat
The demon dogs who hound us
And the challenges we meet

“Tell me something good,” she said.
I thought, and then replied,
“Let’s look at something little —
Autumn leaves or dragonflies —
Let’s find the beauty, make a story.”
And so we walked outside.

Blonde

Me — about 3

My hair was blonde when I was small
But it grew dark as I grew tall
My mother had the same thing too —
Blonde that darkened as she grew

’tis a funny thing — this natural blonde —
Some maintain, and don’t respond
To aging with six shades of brown
But old age gives its hoary crown

To all in silvery grayish white
Tresses giving up the fight
To stay the hue of summer sun
And let winter overrun

Vanity, you try my hair
But you won’t win ’cause I don’t care


In response to Daily Prompt: Rhyme

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Alphabet with a Twist – B

The Angels Were Angry

And the angels were angry
At the crispness of the cake
“HOW DARE YOU,” they bellowed,
“MAKE SUCH A MISTAKE?!”

They brandished flaming swords
To bar me from my kitchen —
I felt like such a failure;
I knew they were itchin’

To use their blazing rapiers
Against the likes of me
Because I multitasked disaster
Where disaster oughtn’t be

Oh, the angels were furious
While smoke rose from the range
So I pondered how to soothe them
Then I spotted something strange —

A hero in a paper bag!
He boldly stood between
Me and my catastrophe
Better sight ne’er seen

“Begone!” I think he shouted —
Or maybe it was “Gwam!”
giggle-giggle “Wook! Wook!
Here I am!”

So the knight-in-paper-bag
Took my mind off of burnt cake
And I played with little Henry
Before I cleaned up my mistake.