Magpie Tales: Graduation Day

Finland, 1968, photo by George F. Mobley

Finland, 1968, photo by George F. Mobley

before
they let the balloons go
colourful stories
filled
to flow
float
fly
almost endlessly
rip
on jagged branches
lie defeated
in the tumbling snow
blown
torn
on the jagged edges
of jagged stone

before
the balloons
were let loose
from the palms of our hands
from the psalms
of our defunct books
so much was left unsaid
on lips
already poisoned
by too much innocence
too numbed by cold

and anyway
with nothing
nothing to say
before we passed
the real tests
and regressed
moved to our caves
let our balloons take our stories
far from us
in sunset skies
and jagged branches
where even the snow had dried
and we wonder
if we ever really tried?

Notes on the LĪGO HAĪBUN CHALLENGE, the Web’s Original Haibun Challenge

Come join us in our weekly LĪGO HAĪBUN CHALLENGE! Here’s some notes about haibun to help you get started.

 

  • Haibun is a passage of prose with at least one haiku.
  • Haibun usually relate to a journey, whether the travels are exploration or  internal, and/or should be in contact with nature.
  • They can and ought to contain an epiphany received through experience.
  • The concept of a haibun being part of the series, or an ‘episode’ is a very important one, and often overlooked. Your haibun should tie together by some strand, either theme, location, journey or other.
  • The haiku describes a moment or happening. As part of the haibun it might serve as a ‘mirror’ or look at the prose in a ‘different’ way.
  • Use of a ‘season’ word is a classical way of writing a haiku. These are words that signify a given season and give the haiku earthing or anchoring.
  • Each week, at the Līgo Haībun Challenge here is a choice of two prompt words, quotes, or visuals. Please choose one for your haibun.
  • Wear the Ligo badge below with pride on your blog! And pin the Circle of Appreciation to your blog  if your haibun is one of the monthly  Honourable Mentions in Dispatches

Click on the url below to join the challenge!

Haibun as a literary form really started when Basho, the ‘father’ of haiku set off on a 2,400 km walk through Japan, deliberately straying into the mountains when he could. The travel journals were a mix of prose studded with haiku, and were published titled ‘Narrow Road To The Deep North’. Frankly, it is a wonderful book, and started a very special form of writing. Basho claimed the art and heart of haibun as his with his reflective writing, awareness and sharp imagery.

While seen as a classical form in Japan, haibun has seen a revival in English over the past decades.

People should write their haibun in the way they like to write. However, I do think that the register of the language used, not the style, is important. There is a difference.

The above looks difficult, but in fact we are not talking about a story with a twist here – at all, though a moment of discovery or epiphany in a haibun fits very well.

The first thing I look to in a haibun is if the writer was at the scene or not him or herself.  The scene may be a memory, or a plan, merely witnessed or interacted with, or a mix of many or all of those.

It is not a story, though is a narrative. Personally I find it hard to read a haibun not interacting with nature. Indeed, an emphasis on emotion and not imagery is something that does not work in a haibun as a whole.

I am personally not a fan of direct speech, or lengthy direct speech in a haibun.

Remember that with the prose comes one or more haiku, and they must relate – when they do it is wonderful reading, but those who write a beautiful prose and don’t carefully tie it together with a powerful haiku miss something, I think.

I do very much see haibun coming in a series, rather like a diary, so would accordingly expect each haibun written by a given writer not be completely and totally separate from the one before. But if you are writing about your thoughts, actions, journey or a period in your life this seems logical to me.

A deeper meaning to the haiku might be found by the reader, but that is the reader’s prerogative, not the writer’s.

  • Līgo is the largest summer solstice festival in the world very much connected to nature, and located in Latvia. Of recent years a similar New Year festival at around the same time has been gaining popularity in Yakutia and will probably catch on in Kazakhstan.

 

 

Carpe Diem Haibun – Beach

Beaches don’t come much colder than Aberdeen beach, in the northwest of Scotland. But before people bustled onto planes to get drunk abroad, Aberdeen beach was a popular holiday destinations for hardy Aberdonians. They don’t make folk like that anymore. Nowadays, of course, none venture in such cold waters when their are holidays further south to be had.

Advances in technology have brought a fair amount of improvements to our lives, but for every action there is a reaction. Isn’t that the first law of Physics?

Our food is worse now, not better. Our health and fitness worse. The food is less nutritious, and there is much less variety of it, a little known fact. There are many less varieties of apples around than there used to be 50, or a 100 years ago, for example, as industrial production seeks the cheapest to produce, the farthest away. One day we will learn more by looking back, except that many of these varieties have disappeared, forever. In fact there are storage centres desperately being arranged and built in an effort to preserve seeds of disappearing varieties of foodstock. It is that bad.

Our ancestors never got to see and experience what we do, but not everything they believed and lived by was wrong. Our social fabric is torn. Today we have what has become the propagandist aggressive negativity of Feminism, for example, while before we had gentlemen, and decency towards women. Even, maybe, in Aberdeen!

Scottish Comedian Billy Connolly gives an account of Aberdeen beach in his particular style which gives a fair idea of Aberdeen beach – start at 4.40 mins for his account of swimming in Aberdeen.

And the emptiness of Aberdeen beach today…

88beach_1

loneliness by the sea
what is found over horizons
is found here too

Carpe Diem Haiki, Mandara-ji

I could show you a magic trick. I could give you a book for you to take home, for those long rainy nights alone. I could bake a chocolate cake for you, or show you my favourite film, or fashion a copper bangle for you, that shines in golden evenings.

Under a streetlamp, as the last snowflakes of winter drift downwards, I could kiss you. And then I would write a haiku for you.

of this emptiness
that cannot be filled with words
-even snowflakes melt

rain-dancer

Friday Fictioneers: The Night Before The Morning That Will Not Be

image rochelle wisoff-fields

image rochelle wisoff-fields

In order to justify them killing you, you invent the crime. “I deserve to die,” you say to yourself. It doesn’t pay to get too religious on these occasions  —  the next thing you’ll be doing is repenting.

In our cells waiting to be shot we are a club with the same aim: to get out alive. Personally, I think of childhood. Maybe I should have played with dolls. Instead bullets will be my last medals.

If anyone finds this note; “I died a man.” That is, I fought till the end, and ran, blindfolded, hands tied behind my back, in my last faltering steps of freedom.

images

friday fictioneers 100 Word stories ¤ run so well by ms rochelle wisoff-fields

Ligo Haibun Challenge – Image Week

Thanks to everyone participating in the Ligo Haibun Challenge – if you would like you can post your haibun at Medium here, and label it under the “Beautiful Haibun” collection. This gives you further readership and gives you a step out of the ‘WordPress world.’

My apologies for the lateness of the post this week. I was a bit exhausted after travel and duties, and have a lot of catching up to do. There are a lot of fine people out there and I don’t want to lose them…so I will be catchng up, especially as I want the Ligo anthology out soon – so send your haibun!

I will be contacting folks very shortly about their haibun – that probably means you reading this!

This week is picture week. As usual choose one to write your Beautiful Haibun. I certainly encourage all glancing here to have a read of the haibun, which are of very high quality in an art form that in itself encourages beautiful writing.

If you are new to the form ask here for details..

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Please give us some beautiful haibun! Link up with the blue critter below..

http://goo.gl/KAbZf4

Ligo Haibun Challenge – Word Prompt

…Here’s 3 haibun we particularly liked from last week  and are mentioning here:

After two hours yesterday and nearly an hour today, I still cannot and will not nominate one over the other. The haibun are all so good for both very similar and different reasons.

See what I mean….

The prompts for this week are continued

 

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Given First Line

The goal of this feature is to write an all new haiku which starts with the given first line.

.This week’s haiku has to start with the following first line:

a shooting star

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a shooting star
-don’t go
gone

 ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤

 

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2-1=0

when I turned around
she’d left town
Forgetting to collect her last words
from my mind

her polish still in the bathroom
where she did her toes
and her watch on the chair
still yelling me the time

and open doors of rooms
permanently closed to emotion
no dishes in the kitchen sink
phones that make no calls

a shower permanently dry
trees sweeping their own leaves outside
pavements bare, sterile and cold
streets that go nowhere under rain that won’t fall

and the drip on the faucet that demands to be fixed
as if I have the time now I’m alone
and anyway it’s not my fault
she should have turned it tight before she left home

Ligo Haibun Challenge – Quote Prompt Week

Winter on one side, summer on the other, we drift into December. There were some beautiful haibun last week, making the choice of Honourable Mentions absurdly difficult again. Thank you again, wonderful contributors.

This week is quote week again. Please choose one as always continued…

dVerse – Where Is She Now?

Where is she now?
The girl whose picture I found
Posing just after the last snows
Fresh, in her Yakutian meadow

What were her dreams, back then?
Among the flowers that only bloom in Spring
When she posed so long ago
The dark nights so short, the days so slow

Did she spend each spring in her field?
And did her memories leave with the end of summer?
I hope she slipped out of her heels
To walk barefoot in the grass, among scented heather

Did she pluck one wild flower to take home and press?
The girl from Yakutia whose photo I found
In the antique chest I bought last night
From the silver-haired woman, whose eyes shone so bright

 

A Writer’s Lair @ Starý Smokovec

Despite an ex-boxer prime minister who arranged to have the country’s president’s son kidnapped, beaten up, and dumped at the border, Slovakia was one of  my favourite destinations some 15-20 years ago. More particularly, Starý Smokovecin the Tatra mountains.

Slovakia was a country with an attitude in the early 1990s. In next-door Hungary the prime minister had just announced he was not prime minister of Hungary, but of all Hungarians; tantamount, just about, to a declaration of war. With its sizable Hungarian minority, history of being invaded by Hungary (the last time in 1968, as fighting strafed the streets of Prague during the Prague Spring), and while Yugoslavia nearby crumbled, Slovakia tensed.

Mercier, the infamous Slovak prime minister, argued for Slovakia joining the newly formed CIS, formed from the ex-USSR, to become the”richest state in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) instead of the poorest in the European Union, and banned shops using only the Hungarian language on their signs.

I loved the atmosphere of turmoil in Eastern Europe at the time. Writers need tension, conflict and pressure – just ask the Czechoslovak authors who wrote the masterpieces they did under the communist regime, permanently fighting censorship or worse.

But most of all I loved coming to Starý Smokovec.

Starý Smokovec

I was in various locations in Eastern Europe in those early years of the decade, but whenever I wanted to add a few more chapters to my burgeoning book, I would head straight for the mountain town for a few weeks, in summer, winter, spring and autumn. I stayed in various different pensions, each one clean, charming, with a table in a room with a view. Considering the pensions started around €5 per night at that time, I was able to spend all my breaks ensconced in a room, coming out for breathtaking walks among trails, or a few Tatran beers, surely the world’s finest beer, made on site.

Tatran beer advertisment

Tatran beer advertisment

Starý Smokovec

Starý Smokovec church

Starý Smokovec was the ideal writer’s retreat. A small town in the Tatra mountains, with clean air, not too much to do except walk, and write, a language that I did not understand but was charming to the ear, and prices that meant I was able to concentrate on the book without worrying about where my next meal would come from.

Starý Smokovec train station

One of my ‘residences’ in Starý Smokovec

The Tatra mountains were just right for the writer – easily accessible but out of the way, with those great mountain hikes and lubrication. Even the tea was good. I wrote in all seasons, in chalets and pensions and bars, over garlic soup, cheese and bread. I took trips to Moldavia, in the new Czech Republic, just as Dubček, one of the architects of the 1968 Prague Spring died in a mysterious car crash. I took trips down to Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, where I travelled with false documents as the Serbs in Belgrade tried to get rid of Milosovic and his Lady Macbeth, until the Serb police got rid of me. I took trips to Romania, during those infamous days when miners were paid to come to Bucharest to crack a few demonstrating student heads open, after the fake ‘revolution’ that got Ceaucescu and his Lady M out of the way (more about that in my book!). And I travelled to the Ukraine, with its visas issued not to the day of departure, but hour.

And I returned to Starý Smokovec to write. Those were special days of change.

Mountain chalet above Starý Smokovec – for short writing excursions

You can set your dramatic assassination scene at the cable car station at the mountain top above Starý Smokovec

Starý Smokovec town lay-out

At Rat’s Creek

the sailing boats have sunk
down at rat’s creek where a summer
was not complete without
at least one great big furry rat bite

where knees were meant to be skinned
and where Josie taught me
how to have sinned
down where the water rose each spring

where summer we dared each other
to swim the length of the pond bared
to the midday sun
nothing on except water

and where in those Autumn days
the sun sent its last golden rays
and one by one the boats clogged with leaves
till there was only my one boat left sinking 

so I grew up too
loved and lost and left town
and rat’s creek is now frozen 
every time I’m there in the snow

all the sailing boats have sunk forever
Josephine’s doesn’t even recognise me anymore
glass in her hand when she answers the door
the boats are all sunk – and  there’ll never be anymore summers


written for the wonderful http://dversepoets.com/ page – (topic Childhood Toys & Games), a truly beautiful bi-weekly challenge. My apologies for not getting the reading done I want. But I will.

Ten ‘Things’ We Could Not Do Without

10- Blues. What was the world like before the invention of Blues? Impossible to conceive. BB King, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Eric Clapton, Luther Allison, Taj Mahal, and so many more. You cannot breathe without blues man, how did they before?

9- Tea. In tea friendship, the Japanese saying goes, To say the least. What can’t you say about tea? There is everything in a cup of tea, best drunk in a papercup, or from a flask, or a glass, among friends, lovers, alone, in the morning, afternoon or at midnight. If the world stopped to have a cup of tea,…

8- Tango. The definition of sensuality. You do not use words to describe the tango. Everything is in the accordian and high heels. And inner thigh.

7- French. There is not a more evocative, beautiful language. Period. Granted, it is just a slang of Latin, but no French woman has ever paid for a copper bracelet in my shop, just saying, “bonjour!” guarantees it is free… The language is style itself. When I speak French my voice is in a different octave, and everything is more relaxed.

6- Politeness. The absence of politeness is like the absence of fresh air, or sunrise. When travelling to countries where people are very polite like Iran, where politeness is the culture, it is a sheer delight. Afterwards one misses it like a life without tea or blues.

5- Deserts. Like the tango. Words cannot describe a desert. Imagine an environment that changes a little bit everyday as sand dunes reveal new curves and lines , always warm, where you can sleep outside every night in a perfectly and naturally-cushioned bed, without any mosquitoes or flies. Sheer luxury. Desertification is much underrated..

4- Rain. Rain in the desert is like diamonds. But rain anywhere is beautiful. Rain separates parasites from those who want to enjoy life deeply. I have heard those who curse rain but expect beautifully orange carrots from their supermarket. The whole Bollywood film industry survives on that dance in the rain; rightly so. No-one should own an umbrella. Especially not the queen.

3- Fish n Chips. The royalty of food. None better. Served with tea. Tetleys. Malt vinegar a must. Big chips. You simply have not eaten if you have not had a decent fish supper. Better than any food in France, except a meal shared with my new French neighbour who recently got locked out of her flat, but that is a whole other delicious story.

2- Immigration. Imagine a country with only rednecks. With boiled or deeply-fried pork and overcooked potatoes, wishy washy music without soul, and racism as humour. No spice, zest or colour. Blond hair and blue eyes ruling, and nice high alcohol abuse.. Immigration has been the one overriding success of the modern era. I hate whiter than white countries, with suspiciously pure thoughts. The pilgrims were intolerant, ignorant people who would have all died off without native Indian help, There are those among us that revere religions from the Middle East , yet act as if the people from that area of the world are in some way inferior to “us”. Weird. Most don’t even know where the Middle East is: rednecks.

1- Trekking. There are still people who still drive their cars two blocks to drive cigarettes. Unbelievable. And that people still smoke is actually funny. Talk about sheep controlled by the corporate world. The tobacco stuffed into cigarettes bears little to no relation to the much milder tobacco smoked in the peace pipes my friends, it has been engineered to be much stronger, much more addictive with higher levels of tar, even the lite brands, which is compensated anyway with more chemicals. So buy a pair of canvas slippers and walk in a desert instead. Walk, for days, sleep at nights, through the desert sands. Glorious.

And now, just because…

Friday Fictioneers – When She Danced…

copyright-renee-heath

When it rained, she was a mess. Mascara rolling down her face, like tears of soot from her papa’s past, her tutu looking like overused fishing nets; grey, patched, hanging down awkwardly, and her slippers, too, discoloured, muddy, seemingly irreparable. As she danced under the downpour on those occasions she wore an expression of defeated stoicism, and those who did not make a detour watched from the corner of their eyes, hoping, wishing for her sake she’d stop, and go home.

But when the sun shone, she pirouetted, twirled and laughed, remembering papa’s words! “You’ll be a wonderful dancer, my  cherry blossom, one day!” He’d sighed, so many times.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

for Friday Fictioneers  100 Word Fiction- admirably run by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields <> photo by Renee Heath

Trifecta ~ “C’est Chique!”

 Trifecta -PROMPT: FREAK (noun) Between 33 and 333 words (332 Words here below)

“Freak out! Le frique, c’est chic!”

And that was the end of us budding hippies, us freaks, and the beginning of our capitalist education.

“Le frique, c’est chique!”…they sang, changing innocence into something so much more exciting than hippiedom, my eyes flitting to Judy’s budding breasts instead on the dance floor, my over-coiffed hair falling flat over my pimples in a greased flop, as I jerked about in spasmic rendition of Travolta at his best. Or I thought so, anyway, in my yellow long-sleeved polyester shirt covered by white T shirt.

Freak out!” Judy dancing in young teenage girl style, a little out of rhythm, feigning disinterest, glancing around for her friends as the globe glittered around and I jumped, hopped and did Pete Townsend and James Brown all at once.

Le Frique…!” We’d never heard anything like it. Disco hit us square between our mop-covered eyes, and peace and love was definitely over.

“Are you a freak?” Judy had asked me, chewing her gum, as teen society demanded, mouth open, stretching, twisting, looping the plastic with her tongue, teeth, and now and then thumb and forefinger, “or a rocker?”

“I dunno,” I had replied, with fourteen year old utter coolness of restraint.

“I’m a disco chick,” she announced in reply, popping her gum, and peppering me in her saliva.

“What does ‘Le frique, c’est chique’ mean?” She shouted in my ear, warm and perfumed in her closeness, as the song started.

“It’s French slang for ‘money, it’s cool’” I told her.

“Cool!” She said, starting to jive, or dance: “d’ya think it’s cool?” She asked, her glitter make-up giving her a soft-focus-lense-look.

I nodded immediately, a teenage capitalist against my wishes but for my desires, selling out, man, just for a Wrigglies chewing gum kiss.

Later, Judy elevated her disco chicking career to the pole, and I slid the other way.  We met, randomly, near the gutter. But she’s a grandmother now. Me? Hey! I’m still a freak, man!

and hey….”feel I’m letting my freak flag fly..ya know what I mean…..just couldn’t resist man, now give us a kiss!

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