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?

Dare to Choose #TankaTuesday

Pixabay image by Pretty Sleepy

Dare to Choose

clockwork

doorways beckon

gears and pistons fastened

we seek a master’s silver key

to click

 

unlock

we brave of heart

silence snaps with a snick

cogs whir and teeth weave as hands tick

time twirls

 

in loops

knobs thump, rings spin

through creamy clouds of steam

oil and grease, wheels whirl, and rust flakes

doors break

 

open

to infinite

portals, countless choices

through keyholes we peek before doors 

creak closed

 

defy

the gyrations

clockwork machinations

we wield the ancient key and dare

to choose

***

I had the pleasure of choosing the image for February’s Ekphrastic prompt, and then struggled mightily to write for it! This poem is a Crown Cinquain, five stanzas, each with syllable count of 2/4/6/8/2.

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

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!

Hawaiian Haiku

While visiting my brother in Hawaii, I couldn’t resist a little haiku based on the beautiful island of Oahu.

aquamarine sea

wind-stippled sparkling silver

laps on silken sand

tricksters somersault

sailboards soar with wind-borne kites

breathtaking in flight

We visited the memorial at Pearl Harbor

sacred burial

Battleship Arizona

beneath azure waves

Hawaiian sunsets

eruptions of vermillion

cauldrons in the sky

We hiked to the sacred ruins of the queen’s summer palace through a bamboo forest.

ruins in the jungle

bamboo clatters in the breeze

musical pathways

Thanks for taking a poetic journey with me.

And this is what I arrived home to:

My backyard.

everywhere we roam

a precious world awaits us

where beauty abounds

NaNoWriMo Update:

NaNoWriMo, (or as my husband calls it, Ninny Rhino) is going well. I’m ahead of schedule, though that probably won’t last. To everyone who’s writing up a storm… keep going! To everyone else, take advantage of the month of light blogging, enjoy, and relax!

Winter Calls

pixabay image

Winter Calls

We flow into autumn

from summer’s embrace

when twilight hastens and the sun rides low

ripening abundance

a gilded farewell

Quilted paths of crimson

through colors we roam

mugs of cloved cider and a cinnamon moon

our pumpkin’s grin candled

memories loosen

When scents of woodsmoke curl

on crisp, crackling morns

will you weave me a shawl from skeins of soft wool

hold me warm by the fire

for my winter calls

*

This poem is a double ennead – a syllabic form consisting of three stanzas of 33 syllables in a 6/5/11/6/5 pattern for a total off 99 syllables. The challenge is hosted by Colleen Chesebro over at Carrot Ranch. It runs once a month and I invite you to check it out. Colleen’s prompt this month was “Autumn” and she encouraged us to use our senses. Happy Writing.

Dark Angel

Pixabay image

*

smoky kisses linger
in a fool’s wild heart
prisoner of the dark angel’s velvet smile
devoured by haunted lips
her dance of desire

*

This poem was written in response to Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge No. 7 at Carrot Ranch. We were instructed to use the Magnetic Poetry Oracle and write one stanza with syllables 6/5/11/6/5.

Unknowable: #TankaTuesday

Image Credit: Kerfe Roig

This poem is my attempt at a crapsey cinquain for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday. It’s inspired by Kerfe’s visual art above.

~

Unknowable

starlight

stitched in patterns

weaves a vast universe

deciphering the mystical

with faith

~

I’m on the road, hiking around here:

File:Shasta At Night (258050167).jpeg
Mount Shasta. Credit: Dheera Venkatraman, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, I may be a bit delayed with comments and visits. But I’ll catch up. Thanks for stopping by!

May Book Reviews

Summer is Coming (or Winter)! Time for some reading!

Summer is always a busy time of year here in the Pacific Northwest. The rain stops and we all spill outside. My husband and I named our deck “vacation.” So every afternoon we go outside on “vacation” to read.

May book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of a lot of poetry, two installments of a serial fantasy, a fallen angel fantasy, a thriller, and a prequel to a new mystery. I hope you enjoy them.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Word Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen Chesebro

This book is a must-have for writers of syllabic poetry. Chesebro has the experience and credentials to have crafted this easy to follow and detailed look at twelve forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry, as well as their variations. Styles range from the well-known haiku and tanka to the less familiar gogyohka and etheree. Though written for poets beginning their exploration of these beautiful forms, I learned quite a lot (and I’ve been writing several of the forms for years).

Chesebro’s explanations not only include the technical aspects of each poetic form, but a quick history, the style’s creative intent, and tips for finding inspiration and writing. These aspects of each poetic form are conveyed in a concise manner, and each section is followed by examples of her poetry and the poetry of authors I’ve enjoyed for years. The poems not only illustrate the preceding lesson but are beautiful in their own right.

The quality of this book and its citations make it useful as a “text book” on the craft of writing syllabic poetry, appropriate for academic settings. Chesebro’s conversational style, easy to understand explanations, and poetic selections also make it accessible to a wide range of learners. The book’s format lends itself to lesson-planning for young poets.

Highly recommended to poets who are just starting out or who’ve been writing for years. An excellent learning tool filled with wonderful examples of the forms.

*****

The Vanished Boy by Harmony Kent

 I read this book in two sittings. I even listened to it on my phone while working out to Jane Fonda. I couldn’t put it down. What parent hasn’t had those moments of panic when a child doesn’t call, or shows up late, or wanders off? For Carole, that scare becomes a nightmare as her son Jayden vanishes without a trace.

The first 75% of the book follows Carole as she desperately seeks clues. I was riveted to her every move, including the realistic struggle of tracking her son through social media, with all the unhelpful information and hurtful comments that come with it. The author did a great job with Carole’s navigation through the technical aspects. Her resourcefulness felt authentic as did her unraveling of the clues—even as she’s emotionally falling apart.

The story is told in Carole’s tight pov until the last quarter of the book when several other characters share their experiences in their own points of view and in varying formats: flashback-style narratives, diary entries, and an interview. This is where the details of the events surrounding Jayden’s disappearance come to life. I would have liked the story to continue with Carole, but the pov of the perpetrator was worth the diversion.

The pacing is desperate until the wrap up at the end. The plot holds together well, and there are some surprises that I didn’t see coming. A great read for fans of fast-paced thrillers.

*****

Crossroads (Winds of Love): Poetry and Prose, by Jude Kirya Itakali

I enjoyed Jude Itakali’s debut poetry book. This is no ordinary collection of poems about love. Instead, Itakali’s poems tell a story about the journey of love, beginning with a prologue and progressing through three Parts. Part 1: Longing and searching. Part 2: Intimacy and Lust, and Heartbreak and its horrors, and Part 3: The other side of love, and New beginnings. The structure intrigued me as well as how he describes some of the poetry as short stories. The styles range from rhyming sonnets to free form verse to a number of syllabic forms including haiku, tanka, senryu, and nonet.

Personally, I agree that love is a journey with parts (or stages), and it was interesting to see the poems divided this way, as well as to follow the emotional journey with the author. A favorite from the section on longing:

Hope

Sing me to sleep
Nightingale of sorrow
Soothe my lonely heart
Cool breeze of twilight
Let the robin trill in the dawn
And bring my soul hope
Let the first rays of sunrise
Beam upon the One
With whom I’ll spend, my last days.

*****

Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Book 2) by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Son of the Serpent is Book 2 of the Fantasy Angels series, and the story of the fallen angels shifts from Lilith, the instigator behind the angels’ banishment, to Dracul, the son she bore on Earth with Satan. Where Book 1 includes a large cast of pov characters, I enjoyed the narrower focus on Dracul. That said, if you enjoyed Lilith in the first book, she’s still in the picture and has some chapters of her own.

Dracul’s goal in the story is to find his mother, learn why she tried to murder him, and then kill her. Lilith’s goal is to find her perfect mate and rule a world corrupted by her evil. While she’s the epitome of despicable, Dracul is nuanced. Despite his propensity to drink blood and murder, he is full of regret and turmoil and desires redemption and love. I enjoyed the inner conflict and his emotional volatility.

The author weaves the “quest” plot into encounters with biblical characters, places, and events including Noah and the flood, Lot, baby Moses, and Sodom and Gomorrah, to name a few. I’m not especially familiar with the bible, but I recognized elements of the stories, and followed easily. Like the bible, there is rape, evil, and plenty of graphic violence.

The writing and dialog seemed formal, which gave it an authentic biblical feel. I enjoyed that aspect, though the narrative style created a bit of distance from the characters. Pacing was good, and Dracul’s emotional rollercoaster was compelling. He’s a great character, and I look forward to more of his story as the focus shifts in Book 3 to the angel Gadreel.

Recommended to readers who enjoy biblical spin offs, fantasy, fallen angels, and stories of good versus evil.

*****

House of Sorrow: Legends of Madeira by Joan Hall

Ruth lives alone in an old Victorian home. For her whole life she hasn’t believed in luck of any sort. She’s not superstitious, but there are some coincidences that leave her wondering. House of Sorrow is a look at her life, the relationships she develops, her volunteer work, and the newsworthy events of the 1960s including the moon landing and the Kennedy assassinations. Despite gentle pressure from her concerned nephew to move into assisted living, Ruth refuses to sell her home, and only she knows why.

This novella reads at a steady pace. The plot unfolds subtly, and the reveal doesn’t come with a big splash. This story is a prequel to a series, and from that perspective, it works great to set the stage. The length of the read is perfect (about 66 pages, plus back matter which includes the first chapter in the continuing series).

The details of the time are well done as is the setting, and it’s easy to get a feel for the house, neighborhood, and town. I found the characters thoroughly believable and distinct, and the unfolding of Ruth’s life is relatable. There aren’t any villains beyond the mystery surrounding the house, and I would like to learn more about the letter she found in an old chest, a letter that changed her life. Recommended for readers of mysteries, especially as a prequel to the following series.

*****

Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D. L. Finn

Finn offers a generous supply of poetry to while away the hours. Part One of this collection focuses on the author’s love of nature and her peaceful moments of reflection when enjoying the world outside. It includes a number of selections based on motorcycle roadtrips through sunshine and beautiful scenery. Part Two is entitled Seasons of the Soul and focuses on a wide range of personal emotions from dark to light, including feelings of loss, anxiety, yearning, self-discovery, and love.

As a whole, the tone of the collection is positive with an emphasis on self-awareness, gratefulness, respect, and personal growth. A lovely book for readers who especially enjoy uncomplicated, sincere, and uplifting poetry. One of the author’s nature poems that I enjoyed:

Waves

The waves glide smoothly on top
Of the salty surface, proudly…
Blending against the azure
Until they merge together profoundly.

Their roar precedes them…
As they hit land—this is where it ends…
They are positive, but they are wrong…
That was only their birth, now the journey begins.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 4, The Old Road by Teagan Geneviene

I read journey 4 on the heels of 3. It was fun reading them back to back, though I’m becoming used to the installments and look forward to them each month. In this episode, the danger to Emlyn and the Deae Matras increases since the brethren haven’t given up the hunt. This installment gives the reader a deep look into Boabhan, a member with some remarkable abilities, and a familiar face joins the group.

The writing continues to engage me, and I like the increased action now that I have a good feel for most of the characters. They’re distinct and well rounded. The story moves along at a good pace with lovely descriptions and details about this world. I have no idea where it’s going, so I look forward to starting Journey 5.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls by Teagan Geneviene

I think this was my favorite installment of the Dead of Winter (serial) Journeys so far. The backstory of the characters and world is taking less text now that I’ve come to know them, and the pace of the story continues to pick up. The dead are starting to make their presence known, the Un’Nafians are still in pursuit of Emlyn, and she’s gradually revealing her unusual skill to the Deae Matras.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of this journey and the way Geneviene gave glimpses into a variety of random characters lives as the dead came calling. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, an effective one as I’m eager to know what happened! Readers interested in the story, should begin with the first journey. Recommended to fans of epic fantasy.

*****

Happy Reading!