Enter the Sacred #TankaTuesday

Sunlight filters through tidal barriers of air and water where animals bloom from salty rocks with the permanence of plants, and gardens wear the guise of animals in this place where swimming is soaring from the edges of canyons, hiding in coral caverns of this wondrously alien world, secretive, and brimming with creatures, some tempered by timidness, others leaping and diving from blue to blue.

enter the sacred

domain of eels and turtles

world beneath our world

taught by schools of parrotfish

to touch a dolphin’s wild joy

 

***

Denise Finn chose the wonderful prompt for this Ekphrastic challenge (poetry based on a visual image). If you click on her name, you can read her entry. As a scuba diver, I’m entranced by the underwater world.

My poem is called a “tanka prose,” a bit of prose followed by a tanka with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7.

The weekly #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry challenge is the brainstorm of Colleen at Wordcraft Poetry. Think about joining in. It’s great fun.

Children Forget

Title: Russian Dancers
Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Date: 1899 via https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/459097

Children Forget

women dance their prayers

crowned in wreaths of wild color

in whirling skirts of flowers

arms entwined with arms

else breaking hearts bleed red streams

and children forget

love exists and joy endures

the dark whims of violence

nightmare days of warring men

**

The #TankaTuesday challenge this week explores Ekphrastic poetry inspired by visual art. The artwork was chosen by Colleen from WordCraft Poetry and poet and blogger Selma Martin. Their selection relies heavily on current events, however they wanted to be clear that their choice “is not a celebration of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and they both “support Ukraine in its efforts to maintain its sovereignty.”

This poem is a syllabic form called a chōka with syllable counts of 5-7-7-5-7-5-7-7-7.

I chose to write about women as the bearers of hope, the guardians of children, and the protectors of joy and love during the dark days of war. (I know countless men share these qualities too).

Man in Control: Flash Fiction

Pixabay image

Brandon donned his latest acquisition—a  genuine silk suit. The industrious little silkworms bordered on extinct, and he finally ranked among the international elite who could afford their cocoons. His was new money, thanks to polished attorneys and creative accountants, both armed with tarnished ethics. 

He’d given himself two hours to make the one-hour trip from his penthouse to the corporate highrise across the gorge—one of a host of towers. And not the tallest. But he was only thirty-five, and the world was his chessboard, the match a move away from mate. In a few hours, a significant portion of the conglomerate’s assets would fall under his control.

He slipped into the leather recliner of his midnight-blue slider and tossed his briefcase on the seat beside him. “Headquarters. Skip the traffic and take the flyover.”

The slider’s cyber-system hummed to life. “Flyover not recommended.”

“Heavy traffic?”

“No traffic detected.”

Brandon mugged a face. “Then take the flyover.”

“Flyover not recommended.”

“Why not?”

“Flyover not recommended.”

“Override.” Brandon detached the console and typed his passcode, pleased to finally use the feature. He liked the idea of control, driving the slider instead of the slider driving him. The upgrade had cost him a small fortune. It would pay for itself that morning.

As the vehicle glided forward, Brandon closed his eyes and relaxed his shoulders. The slider veered from the congested rails onto the flyover, cruising into the pre-dawn darkness.

At the peak over the gorge, the slider decelerated and stopped. Brandon glanced out the window at the black depths below. Sunrise would soon carve sharp shadows across the cliffs and turn the river into molten gold.  “Proceed.”

“Not recommended.”

“Overide.” He typed in the code.

“Not recommended.”

“God damn it. Override.” He stabbed the console and received the same reply. After a quick check of his watch, he peered into the darkness ahead. “Is there a traffic problem?”

“No traffic detected.”

“What the hell? How long to back up and take the other route?”

“Estimated time three hours.”

Brandon barked a curse. He leaned forward and rubbed his hands together, changing tactics. “Override slider functions.”

“Not recommended.”

“Override braking system.”

“Not recommended.”

“Okay, how about override acceleration?”

“Not recommended.”

Brandon’s fist slammed onto the console, and the glass screen cracked. He tossed the damaged hardware onto the passenger seat. There was no point. His fate was sealed. He’d lost out on the biggest deal of his life.

“Cyber system impaired, reverting to manual overrides.”

“Ha!” Brandon checked the time. He’d make it if he flew. With the brake released, he pressed forward on the throttle. The slider responded, accelerated. With a laugh, he opened her up, and the bitch roared like a beast with a taste for speed.

The machine screamed down the other side of the flyover, lurched sideways on a damaged span of rail, and leaped into the sky. The sunrise blinded him as the slider plummeted, its throttle clutched in his white-knuckled hands. The golden river smashed the windshield into his face, his life, in the end, beyond his control.

***

destiny

disavowed

underlings deal and grasp

gold with white-knuckled fists

rapt in night’s deceptive dreams they fly

eyes blinded by a distant sunrise

snared by reckless desire

seconds gained and years lost

illusions

of control

***

It’s been a long time since I shared a flash story. I hope you enjoyed it.

I combined it with a syllabic poem in response to Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday Wordcraft Challenge. Her challenge was to make up our own syllabic form! Well, that was fun. The one above has syllables 3/3/6/6/9/9/6/6/3/3. I named it a Distillate because it’s a distillation of a larger story. My guess is that every story’s theme can be captured in a poem, no matter how large the book. What do you think?

A Learned Girl #TankaTuesday

The Crystal Ball painted by John William Waterhouse

(A short break in the TBR Challenge reblogs for a little poetry)

A Learned Girl

She is fortunate to read at all. Her slender fingers stray from the pages, unblemished but for a random papercut. Beyond her window, other women toil until their skin toughens into leather, and raw knuckles wear down to bones. Their spines crack beneath the weight of necessity, poor lots destined from the day they were born. She is privileged. This she knows. Granted by happenstance her wish to learn the arts of anatomy and history and politics. To peruse through pages of poetry and philosophy, to dip her quill and tally accounts. She will excel in the learned world of power. But she is still a girl.

studies surrender

lost in red velvet daydreams

murmurs of passion

love’s silk breath blushes her cheeks

wishes in a crystal ball

*

Thank you to Colleen over at Wordcraft Poetry for the lovely image to use as an prompt for this week’s Ekphrastic poetry. Ekphrastic poems respond to a piece of art. I went with a tanka prose poem. It has one paragraph and one tanka with 5/7/5/7/7 syllables. 

The Lady with Too Many Books

In response to the TBR challenge, here’s a totally delightful poem from Kay Castenada. I giggled the entire way through. Enjoy.

***

The Lady With Too Many Books

There once was a lady who read and read

anything with words to her family’s dread,

memoirs love stories spies cops and killers

kings queens and handsome prince thrillers.

Books on the floor the bed the tables

up to the attic the rafters the gables

Libraries  yard sales airports vacations

all you can carry store liquidations.

Her family, her kids, her friends got worried,

that look in her eyes and off she hurried…

(Click here to continue reading at Kay’s Bookplaces)

Writing Challenge – The TBR Pile

pixabay compilation

I don’t know anyone who owns a Kindle (or other ebook reader) and isn’t buried in books. We groan as we add more to the stack… then laugh about it and buy more! That’s my situation anyway.

I thought it would be fun to start 2022 with a writing challenge:

Write a story or poem about your TBR pile.

If you want to play, here’s how it works:

  • Deadline is January 23rd
  • Post the story or poem on your blog
  • Link back to this post or leave your link in the comments below
  • Keep it family friendly
  • I will reblog as many of the entries as I can through the end of the January
  • I’ll close comments here, so readers will head your way to comment.
  • In early February, I’ll post a round-up with links.
  • You may use the (attribution free) pixabay image above if you want to
  • And most of all, Have Fun!

Happy Writing and Reading!

The Terrible Christmas Poetry Contest Reunion!

Chelsea Owens – a wonderfully entertaining blogger – used to run a weekly Terrible Poetry Contest that was laugh-out-loud funny. The competition is sadly defunct, but she’s hosting a reunion!

The prompt for the reunion is a Christmas Song Parody. It must be Terrible and it must Rhyme. Stop by Chelsea’s to get the details if you want to partake or laugh at some terrible creations.

This is my last post of 2021, and I leave you with my terrible Christmas song:

Sale! The Yearly Christmas Call

(Sung to the tune of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)

Sale! The yearly Christmas call
Shoppers flocking to the mall
Carts careen through crowded aisles
Cash and credit reconciled

Frantic all ye lists are waving
Budgets set already caving
Wrap those presents for the tree
Run out of tape, oh woe is me
Wrap those presents for the tree
I need tape, oh woe is me

Feed the crew from out of town
Baking cookies past sundown
Table’s set and goose is done
Spilled the gravy, so much fun

Dinner’s gone in seconds flat
Cooked all day and barely sat
Washing dishes like a maid
Boy, I wish my job was paid
Scrubbing dishes like a maid
How I wish this job was paid

Football’s on, the offense crouched
Husband’s slouched upon the couch
Cat’s in the tree, and globes are smashed
Kids are bored, the house is trashed

Hail the end of Christmas Day
When the kindred drive away
Flip the cap and swig a beer
Pooped out from another year
Take a nap and get in gear
New Year’s Eve is almost here.

Solstice: #Tanka Tuesday

pixabay image

Solstice

Winter dawns, heralded by dreary skies and the sun’s retreat. Wind-whipped rain blusters, casting free the remnants of autumn’s crinkled leaves. Woodland creatures burrow into the roots of things, latent, enduring, and twinkling colors gleam in frost-rimmed windows, a warm false-light to see us through the darkness. Oh, do not despair during these days of dying, for the magic of this wise world welcomes the first day of winter with the return of light.

mornings by moonglow

shadows hushed in shades of blue

twilit afternoons

winter’s darkness shrouds the day

while solstice promises spring

***

This tanka prose is in response to Colleen’s #TankaTuesday challenge. A “tanka prose” is a piece of prose followed by a tanka with syllable count 5/7/5/7/7. For inspiration, she prompted us to write about any festival or tradition we celebrate during the month of December. Happy Solstice!

Eclipsed

pixabay

Gabriela Marie Milton, poet and author of the best-selling book Woman: Splendor and Sorrow, hosted a poetry competition that concluded a few days ago. She challenged us to write a poem inspired by one from her book.

I chose her poem “The Moon and I” and wrote about the phases of a woman’s life: child, lover, wife, mother, and wise-woman/crone. The feminine connection to the moon is deep and abiding and threads through generations of time.

My poem, Eclipsed, won third place in the competition, and I couldn’t be more grateful or honored. A link to Gabriela’s book is below, as well as links to the winning poems. I hope you take a moment and enjoy some inspired poetry.

Eclipsed

The moon and I trade glances beneath the light of ages
reflections of our phases, we traverse boundaries of shadow
the birth and death of stars adorns our voyage
my course uncharted on a shoreless sea.

She is the sand-dollar storyteller of sirens and undertows
hidden caves beneath blooms of coral, troves of stolen gold
a moon-faced child unblemished by the salt of tears she weaves
tales of faithfulness sung to the sea’s rhythmic strum.

A seductress, she trades in the caress of madness and liquid kisses
when a timorous heart flares and passion burns by torchlight
skin and wings consumed, I surrender to the mariner’s lure
drown in the tide’s curling crush and gull’s lonesome cry.

She is the gibbous years, molding castles of compromise
sand towers dripping through faults in cupped hands
I comb the half-moon beach for luminous abalone
craft a chime of common jingle shells, all that I find.

She is the windborne balloon of my daughter’s dream awakening
a boy fishes upon the crescent of her smile
sea-smoothed glass tumbles at their feet for sorting, for choosing
for all my devotion, iron ships founder like paper-sailed toys.

She whispers a harmony of waxing and waning
an old crone’s serenade in her waves’ refrain
when sea thrift and violets yield petals to sheer bluffs
she chants from the conch cupped to my ear:

You are the nautilus spinning outward
eternal feminine on a string of pearls
iridescent ’til the sun succumbs to midnight deep
when a silken wind sweeps over lunar dunes
erasing your footprints
rolls you into darkness
eclipsed.

***

#1 Bestselling New Poetry Collection by Gabriela Marie Milton

Brian Geiger, editor of Vita Brevis Press: “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow…is an arabesque of womanhood, depicting the broad strokes and finer details of love, identity, and femininity. With vibrant imagery and fresh ideas, Milton’s poetry and prose explore these topics with passion and sincerity. There’s something here for all readers.”

***

To read the poems of the winners click Here.

Congrats to:

First Place – Virginia Mateias

Second Place – Ingrid Wilson and Eric Daniel Clarke

Third place – Timothy Price and D. Wallace Peach

To read the poems of the Honorable Mentions click Here.

Congrats to:

Joni Caggiano, Cindy Georgakas, Jeff Flesch, Karima Hoisan, and Carrie Yang