Another day and another poetry form in the Poetry Daily. Some mornings I am stuck. Then I refer to a wonder article that lists 100 Poetry Forms on http://writersdigest.com. At random I pick one I have never heard of before. I was feeling a bit jaded this morning so I plucked the Dodoitsu from the list. I have long played with haiku and senryu, so another Japanese form seemed perfect for a morning when I wanted to write in brief. With the dodoitsu you have the broad expanse of a further nine syllables to play around with! Yes, a rash ration of a whole twenty six syllables arranged in four lines. Like haiku and senryu, there is no rhyme. The first three lines have seven syllables each. The capping line has five syllables. The poetry form tends to take ‘love and work with a comical twist’ as its subject according to the website article.
So I flexed my fingers and finally got out my notebook and pen for poetry practice. I do find Japanese poetry forms kind of zen. Face the blank page, instead of a blank wall. But often poignant. Also often very funny.
Another Kind of Zen
First, the poet awakens Pause for tea ceremony Then takes up her fountain pen Bows to the blank page
The creative process is a building skip full of flops, retakes, almost but not quites But still. Keep trying!
Well! we can still huff and puff Argue the toss all bluster Lower lip bound to quiver Then kiss "Goodnight, Love!"
We had a storm yesterday and the wind howled around the southwest corner of the house, which kept me awake. So I slept in. Walked the little dog first. Just because. I’d like to say it was mostly for his benefit, but there may also have been an element of writer’s displacement activity. The morning’s fresh and not very cold. I saw blackthorn blossom a few miles down our lane yesterday. Very early, just as last year I thought it would never arrive.
Once I had a cup of green tea (one friend asks why I drink grass!), and after opening a tin of tuna for some of the cats, I got down to poetry practice. I warmed up a bit with a haiku.
Daffodils face down Lick the mud Deep roots Weather wind rock
That took all of a half hour of tooling around with two line, three line, then four line format for the total of fourteen syllables! But then I had another thought.
Sorry, but out where I live nature and the seasons are really in your face. Some days, the poetry practice just defaults to haiku and senryu. It comes with the territory when you live in a geopark I suppose. Haiku, senryu and micropoems certainly work as a poetry etude for me this morning.
Earth incubates Her womb warm Even when its cold outside- Still growth
Every spring Nature's in your face Surprise!
Tweet, caw, coo-woo, chuckle Neighbour's conversation Early morning
Catkins Caterpillar fuzzy Sun bright This misty morning
Since the spruce plantation across the lane from us has been part felled (but not clear cut, we saw to it they knew it was red squirrel habitat), we have a clear view of the sun rising over the Playbank. Today, I am out teaching in the morning, so poetry practice is pre-dawn, writing in the dark with my illuminato pen with the curtains wide to see dawn arrive. Haiku felt appropriate somehow. Three emerged by sun up.
A plump peace slice Moon drips its juice Over the hump of hill
How ink black the sky How white the blank page How still before the bird's sing
A suspicion of light Stains the horizon Wisdom arrives this way
It is one of those bright winter mornings where there is real fire in the sun’s rays. You can understand why Brigid’s feast day is this time of year. You can also understand why some translate her name as ‘bright arrow.’ She is also described as a ‘sun gold’ or ‘red gold’ woman. On this Irish morning I get it. It is very real and imminent.
For my poetry practice this morning I felt drawn to writing haiku, senryu and micropoems. Micropoems are little things. Haiku celebrate a (hopefully) epiphanous moment in nature; senryu look (often wryly, frequently fondly and humourously) at human nature. They do it in seventeen syllables or less. Micropoems cover the rest of the tiny poems that fulfill neither technical description. They have a wider thematic brief and also tend to have titles, whereas haiku and senyru go out into the world nameless.
This was actually how I started the day.
A thump as beak meets glass Hey! Open up the Birdy's Café!
This time of year in Celtic lore is considered a wrestling match between Mother Winter, the Cailleach, and the Maiden, Brighid.
The Last of the Cailleach
Safe in her cave Sucking marrow from bone Bright rays piece her fastness
Actually, it is often the coldest weather right at this time of year in Ireland. Often this is the the last push for snow and ice at Imbolc, so we acknowledge this by making hearty stews and mashed potato or ham and colcannon. Neeps are not just for Burn’s night either. Turnip and bacon is pure January comfort food. Making a stew from shin of beef probably inspired this.J
To fire our bellies We want to sup marrow from bone Hungry days
But then the Maiden Brigid is right on the threshold of the season and year. Spring is coming. We see it in the bulbs popping up. The gorse has bloomed again in this upland country. (And it’s scent is almost tropical! True!) This little poem is a riff on the old custom of welcoming St. Brigid into you house, opening your front door and saying the welcome aloud.
These fiery rays Melting morning's frost Brigid is welcome! She is!
This is a week where I will be giving public readings of some of my Brigid inspired poems, weaving St. Brigid’s crosses, telling Her folklore to groups and generally having a lot of fun. It is time to bake my special seed cake because we are on the threshold of new growth. It’s time! We can feel it in our belly.
The penultimate day of Omen Days. And, later today or the early hours of tomorrow depending upon your time zone, a New Moon eclipse. For the first time in what feels like weeks I missed the pre-dawn call to poetry. I woke to daylight, having slept nearly eleven hours. Not waking in the darkness does add a new dimension to omen seeking. So after the pets paraded outside to do what they needed to do, I opened the curtains to see another steady parade of seekers at the bird feeder.
Two friends have commented on some of my…well, let’s just call it thematic continuity for me. Mick asks “What is it about you and rocks, Bee?” Patricia arches an elegant brow and queries, ” What is this compulsion to feed, Bee?”
I could not settle until I had hoked out the wild bird seed and refilled the feeder just outside the window where I am now typing this. Hence, a haiku for today’s Poetry Daily.
The blue tit and robin perch on the feeder cock heads, stare hopefully