December 30, 2012

December 28, 2012

Poetry Friday--2013 Nengajyou

Happy New Year! Once again I'm participating in a New Year's haiku postcard exchange, a nengajyou in Japan where the custom originated. (See past posts here, here, and here.)

I've already received about a dozen New Year's greetings and I expect more will be trickling in over the next few weeks. This year I sent about three dozen cards to 16 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, India, Ireland, the Sultanate of Oman, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

The year 2013 is the year of the snake, so I've included a photo with not one, but two snakes! The photo is from 1927 and comes courtesy of Library of Congress. To learn about the characteristics of the zodiac symbol, the snake, click here.

The text on the postcard did not reproduce well on the blog, so if you're having trouble reading it, here is the haiku:
first show and tell--
"I told Santa I love
surprises!"
"First" is a kigo, that is, a word that is used to imply a season or time, in this case, the new year, without coming right out and saying it! For example, if I wrote "pumpkin," you would automatically know it was fall. "Snow" = winter. "Robin" = spring. "Fireworks" = summer (for the 4th of July in the U.S., in another country, fireworks might imply something else).

The last Poetry Friday Round-Up of 2012 is being held at Carol's Corner. Have a safe and happy New Year!

December 25, 2012

Haiku Sticky #181

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

December 23, 2012

December 21, 2012

Poetry Friday--A Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is a marking of the time when light will begin to return, little by little, leading to its culmination in the summer solstice. For now, in this mid-winter, celebrants light the darkness with fire and candles.

December 13, as you may know, is St. Lucia's Day (Luciadagen) in Sweden, Italy (Lucia was born in Sicily), and other countries. Before the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the date of the winter solstice also fell on December 13. It is no coincidence, therefore, that St. Lucia's Day is a celebration marked by lights. It is an example of how Pagan and Christian meld.

The name Lucia (or Lucy) means light or lucidity. St. Lucia (circa 283-304 AD) became the patron saint of those with eye problems and also of glassworkers. The story arose that Lucia, who was blinded, had her sight restored by her faith in God. (Depending on which story, she either plucked her eyes out herself to thwart an unwanted suitor, or, she was tortured by the authorities after a spurned suitor denounced her as a Christian.)

The celebration of St. Lucia's Day in Sweden traditionally begins with a daughter waking her parents and serving them coffee and saffron buns (saffraan broodjes) for breakfast. This child (Lussibrud, which means "Lucy bride") wears a white dress with a red sash, and a crown of greens and lit candles.
Lussibrud

Trembling
with concentration
she carries her head
as if the candles were
not battery powered.

Innocent
but no martyr, she
will have her share
of sweet buns before
catching the bus.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Carl Larsson, "The Feast of St. Lucy on 13th December, 1916."

As a result of the events of last Friday, I found St. Lucy in my thoughts and wrote this, obviously not in the same spirit as the poem above:
The Day After St. Lucy's Day, 2012

Lucy, your holy-day passed
quietly, unnoticed by most,
and the day that followed
put an end to any thoughts
of the forthcoming light.

A crushing, unrelenting
hopelessness fell upon us,
like it must have come upon
you as the judge ordered your
eyes ripped from your skull.

Who was there for you, Lucy,
enduring your screams? Don't
tell me your God! It was
your mother--only she could
look in your face and not recoil.

Your blindness is your faith.
Your faith is your blindness.
If our vision is to be restored
we will need more than light--
we'll need a mother's selflessness.

You're free to pray, Lucy,
but we have mothering to do.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

18th century oil painting, probably Peruvian, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Heidi is hosting a special celebration of the solstice and rounding up all the Poetry Friday posts. Visit her at My Juicy Little Universe.




December 18, 2012

December 16, 2012

December 14, 2012

Poetry Friday--Spark

I recently completed my fourth Spark challenge. (I wrote about past experiences here and here.) This time I was paired with poet Karen Jakubowski.

This is the piece I sent to Karen as inspiration:

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I had created the piece using my photo of a flowering vine, an out-of-copyright
illustration of the sun, and some words taken from a poem by Samuel Cobb, which I found in an old book (1707) on the Project Gutenberg site.

Karen responded to the piece with this poem:
Fleur-De-Lis
by Karen Jakubowski

Monday morning arrives
Scorched spark of yellow hope
Rolls in like a dime-store sun
Sultry eyes spill ocher beams

Arms laden with freesia,
Greens and tangled brambles
Snagged at Chelsea market
Bundled fragrance fills the air

Nestles week-old stargazers
Wilted lilies in a paper grave
Sense soother finesses fresh blooms
Whimsical arrangement remains unfinished

© Karen Jakubowski, all rights reserved.

I love Karen's choice of words--scorched spark, dime-store sun, tangled brambles, bundled fragrance, finesses fresh blooms. She did a fine job I think!

It's fun to be challenged to create. I'm not an artist, but I participate as an artist in the Spark challenges because there always seem to be more writers than artists or musicians. The challenge, therefore, is even more of a trial as it forces me out of my regular comfort zone--writing.

I dabble in photo manipulation through the wonders of free software. I started with Picnik back in 2010, but after Google purchased it, it was closed down. PicMonkey is a nice replacement. It keeps adding features, which is great, because there were some on Picnik that I really liked and I'm hoping PicMonkey will one day offer. PicMonkey is currently free, so if you want to try your hand at photo editing, now's the time to do it.

Since the Spark challenge is an exchange, Karen sent me an inspiration piece, too. Karen's inspiration piece, and my response to it, can be found here.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Jama's Alphabet Soup where there's always something cooking!

December 11, 2012

December 9, 2012

December 7, 2012

Poetry Friday--A Book of Fireside Poems


One of the older books on my shelf is A Book of Fireside Poems, compiled and edited by William R. Bowlin, Albert Whitman & Co., 1937. I love flipping through its pages because the variety of poems is wide. Mr. Bowlin sneaks in a lot of commentary and a little bit of naughtiness and humor, too! Here are a few examples of the latter:
How Very Modern
by Thomas Moore (1779-1853)

"Come, come," said Tom's father, "at your time of life,
   There's no longer excuse for thus playing the rake--
It is time you should think, boy, of taking a wife."
   "Why, so it is father--whose wife shall I take?"


A Dollar Down
by Anonymous

I bought a dress
On the instalment plan;
The reason, of course,
To please a man.
The dress is worn,
The man is gone;
But the blamed instalments
Go on and on.


A Large Edition
by Anonymous

"May I print a kiss on your lips?" I asked;
   She nodded her sweet permission;
So we went to press, and I rather guess
   We printed a large edition.
As much as I enjoy A Book of Fireside Poems, it is a product of its time--racism and sexism run throughout--some of it is downright cringe-worthy.


Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by the multi-talented Robyn Hood Black.

December 4, 2012

December 2, 2012