Happy New Year– 2012

A great collection of New Year’s greetings from around the world can be read in the November/ December issue of Sketchbook. Happy New Year to one and all, and thank you especially to those who took the time to read and comment on my blog. It is much appreciated!

a fresh layer
of frost on the lawn…
New Year’s resolutions

Old Calendar

The kigo for the Sketchbook November/ December 2011 kukai was “old calendar”. I don’t know if other people also save their old calendars like I do, but I love having a record of the past, for what it’s worth. Those little minutiae of life are all duly recorded for posterity,  in the little white squares.

winter deepens –
old calendar pages
completely filled

taking down
my old calendar…
reflected moonlight

fallen blossoms
of the Christmas cactus
old calendar

Around the Table

When I first saw that the topic for the November/ December 2011 Sketchbook thread was “candle(s)”, I wondered what I could possibly write about. But then I got into it and submitted four haiku, and probably could have thought up a whole lot more if the holidays weren’t upon me. There is just something about the flickering light of a candle’s flame. All of my haiku were selected as Editor’s Choice by Karina Klesko, John Daleiden, or Bernard Gieske, and one was chosen by all three and was favorited by John, with a very thoughtful write-up, which can be read here (scroll down). It’s special to me, as it was written about the last Thanksgiving I spent with my parents.

around the table…
three generations
in the candles’ glow

My other haiku for the candle thread:

early dusk
the candle melts
into itself

birthday candles
too many tree rings
to count

rice paper moon
another candle
on the cake

Mu 7s Thom Williams Memorial Contest

It is always a pleasure to discover a new haiku journal. I’m not sure how I found out about Mu, an online journal. Perhaps it was from a link on the HSA website. In any event, besides enjoying the past issues, I discovered they were holding a contest called the Mu 7s Thom Williams Memorial Contest. The only requirement for the haiku submitted, is that they had to contain seven words or less. I had no “spare” haiku laying around, as I had just fired off several submissions, so I sat down and wrote five new haiku, ranging in length from five to seven words. (I have written haiku shorter than five words, but I find it difficult to make them cohesive. So I opted to use most of the words I had allotted.)

I was thrilled to learn that one of my haiku took 3rd place. It can be read on the Mu 7s Contest page, along with a thoughtful discussion of it.

A Single Tile

I wrote this earlier this year, after completing the January 2011 River of Stones Challenge:

At first it looked daunting: writing 31 small stones in 31 days. What would I find to write about, I wondered. And then I wrote the first one. About New Year’s Day and starting the river of stones challenge. And the second. About puppysitting my daughter’s poodle. And the third. About a young mother’s conversation I overheard. I posted to my blog, and feedback began to flow in immediately. Conversations began. The more universal the experience, the more of a chord it seemed to strike: the dreariness of winter, the hope of spring, dirty dishes accumulating, fog, yoga, opening a new package of sponges. Life is not made up mostly of epic moments, but rather a series of small, everyday moments, pieced together like mosaic tiles. And that’s just what a small stone is… a single tile.

I’ll be posting small stones here, and on Facebook, starting tomorrow. More small stones can be read by clicking on the blogroll, on the Writing Our Way Home blog. (On the right-hand side of the page, right under the badge. My posts will be showing up there, too.)

January 2011 Small Stones Recap

In the process of cleaning up files on my computer, I found my small stones from last January:

1.1.11- new year’s day… so many stones to pick from…

1.2.11- i resort to writing with my left hand, as Zeus is sleeping with his little poodley head nestled in the crook of my right arm. my handwriting is scrawly and unfamiliar, but I recognize my thoughts…

1.3.11– “That’s the last time I’m going to tell you,” I hear a young mother warning her toddler. “No,” I think to myself, “that is most definitely NOT the last time you are going to tell her.”

1.4.11– Everywhere i look, i see stacks of dirty dishes, piles of laundry, litter that needs cleaning, leaves strewn haphazardly on the lawn… Is this a natural part of the entropy of the universe, or is something else going on here?

1.5.11– i shiver my way into my clothes, feel the scratch of the hairbrush against my scalp… on track this morning…

1.6.11– morning fog… one foot in front of the other…

1.7.11– driving rain… plunging into obsidian darkness

1.8.11– fleecy clouds… sheep as far as the eye can see

1.9.11– closing my eyes, i still feel the motion of the car…

1.10.11– more and more people spill into the room until we are practically mat to mat, as we move through the asanas, alone and together…

1.11.11– a murmuration of starlings sweep in on the wind and deposit themselves on the lawn, nodding and bouncing and pecking for food…

1.12.11– for a single hour, my life fits neatly within the confines of a lavender yoga mat…

1.13.11– i wake with the fragments of last night’s dream still clinging to me, like tiny bits of egg shell

1.14.11– shadowy shapes detach themselves from the general darkness, as my eyes begin to adjust. the glowing green numbers on my clock radio say 3:46 a.m. two more hours until morning.

1.15.11– midwinter morning… for the longest time, there is only the hum of the furnace and the scrape of my spoon along the sides of my cereal bowl.

1.16.11- already the numbers are washing off my hand, where I wrote my gym locker combination– does memory fade so quickly?

1.17.11- showers, low clouds, mist, drizzle, mizzle, precipitation, liquid sunshine, cloudburst, sprinkles, heavy dew… just how many ways can you say “rain”?

1.18.11- i had forgotten how insanely happy seeing the sun makes me. i had forgotten how incessant rain seeps into my soul, filling the cracks.

1.19.11- there’s ice on the lid of the garbage can this morning… and birdsong in the air.

1.20.11- it has been so long since i last heard the clackety clack clack of duplos being tossed into a bin. it seems like 1, 2, … no, 3 lifetimes ago.

1.21.11- i note in passing that the dishwasher is no longer leaking. sometimes a good thing is simply the absence of a bad thing.

1.22.11- coming out of yoga class this morning, blinking like a mole in the unaccustomed sunlight…

1.23.11- the sky lightens so gradually, I don’t see the change until after it has already happened.

1.24.11- as the fog lifts, i see that the pine is not alone after all.

1.25.11- he chews on his bone with single-minded determination, as if his life depended on it. five minutes later, he will be just as focused on something else entirely.

1.26.11- the birds are chattering away as if they have been holding in some great secret for a long time now. I think I might just know what it is.

1.27.11- One of the nicest things about living here is that just when you think you can’t take another day of rain, the signs of spring are everywhere. I’m expecting crocuses any day now…

1.28.11- rain-soaked lawn. wet maple  leaves hitch a ride, on the soles of my shoes.

1.29.11- I carefully reach into the package and select a new sponge to replace the old one. Yellow. For sunshine. A girl can dream.

1.30.11- I pause to listen to the sound of geese overhead announcing their presence. Are they back, or have they never left?

1.31.11- as I walk the track, i resist the impulse to count laps. for the next hour at least, i will not be bound by expectations.




A River of Stones- January 2012

It is only two days now, until the River of Stones begins again. Hard to believe another year has passed– so much has changed, and so much has stayed the same. Tomorrow I will make a whole new set of resolutions, and see if I can dredge up last year’s resolutions (did I remember to make any?) to see how I did. And I will begin to write again, after a month of immersing myself in family and “real life”. I have no idea where I will go with my “small stones” this year… and I like it that way. I invested so much energy into writing for journals and contests this year, that I forgot what it is to write just for myself, not thinking about how a potential editor or judge will view my writing. So this January, my only self-imposed rule for my month-long River of Stones challenge, will be to write whatever I feel like, about whatever happens to catch my fancy that day. And to pay proper attention and notice things, which after all, is what the challenge is all about.

Here’s more information about the River of Stones, at the Writing Our Way Home blog. Join us!

Haiku Challenge

Earlier this month, Robert Lee Brewer announced a haiku challenge on the Poetic Asides blog. We could enter as many haiku as we chose. The only restriction, in fact, was that we had only three days to submit. I was delighted to see that I took 1st place with the following, and that this haiku will appear in a future issue of Writer’s Digest:

another biopsy-
plucking at the flowers
on my hospital gown

All of the winning entries can be read here.


More December Journal Releases

December seems to be the month for new journal releases! First there was A Hundred Gourds, then The Heron’s Nest, Sketchbook, and now Notes from the Gean. The latter has been completely overhauled, and is full of essays and interviews, as well as haiku, tanka, haiga, and haibun. I know what I will be doing this weekend (and probably next weekend, and the weekend after that too!)

Two of my haiku appear (on page 33) in this issue:

winter garden
my father’s books
mixed in with mine

snowshoe hare
his footsteps
too big to fill