e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the category “Poetry”

Haiku challenge number 396 – Fujiidera

Today’s prompt from Carpe Diem is actually three words: rhododendron, chrysanthemum and kingfisher. I have only managed to use one of them; all my attempts to include all sounded ridiculous or very false.

On the window-sill,
a crystal vase holds water
and chrysanthemums.

I have to admit chrysanths are not one of my favourite flowers. They’re nice among other flowers in a border and they look good in a vase, but I don’t understand the importance they seem to have in Japanese culture.

I think the perfume is important to some people, but I have a very poor sense of smell so can’t get excited about scent unless it’s very strong.

Rhododendrons are different. I really admire their flowers and when I was a kid I used to love running under the green bushes in a park and looking at the shapes made by the branches.

But the kingfisher’s beauty outshines both.

Haiku challenge 389

Today’s prompt has many possibilities and the original post and the haiku contributions make great reading.

Between the temples
of Shikoku – paths worn smooth
by pilgrim’s journeys.

Traces of an urban fox

pawprints in snowIn the towns and cities around where I live we have a lot of urban foxes. They’re not tame, but are used to humans, and I’ve often seen them trotting down the street. They move with a special grace and elegance.

I never saw the fox that made these prints. He/she visited our street several times but always while we were asleep – it if weren’t for the snow we wouldn’t have known.

The simplicity of the prints and the ephemeralness of the creature made me think of haiku.

A dozen pawprints
in new snow: the only trace
of our neighbourhood fox.

Downhill winds blowing to hell

Snow scene

While reading a poem entitled Antarctica by Michael Symmons Roberts, I came across a new-to-me word – katabatic.

To quote the relevant verse (I recommend the whole poem and Drysalter, the book it occurs in):

No one sleeps alone here, and only fishermen dream
of wax-white orcas, blind and red-eyed, circling
under ice-sheets swept by katabatic winds.

This phrase refers to winds that blow downhill – a bit like invisible skiers. The word is usually found with ‘wind’, but can be applied to other downhill things. There is a noun – katabasis.

There are other poems using the word. Lucy Tonic has written one called Fever that begins:

Cut the rock moon out with scissors
But you can’t trace the shape of the gas sun …
Katabatic winds
Predatory cold

So Roberts isn’t the only poet to associate downhill winds with cold.

On the hot side, katabasis has been used by Randa Ayash-Abikaedbey to describe the descent into hell.

It also seems to be used by academics in discussions of poetry, as in Heaney, Virgil, and Contemporary Katabasis by Rachel Falconer. In the academic world katabatic poetry is narrative rather then lyrical.

Having read all this varied material, I have a vision of a poem about hell surfing a down-flowing wind through the Antarctic wastes.

Centenary year

I did a quick google on ‘centenary’ to see if any literary people of note came up. First time around almost everything was past its sell-by – mostly to do with last year, but some older than that.

I feel a rant coming on!

Why don’t site owners take down out of date stuff?

Nuff said. I tried again with 2014 in the search box.

This time I got a huge number of hits for the start of the First World War. One of them even had ‘celebrations’ in its title. Ugh! Who celebrates war?

It looks as if any other person or thing with a centenary this year is going to have to work hard to get noticed in all the war stuff. One I know about is Dylan Thomas, but I’ll be blogging about him in a later post when I’ve done enough research to sort of do him justice.

Among all the war hits there were a couple of golf ones: Hockley Golf Club and The British Golf Collectors Society. So I went in search of golf poetry. There’s quite a bit of it but most is definitely unserious.

One Gabe Anderson wrote this little gem which is one of the best summaries I’ve seen of anything:

Golf is a great sport
Driver hybrid wedge putter
From tee box to green

Haiku prompt – Omsk

Today’s prompt from Carpe Diem is a place – Omsk in Siberia.

I found this a difficult prompt: I’ve never been to Russia so have no experience to draw on, but I’ve found pictures on the official website to give me an idea of what it’s like.

Coloured, onion domes,
office blocks, breeze-blown flags:
the Omsk summer skyline.

End of the old year

The New Year approaches. I am spending it quietly at home with a couple of friends. If you’re going out partying I wish you a joyful and safe night with no hangover tomorrow.

I wrote this small poem years ago and had forgotten it.

Three leaves cling to the alder.
A distant siren wails
the last sorrow of the year.

Happy New Year to everyone.

The poetry of housework

While vacuuming a floor this afternoon I fell to wondering if there is any poetry celebrating the thing most women, and many men, spend much of their lives doing, i.e. housework.

A quick google showed me there’s plenty on the web.

The first site I came across is an excellent blog called Campari and Sofa who posted an amusing poem – Dust if you Must. This unserious poem by Rose Milligan suggests that dusting is a waste of time compared to the other things one might be doing.

Another unserious poem is The Marvelous Homework and Housework Machine by Kenn Nesbitt on Poetry4kids.

The Marvelous Homework & Housework Machine
will always make sure that your bedroom is clean.

There is, in fact, a book about housework and poetry edited by Pamela Gemin: Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets do Housework.

There are many other sites, humorous and serious, listed but I don’t have time to look at them all. However, next time I’m fed up with dusting, I’ll do a quick browse and have a laugh.

For love of haiku – the value of silence

Once again the Carpe Diem blog has given us an interesting challenge, this time based on the work of haiku writer Hando (Fr. Thomas Hand).

This time rather than a subject we have been given a line as inspiration and challenge. The line is:

Sit in silence.

By itself it says a lot, and already several poets have added interesting interpretations. Here is my effort:

While tourists clatter
round their feet, carved pharaohs sit
in stone-wrought silence.

For the love of haiku – Nidhöggr and its music

The current haiku challenge on the Carpe Diem blog is a really different one this time; a piece of music called Nidhöggr. I enjoyed the music, but found using it as a haiku prompt quite difficult.

As far as I can find out, the Nidhöggr is some kind of dragon, popular in Scandinavian mythology.

The voices of rhythm
and melody, echo
the dragon’s heartbeat.

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