jornales

for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

the rose bud/under a sky/full moon (random haiku and what else I am learning about haiku)

1.
rose bud
still tight in the rain–
the coming of summer

2.
under a sky
bent by a rainbow
we ease for home

3.
full moon
on an open cesspool–
the sun for me

full moon partially obscured by the Earth's atmosphere (21 Dec 1999 taken by austronauts aborad the Space Shuttle Discovery) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I love how images work so well with haiku. And like paintings, they can be very compelling and draw out in their distance the deepest of emotions. Nothing should be overt in haiku. It must be hinted at, almost hidden or unnoticed.

For me, it could be something like a quiet reflection on the spit-notes of a waxwing or the epiphany of yes, a full moon on an open un-lidded cesspool. In the first, the notes for me feel like droplets of crystals that melt into a soft coating on my being, gifting me for a moment with the just-being-there-ness of a salmon berry blossom for a hummingbird; in the second, the moon sinks into my darkness– cesspool that I am in many ways of ‘pecadillos’, those daily pin pricks of rebellion from virtue and goodness–and turns on the light of the sun that is in me or what I believe to be my spirit, which at its core remains as powerful as the Sun from whom the moon draws its brightness.

Perhaps, I’m taking this too far but haiku works when it works for the poet–this is what I’m learning fast, though of course there are still the basic elements to go by. At the workshop of Michael Dylan Welch that I attended last Saturday right here in Vancouver in my neighborhood at the historic Joy Kogawa House, he emphasized a few key elements:

*not 5-7-5 syllables unless one is writing in Japanese
*must have a season (kigo) word (there are hundreds of them in a compilation by Japanese masters that differentiate for example mist and fog in spring and autumn have degrees of thinness, or even the moon is different in winter and autumn)
*must appeal to any or all of the 5 senses
*must be objective, meaning, not what is the emotion but what caused it
*precision (sharp focus), immediacy (of the moment not past or future both of which make it static), juxtaposition to make it ‘leap’ into a larger or higher perspective, which may be attained by contrast
*there’s a lot more than that, of course, and I’m still learning

Truly, reading haiku –and there’s thousands of them–and about the art may not be enough. Haiku has been for centuries some kind of a ‘group art’. It must be shared and worked at with others. For me, some kind of openness even humility are a must, a willingness to learn and be straightened out if what one has written seems vague or imprecise and the reader squints his eyes, knits his brows and says, ‘huh?’ instead of ‘ahhhh…’, clasps his hands and looks up to the heavens. Indeed, joining The Haiku Foundation that gave me access to Shiki Kukai, the Vancouver Haiku Group, and signing up for the NaHaiWriMo facebook site as well as submitting my haiku to and getting ‘acceptance’ and more often ‘declined’ mail from online haiku/tanka journals as well as other literary journals have been extremely rewarding.

Haiku’s most precise definition is ‘a short poem in one breath’. Ahhh…okay then, do these random haiku here make you say, ‘ahhhh’ or ‘huh’?

May 17, 2011 Posted by | background, haiku, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

zenith at noon (for One Shoot Sunday)

Photo prompt by Fee Easton

rain combs the strands
of our adagios:

expanse of thoughts
farther than the ends of flights
wings aching for home
a sight among stars

we tread the waves
sink in whirlpools deeper
than the heart of the flower
a hummingbird chooses

lighter
than marrow-less limbs
skimming skies
bending the spheres

constellations pirouette
on mid-strains cresting to slope
to skid onto silken lilies
our bed of seasons

in our clasped hands
the sea regurgitates the sun
froth fizzes a tickle
on our kissing toes

the sea breeze binds horizons
our eyes delude a sunset
our dawns begin
the night

the zenith at noon
the depth of our dreaming

Copyright (c) by Alegria Imperial 2011

From a photo prompt by Fee Easton this poem is posted for One Shoot Sunday yet another challenge at One Stop Poetry, the inimitable gathering place of poets and artists, winner of the 2011 Shorty Awards for the Arts. Come join us. Share your love for your art. Be thrilled over what others say and what you discover of others’ works.

May 15, 2011 Posted by | free verse, lyric poetry, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

believing/faces i miss (haiku on NaHaiWriMo facebook wall)

believing
we’re walled in–
my goldfish and i

faces i miss–
some rain-washed stones
on neighbor’s wall

(re-worked haiku I posted on the still-on NaHaiWriMo facebook wall from a prompt by my friend, Melissa Allen: walls)

April 21, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

soft rain/spring wind/white dust (spring memories haiku)

soft rain–
she spins a ball
from memories

spring wind
on nodding daffodils–
my ‘No’ again

white dust
on boxes of three years–
still wind

March 29, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

spring panic

spring panic–
ruckus of the sparrows
over petals shedding

spring–
his promise in a box
i open too late

I better stop here or I start writing ‘yikes-haiku’! Panic over the ticking clock is what’s wrong with me. Nothing comes to mind. I need to wind down now for an early start to be at the Buddhist temple in Richmond tomorrow for a ginko walk with members of the Vancouver Haiku Group–us!

March 26, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

haiku truths/crocus and frogs after rain/…secrets…non-stop/oh, poet for you, no rest (where did it come from? or how a NaHaiWriMo idea became this tanka)

haiku truths–
crocus and frogs after rain
ketrels and hyacinths
telling you secrets non-stop
oh, poet for you, no rest

Where did that come from?

If you read the comments between Wrick Daddario (19 Planets Art blog) and me on my #24 & #25 NaHaiWriMo post here, you would have read that tanka. He started with what he liked about the haiku and as always when the interaction takes over, he wrote his own haiku on the comment thread. He later mentioned that perhaps he did write enough to pass off as a-haiku-a-day for the month, adding he didn’t want to make a commit ment but did fulfill it anyway. That’s when this thought that has overtaken me was unleashed…and I wrote on:

Commitment? That’s always a big scare, isn’t it? It is, in matters of personal and true-to-life matters, especially, but even more so in ART. Because it asks or demands of one’s whole being, the thrill with which we throw ourselves into it soon falters and we slouch off along the way. But something else could also happen like what’s happening to me. (These last two sentences added just now.)

I have had brief bouts of it–this ‘being on a roll’, but not like now that I feel totally consumed by it–though still unaware of commitment to giving in or have given in to–the POWER OF HAIKU and TANKA. I feel I’m changing especially with my personality; I think I’m turning into a monk who prowls the city looking hollow or with burning eyes on details that turn into or churn haiku in my mind.

I used to be mindful of my interactions; I used to be prompt with my replies to ideas–I used to be present in most if not all meetings about social issues and plain social events and stay and follow-up on ideas I throw in. But now? Haiku/tanka flowing into my other poetic forms have gripped me like a vise and all else float or flit about like wings of nymphs. (I’ve added the last phrase just now, again.)

I seem to carry a head that’s brewing a stew of images restlessly swirling as words non-stop! Never mind if none or all that comes out of it is bad or good haiku or poetic lines–the ‘power’ wields its whip anyway and I must let it ride, put down on the screen what I’m not even aware whether or not it’s my composition or simply of this power most of the time.

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, totally, I’m sure you’ve felt it some time–beware! Commitment (to haiku)? I don’t know if you can choose to thwart it or shoo it away!”

And the tanka flowed in.

February 28, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry, reflection, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

squabbling crows/sunny day at Zoo/the drum beat of rain NaHaiWriMo prompts turned tanka!

1. Prompt #24 flower
squabbling crows
scream into my thoughts–
at dawn how you left
hollow imprints of sleep
scented dreams of jasmine blooms

2. prompt #25–zoo
sunny day at Zoo
lioness searches for my eyes
behind my black shades–
the way we hold our hearts
as we speak of fears and wants

3. prompt #26–drum
the drum beat of rain
on window pane imprints tears
a flood breaking hearts
in loneliness gray rain sneaks
into wells to fill the dryness

Tanka drafts I should call these because I’m certain that when I read them tomorrow, they will sound bad. These came as spontaneously as the haiku I’ve been posting on the NaHaiWriMo wall. There’s an energy that takes over at the site like a hand that holds my wrist as I pause or pose to let the first word dance on the screen. It’s the presence of so many other haiku writers– whose names I recognize from the Shiki kukai and haiku journals even some haijin–that I think itself serves as the prompt and the word, a prop. The experience, though I hopped in only on Day 19, has been exhilarating.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

plea for a poem (for One Shot Wednesday)

write me a poem
words to breathe in
even if only whispers
as shouts have turned
the air into a
hail storm

write me some rain–
my heart crackles
in the draught longing
for words drenched in
thought to sip
in the dark

i yearn for verses
snipped from flame tips
words that dance
the fire of fallen angels
saved from their march
on dying coals

write me a song
cadenced in sunsets
tympanis of words
rising off the hum
of meanings
drums have flattened

give me back poems
shredded spirits birth
in caves midnights cleanse–
poems howling wolves
hankering for stars
divine

Posted for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry as my share in a lively exchange of art and poetry among a loving community of poets and artists who nurture each other. Follow us at the site. Click on OSP on my blogroll.

February 22, 2011 Posted by | free verse, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

left out in the rain #22b NaHaiWriMo (haibun?)

left out in the rain
her old haiku
on cherry blossoms

I know the emotion of this haiku is sad but honestly, the transition days from winter to spring bring this on in me. Days rise white as freshly ironed sheets, the smell of dawn, with tiny marble-tweets from spring birds invisible in the conifer hedges. And then, as if a green-eyed nymph has waved her wand, clouds would shroud the sun and only the snowdrops tell it’s still day. I walk on Osler St. trodding on damp fragile weeds, barely breathing it seems toward spring, unmindful of the crisp stubble around roots of gnarled oaks. Overhead, twigs of nude cherry trees retain a pose too painful to glance at. Once, it seems so long ago, these caricatured branches had burst into layers of textured pink, inscribing ‘glory in the moment’, that I have written as haiku, which haunt me like old spirits now. And the soft rain, as if taking on my thoughts, turns into an outpouring of tears.

late winter walk–
soft rain on bare cherry trees
harder on my thoughts

Oooops, edit from an hour ago, should be–My haiku #22a is posted in the NaHaiWriMo facebook site. Check it out and join in!

February 22, 2011 Posted by | haibun, haiku, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

grey relentless rain (is it tanka?)

grey relentless rain
on moss covered cherry trees—
he counts his regrets
since the dawn he missed the sun
days half-lived appear each turn

Is it tanka? Possibly because it follows the thirty-one (5/7/5/7/7) Japanese form.

But it can’t possibly be tanka because it does not express “passionate or delicate sentiments”, which its original form did.

Tanka reached its peak in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries also known as the “Heian period, Japan’s golden age”, as identified by Alfred H. Marks, editor-in-chief of Literature East & West. He introduces the period when no written language existed in Japan as yet and so, tanka, was recited. Each year, under the sponsorship of the emperor, a contest would be held. Professor Marks is a “renowned translator and dynamic scholar”.

Here’s a concrete vision of tanka a drawn by Professor Marks in his introduction: “…a languid lady in a palace lined with screens and colorful sliding walls, reading the thirty-one syllable statement of the heart of some moody nobleman and answering the missive in another thirty-one syllables in tasteful imagery and elegant calligraphy. It was the Heian greeting card, and it is today, in Japan as elsewhere, an apt medium for sentiments passionate or delicate.”

The book, Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age for which Professor Marks wrote this introduction contains 56 exquisite tanka by Thomas Gurgal, a former student of Marks, with Illustrations by Maggie Jarvies published by The Peter Pauper Press, Inc. Mount Vernon, NY, 1972.

I found the book squeezed between giant poetry tomes and collections at Vancouver Public Library’s central branch on West Georgia here in downtown Vancouver. The tiny pocketbook-size hardbound edition has been quite a discovery, which could hold me in awe even after I close the covers and must turn it back in when it’s due to circulation…I guess I’ll have to line up forever to get it back.

My tanka is far from the sentiments Gurgal so wondrously expresses. I could pretend to be a lady in some imperial court but I know I would be stretching my imagination too far out. My culture won’t give me a shadow to wing from. I would have to visit Japan, I guess. And so, I conclude, what I wrote is not a tanka by these ancient standards except, and this could be stretching it so much so it could snap, it also expresses a sentiment, that of ‘loss’, which seem to rule my subsconscious.

Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age by Thomas Gurgal

February 7, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment