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Halloween Haiku: Crows at night

Here’s today’s bit of seasonal micro-poetry.  As fellow corvid afficianados are likely to know, this haiku states fact: crows and ravens don’t fly at night. As twilight approaches, they return to their roost and stay until early morning. So if you DO see a crow-like creature out and about at night, you might want to reach for that bottle of holy water in your pocket.

 

Halloween Haiku (and limericks)

For two or three years now, I’ve been posting bits of seasonal micropoetry. This was prompted by Lester Smith’s yearly anthologies of Halloween poetry and short fiction, published by his micropress company Popcorn Press. I contributed to several of these anthologies. Lester is now retired, but I’ve gotten into the habit of writing small poems around this time of year.  Here’s a warm-up limerick.

Halloween Haiku

Thanks to a combination of existential dread and unexpectedly potent darjeeling tea, I had a rare bout of insomnia last night. On the bright side, I figured out how to download GIMP, something I’ve attempted several times before without success. This is my first, very elementary graphic. It’s also the first new Halloween Haiku of the season. (More of those coming in October.)  I’ve read that it has a steep learning curve, but if you’ve used PhotoShop, it’s not that difficult–at least, not on this rudimentary level.

Bon Odori

Today is the first day of Obon, the Japanese festival of the dead. It’s somewhat similar to Mexico’s Día de Muertos, in which family graves are tended and there’s feasting and celebration. In Okinawa, offerings of food and drink are left for the returning ancesters, and the final day is celebrated with a dance, the Bon Odori, that expresses appreciation for the ancesters and the joy that memories of them bring.

In honor of the day, I’m posting a ghost story, narrated by a ghost. Each stanza is in haiku format, though they are not, strictly speaking, Haiku.

Obon calls to me– 
The first Obon since my death 
Just four months ago. 

I find my way home. 
No feast, no lanterns greet me. 
No one remembers.  

This was expected; 
I am no one’s ancestor. 
So why have I come? 

Music fills the night. 
The dancers flow past my house 
Bright and deft as koi. 

I merge with the stream 
And dance the Bon-odori. 
But no one sees me. 

My feet remember: 
Step, turn, sway and dip, clap hands. 
I dance in silence. 

Once I danced and sang, 
“Oh, joyful Bon-odori! 
Welcome, ancestors!” 

Welcome, ancestors. 
But what of me, or my child, 
Gone, these twelve long years? 

The Land of the Dead 
Is vaster than all Japan. 
I have not found her. 

She’d be lovely now, 
Like the girl dancing near me, 
Hands like graceful birds. 

Strange, that this girl wears 
Grandmother’s blue yukata. 
It fits perfectly. 

She sees me and smiles— 
A smile my heart remembers 
As tiny, toothless. 

I once called Obon 
A festival for the dead.  
Now I understand. 

We dance and we sing, 
“Oh, joyful Bon-odori!” 
My ghost child and I. 

Lupine Lunes

Every year since 2009, editor and poet Lester Smith has put together a Halloween anthology of poetry and short fiction. This year’s offering will be out shortly, available as an ebook or paperback.
lupine-lunesI have three poems in this collection:  two limericks, and a longer poem that tells a story in 13 stanzas, each of which is in haiku format. It’s a ghost story, and it occurs on the first night of Obon, the Japanese festival of the dead.

I’ll post links when the book is online.

The Road Not Taken, revisited

Here’s an interesting article about Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken:”

The famous Robert Frost poem we’ve read wrong forever

I memorized this poem in 8th grade, and even back then I caught the wry, self-deprecating tone of the last two lines. My father was given to shoulda-coulda-woulda revisionism, so by an early age I’d absorbed the habit of reflecting upon mighta-beens and mentally editing my life. This was a familiar concept, and it seemed to me that Frost nailed it in a sly, sideways fashion. Also, Frost had a pitch-black sense of humor that appealed to me, and I read his poetry attuned to that vibe.

The story of the British poet, however, adds an interesting new dimension.