Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Presence

Apologies for the break.  I guess it turned out to be a hiatus after all.  Let's move the deadline for the fall/winter contests to Jan. 30.  

However, the papers are all graded, and Angelee Deodhar & Mary Jo Balistreri will start us off again.

The holidays and the New Year can be a time to break away from old habits.

They can also be a time to look back and return to one's roots.

Ekphrastic Haibun : January

Looking at the subtle flat, overcast lighting filtering in from the left and embers glowing at far right of Frank Weston Benson’s Rainy Day, reminds me of my childhood in the hills. I remember sloshing around in gum boots, the lovely squishy sound of water in and around the boots, paper boats and running downhill from school with my raincoat flapping around me, the hood flung back, books hugged inside close to me.

Later as I grew up I walked in the rain, protected by an umbrella. Now, as a grandmother to be, I look forward to running in the rain with my grandchild.

New Year’s Eve-
meteor showers from
welding works

For more information about Frank Weston Benson's Rainy Day, see below:

Angelee and the Indian-American author Raveesh Varma collaborated on the haibun below.

Collaborative Haibun :  Capriccio
Prose by Raveesh Varma                                   
Haiku by Angelee Deodhar

beyond prayer flags
incense vanishes into
mackerel clouds

I am already dying, when she comes in to visit me carrying chrysanthemums . White curtains, much like her hair while keeping me defenseless under the harsh glare of hospital lights ,protect me from the outside world. Used to such visits, at times I wonder what will she do, after my release from the shackles of this diminishing life of mine.

She chats with me of various things... of life and love (was I ever that young?) and all things in-between; in the kitchen, in the car, over coffee, over tea, or over a flower vase arranging roses ,freshly cut from the garden. She tells me when she dies, I must celebrate with wine, food and music in the manner of an Irish wake, she insists that she does not want me to mourn her .Too much of our lives have gone in mourning and on this one occasion there will only be the purity of us, a transparency untouched by sorrow. She threatens that should I mourn her, she will come back to haunt me forever .I immediately retort that then I will mourn her, mourn her over and over again.

the silence since
the children left

This was when interleaved moments of shock and denial, had not set upon us the brittle scaly patina within which we now carry our reverse metamorphoses from butterflies to amorphous, plain eggs. She tells me of uncharacteristic and strange things in the privacy that exist between her senses and mine.

Though she talks of things in the present, every word carries with it the scented breeze of a million other words reminiscent of open wildflower fields, under an unchained white light, not witnessing an unwanted death at an age when death is still the subject only of poems.

It is this light, which having illuminated the wasteland of my life, will be released into the universe in one infinitesimal spark, when my body finally breaks, flesh crumbles into ashes which will be immersed in the never-ending, stream of my Mother, the Ganges.
sonorous chants-
no crows alight today
for the shradh food

image credit!HalfHD.jpg
Richard Strauss: (1864-1949) Capriccio - Introduction (String Sextet) - Previn & Wiener Philharmoniker
Rimsky Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol Op 34 Berliner Phil Dir Zubin Mehta YouTube
The Halle - Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien Op. 45 Published on Jan 20, 2014

Balkan Capriccio ( Music Video ) by Stevan Jovic

Bio :Raveesh Varma, a structural engineer, of Indian descent, immigrated to the US nineteen years ago. His  achievements in the fields of literature, music and engineering are noteworthy, as  he is a self taught pianist and also writes fiction. He remains grateful to his wife and two children for the unconditional love they bestow upon him.

Bio: Angelee Deodhar, an eye surgeon by profession is a haiku poet, translator, and artist.
She lives and works in Chandigarh, India. Her haiku/haibun/haiga have been published internationally in various books and journals, and her work can be viewed on many websites.

Reviews of Journeys 2015, an anthology of International Haibun edited by Angelee Deodhar can be read here and

Thanksgiving can be any day of the year as Angelee and Mary Jo Balistreri remind us in their collaborative haibun.


All afternoon, the robins come, six, seven at a time to push and shove each other till one, fully immersed in the birdbath splashes all the others. Two wait patiently on the railing for their turn. Nothing like this has ever happened and it is impossible for us to leave our places at the window .

Later, with the sun low in the sky, the water’s almost gone. The birds keep arriving We fill the feeders and refresh the almost empty bath. Forgetting this is their world and we are visitors… we wait… we are still waiting.

campus pond-
late afternoon shadows
departing geese
Collaborative haibun :
Title and haiku Angelee Deodhar
Prose Mary Jo Balistreri

Mary Jo's poem encourages us to remember the beauty of Paris although recent events may still have shaken you.

     Under a Canopy of Golden Chestnut Leaves

Across the Seine, Notre Dame rises flushed
by sunset’s antique brush. My husband pours
Champagne into fluted glasses. Bubbles burst.
We relax, a crusty baguette, wedges of Brie,
apple slices. Our eyes track amber

moving across the water, soft strobes
from houseboats and the Bateau Mouche.
Small liquid lamps that bob in river wakes.
A candle on the table flickers. It’s autumn
and romance lingers on our lips.

A spell’s been cast and we are wordless.
Solitary. Braided. Neither here nor there.
Awareness hangs on a hinge as he refills
the glasses. We listen alone. Thoughts
ribbon among owls distant cries, voices

muted by water. Retreating footsteps
on cobblestone. Quiet. Fleeting touch of breeze
on my cheek. Only Our Lady’s stones
across the river, solid, substantial, cast gold
into the night sky, clear and weightless as sleep.   


I have to start the music off with "Parisian Thoroughfare."  This version is by Arturo Sandoval:

Here is Sandoval's version of "I Remember Clifford":

Here Sandoval performs "Night in Tunisia" with Dizzy Gillespie in Havana:

I'll finish with something new, a cover of a song by Taylor Swift:

I hope that these songs inspire you to write a poem for the fall/winter contests:


  1. so many powerful pieces!!! i see now what you meant about the draw of the haibun. i think i assumed the haiku would synthesize/reflect the prose, and while they are complementary, its not just a shorter restatement of the narrative. very eye-opening. thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you for your comment. It's very much appreciated.

  3. Thank you for noticing. Angelee is an expert on this, and her collaborative haibun above is one more example of how she works with others.I enjoyed Raveesh Varma's prose very much too.
    Thank you to Marianne for publishing us.

  4. Thank you Marianne,Jo and Synchronicity,
    Here's wishing you all the best in 2016,love and light,angelee

  5. To the editor and contributors, thank you for such a wonderful and insightful website where others can share their talents. I enjoyed my time here and will be back to enjoy more of the creative talent here.


    -MJ Reynolds

  6. i absolutely love this ...this is wonderful