jornales

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

my anthologized poem featured as guest poet at Prose Posies for National Poetry Month

Thanks so much to Cara Holman for inviting me as Guest Poet at her blog, ‘Prose Posies’, for National Poetry Month on April 10, coincidentally the date when I first wrote this poem as a not-quite-sonnet, which I later worked on for submission to the Magnapoets Anthology. (Click on Prose Posies in my blogroll for Cara’s wonderful page of me and for the other daily guest poets).

To this We Wake

*

Scraps of purple on winter dawns

slung on arms of mornings

a sun awaiting for us

in between strutting seagulls

pigeons braiding shadows–

we snuggle.

*

We trace our days in dreams we

birth at dawn

when swatches of light

tickle us out to walk

on grounds of endearments our steps

have marked engraved by winds.

*

We step on

shredded blooms the seasons

gift us, stealing kisses, time on

halved imperfect whispers, wishes we rip

off the day, their ends we spangle on

skies, our secret into stars.

*

Yet we wake to another day– 

what lies deeper than frost farther

than slumber, closer

to the core where

seasons sleep: to this, to this

we always wake.

*

Butterfly Away, Magnapoets Anthology Series 3, 2011

 

About Me from Cara’s questionnaire: (in parenthesis, what I wanted to add but changed my mind as my words started to tangle)

Alegria ‘Alee’ Imperial

Originally from Manila, Philippines now from Vancouver, Canada, (quite a simple deceiving shift of footstool in the globe)

I met you at NaHaiWriMo (where we daily shared a haiku for the same prompt for a year among many other poets. Touched by your spirit, I left parts of me in brief phrases on your space.)

Seriously into poetry in 2005, (shortly after workshop courses in fiction writing, years after writing nothing of me in media work and journalism, years of dreaming only in verse)  

(I used to write more lyrical prose,) now mostly haiku, some tanka, and recently, haibun and also free verse when all three fail

Advertisements

April 16, 2012 Posted by | lyric poetry, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For World Poetry Day: Transformation by haiku (a commentary on Basho at Notes from the Gean)

on a bare branch

a crow settled down

autumn evening

Basho

(trans. by Jane Reichold)

“How true!” was all I could say of these lines, the first of Basho’s that I have read– my introduction to haiku. The spare lines also stunned me yet they opened up spaces akin to meditation. Perhaps, I had thought, I should read it slowly as in praying and I did. The passing scenes I’ve seen in drives had suddenly turned into an immediate moment and I, in it. I recognized the feeling; it also happens when a painting or performance draws me in.  Of course, I was reading a poem and I understood it or so I had thought.

I can’t recall from what collection I read ‘on a bare branch’ among the few books I found at the Enoch Pratt Library eight years ago in Baltimore, where I was then staying. I had just stumbled on haiku, surfing the web for poetry and clicking on the page of Baltimore haiku poet Denis Garrison.  Browsing through the posted works, I thought how easy to do it and so, with the spunk of an ignoramus, I wrote one, responding to his submission call. He sent it back with kind words. It had possibilities, he said, and he even rewrote a line. How encouraging!

I had just ended a long career in media and journalism and on the daring of a friend, had taken up fiction writing in New York and later, poetry—dreams that long hovered in my hard working years. I thought haiku would come as easily as both, which I tackled the way I had wielded words in thick gray slabs. I had studied American, English and continental literature in the Philippines, a country closer to Japan, but had not been aware of haiku until then. And so, I wrote a few more of what I thought was haiku, imitating how Denis demonstrated it and sent these again; I received an outright rejection that miffed me. Yet his advice (or was it a command?) for me to read up on haiku goaded me up the marble steps of the Baltimore library.

The haiku shelf nestled in an alcove of special collections on a mezzanine. The small table felt almost intimate. The few haiku small books felt ancient in my hands, the pages fragile. I could not take them home. I had to take scrap paper from the librarian’s desk to write on. Only Basho’s ‘bare branch’ remains among bales of my notes and haiku drafts. I’ve read more of Basho and volumes of other haiku poets since. I’ve learned that the simplicity and immediacy of the ‘bare branch’ that entranced me had also deceived me. Haiku, after all, is a centuries-old art.  I realized I might never get to an iota of what makes it what it is. But haiku has transformed me since.

Nature and I have turned into lovers, for one, as if I’m seeing clouds, the sun and the moon for the first time, or flowers and birds. Yet, as a child, I prowled bamboo groves and shaded streams to catch dragonflies and wait for the kingfisher’s shadow. As an adult, I walked on streams of blossoms shredded by the wind, relishing fragrances and dreams. I used to throw open our windows for the full moon for me to bathe in. I thought I had shed them off when I left home for North America where I finally live the four seasons with blossoms like daffodils and cherry blossoms or trees that inflame in the fall like the maple that I used to know only as words in poems and songs in a borrowed language from an implanted culture I memorized as a child. But haiku has lent me ways to see things simultaneously through the past into the present, as well as from a pinhole as in a bee wading in pollen to the vastness of a punctured moonless summer sky. I leap from image to thought and feeling simply and exactly losing myself in what a moment presents like how I felt reading ‘bare branch’ the first time.

Some writings on Basho especially in his later haiku identify such a moment as Zen. As a Southeast Asian, I know Zen. It’s part of my heritage. But how come I’m ignorant of haiku? It must have been our destined Western colonization that encrusted our Eastern beginnings with layers of European and American culture, hence, blocking it. In an unfortunate historical accident when Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II, my parents could have learned haiku and passed it on to me. Instead, those years inflicted so much pain that I grew up with my mother’s family trying to survive a pall of sorrow from my grandfather’s execution by the Japanese Imperial Army. Japan, for me, represented the horror of cruelty. Then came haiku. I hadn’t thought of that sadness I inherited when I first started reading on it, delighting even at Basho’s Oku-no-hosomichi (Back Roads to Far Towns) leading me by inroads to Japan.  When the Fukushima tragedy struck last year, I plunged into it, writing a haibun about families being rescued and some haiku, finding myself in tears. I realized a healing has crept deep in me, of which my grandfather must have had a hand.

From my first imitations of Basho, I kept writing haiku that I later found out from rejections were but fragments. Yet two flukes won for me awards in 2007, one from a growing volume of fragments that I kept tweaking as a single entry to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, the other, another failed haiku I expanded as free verse for the Passager Annual Poetry Award (Baltimore, MD). These fired me to keep on. I haunted more sites on the web, picking beds for my haiku. Peggy Willis Lyles, my first editor, sent back my submission to The Heron’s Nest, the first journal I dared to submit with kind sweet comments yet I pushed more; until she died none of my haiku made it (one later did with Fay Aoyagi who took over Peggy’s contributor’s list). Werner Reichold of LYNX, on the other hand, loved my first submission. Still, more rejections from other journals pounded on me to give up.

But my prose and free verse had started to crackle with a ‘textured richness’ as one editor described it–obviously influenced by my practice of writing haiku—and made it to literary journals. I’m writing less of both these days, finding in haiku the closer bridge to pure image and thought—more of my haiku, a few tanka, haibun and haiga have been published in other journals since. I’m also reading less of descriptive texts, dropping the first sentence if lacking the synthesis in a line like haiku. I can’t hope to fully know all I must or even write a perfect haiku but I step into its waters everyday and steep myself in its calmness, its virtue that first drew me in.

Notes from the Gean, 3:4 March 2012 pp. 61-62

March 21, 2012 Posted by | comment, haiku, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

winter trees (haiga)

winter trees

waiting on the silence

our breaths

 

(with my snap shot of Grouse Mountain, Vancouver from the lift last spring)

November 23, 2011 Posted by | haiga, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

this change of name (to celebrate Vancouver’s 125th year and my soon-to-have Canadian citizenship for One Shot Wednesday)

it is
a matter of spelling
only
this change of name

or am i fooling
the skies i look up to
the clouds
none i can name

the mountains
that shimmer
stealing in in stead
the names

of mountain ranges
facing East
among its jungles
my spirit roosts

alien snow
now smoothers
my laughter
i drift aground

is earth
unlike the sun
untouched
by sorrow?

i hear
from mourning doves
the language
of dawns

i mismatch
evening clouds
in my dreams
the chill stays

yet the sparrow
shares its songs
that seep into my sleep
lull my world

i regain my name
on Hollyburn
where a lotus by itself
on the lake

such poignancy
mirorring my loneliness
soaks the sun
as if enough

i trail the buds
lined along the Fraser’s North Arm
winding down and up
the river bed

the tide cuts a line
between my dreams and the sky
ripples catch my breathing
in rhythmic sighs

i’m scaling the breast
of Burnaby Mounains
my soul resists
its longings

i’m close to home
close to sinking
in the foam
skirting Horseshoe Bay

an eagle skims
my rhyming
my longings weave
in and out of the air

on a skein
of cherry blossoms
once only paintings on scrolls
i learn to haiku

thinking of moths
in my childhood those slivers of light
that die on the light
and fade in the morning

on my waking
i am who has always been
the city aground on my steps
whose name i can now say

even in sleep–
Vancouver

copyright (c) by Alegria Imperial 2011

Written for Vancouver’s 125th anniversary (supposedly for a poetry collection but whose deadline I missed, and also in celebration of my soon-to-be Canaadian citizenship–I’m taking my oath in a few days, after four years of my arrival as immigrant). Posted for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry, the inimitable gathering place for poets and artists. Come share your art and check out a great number of terrific lines from other poets.

July 13, 2011 Posted by | free verse, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

…the white cat’s eyes and …some truths under the sun (cat haiku for today ‘Hug Your Cat Day’)

Also for June: ‘Adopt-a-Cat’ month

Daily Haiku Selection
April 22, 2011
(Mainichi, Japan)

winter sky–
the white cat’s eyes
bluer

Alegria Imperial (Vancouver, Canada)

Dili, the inspiration for the haiku

Dili, the fluffy 3-year old male cat, inspired this haiku. He’s not mine but a friend’s. But I do feed his brother, Divo, and him when their mom or dad can’t get home on time for their supper. Divo, a gentle tabby, takes care of Dili. Both are adopted; no, Dili, was picked up from a roadside in Dildo, Newfoundland (yes, there’s such a town), meowing his way into the entrance of an inn his would-be parents had checked in.

His dad describes him as a “furry snow ball the size of his palm”. Even then, his dad noted his wide cushioned paws. They had waited until they would have had to fly back to Vancouver if anyone would come around looking for him–no one did. Wrapped in a box, Dili, on that rigorous flight ruffled the vacuum packed air with his constant whining and restlessness.

In his new home, here in Vancouver, none of that energy and compulsion to make sounds abated. He meowed into his parent’s half-dreams; they woke up from his ‘screams’. He was declared deaf by the vet. But of course, he’s all-white and blue-eyed,isn’t he? Yes, both azure blue unlike some with one eye green, hence, not deaf.

In three months after troubled sleep but alternating with delight at his crystal stare and the cotton-feel of his fur, his mom and dad walked into an Animal Shelter, where in their research seemed to have the most cared strays, and met Divo. Their mom recalls how he cuddled up to her from her very first touch. This sweet boy to this day gives his mom massages, kisses and cuddles, listening to her coo, thanking him.

Dili and Divo have grown as true brothers. Dili, an acute observer of movements–he even lip reads–takes cues from Divo. But sometimes, Divo knowing of his deafness, sometimes springs up behind Dili, which begins a mock tussle. Their bond have tightened like it were of twins–of the spirit if indeed as God’s creatures they do have.

the eyes–
some truths under the sun
in Dili’s and Divo’s

Divo, the contortionist

June 4, 2011 Posted by | background, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

my East Wind haiku (voted on Sketchbook’s kukai–Jan-Feb Vol 6 issue)

east wind—
his words bristling
on grain stalks

6th place

tremor
in the stones—
the east wind

7th place

storm clouds
flying on an east wind—
absent dawn

9th place
(This actually got none or zero votes though it is placed 9th among others as the editor liked it. I think the last line is abstract and doesn’t tie-in with the the first two lines. Perhaps ‘waiting for a hawk’ or ‘a hawk swoops down’ would have made it more concrete.)

I wrote these haiku with my being transported to the Philippines. Vancouver light on my window that morning I composed them washed the colors of trees, leaves and stones with the blankness of snow. The freeze bristled frosted twigs but in my heart, the East Wind blew a bristling steam of foreboding quite palpable at the onset of the dry and hot season (the other season of the two we have is wet) about the time of Easter, or Spring in the western hemisphere. From that memory, I wrote the haiku.

What is the East Wind?

The east wind from Wikipedia:

“An east wind is a wind that originates in the east and blows west. In Greek mythology, Eurus, the east wind, was the only wind not associated with any of the three Greek seasons, and is the only one of these four Anemoi not mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony or in the Orphic Hymns.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Garden of Paradise, it is the East Wind who takes the hero to visit the eponymous garden. In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the East Wind, like most other things dealing with the east, is viewed as a thing of evil. In Book III (which appears in The Two Towers), after Aragorn and Legolas have sung a lament for Boromir involving invocations of the other three winds, the following dialogue takes place:

“‘You left the East Wind to me,’ said Gimli, ‘but I will say naught of it.’

‘That is as it should be,” said Aragorn. ‘In Minas Tirith they endure the East Wind, but they do not ask it for tidings. …’ ”
In George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind, on the other hand, the East Wind is described as more mischievous than strictly evil; the North Wind comments, “…[O]ne does not exactly know how much to believe of what she says, for she is very naughty sometimes…”

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “His Last Bow”, published in 1917 but set in 1914, ends with Holmes addressing his assistant Doctor Watson on the eve of the First World War… The same speech was used at the end of the 1942 Basil Rathbone Holmes film Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, this time in reference to the Second World War…”

March 24, 2011 Posted by | background, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wanted: Your haiku for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival–could be you like me or the novice who won with her first and only entry

Sakura cherry blossoms

My first published haiku, which also won for me an honorable mention, has something to do with this post. The year was 2007, the second year of the Vancouver Blossom Festival (VCBF) Haiku Invitational. I had just arrived from Manila as immigrant to Vancouver and on my first visit to the Marpole Branch public library I read the haiku submission call on the bulletin board. I sent a single entry, “cherry tree/shedding petals at dusk/moths in flight”, that changed my haiku-writing life, which was then quite wobbly.

Ten years before then, cherry blossoms for me, bloom only in words—in the Philippines, the closest equivalent would be ‘kakawati’ tree that blooms in clumps on a twig, which is why we could use it to dance, honoring its glory, holding the ends of the twig in both hands, making it like an arc over our heads as we sway and twirl, and kick our heels when we raise it high to skies over a sun and its court of cotton fluffs or winged clouds.

My first cherry blossom viewing held me jaw-dropping, a stiff neck that evening from looking up in disbelief—how could it be real, the brush of pink descending as breath on eyes which cannot tell between silk and soft rain? The first blooms at Washington Square in New York and the Brooklyn Gardens washed me Oz-like, suspending my disbelief in the Wizard. But it was the street canopy in Baltimore’s Riverside St. that inspired my haiku—my near-dusk walks to the end of the street round a gazebo on an elevated band stand and back toward the sunset on Federal Hill. Magical is a paltry word.

Had I expected Vancouver to be a cherry blossom city? Who is an immigrant who doesn’t realize the place she chooses to live in can never be life in brochures, slices of scenes in the movies, even award-winning documentaries? In the spring, Vancouver skies turn into mere patches of blue through cherry pink intaglio of blooms. Women walking under street canopies of it seem prettier, men to my often-skewed eyes softer, children no longer buds but dwarf trees blooming when under the trees in a breeze wear petals on hair and cheeks.

Submission Call

This year, a novice haiku writer’s life could change, too, like me. The submission call for entries has just been released for the 6th VCBF Haiku Invitational. Anyone from any part of the world can send in haiku starting March 1. Deadline for submissions is May 31. To enter, visit http://www.vcbf.ca and follow the links. Past submissions have come from Australia, Bangladesh, Croatia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

This year’s judge will be an’ya, editor of moonset haiku journal. She resides in Oregon. Winners will be advised in the fall. The winning haiku will be published by Haiku Canada, Rice Paper, and on the VCBF website. The top haiku in five main categories (youth, B.C., Canada, United States, and International) will also appear on TransLink SkyTrains and buses all over Metro Vancouver and read in celebrity readings during the next festival in 2012.


Why a cherry blossom festival in Vancouver?

Cherry blossom viewing in this city is considered a sport. About 50 park locations have picnic sites to celebrate the blossoming trees and 23 city neighborhoods bloom with 43 different cultivars of cherry trees in washes of pinks; from a blush to a riot of pinks to pure snow white cherry blossoms–all 37,000 of them.

But cherry trees were introduced to the city only in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s from gifts presented to the Vancouver Park Board, though 500 cherry trees from the mayors of both Kobe and Yokohama for planting at the Japanese cenotaph in Stanley Park honoring Japanese Canadians who served in WWI made the most impact in reshaping the city’s landscape.

The tradition of tall, stately and long-lived shade trees dating from the 1800s gradually changed. In 1958 three hundred more cherry trees were donated by the Japanese consul, Muneo Tanabe, reported in the newspaper as “an eternal memory of good friendship between our two nations.” By the time the Park Board completed its first comprehensive street tree inventory in 1990, nearly 36 percent of the 89,000 trees on city streets were represented by trees of the Prunus genus—the flowering plum and cherry trees. Of the 479 different classifications of trees identified in the inventory, the most common species was Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’, the Kwanzan flowering cherry. (12.6 percent). Further observations on the cultivars, however, favor Akebono cherry trees in recent years.

The heart of the VCBF lies in a 22-hectare (55-acre) garden in Van Dusen Gardens, a botanical garden opened to the public in 1975. VanDusen’s collection includes 11,500 accessioned plants representing more than 7,300 taxa (plant families) and 255,000 individual plants from around the world, representing represent ecosystems that range from tropical South Africa, to the Himalayas, to the South America and the Mediterranean, across Canada’s Boreal forests and Great Plains to plants native to the Pacific Northwest.

The garden design features displays of plants in picturesque landscape settings. Specific garden areas are planted to illustrate botanical relationships, such as the Rhododendron Walk, or geographical origins, as in Sino Himalayan Garden. These areas are set amidst rolling lawns, tranquil lakes and dramatic rockwork with vistas of the mountains and Vancouver cityscape.

Sakura Days

Here, the VCBF Sakura Days Japan Fair as in years past will be held this year on April 2 and 3. As in 2009, pacifi-kana will be participating in Sakura Days, staffing a table to inform and engage, leading ginko (haiku walks) into the garden, and a reading of Haiku Invitational winners on the performance stage in the Gardens.

This year also marks Vancouver’s 125th Year hence a ‘birthday’ theme might be part of the haiku invitational.

(Also submitted for Sketchbook. From pacifi-kana announcements and backgrounder at http://www.vcbf.ca)

March 8, 2011 Posted by | culturati news/views, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

first snow (should be so past tense by now but …)

first snow
in the willow grove–
the waiting begins

First published in Sketchbook 5-6 Nov-Dec issue

…the waiting should be over. Some shoots have started to show in the mulch bed at the courtyard. Vigorous chirping trailed me on my way home the other day when it wasn’t raining; it’s been wet and grey on grey again yesterday and today. Here where there’s more rain, I miss the blinding white snow I used to skim around filigreed edges of the harbor in Baltimore. Oh, last week, a light flurry sent me grabbing for my woolen hat on my way out. I had by then put on my boots–too hot for the day it turned out. The flurries faded in an hour left frozen on grass like belated words. I should bus up to the almost all-year-snow capped mountains that frame Vancouver like Whistler but…

The haiku came to me on a walk by the ball field lined by willows in the neighborhood, not quite a willow grove, really. But I imagine it is and the bent branches looking for their reflections on the water like women obsessed with their long hair. Since their hair like the bare, dried willow twigs have lost their sheen in the ‘winter of their years’, their waiting begins perhaps for their youth to come back like spring. I don’t know–I’m making it all up. But I guess what I’m trying to say is I never really know why I write a haiku the way it is written. I still need to learn to be aware why.

February 4, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

into fog (haiku though I wish it were haiga)

Beaver Lake at Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC, Canada by Bobanny at wikicommons

into fog
smudging our thoughts–
we lose who we are

February 2, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments