Loving Little Arms

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is HUG.
In response I’ll offer this poem from Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb, who was born in Ontario about 1892 and lived in the Melfort, SK, district.

TO MY SON

Two little arms and two little legs
each night would kick and toss;
ten little scratchy finger nails;
all these belonged to Ross.

Ringlets and curls on a high-set brow,
with blue eyes peeking through;
little stub nose and flushy cheeks
as fair as heaven’s dew.

A loving heart in a wee broad chest,
reserved a place for me;
stood near the gate and waved good-bye
as far as I could see.

Two little feet ran down the lane
to meet me coming home;
those happy thoughts I’ll treasure dear
wherever I may roam.

A little brown pup close by his side
would wag his tail in glee;
each night when I came home from work,
they’d want to play with me.

Two little arms around my neck
would start to scratch and tickle,
saying, “Dad, I’ll give you one big hug
if you give me a nickel.”

At close of day he’d climb my knee
and cuddle in a heap,
saying “Daddy, tell me a story now
before I go to sleep.”

Faces

Faces

The Ragtag daily prompt this morning was THINGS WITH FACES.

An intriguing prompt! I’ve turned it over in my mind, thinking of the many objects that have — or could have — faces. Toys…pictures…paintings…book covers… AH!

What better place to find faces than in a book store or library? As you walk in the door you’re greeted with numerous book covers set on display to entice you. And in the library there are many magazines with faces from the current news, sports and Hollywood looking back at you.

Wander into Adult fiction section. Have you noticed that it’s uncommon in our day to find actual faces; for some reason the current fad in book covers seems to be someone walking away.

The Girl from Ballymor

In the mystery and thriller section and you may find classics like Hercule Poirot detecting on the Orient Express. In recently published books you still find a few faces peeking at you.

I'll Walk Alone: A Novel by [Clark, Mary Higgins]

Check out the romance section and you’ll see the faces of sweethearts — and dozens of millionaire bachelors of all shades — looking back at you hopefully, wistfully, defiantly. What is it with millionaire bachelors nowadays that they’re swamping the romance section? Albeit a good catch.

Her Awkward Blind Date with the Billionaire (Billionaire Bachelor Cove) by [McConnell, Lucy]

In the History and Biography aisles you’re apt to see faces you recognize instantly.

King.Gordon Johnson.png
Gordon Johnson – Pixabay
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John Hain – Pixabay

Cookbooks often have the cook’s face smiling at you, holding their latest culinary masterpiece.

The section for teens features a selection of ordinary faces, high-school types trying to navigate the problems of today, plus the graphically rendered faces of superheroes and the gruesome spectres of vampires, zombies, etc.

ZSA teen sad

In the children’s section, especially among the old favourites, you’ll see rather unusual faces.

MaryP.ChaminaGallery
Chamina Gallery – Pixabay
Lion.Oberhoster Venita
Venita Oberholster – Pixabay

Flip the books over and read the back cover blurbs, where you’ll usually see the face of the writers, hoping with all their hearts you’ll get hooked on their books and read — or better yet buy — everything they write.

Stroll up to the archives and you’ll see the face of anyone who’s ever been someone in your area.

Yes, libraries and books stores are great places to find faces new and old.

Appreciating the Good Things

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American neighbours!

Family
Gordon Johnson – Pixabay

I hope you’re all having a great day with family and friends, giving thanks for all the wonderful people and blessings in your lives today. Granted, there’s always something that could be better, but a whole lot of people in the world would gladly trade places with us here in North America. Which reminds me…

A Great Thanksgiving Day Read

Awhile back I read a really inspiring book and this is the perfect day to tell you about it. Stories to Remember is written by Dr Pedro Garcia, an educator who immigrated to the USA from Castro’s Cuba while still in his teens. He and his brother came first and their parents were able to join them later. They’ve made successful lives in the States and Dr Gracia really appreciates all the freedoms he’s enjoyed in his adopted homeland.

You could say he doesn’t see the trees for the forest. Rather than elaborating on all the malfeasance of current politicians, he focuses on the vast forest of freedom and opportunity that exists in the USA.

Some of his stories are from a Christian perspective; the majority are his personal experiences. He writes of coming to the American Midwest and making the country his home, also about his work as an educator in various cities. All the way through he points to the blessings and successes he’s enjoyed through the years. Delightfully upbeat, well worth reading.


Those of you who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited can read it for free.

 

Haiku: A Quick History

Haiku & Senryu History

from comments by Alan Summers,
compiled by Christine Goodnough

Most people who know about haiku think of masters like Basho and his famous poem about the frog jumping into the pond. Or the tender-hearted, melancholic Issa who knew so much sorrow in his life. Haiku master Alan Summers, who has spent decades studying this form of poetry, offers the following background for this style of poetry.

Are haiku verses all about nature?

Pre-haiku, as written by Basho et al, were seasonal poems, more than being nature poems. They might be about a human society celebration, the coming of age of boys, children, or Matsuri, which are holidays, religious days or farming events.

When haiku came about, in the 1890s, it was caught in the old medieval mindset, but on the edge of the 20th century, when trains and factories were starting to be built. So I think of haiku, which really came into its own just before WWII and post-WWII, reflecting the industrial revolution and huge changes in human society.

The intimate relationship with the seasons, coming from the pre-Industrial Revolution era when people were super-aware of the slightest shift into the next part of a season, meant that folks would write little postcards with a seasonal reference. Sometimes this was just a note or a hello, and not always poetry. But when haikai poetry came about, the common and popular and normal practice of mentioning the change in a season in conversation, gossip, or greeting cards, also became part of the tiny haikai poems.

In the shift toward haiku, just before the 20th century, writers often used the seasonal ‘mention’ although post-WWII when the industrial revolution morphed into the various technological leaps in warfare and general manufacture, different topics would be added. Of course, as they moved into computer technology and robotics, these would be naturally added.

So nature, or natural history, is often part of a haikai verse in some aspect, but this is only part of the body of haikai poetry.

When Shiki did his reformation of haiku and tanka, little changed for a decade or two, then those society-changing world wars we seem to love for some reason, shifted haiku into its own genre, away from the chains of the medieval hokku and earlier haikai verses penned by Basho et al.

Haiku has been known in the West almost as long as in Japan, interestingly enough. The French were the very earliest to pen haiku very early on in the 20th Century.

See: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton 2013)
ed. Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, Allan Burns; plus Introduction by Billy Collins
Click here for link.

What is senryu?

This was another verse from the big group poem collaboration called Renga, which spawned both hokku (similar to haiku) and the verse named after its most successful propagator.

Senryu was the nickname or pen-name of a poet who was famous for this particular style of verse in the group poetry writing activity called renga, and later, under Basho, the increasingly popular renku. Both renga and renku are the most complicated and intricate poems in the world, with more rules than you could shake a stick at!

Senryu verses were sometimes written to mock the growing haiku writers and, before haiku came about, the various haikai verse writers who wrote hokku.

A good test of what makes the verse a senryu: CLICK HERE.

For more reading, check out these articles & free books:

To learn more about the various forms of Japanese poetry, check out Call of the Page

Why haiku is different and Basho never wrote them in English: Click Here

More than one fold in the paper: Kire, kigo, and the vertical axis of meaning in haiku: Click Here

Free eBook:
Senryū: An Application to be a) human
by Alan Summers

Free eBook:
Kaneko Tohta:Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary – Part 2 – 1961–2012

There are also a number of online haiku journals where you can find great examples of Japanese poetry:
Troutswirl, cattails, The Heron’s Nest, Wales Haiku Journal, etc.

The Irascible Agatha Raisin

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener
Agatha Raisin Mystery series #3

By M C Beaton

I read the first book in the Agatha Raisin Mystery series, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, and one other short story tacked onto that one. Now I’ve finished the third book in the series and have had my fill. Actually, though I hate to quit before the end of any book, I was ready to toss this one several times before I discovered whodunit.

The setting in interesting; the plotting, pacing and writing are excellent, but the main character is so disagreeable. Back in London she was a hard-nosed — and pretty much friendless — business owner and she carries this personality into her retirement years. She may want to make friends in her new home town and does mean well — at times. Overall, though, she’s self-centered and defensive. I was hoping to see Agatha mellow in this peaceful Cotswold village as the series progresses. She doesn’t.

Pugnacious and mulish are the adjectives the author often uses to describe Mrs Raisin. Belligerent and snarky would also fit. She lies constantly, swears, staggers home tipsy from the village pub, insults almost everyone, and has a real temper. In one story she invites the neighbours for a Christmas dinner, but bashes one lustful old guest over the head with a Christmas pudding.

Always competitive, she cheats in village contests. In The Quiche of Death she’s newly arrived and wants the acceptance of the villagers. She sees her chance when she discovers there’s to be a village baking contest. Culinarily-challenged herself, she buys a quiche from a great little bakery in London and submits it as her own creation. Unfortunately someone adds a bit of poison and serves it to the judge. So the truth must be confessed.

In this third book she wants to impress certain gardeners and win the local flower show, but she’s hopeless at growing things. Supposedly she’s learned her lesson with the quiche, but weakens and buys a nursery-grown rose to enter as her own. Forgetting to take off the tag. Again her deception is exposed, but village folks are amazingly tolerant.

One big plus for Agatha is that she’s made friends with Mrs Bloxby, the curate’s wife, who is a saint for sure. Sanguine, welcoming, accepting, charitable, always thinking the best, she saves and soothes Agatha’s pride several times in this story. Agatha is also friends with her bachelor neighbour James, a retired army colonel — on whom she has a serious crush as this story starts. (I gather they work together in several stories to figure out whodunit.) However, Agatha insults him, too, petulantly calling him a male chauvinist pig when he scolds her for throwing a lit cigarette into the tinder-dry grass.

Like all amateur sleuths in all cozy mystery stories, she’s nosy. When the local CID inspector Bill Wong, who has taken a liking to Agatha, tells her to stay out of the investigation, she slips on her halo and nods a meek “Yes.” As soon as he’s out of sight, she and James are off hunting for evidence and interviewing suspects. In this book she’s trying to find out why a lovely divorcee, Mary Fortune, a newcomer and enthusiastic gardener, has met a sad end in her conservatory.

Because this is fiction, the writer is able to say that in spite of Agatha’s abrasive character she’s well liked by the villagers. Some characters testify that “Mrs Raisin has many good qualities.” In real life this would be highly unlikely. I know a woman much like this: not as insolent or combative as Agatha but just as self-centered and flexible with the truth. Her friendships and relationships are all short-lived.

I have some sympathy for Agatha Raisin because she is so lacking in interpersonal skills, but find her lack of conscience hard to take. Since the villagers of Carsely are stuck with her it’s a good thing they like her. And since it’s such a popular series — as I gather from the reviews — a lot of readers are willing to tolerate her faults, too.

Ragtag Daily Prompt word: Evidence
Word of the Day Challenge: Sanguine

Forest Sounds

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is the word SOUND.
My response will be this poem by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman:

SOLITUDE

How still it is here in the woods. The trees
Stand motionless, as if they did not dare
To stir, lest it should break the spell. The air
Hangs quiet as spaces in a marble frieze.
Even this little brook, that runs at ease,
Whispering and gurgling in its knotted bed,
Seems but to deepen with its curling thread
Of sound the shadowy sun-pierced silences.

Sometimes a hawk screams or a woodpecker
Startles the stillness from its fixed mood
With his loud careless tap. Sometimes I hear
The dreamy white-throat from some far-off tree
Pipe slowly on the listening solitude
His five pure notes succeeding pensively.

Archibald Lampman
1861 – 1899

Bench by stream.jpg