Featuring cherita!

September 15, 2017

Poetry Friday--Response to a Response

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

The above was my art response to a poem by Rebecca Smolen in the recent SPARK! 34 challenge. I've written about the challenges before, which are the brainchild of the talented Amy Souza. (Amy is an artist, writes, edits, and also manages the quarterly SPARK! challenges as well as a quarterly postcard challenge.) You can read Rebecca's poem, "Van Gogh Could See It," here.

As you all know, Van Gogh was a prolific artist, so I was able to find a number of self-portraits to choose from for my response piece. And, there is the painting, "The Starry Night," as well as a drawing of "Starry Night," accessible. All of Van Gogh's work is in the public domain, so I felt free to use and adapt it.

I almost never do an art piece without words in it, and for the SPARK challenges I generally use a quote to add to the piece.

Van Gogh was a letter writer and his letters have been translated and are available online. I spent a good part of a day just reading randomly through his letters. But, since there was a mention of warships in Rebecca's poem, I decided to look for a mention of boats. The quote I found is taken from a letter to Emile Bernard circa July 17, 1888.

When I finished I thought about how relevant the quote is to contemporary America, and so, I wrote a response to my SPARK response. If you've read any of my recent posts you'll remember how I've become enamored of the cherita form (a short poem of six lines total, which tells a story), and for my response I wrote a cherita sequence. I hope that each cherita can be read independently of the sequence and tell its own tale.
Shark Attack! The Story Behind the Headline

on the monkey bars

two smart-alecky boys
taunt and egg each other on

never coming to blows
one will eventually blink
and walk away...

on the lake

while drifting they watch,
each in their own little boat

they breathe the air
absorb the sun and mostly
ignore the noise on shore

on the beach

a boy has climbed
up the lifeguard's tower

no one asked if
he was qualified,
or, if he could swim

from the tower

he has them chanting along
"sharks are fake"

swimmers respond
to the boy's presence--
there's no need for worry

on the lake

boats begin to take on water
too late for a safety check

they can hold on
there's a boat nearby...
there are no sharks, right?

on the distress call

wait, there is no lifeguard
the tower stands empty

a ruckus comes
from the arcade:
two boys are at it again

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
Michelle H. Barnes at Today's Little Ditty is hosting the Round-Up this week. Stop by for the poetry links, and, to contribute five words of peace.


  1. Wow! You did it! These are excellent! Each of these cheritas tell a little story, and I love how the sequence continues the story. Now I want to learn more about the cherita form and try one myself.

    1. Thanks, Linda. To learn more about cherita, you'll have to do an online search. It's a relatively new form and gaining popularity within the haiku community. Start here: http://www.winfredpress.com/the-cherita-form/

  2. I love your art piece!
    Your cheritas were menacing...

    1. Thanks, Tabatha! I can be accused of a lot of things, but I don't think of menacing as one!

  3. You did a fantastic job of matching Rebecca Smolen's work with your art, Diane. I love all the layering. And your cherita sequence is wonderful as well—so gripping!

  4. Wow! The art in response to a poem and then more poetry in response to art. I love it! I've tried a single cherita, but not putting the in sequence with stories within a story.

  5. You've outdone yourself today, Diane! The SPARK response is amazing, and your cherita sequence provides sly commentary on the current political climate.

  6. Wonderful response to Rebecca Smolen's poem, Diane. How shivery that quote from Van Gogh is from long ago, and now to our news climate of today. The cheritas are 'stand alone' but oh so good when taken all together. It would be fun to see them illustrated, too!

    1. That would be an art challenge for someone else!

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, Janet! Always good to hear what you think!

  8. I love the mystery in this poem, Diane, and those visual images -- the lake, the empty lifeguard's chair, the maybe shark. It's been several years since I participated in Amy Souza's Spark. It's such a cool program!

  9. I've been reading a lot of van Gogh's letters, too. He was an interesting guy. He did things with color that no one else has ever replicated.

    1. He wrote so much! Between painting, sketching, and letter writing he was one busy guy!

  10. "the high seas of our time" - Oh, my. Terrific art, words, more words. I haven't yet tried a cherita, but you're inspiring me....
    I don't think "menace" is too strong a word for your sequence - well done, and shiver shiver!

    1. I think you will like a cherita. It has a definite goal--to tell a story--and you have a little wiggle room with the six lines.