Of Fall and Fine Details

This morning from my kitchen window I noticed three birds clinging to a leafless branch on a treetop, the sight of which inspired this haiku:

how brave those three
birds still clinging —
facing autumn’s gale

Much as we might wish to cling to summer, autumn has definitely made its appearance in our land. The crops are coming off and the golden brown straw left to hold the soil in place; the maple trees are golden already. Nights are cool, and during the last few days we’ve gotten the rains we wanted.

Hopefully now the Fire Ban will be lifted in our township. For a few months now we haven’t been allowed to light any fires outdoors, including in BBQ pits and such. This month local volunteer firefighters have been called out to several grass fires started by balers as farmers were harvesting hay. Sunday Sept 2nd some of our firemen left straight from church, responding to a fire east of here. About 150 acres — half of it in standing wheat crop — burned, along with four round hay bales.

The hummers left us a couple of weeks ago. Last week the second batch of barn swallows came out of their nest to enjoy the clear blue skies. For the first few days the three newcomers played in the air above our yard, then ventured farther, touring the woods and coming back to roost at night. I was out just after supper together with the cats, and the swallows came buzzing around us. Obviously they weren’t happy seeing cats so close to their residence.

It’s been awhile since I posted anything significant but I decided that if I didn’t get something written I might develop chronic blog-atrophy.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. In fact, I’ve spent hours at the computer this week commenting on other writers’ work. Last weekend I was investigating the possibilities for having my own short stories critiqued and came across a site called Critique Circle. It It looked interesting, so I signed up and started writing comments on the stories posted.

Basically, anyone may join, and post a story they’ve written once every two weeks — but first they must critique others’ stories. In fact the system works somewhat like that old song about working in the coal mines: you do one days’ work and the company store charges two days’ pay for your groceries. 🙂 I’ve gotten .5, 1, 1.5, and 2 credits for doing various critiques, but it cost me 3 credits to post my story. So participants need to keep writing critiques (of 300 words or more) if they want to post anything.

Which is quite fair, really. I’m not griping. This approach keeps people from “taking” without putting anything in. (And it suits me because I enjoy doing editing. 😉 I do try to be gentle, though.) The “rules state that “critters” shall be encouraging and helpful to new writers as well as more experienced ones. No “Your story is blah!” comments.

I’ve posted one flash fiction story already. The first critique I received dealt mostly with grammar and punctuation — some of which I would contest. The second was an overall “Liked the story.” The third one was worth its weight in gold! It was written by a fellow who’s had a number of short stories published in literary magazines and such. He really knows his stuff and pointed out half a dozen things I SHOULD HAVE seen myself.

The stories I’m working on now are for my upcoming book of flash fiction. And now that I’ve registered it and gotten the ISBN, I can post the cover I’ve chosen (from unsplash.com.) What do you think?

The next design issues: choosing a font style and “outside border or no?”

Abstract cover.all

No Space To Grieve

A pigeon, newly dead,
on the shoulder of the highway,
slaughtered by a passing car.
The bloody heap, still warm,
sprawled on the pavement
while its mate flutters about.

Wanting to be sure,
to give one farewell caress.
The fierce flow of traffic
chases her away repeatedly,
yet she keeps coming back.

How cruel that she gets
not one moment of peace
alone with her lost mate,
no space to grieve.

My response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt today: Bird

 

Notices + Absences

I notice that the Ragtag Prompt word for today is ABSENT
and Fandango’s one-word prompt is BOUND
so let’s see what I can build on these words.

I’ve noticed the lack of visitors to the hummingbird feeder this morning and had just concluded that our three lingerers must have left us when one zipped by the window. I am surprised. I was sure they’d be bound for the sunny tropics by now.

Yesterday morning my husband flew away, bound for a committee meeting in Québec. I will confess I don’t sleep well when he’s absent; so many things seem to go bump in the night! And last night more things than usual were bumping because a thunderstorm blew in about 1 am. A few good cracks penetrated my deafness, keeping me on my toes instead of on my pillow. One boom woke Pookie, who leapt to his feet, startled, around 2am. That didn’t help me to relax! Good thing this is just a short absence — and I’m thankful to know our neighbours are looking out for me.

This morning I got an e-mail notice that the haiku I submitted to an e-zine aren’t going to be used. I was actually a bit relieved. Now I can go ahead and  post them on my blog — which is really why I wrote them. I’ve read some terrific haiku in the various e-zines, but at this point poetry and haiku are just enjoyable sidelines to my main focus as a fiction writer. I’m happy to pen some verses but don’t want to direct my efforts toward becoming known as a poet.

Another writer of short verse, Frank Prem, calls his blog Seventeen Syllable Poetry, saying he doesn’t want to restrict himself to the traditional haiku form. Not limiting yourself to one poetic form definitely has advantages.

He also has his main blog where he shares longer poems. One of his collections is about his backyard tenant, the Eastern blue-tongued lizard, or skink. I enjoyed these verses about his resident lizard so much that I wrote one of my own — with apologies, Frank. 😉

Frank had a skink that lived neighbourly
Frank watched the skink
and wrote poetry,
poems of love and poems of war
day-to-day skink life at Frank’s back door.

A skink self-sufficient, with no one to thank,
content in his solitude —
intriguing to Frank.
Poems aplenty from this versatile bard
inspired by the neighbourly skink in his yard.

And now I must go on and do some work “while yet it is day, because the night cometh” when I hope to actually get some sleep. 😉

What A Seed Can Do

Here’s my response to Fandango’s prompt word this morning: INGENUITY

What A Seed Can Do

A seed fell one day
in a most hapless way
on pavement where no seed should be
but it found a small track
in the asphalt so black
and ventured to make a tree.

Yes, that seed settled back
in the tiniest crack
and put out the slenderest thread
which grabbed, on its trek
at some mouldy-leaf speck
and dug for itself a small bed.

It rained in the night
to the rootlet’s delight;
it drank in the droplets. Such blessing!
Then it reached out yet farther
and soon came another;
the process was surely progressing.

Now, this asphalt was meant
to entirely prevent
any seedling from ever amounting,
lest a weed in the way
spoil their parking display,
but the pavers weren’t ever accounting

for the way that a seed
given water and feed
can make for itself a nice living,
and to their dismay
saw a tree spring one day
from that asphalt so dark and un-giving.

Strange New Critters

As the week, I feel, so the summer. How can it be almost gone? Nevertheless it’s Saturday —and yesterday’s weather was a good taste of things to come. The weatherman has predicted rain for today, but rain in harvest is odious, so none of us will mind at all if it doesn’t come.

There are still a few hummingbirds with us; I saw two, possibly three, off and on yesterday. Last night I actually brought the juice inside so it wouldn’t be so cold for the tiny creatures if they came — spoiling them, I guess.

I waited until after dark to take down the feeder, but while I was still on the deck, two steps up from the ground, I noticed — a hummingbird?? — gathering nectar from the flowers in the three tubs just below me. I watched it zip from flower to flower, coming within a few feet of where I stood. I was rather dumbfounded to see a hummer foraging in the dark. Poor thing must be starving to be so bold!

The tiny bird, not much bigger than a dragonfly, whizzed among the petunia blossoms quite unmindful of my presence so I stepped down and took a better look. I’ve never before seen a hummingbird this small — nor noticed the cross-wise stripes on its back. Almost like a wasp. Wait a minute! This just can’t be a hummer!

So I called my husband to come see this odd creature, which zipped around us a few times as we stood there, then went back to the flower pots. Our cats were outside now, too, and it zipped almost by their noses. I had to chase Pookie away or he would have caught the clueless thing! Bob got a fair look, too, as it slurped nectar from the petunias and said it must be a moth of some kind.

So I Googled, “moth that looks like a hummingbird” and there really is such a thing: a hummingbird hawk moth. This photo from a Bug Guide post shows the exact creature.Hummingbird Moth, black and white, British Columbia, Canada - Sphinx perelegans

Learn something new every day! Here’s another article about it.

This morning I put out the juice again and an adult female hummer was at the feeder at 6am. I think the little guys have been gone for a few days already. How much longer until they’re all gone?

I wonder how you all will be spending your day, and this weekend? Not weekend-at-the-lake weather here; rather, this would be a good day to bake and warm up the house with oven scents. I’m still keying in my misc scribblings and other clipped-out items I’ve saved over the years. I’ve finally decided there’s nothing intrinsically sacred about the words, though; I can toss the poems that aren’t that great. Ditto with my own writing. I’ve been telling myself, “One of these days I’m going to polish all these writings.” Time to face the music.

Here’s one little “thought” I wrote a few years back, in the midst of another decluttering effort.

ACCUMULATION

A lifetime of knickknacks:
souvenirs, gifts from friends,
inherited from elderly aunts.
The accumulation filled
her space. There was barely room
for the stretcher when she died
while rearranging her stuff.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Sometimes…

Sometimes what should look like this…

Desk clean

Actually looks like this:

Cluttered desk

And I have to take some time out to get all my ducks in a row…
like so…

Ducks in a row.jpg

Next week I plan to take care of some of the scraps of ideas that have been piling up and probably will be posting a lot of small stuff. Like this senryu:

full moonlight
plays on the headstones
we take the long way

Shattering the Silence

Yesterday’s Word of the Day Photo prompt : DICHOTOMY

This was a new word to me, but Merriam-Webster kindly offered some useful synonyms:
contradiction, incongruity, paradox.
So I will attempt a response:

Evening jogger

In the silence of the twilight
as the land settles to rest
there’s always some rebel who feels
a spot of jogging’s the best,
some garrulous crow who thinks
his news can’t be suppressed.

Crow