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Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus’

To start off European Haiku Day here at Poem Elf, here’s a picture my daughter in Prague created. She took advantage of over-developed film to fiddle around with the image (that’s the technical explanation). She calls it “Pause.” (FYI that’s what those two yellow bars mean. I didn’t know this, dinosaur that I am.)

 

 

And now, haikus from our European friends.

 

From Truus Visser of the Netherlands is keeping busy—

 

 

Washing the windows

dusting all the bookshelves

waiting the lock-off

 

 

*

 

 

Luc Vrielinck a doctor in Belgium, took time from what must be an insane worklife to send a sober warning, haiku-style:

 

 

Social distancing

playtime is over now;

everyone’s concern

 

 

Here it is in Dutch, his first language.

 

 

Social distancing

de speeltijd is voorbij;

eenieder zijn zorg

 

 

(Is “social distancing,” like a smile, the same in every language?)

 

 

Luc adds—

 

My Haiku is, of course, a reaction to the difficult times we have now in Belgium and around the world.

I am a medical doctor working in a hospital, so I know from first hand what is going on once patients are infected, and when they are losing their battle. So the main focus is on prevention, … until we get a good vaccination.

The government propagates -among other things- the principle of social distancing: keeping enough distance between your self and the person next to you (1.5 m)

 

 

 

*

 

Anne Marie, my daughter in Prague, was out walking and heard music from a high window, which she knows is one of my favorite things in the world. Here’s the post-walk haiku—

 

 

Oh to take a peek

In all those secret squares

Someone’s dancing on piano keys!

 

 

And here’s the accompanying picture

 

 

 

*

 

 

Someone named “Name,” origin unknown, so let’s just say he or she is indeed European so we are consistent, sent in this reminder of life’s small pleasures—

 

 

Stuck inside for weeks

I go for a daily walk

Nice to hear the birds

  

 

*

 

Finally, to Very Truly of Ann Arbor, just in case you haven’t read my responses to your comments: I would love to get your haiku and photograph, but I haven’t yet. If you sent it as an attachment, please understand that attachments don’t go through on this platform. You can copy and paste text in a comment or send text and photograph to thepoemelf@gmail.com.  I will post it regardless of when it arrives!

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One last call for readers outside the United States . . . send in your quarantine haikus! I’ve gotten two so far and will post those tomorrow. Would love to have more! Post here as a comment or email me at thepoemelf@gmail.com.

 

Brenda Loew of Seattle sent in pictures and haiku. The pictures of are herself and the Seattle bridge troll, outfitted to reduce community spread:

I did not know this wonderful sculpture existed. Mr. Troll sits under a bridge, as trolls do, and in his left hand clutches a Volkswagen bug.

 

 

Here’s Brenda’s haiku. Lovely!

 

The walking people,

quiet pandemonium,

all humans stopped cold.

 

 

Sci-fi cityscape,

masked and gloved Seattleites

smile only with  eyes.

 

 

Equally plagued,

we see how we are truly

more alike than different

 

 

What is our true face?

Sheltering now at home,

spring robin singing.

 

And her lovely face
*

Nurse Pam Sheen (bless you!), solicited haikus from friends and sent in these:

 

 

 

Dog glued to my side

Unsure why we’re both at home

But grateful we are

 

 

Trees green, sunshine bright

The house warm and cozy too

Like beacons of hope

 

—Jenn Van Osdel

 

 

 

We’re inside monkeys

Climbing walls won’t get us out

Where’s my banana?

 

—James Lachowsky

 

Inside monkeys, tru dat.

 

 

*

 

 

Finally (for today) from my sister Susie in Massachusetts (wife of yesterday’s haiku writer Richard, far away in San Diego):

 

 

Yesterday, today,

Tomorrow, and days after,

The same, Groundhog Day.

 

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I have haikus to post today and tomorrow, and that will be the end of this project . . . unless. . .  my international readers step up! Sending out a challenge to Poem Elf readers in countries outside of the United States to send in a quarantine haiku. I know you’re there, I see you.

 

*

 

Tom McGrath, a new grandfather from Chicago, sends in a vision of dreamy peace:

 

Haiku for Emilio Tomas

 

A newborn slumbers

limp against this grandpa’s chest,

a lion at rest.

 

Tom adds that the original final line was “big sister pokes him.” Two completely different poems! I like both.

 

*

 

From her quarantine in downtown Baltimore, Trish Rawlings muses on what she found on the ground outside the grocery store:

 

White latex gloves dropped

Rudely on the lot up close

Are not: pale blossoms.

 

(What she thought were a shopper’s protective gear was actually blossoms from a shedding tree. Would that all nasty sights turn out to be blossoms!)

 

*

 

My brother-in-law Richard has temporarily re-located from Massachusetts to California to help care for his little grandsons as his daughter-in-law recovers from health issues. (Yes, he is that great a human!) Being so far from his wife, he thought about other separations, including mine from my daughters (we are literally thousands of miles apart and will be for the foreseeable future), and he came up with this, which ends with classic New England stoicism and a signature Bostonian phrase:

 

Haiku from San Diego

Daughters coming home
Squeeze is what we want to do
Fa’ get about it

 

*

 

Benedikt Rochow, an engineer from Alabama, took a break from working at home to come up with this—

 

A man a plan a
canal Panama really
is a palindrome.
*
Last one. I’ve been reading a lot of essays about how this virus is helping us get back to our core selves, our shared humanity, the things that truly matter. Marge from Chicago says the same in her haiku:
Corona’d we are
Self-starters we have become
Reliant on God
*
Thanks, everyone! More tomorrow.
**APOLOGIES FOR THE BAD SPACING FOR THE LAST TWO HAIKUS. I HAVE TRIED TO FIX IT AND AM UNABLE TO!

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(Please note: If you sent in a haiku and you haven’t seen it here yet, have patience! I have an abundance of haiku which is so much nicer than an abundance of caution.)

 

Here’s a lovely dose of spring from Patti Russo of Bloomington, Indiana (a perfectly-named town for the season):

Sunshine on a stick
Immune from fear or worry
Spring forsythia

 

Patti must have an abundance of creativity because she sent two haikus. Here’s the other:

To want a dog’s life
Not just any dog’s..this one’s
The smile says it all!

 

Brenda Loew sent these lovelies:

Where are the two leggeds now?!?
the crows are wondering…
the world is so still.

And her second, a timely reminder of our need for human contact, whatever form it takes

Dying is not difficult.
Not having good Friends,
a Hell realm indeed.

 

My daughter Lizzie, a nurse in northern Michigan, sent a few. Her work brings back memories of long ago when we sat at the kitchen table and wrote haikus inspired by art postcards.

As of late although

Surfaces are suspicious

All has been wiped clean

 

and here’s one about delayed affection in the age of coronavirus

 

Just six feet away

You laugh and stand there smiling

I will hug you soon

 

My sister Ceci is using her quarantine time to clean out her basement. My sisters and I tease her that she has forever been cleaning out her basement. A good reason to disappear downstairs, I suppose. Anyway, here’s her Marie-Kondo-inspired haikus:

Cards and photographs
Fond memories abounding
Life in the basement!
And this one, presumably written before she found her way to the basement
Empty calendar
Days to fill and time to spare
For long lost projects!
Ceci’s friend Marge sent one too (both live in Deerfield, Illinois and miss playing tennis):
Fewer body aches
Could it be no more tennis?
Aching joints ok
Finally, for today, another dog haiku from Monica Bailey in Florida. She included a picture of her cute little friend Lilly:
There once was none.
Lilly working from home.
Now there is peace.
More tomorrow!

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Thank you to everyone who sent in a haiku! Can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading them. It’s a balm for my nervous system. The creative spirit is fundamental to us humans and strengthens our connections!

 

Up first from Jeanette, who gets extra credit for taking a picture:

(Jeanette has a very droll sense of humor and I am laughing at “safe connection.”)

 

Extra credit too for Truus Visser whose native language is Dutch. A lot said here, very artfully:

deep-orange sky
birds fill in the  silence
handsoap foams fragrant

 

Here from Nancy Murphy, mother of four, a positive spin on quarantine:

Games, puzzles unearthed
Joyful sounds, parents exhale
Family renewed

Nancy adds, “Please note that my poem is in no way intended to make light of the seriousness of the virus and its consequences. Hope we all get through this ok.”

 

And from Michigan resident Gail Haffey, gardener extraordinaire:

Season for pansies

The snowflakes touch them gently

Sun melts them away

 

Thanks, everyone! I’ll post more tomorrow.

 

Keep them coming!

 

 

 

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                                   **my inspiration**

 

I am in need of music, poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote in her poem of the same name.

 

I am in need of distraction, I find myself saying, and how nice!, distraction is everywhere— funny animal videos, show-me-your-dance-moves Instagram accounts (shout-out to my daughters), clips of Italian mayors shouting at their constituents who won’t stay home.

 

So here’s a Poem Elf distraction. I’m inviting you to submit a Quarantine Haiku. You can also send me a picture of your haiku, Poem-Elf style. You can be in the picture or not. I’ll post as many as I can.

 

Email your haikus and/or photos to thepoemelf@gmail.com.

 

A brief tutorial on haikus (for better instruction, link here and scroll down):

 

  • Haikus have three lines, traditionally 5-7-5 syllables, but feel free to experiment. No one’s counting.

 

  • Start with an image (something you see, hear, taste, touch, smell) around you.

 

  • Keep it simple. Try not to get too metaphorical or flowery.

 

  • Haikus often contain an element of surprise or sudden understanding.

 

Your haiku can be silly, profound or mundane. Just not political, please. The point is to use the structure 5-7-5 to re-focus your thoughts away from anxiety and worries.

 

Just so you’re not self-conscious about submitting work that is mediocre or worse: first of all, it doesn’t matter. This is just supposed to be fun, communal and distracting.

 

Second, here’s mine so you know the bar is low:

 

Goodbye, soda bread

Once upon a time, St. Pat’s!

Crumbs and raisins now

 

 

 

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poem is on gate door

 

From “A Married State”

by Katherine Philips

 

A married state affords but little ease

The best of husbands are so hard to please.

This in wives’ careful faces you may spell

Though they dissemble their misfortunes well.

 

Someone wrote on Twitter the other day that being in lockdown reminded her of being married. This little excerpt from Katherine Philips’ poem is for all those quarantined with a less-than-perfect housemate.

 

My own housemate is a dear. He is dear even as he follows me around with supportive words on hand washing, although sometimes I have to remind myself of how dear he is when he doesn’t follow me around with supportive words on hand washing.

 

Reader, I wash my hands often and well.

 

You can link to the complete poem here.

 

Katherine Philips (1631/32 – 1664) was an English poet and translator. She was an intelligent child who read the Bible by the time she was four. Her father was a cloth merchant and had her educated at boarding school. She spoke several languages.

 

She was 16 when she married a Welsh landowner and member of Parliament. It was a strange match—he was 38 years older and the son of her mother’s second husband from another marriage. She and her husband (—cough—step-brother) had opposite political positions (her pro-royalist connections saved him from the executioner after King Charles II took the throne), but they seem to have been happy. Important to note that she wrote her sardonic anti-marriage poem in her early teens before she was married.

 

Still, her view of marriage seems jaundiced. When a friend remarried after widowhood, Philips wrote to her, “one may generally conclude the Marriage of a Friend to be the Funeral of a Friendship.”

 

Her husband encouraged her literary endeavors. She wrote over a hundred poems, many on the theme of female friendship which she wrote about in the tropes of courtly love. She translated and staged a play in London and Dublin, the first woman ever to have done so. She was the founder of the Society of Friendship, a literary group that wrote letters and poems to each other. Members of the group addressed each other with nicknames—hers was “The Matchless Orinda.”

 

She had two children. Her son died in infancy. She wrote his tombstone epitaph (in verse) and another poem, “On the Death of My First and Dearest Child, Hector Philips.” In spite of the elegant phraseology, a mother’s raw grief rips through—

 

Tears are my muse, and sorrow all my art,

    So piercing groans must be thy elegy.

 

Those piercing groans. Wow. Lines like that remind me how we are the same in our suffering, century to century, country to country.

 

She died in her early thirties of smallpox.

 

For anyone on Instagram who needs a break from the gloom-and-doom of Covid-19 news, link here and sign up for Wake Up and Dance. Two of my daughters, one in Prague, one in northern Michigan, are collaborating on the videos. They’ll make you smile and maybe even dance yourself. (Instagram name if you’re having trouble with the link: @w.akeupanddance)

 

 

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