e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the category “Poetry”

Visiting bees

A summery challenge from Carpe Diem this time, inspired by blogger Laura Williams.

My garden is full of bees at present, so I give them a little mention.

Afternoon: baked still
by sun. Even the quaking grass
is motionless. But
the lavender bush shivers,
jostled by tiger-striped bees.


Summer passing in haiku

woodlandCarpe Diem again has an interesting and thoughtful prompt. This time the originator is Jane Reichhold who has published on haiku and modern kigo. The prompt is summer passing – a look at the fleeting nature of time, the seasons, life.

My contribution:

Today the woods are green;
soon they will be gold.
How quickly summer passes.

Mountains haiku

Once again an inspiring post on Carpe Diem. Basho is the model this time.

Today ideas came to me quickly, though, as usual, they needed time to work into the haiku form.

The mountain path
travels down as well as up.
You must follow both.

The way through the woods

 The path through the woods


This path, through woods green
with new growth, was trodden
by my ancestors.

Cinquain poems

I’ve recently been introduced to a kind of poetry I haven’t met before – cinquain poetry. This literally means five-line poems, but under the influence of forms like haiku some of the five-liners have gathered sets of rules and formalities, and the term ‘cinquain poem’ now has a more limited meaning.

There are several different patterns and hence different types of poems – American, didactic, lantern etc. Some of them count syllables and some count words.

A common pattern is:

One word
Two words
Three words
Four words
One word

There is also two, four, six, eight, two syllables.

For some the rules are more prescriptive:

A noun
Two adjectives describing the noun
Three –ing words describing its actions
A phrase about it
One word that sums up or is a synonym for the first

I haven’t had much experience with this kind of poem, but here is one of mine as a sample:

Ancient, green
Growing, spreading, rustling
In the wild wood

Walking the city – modern flânerie

Online magazine, Stepaway, has released its latest issue today. I’m naturally excited, not just because it contains one of my flash fictions, but because it resurrects a literary idea – the flâneur or gentleman stroller.

To modern minds someone who has no job and spends his time wandering around the city in a kind of literary mood might sound anti-social, but in 19th century France, where he was born and lived, he was an explorer, a connoisseur of the streets and quite acceptable.

I doubt if the French flâneur would have had a high regard for modern urban explorers – investigating crumbling ruins or forgotten tunnels would ruin his elegant clothing and annoy his valet.

Stepaway magazine aims to put a modern spin on flânerie and looking at the current edition they succeed. The title comes from a poem by Frank O’Hara. His strolling was a bit constrained as he wasn’t unemployed, but nevertheless he did his best in the tradition. A Step Away from Them begins:

It’s my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored

I often wander around cities and many of my poems start when I’m on the move. I think other writers find the same. I don’t know if the original French strollers ever produced literature, but they are believed to have appreciated it and have inspired scholars and writers – enough justification for their wandering ways.

245x145xWalkThisMay15.jpg.pagespeed.ic.MSDH7-nCsSFor those more interested in serious walking, there is a National Walking Month (May 2015). This is a much more serious type of walking, but it is a chance to explore the streets and their literary possibilities.

The website belongs to an organisation called Living Streets which has a tagline of

Putting People First.

I’m all for that. I hate parts of cities where only vehicles can go.

Poetry and greenhouses


orchids in greenhouse

Wouldn’t if be wonderful to have the sort of greenhouse that could grow exotics like these orchids? But it would be a lot of work to look after, so I’m probably better off without.

Looking at the picture did make me wonder if there is any poetry about greenhouses, and, of course, there is. I found a whole page of them at Hello Poetry, starting with:

I like to think of people as a greenhouse
We are only a short moment in history
We can be radiant and beautiful …

apparently written by someone who signs himself ‘Drunken State’. I think one has to be a member of Hello Poetry to understand their system fully.

Theodore Roethke also wrote poems with greenhouses in them, though his seem to be more about memory than giving priority to the building.

It’s less effort, and less expense, to read web pages and admire photos than to care for a mass of unusual plants. But I’m really glad that someone takes the trouble.



A haiku challenge about bonfires.

As usual Carpe Diem has given us an interesting challenge. The post containing it deals with the burning of ornaments at a fire festival. This is about leaving the old and taking on the new.

Fire is the medium for getting rid of whatever is holding you back. I think many religions, particularly Pagan ones, have a fire festival with this theme.

My haiku for this challenge is:

The New Year bonfire;
its white smoke rises skywards.
The flames warm my hands.

Juxtaposition – a new haiku challenge

Carpe Diem has started a series on haiku writing techniques. The first one is on ‘juxtaposition’. Reading the explanation, I realise that I’ve done this often in the past without naming it.

Having a name for something makes it easier to detect and to use properly, so I’m very grateful to Chèvrefeuille for his tutorial and the name.

The following is a haiku I wrote last year.

Soft rain, cloud-barred sun,
rainbow spanning the sky. Below,
the sandcastle crumbles.

Post-Christmas thoughts

Today is twelfth night (at least where I come from) and as I was taking down decorations and sorting cards, I was stopped by a lovely picture of poinsettias.

It occurred to me that the holly and the ivy (and I have several nice pics of them this year) are very well established with poems and carols to call their own, but what about poinsettia? These days it’s found its way into Christmas big time – on cards and wrapping paper; for sale in florists and supermarkets; but it doesn’t crop up in the choirboys’ repertoire.

A bit of googling found me a number of websites with short poems and one with a charming legend as well. One surprise was from Queensland, Oz which shows that poinsettias aren’t just for December (although what they’re doing in Australia in June I’m not sure).

None of these poems are as well-known as the holly and ivy ones and, as far as I know, none has been set to music, but at least the flower’s contribution to our Christmas iconography has been recognised in print.

I decided to add my own two pence worth to the recognition.

They remind me of
home, your poinsettias;
red stars of Christmas.

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