August 21, 2018

Haiku Sticky #467

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


just the one red leaf, but
the future is told

August 19, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "Chipmunk and ferns" by Olive E. Whitney [1874].


sparrows keep their distance

chipmunk stands front and center:
chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp

her Greek chorus cheeps from behind
the audience of one indoor cat
chatters in frenzied excitement

August 16, 2018

Poetry Friday--Bird Challenge

Christie at Wondering and Wondering is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up for today. Two Fridays ago, in preparing for her hosting stint, she issued a call for bird poems to be posted today. I wrote a cherita, inspired by an old illustration found on the Library of Congress website, to meet the challenge. It's not a particularly happy poem, and I actually feel bad about posting it. Apples will be here soon and we'll be rushing headlong through fall and into winter. The non-migratory sparrows always break my heart during particularly harsh spells. I'm uplifted, though, by their constancy and willingness to sing all year round.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. I combined and edited this illustration, and this photo, both from the Library of Congress.


house sparrow knows

apples once ripened
fall to the ground

windows then close
on crumb-bearing boys
and comes the starving time

I posted a challenge last week for you to pick an image of an animal from the Library of Congress collection and using it as inspiration, write a poem. I will display challenge poems here next week in a virtual exhibition titled, "Surprise! A Goose." Remember to send your poem and the link to the inspiration image by next Tuesday for posting on Friday, August 24. [dianemayrATdianemayrDOTcom] You are always free to add your poem to the comments section, too. Read more about the challenge here.

August 14, 2018

Haiku Sticky #466

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


steaming manholes's summer visitors
hotfoot across the street

August 12, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

Generally I find aphids repulsive, but these red ones, against the green, made me rethink my position!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


summer garden

red aphids
are actually perfect

when one thinks
in terms of the
color wheel

August 9, 2018

Poetry Friday--Library of Congress Challenge

When I don't have a photo of my own to illustrate a poem, or if I'm in need of a subject to write on, I often turn to the Library of Congress collection of photographs. They have 14 million photographs! Currently, an exhibit curated by Anne Wilkes Tucker, is appearing at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, CA. The exhibit contains a selection of 440 LOC photos. They are projected digitally, or appear in gallery print format, for the exhibition titled, "Not an Ostrich." (Margaret Simon, if you're reading this, take a look here for the photo that inspired the exhibition title.)

For today, I've chosen a Library of Congress photo in the public domain (rights information is included on the image description page), which I've paired with a cherita.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "Geese on the farm of a French-Canadian potato farmer in Soldier Pond, Maine" by Jack Delano (1940).

The New Flock: The Riddle in the Pun

One day the chicken
jumped out of the way
of a sickening array
of hell-bent and honking,
frantic, full-feathered fowl.

"Who are they?" she shrieked.
"Answer! Answer me, Farmer!"

"My clever chick!" said Farmer.
"You ansered your own question!"

He went on to advise her,
"Don't get in a tizzy!
They only get hissy
when you stand in the
way of their supper."

Anser anser domesticus is the scientific name of the domestic goose!

I'm posting a challenge for you to visit the LOC collection of images find an animal, and use it as inspiration for a poem of your own. Perhaps the easiest way to do that is to decide on a particular animal, for example, I selected "goose," then put the name in the search box. "Goose" resulted in 287 images ("geese" returned 121, there is significant overlap). Some of the hits are photos, some are drawings, some are photos of a baseball player whose first name is Goose. For the purposes of this challenge, use whatever strikes you as being poem-worthy!

Come back on August 24 where I'll have "mounted" a virtual exhibition of participants' work. I've decided to title it, "Surprise! A Goose." Let me know in the comments if you're interested, and if so, email a link to the LOC image and include the poem by Tuesday, August 21 [dianemayrATdianemayrDOTcom]. Or, if you combine the poem with the image, send me the LOC link plus the jpg for your project. Let's do it--it'll be fun! If no one participates, it's going to be just geese poems, so please anser my challenge! Please note: I'm be traveling this week, so I may not acknowledge your email for several days.

And, if you're participating in Christie Wyman's bird challenge--do a LOC search, find a bird image, and then use your poem for both challenges! You'll kill two birds with one poem! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone is this week's Round-Up hostess!

August 7, 2018

Haiku Sticky #465

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


a simple request
honey on buttered toast
...last day

August 5, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.


trip to the library

yes, it's a cliché, but a book
extended my visit

to a mountainside
and along the harrowing
sharp edge of malevolence

August 3, 2018

Poetry Friday--Spark Postcard Exchange

July was another Spark postcard exchange. This time round, though, I didn't pick a summmer/nature theme to work from. Much of the early part of the summer was spent in outrage over a number of issues that affect the present and future of our country. I'm not one to shy away from politics in my poetry, but, if you prefer to stay away from the political, you'd best stop reading now and come back next week.

I picked the Statue of Liberty as my unifying theme and wrote and illustrated four postcards to send. The illustrations use photos and graphics in the public domain, and as you can tell, I have cropped, altered, and combined them for my purposes.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


changing conditions

it's not easy to continue
standing watch

her torch's light
scatters in the fog
her eyes no longer see

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here? We should have more people from places like Norway.

~ Donald J. Trump, January 11, 2018


Can he not see
the woman isn't
white, but green?

The copper mines
of Norway supplied
Lady Liberty's skin.

A veneer to protect
regulate and enable
a great Lady to feel.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


no safe harbor here

burgeoning lines
and chain link fences

zero tolerance means
we do no heavy lifting--
starting with lamps

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


Statue of Liberty

Her outer appearance
Her inner scaffolding
Might it only take
insatiable rat to
away her foundation?

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading will be hosting this week's Round-Up. She awaits your visit!

July 31, 2018

Haiku Sticky #464

©Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


heat wave
too long in picking out
frozen waffles

July 29, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

I took this photo in May in a wild area next to the road. I'm not sure what it is, but it sure looked like honeysuckle to me!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

July 27, 2018

Poetry Friday--Crows

I love crows. I love their size. Their majestic appearance. I even love their outspoken-ness--they're never afraid to give you a piece of their mind.

Along with rabbits, I've seen an abundance of crows this year in my small part of the world, so, today's ekphrastic cherita is about crows, punning, and a human foible--insecurity!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "A Murder of Crows" by Mildred Anne Butler.


junior high redux

crows' conversations
cease for a second

then one or two lead
off the comments until
the murder joins in

It seems I also have an abundance of crow poems in my files; here is a random sampling.


This one is a New Year's poem, "first" is a kigo--short-hand for New Year's Day.

first crow
looks like yesterday's
last crow

a cawing of crows
...the scent of snow
freshly fallen

morning dew
the back and forth
of waking crows

foggy crossroads
on the streetlight a crow
nods left...right...

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Painting by Hokusai, courtesy Library of Congress.


scrawny crow...
under every autumn leaf
a promise

Englyn (a Welsh form with lines of seven syllables):


Summer's coming and the crows
comment while the farmer sows--
sows and hoes and weeds and hoes...

Summer passes, crows still wait,
patiently anticipate
ways to tease and aggravate.

Now it's time! The ripened corn
suddenly becomes airborne!
Crows ignoring scarecrow's scorn.

Farmer acts the lunatic
trying ev'ry dirty trick.
Vengeful thoughts are really sick!

Fields and corn he can't defend.
Farmer's now around the bend.
Crows, of course, win in the end.

All poems © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I probably have a dozen more corvid inspired poems, but I'll save them for another time!

If you haven't already been there, head over to see Catherine at Reading to the Core for the Round-Up.

July 24, 2018

July 22, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

I've labeled this a senryu, but it's really more of a quip than a poem!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


pie in the sky
factory-made and
always half-baked

July 20, 2018

Poetry Friday--"Pictures of Liberty"

I'm participating in a Spark postcard exchange for July (click on the Spark label on the right to read of my past participation). I had to create four postcards to exchange with people in various locations. As it turns out, three of us are in New England and two are on the west coast.

Over the past month, I've been distracted (and distressed) by hearing of the separated immigrant families on our southern borders. It got me to thinking about the Statue of Liberty, and our nation's earlier responses to immigration. I decided to use the Statue of Liberty as my topic for the postcard exchange. (The selection of a topic is not a requirement of the exchange but is merely a way for me to corral my thoughts.)

I completed my four postcards and had a poem left over to use today. It is a bit political, so be forewarned.
Pictures of Liberty

In 1918,
18,000 servicemen
gathered to re-create
a harbor statue
in human flesh.
Liberty had to be sold
to those already free.

In 2018,
thousands of families
cross borders pursuing
a promise of liberty
in the flesh.
Liberty did not need
selling—she sold them out.

Here is the photo that inspired this particular poem:

"Human Statue of Liberty; 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Ia.; Col. Wm. Newman, commanding; Col. Rush S. Wells, directing," Mole & Thomas, photographers, courtesy Library of Congress.

The photo was taken a century ago and had been planned for use in raising money to support the U. S. in its war effort. (It turns out not to have been used after all.) The arrangement had to have been well-thought-out and well-executed. It took 18,000 officers and men to complete.

We can't identify individuals, but we can almost guarantee there were no people of color in the shot. There were certainly no women! First generation immigrants? Who knows, but I doubt many.

Today, of course, a photo would include people of color, women, and immigrants. Sad to note, though, some members of the military who joined because they were offered a path to citizenship, have been discharged recently.

The four postcards I sent will be posted here on August 3. I want to give them time to arrive at their destination before making them viewable by Poetry Friday peeps.

Heidi is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up at My Juicy Little Universe. She's also going to tell us about The Poetry Foundation's Summer Poetry Teachers Institute she attended in Chicago!

July 17, 2018

Haiku Sticky #462

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


cat and I jockey
for the best window view
squirrel antics

July 15, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


in bloom again
...the old fence

July 13, 2018

Poetry Friday--Henry David Thoreau

On July 12, 1817, New England writer, Henry David Thoreau was born. Happy 201st birthday, Henry!

For today I have an original poem written in response to one by Thoreau that appears in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, self-published in 1849. Thoreau subsequently revised the book, but it was not republished until several years after his death in 1862. The poem is found in the chapter, "Wednesday," and is untitled, but in later anthologies it appears as part of a longer poem with the name, "The Fisher's Boy." Here is the untitled poem:
My life is like a stroll upon the beach,
   As near the ocean’s edge as I can go,
My tardy steps its waves sometimes o’erreach,
   Sometimes I stay to let them overflow.

My sole employment 't is, and scrupulous care,
   To place my gains beyond the reach of tides,
Each smoother pebble, and each shell more rare,
   Which ocean kindly to my hand confides.

I have but few companions on the shore,
   They scorn the strand who sail upon the sea,
Yet oft I think the ocean they’ve sailed o’er
   Is deeper known upon the strand to me.

The middle sea contains no crimson dulse,
   Its deeper waves cast up no pearls to view,
Along the shore my hand is on its pulse,
   And I converse with many a shipwrecked crew.

Here's my response:
A Stroll upon the Beach

A vessel broken.
Its innards
of cargo and crew strewn
across the strand.

In the village, word spreads.

It is a grisly sight--
a shipwreck
with bodies battered
and bruised,

soon to be carrion.

Townsfolk with skills
of carpentry,
or, undertaking, are

Man-size boxes readied.

Those who need to
feed their children
efficiently pry nails from
cargo boxes

to spirit goods away.

Before souls of the departed
flee, I'm here
gathering dulse for my larder.
Boxes for my fire.

And, stories for safekeeping.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Thoreau was acquainted with shipwrecks having seen and written about them on Cape Cod and Long Island, NY. He traveled to Long Island in July, 1850, to view the wreck of the Elizabeth in hopes of finding the bodies of writer and editor, Margaret Fuller, and her family. The bodies of neither Fuller nor her husband were found, but that of their young son was recovered.

[Three years ago, Harvard University acquired the notes that Thoreau took at the scene of the shipwreck. I wonder if Thoreau's notes will soon be transcribed and be made available online? I'm curious to see how the actual notes compare to a work of historical fiction, Miss Fuller, by April Bernard, in which the fictional Thoreau finds a cache of Fuller's letters. Miss Fuller was published in 2012. You may be interested in reading it.]

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted today by Sylvia at Poetry for Children.

July 10, 2018

Haiku Sticky #461

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


hot July
chicken under a tree
scratches the shade

July 8, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


summer doldrums
the many finds that will
remain unfound

July 5, 2018

Poetry Friday--"Iconography"

I'm taking a break from cherita today, but not from ekphrasis. The painting below, "Icon Painters," is by a Russian artist, Yelena Polenova. It was created in 1887.

"Icon Painters" by Elena Polenova, courtesy The Athenaeum.



The icon painter leaves the workshop
and returns with a deftly carved
and painted churn. He places it in front.
"I'm blessed with many, talented children."

"So I see," says the student artist who
has come to render the icon master.

"Your eldest son is your apprentice.
Your youngest's little hands fill in.
The strong one grinds your pigments.
Your twin boys prepare the panels."

"Yes, but we need to recognize my
daughter, too," says the icon painter.

"She tends the garden. Sweeps the floors
Mends our aprons. Collects the eggs.
She milks the cow. Churns our butter.
And, cleans my brushes of their color."

"Ah, you honor the Lord with paint and gold,
the Lord honors you with treasure."

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

It is probably completely unrealistic to think such a tribute to a daughter would have happened. But, I can imagine it, which is the advantage of having poetic license! Certainly a businessman would understand the importance of a hardworking work crew.

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect will be hosting this week's Round-Up.

July 3, 2018

Haiku Sticky #460

A petit poème for today. If, after reading it, you need something a little more hopeful, scroll down the left-hand side of the page until you come to John Lewis's words. He is someone to admire. Lewis went through hell in the civil rights struggle, and, Congress, in 2018, is yet another form of hell he must endure. Still, he remains hopeful.

Yesterday I got an email from Barack Obama's Organizing for Action group. In it, President Obama says, "I believe now more than ever: Cynicism is a choice. And hope is a better choice."

It's really hard not to fall prey to cynicism and despair.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


Does despair
have a scent
a taste a sound
a feel a color?
Or is it the
loss of all senses
--of all sense?
We may soon find out.

July 1, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


June 30 march

Americans protest
family separation

one wonders why
human rights need

June 28, 2018

Poetry Friday--Ekphrasis at the Circus

I know the circus has gotten a bad rap over the last few decades, and deservedly so, if stories of animal abuse are to believed. However, the circus meant a lot to the people of the early 20th century when it provided an escape from everyday life through the promise of spectacular entertainment and exoticism. The circus was dreams and memories, and for that reason, I continue to be fascinated by it.

Today I have more ekphrastic cherita. These have been inspired by paintings with a circus theme. I'll start with a repeat appearance of a cherita I posted during Ekphrastic April.

"Two Children in Front of a Billboard for Grand Cirque" (circa 1930) by Marianne von Werefkin [1860-1938].

not enough saved...

the circus poster
seduces them again

her hand slips into her pocket
to check one more time

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Two new ones:

"Adelaide Yelving in the Circus Ring" (date unknown) by Thérèse Lessore [1884-1945].

behind the illusion

the angel balances
smiling, wings waving

no other joins her
to dance--a rubber ball
is no head of a pin

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

"The Elephant" (1922) by Alice Bailly [1872-1938].

after the circus

downing two aspirin
she heads to bed

she loves color excitement
animals music as long as
she's not in the middle of it

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

We're moving into peak vacation season, but before you go, visit Carol's Corner for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

June 26, 2018

Haiku Sticky #459

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


another "march for..."
this time desperation
precludes droll signs

I'm planning to march on Saturday in one of the nationwide #FamiliesBelongTogether protests. I hope you'll be marching, too.

June 24, 2018

Not So Happy Haiga Day

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


off to "camp"

no drawn-out

only time enough
to remove the laces from
the two-year-old's sneakers

To see a photo of a mother unlacing her child's shoes, click here and go half-way down the page. Then take a second to consider why shoelaces are required to be removed.

June 22, 2018

Poetry Friday--More Ekphrastic Cherita

My ekphrastic cherita this week were inspired by paintings of weeds! The moods of the paintings are vastly different as are the resultant cherita.

"Milkweeds" (1876) by Fidelia Bridges [1834-1923].

Asclepias in bloom

the landowner
sees a perennial weed

not the generations
that could delight his

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

"Thistles and Weeds" (1864) by Léon Bonvin [1834-1866].

the greys of winter

slowly all color disappears
from his world

he turns to the woods
to find the mosses still green
and waiting to cradle him

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

This week's Round-Up is being hosted by Michelle Kogan!

June 19, 2018

Haiku Sticky #458

I have a 2009 car, I've had no trouble with it, and thus, have not visited a dealership service department. Then comes a recall notice. Nice that a potential problem can be eliminated, for free, and that the government is actively working for my safety, however...

Yes, I will have the work done, and yes, chances are the car, being 10 years old, will soon start to fail, but there will be that little nagging feeling that in going in for "service," the service department will have conveniently arranged for me to have to go in for additional maintenance in the near future.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


recall notice--
ten years worry-free
now I have to start?

June 17, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

I won't lie--on Friday, when I got an alert on my phone that Paul Manafort was headed to jail, I smiled. He is accused of a number of arrogant crimes that led to this incarceration, but, an article on the CNN site gave me pause.

From: "Judge sends Paul Manfort to jail, pending trial"
by Katelyn Polantz
Three US marshals led Manafort out of the courtroom into the prisoner holding area immediately after the judge's ruling. He was not placed in handcuffs. Before he disappeared through the door, he turned toward his wife and supporters and gave a stilted wave.

Minutes later, a marshal returned to give his wife, Kathleen, still standing in the courtroom's front row, Manafort's wallet, belt and the burgundy tie he wore Friday.
I borrowed the words for this cherita:

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


hearing ends

he gives a stilted wave
as marshals lead him away

wallet and belt
and his burgundy tie
returned to his wife

June 15, 2018

Poetry Friday--Return of the Ekphrastic Cherita!

For the entire month of April I posted ekphrastic cherita, that is, art (the cherita, a poem) about art (a painting or drawing). I love browsing The Athenaeum in a search for works that speaks to me, and I enjoy writing the poems they inspire. Here are two that imagine a story about the painting's artist:

"Cat Lying in front of a Bouquet of Flowers" (1919) by Suzanne Valadon [1865-1938].

artist paints her cat

she keeps up
a one-way conversation

'til a plaintive
meow lets her know
it's time

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

"Self Portrait" (1909) by Susan S. Watkins [1875-1913].

painting a self-portrait

great seriousness
or a smile

her internal dialog
over which one is
the least deceitful

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Karen Edmisten* will be playing hostess with the mostess for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

June 12, 2018

Haiku Sticky #457

I declare 2018 the "Year of the Baby Bunny." I can't tell you how many of them I've seen this year in my yard. On Sunday, I saw two little ear tops above the grass and found they were attached to a very small bunny. It made me smile!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


three-inch ears
on a six-inch body--
grass growing, too

June 10, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


spring weeding

which bit of green
is destined a flower?

someone once told her
gardening is relaxing
...she now knows better

June 8, 2018

Poetry Friday--T. C. Cannon

The PEM (Peabody Essex Museum) currently is showing work by native-American artist and poet, T. C. Cannon. Cannon fought in the Vietnam War; he died in a traffic accident at the age of 31.

In the photo below, the PEM explains the focus of the work and it stunned me to read this opening:
It wasn't until three months after his death in 1978 that it became legal for Native people to once again openly practice their religions.

Here are a few examples of his art. Poems were also included.

Being young myself during the Vietnam War, and aging through several subsequent wars, I felt compelled to respond to Cannon's words with a cherita:

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


youth pose questions

to which they suspect
the answers

elders by a refusal
to hear what is asked
provide confirmation

If you'd like to see the exhibit, you'd better hurry--it closes Sunday, June 10.

Kiesha is hosting the Round-Up today at Whispers from the Ridge.

June 5, 2018

Haiku Sticky #456

How many of you grew up with bags of red pistachios? Nowadays, our pistachios come from California and the processing is done so efficiently the shells don't get splotchy. In the olden days, pistachios were imported and in order to make them more appealing, the splotchy shells were dyed a more uniform red. We all considered the dye, and the subsequent pink lips and pink fingers to be half the fun!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


salty pink lips
stained fingertips
piles of shells
summer hours spent with
a bag of pistachios

June 3, 2018

Happy Haiga Day!

This photo was taken back in late February. It was a beautiful almost-spring day, and then we got three killer nor'easters complete with snow!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


sun and moon...
beyond smudged glass
a clarity

June 1, 2018

Poetry Friday--Mr. Twain

I started this in response to Michelle Barnes' Today's Little Ditty challenge for May from Julie Fogliano: "stare out the window and write what you see." When I looked out the window over a period of a few days, all I noticed was the variation in the weather. That led me to look for the expression that I always assumed to be about New England weather, "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute." In my research I found a great quote from Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens):
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours.

--Mark Twain from "New England Weather," a speech delivered to the New England Society, December 22, 1876
I was going to use it to write a haibun, which is a prose piece that includes haiku. But, it turned into a little rhyming ditty.

The photo I found to illustrate my ditty, has Mark Twain looking out a window in 1903, possibly in New England on a spring day.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.


In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours
. --Mark Twain from a speech delivered to the New England Society, December 22, 1876

Mr. Twain Exaggerates
...Only Slightly

A wisp of mares' tails.
A bank of solid gray.

A breeze to tickle the hairs on an arm.
A wind to make flagpoles sway.

A mist to burn off in sunlight.
A torrent to wash frogs away.

A drip of sweat, a shiver of cold.
An average New England spring day.

I ended up writing a cherita to post on Michelle's TLD May padlet, because I actually did see something outside my back window (three rabbits). Michelle featured it on Wednesday (thanks, Michelle).

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Buffy's Blog.

May 29, 2018

Haiku Sticky #455

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


you have to wonder
how a man without a heart
can hold the reins