Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Wildfires: A Haibun

I am responding to a reader who challenged me to take the notes I made in my journal yesterday and write something from them.   I settled on writing a haibun, a form of Japanese poetry.   Haibun begin with brief, experiential prose (fictional in this case), followed by a haiku that is subtly and tangentially related to the prose portion.   Can you see the connection between the prose and the haiku?

Wildfire

Flinging damp sheets off my body, I bolt from bed at the sound of my phone ringing on the night stand. I fumble for the switch on my lamp.

Why is it so hot? Why is it always so damned hot? 

My throat is sore, raw, like swallowing razor blades, and I answer the phone with a ragged “Hello?” An automated voice drones something about mandatory evacuation. My mind snaps awake when I hear the name of my street.

I jump from bed and peel off the tee-shirt and shorts that cling to my sweaty body. I dress and quickly gather my bags and the boxes of valuables I had put out yesterday.

I open the front door. The air, still so hot even in the pre-dawn darkness, rushes in,  bringing the odor of charred wood and grass. I cough, and keep coughing until my lungs ache. The smoke overwhelms me.  My throat burns even more.

I can’t breath. I’m going to die.

I stagger to my car, already pointed head out of the drive way. I look up the hillside next to my house. The sky glows a sickening orange.

Now I see the first fingers of flame roar over the crest and head down towards me.


Old gray coyote
Hunts for juicy jackrabbits—
Autumn love ignites

 

 

 

Text: ljgloyd (c) 2018
Photos: Courtesy of Morguefile.com


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Peering at the World through Cat’s Eyes

The amazing thing about writers, poets, artists, — creators of all kinds– is that we have the innate ability to observe the world around us and feel wonder. Wonderment is as important a tool as pens, brushes, cameras, and musical instruments. Here is a poem I wrote 22 years ago, and I think it explains this.

Peering at the World through Cat’s Eyes

To meditate like a cat,
Poised, enigmatic, sphinx-like,
on a redwood deck
watching morning sun splinter
through dew-drops,
sniffing the fading
night scents of jasmine,
listening to rising
birdsongs and strong steps
of mistress in the kitchen,
to meditate on such as this
in stillness, in silence,
peering at the world
with golden almond-split eyes,
is to watch it crack
open and display
its wonderous beauty.

ljgloyd, 1996, 2018


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Quoth the Raven

I have a lot for which to be thankful to Edgar Allan Poe and my fifth grade teacher, Miss Mariness.

First, Miss M. taught us how to scan and analyze poems, and she used Poe’s The Raven the accomplish this.  Besides learning how to scan a poem for meter, we learned some very cool words:  quaff and nepenthe, Plutonian, pallid, Pallas and many more.   Second, after studying this poem, we were required by Miss M to memorize parts of it.   I was able at one time to recite long passages of this poem– today I can manage the first two verses from memory.  That’s big considering that my memory is not what it used to be. 🙂

However, Poe’s literary legacy is more than just giving school-aged kids some weird vocabulary words to toss around the playground.  Poe has been regarded as the creator of the modern short story.  He is also the architect of the genres of horror, science fiction, and detective fiction.   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle directly credits Edgar Allan Poe with his creation of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  Would there be a Stephen King and a Ray Bradbury if it were not for Poe?   Most likely not.  Since the short stories I have written typically fall into one of these genres, I have much for which to thank Poe.

Now, I need to…

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Why I like Japanese-style Poetry

I am not an expert on Japanese poetry.  I don’t read or speak the language, and I have not studied the history of the genre.  I could not tell you the difference between a hokku, a haikai, a renga, or a waka.   I do know a bit about haiku and haibun because I  have tried my hand at writing these two forms in English.   I enjoy reading translations of the most famous haiku writers: Basho, Issa, and Buson.

Why do I like these forms of poetry?   It is simply that I like the clean brevity of these poems.   Only a master of the written word can convey an entire scene in just 17 syllables or a paragraph of prose poetry.    Haibun in general, and haiku in particular,  capture moments of clarity, mundane actions of ordinary people, and subtle movements of animals and plants in their natural settings.  They evoke, sometimes in just single words, the physical experience of entire seasons.  These forms are like a Polaroid snapshots of time and space.

Such poetry is often imbued with subtle, engaging humor or deep emotion.   For example, these two haiku by Basho:

Morning Glories-
Even from unskilled brushes
They look elegant

—-

The first day of the year:
thoughts come – and there is loneliness;
the autumn dusk is here.

Haiku and haibun are elegant, timeless, and completely human.

Here are some links if you care to learn a little more about these forms

A Crash Course in Japanese Poetry
The Japanese section of Shadow Poetry
About Haibun
About Haiku


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Energies: A Haibun

This is a haibun, a Japanese poetic form which combines prose with haiku. It is a reworking of an observational post from four years ago (in case the prose and the photo seem familiar to you).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the beach at dawn under a full moon, a woman feels a convergence of forces, the coming to together of the spirits of place and time.  It is there and then where she feels the fullest dichotomy of energies:  night and morning, dying moon and birthing sun, land and sea.   As the woman soaks in these energies, for a few sublime moments, the dichotomy disappears and balance takes its place.   And where there is balance, there is peace.

Ebb, flow, thud, crackle
Breaking surf rush forward then
Back wash, July’s dance.

ljg (c) 2006, 2013, 2017 (El Porto Beach, California)

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On a Date with a Bunch of Poets

About twenty years ago, Bill Moyers had a series on PBS called Language of Life.  The series showcased poets from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds.  When I first viewed this series so many years ago, I discovered that poetry was meant to be heard — and even watched– not merely read.   I was able to find this series recently on DVD.  My artist’s date this week was to binge-watch this series again while home recovering from a bad cold.  Unfortunately, there are not many clips on YouTube from this series.  Fortunately, though, one clip I did find is of the late poet Sekou Sundiata performing his lyrical and powerful poem “Blink Your Eyes”.    I want to share this poem with you.  Hopefully you can hear what I hear and enjoy it:


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I’ve Got Rhythm. No, Seriously!

Today’s prompt is Rhythmic. The lightbulb just came on: now I know why I like both drumming and poetry. They’ve got rhythm and so do I.

The Poetry of Drums

Doum teka teka doum tek ka
Doum teka teka doum tek ka
Not gonna worry ’bout that rhyme
Doum teka teka doum tek ka
Doum teka teka doum tek ka
It’s the rhythm, it’s the rhythm
I’m gonna take as mine.
Doum teka teka doum tek ka
Doum teka teka doum.

 

Ljgloyd (c)


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The City of the Queen of the Angels

There is a plaque on Olvera Street that names the city wherein I grew up as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles — The Village of our Lady, Queen of the Angels.

Look at any map and you will see it criss-crossed with streets named after saints: Santa Monica, San Vicente, San Pedro — to name just a few. The names seem to reflect — at least to me– a mystical and transcendent quality of this city.

With Angels Watching

Would it be that all the saints, all the angels, even the Queen of Heaven herself looks down upon this city?

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What would they see? What would they do?

Yes, they would weep over the poverty and crime, over the homeless seeking to make a living.

city of angels 5

And of course they would tremble with us when the ground shakes or the canyons burn.

A

Would they rejoice with the whales as they peek from the sea or sing with the coyotes in dark sycamore forests?

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Did they watch over the mammoths in ancient days? Apparently not, it would seem.

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Would they be in awe of the edifices we puny humans have built?

city of angelsWould they curse the traffic like I do?

city of angels 8Or would they bless the faithful in prayer?

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Would they hold back the rain but let the snowfall?

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Perhaps they would.

I don’t know what angels think, but I know they are here,

and they watch.

 

Images and poem by ljgloyd (2016)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/city/

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