Song and Dance in the City – A Haibun

Ubers honk as they make their way through crowded city streets. Buses slowly rumble past. Delivery bikes ring bells of warning. But in this corner of the street, only the divine laughter of a fortuitous meeting can be heard. 

It started off as the dance of strangers trying to occupy the same space. It could have become a “West Side Story” type tango, but a smirk of good humor turned the would-be spectacle into a delicious salsa of dialogue. Understanding swayed in the gentle arms of laughter. Commonality cha-cha-chatted with disparity, a note-worthy syncopation that made the conversation a harmony amidst the city’s melody. 

The new friends did not wear Pollyanna’s rose-colored spectacles of previous generations. They knew this relationship must be protected, like amber sealing off a cut in a tree. What insects caught in the resin, could be analyzed later, but for now,  the enjoyment of this opportune meeting – whether through kismet or serendipity –  resounds in the city streets.

Amidst city sounds

The divine dance of friendship

Sways to laughter’s song

Image credit: Jed Villigo @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows three young men standing on a city street and laughing at a shared joke. Two of men are Black and one, holding scooter handles, is white.

A (late) submission for Sadje’s What Do You see #119. This haibun was also inspired by the picture she chose for WDYS #118. I’ve been experiencing writers’ block the past week or so, so while these images brought many ideas to my mind, I wasn’t able to put them all together until now. Patrick’s Pic and Word Challenge #300 – City, #299 – Amber, #298 – Divine and #297 – Spectacle also served as inspiration, tying all my thoughts into this haibun.

The past few weeks have definitely been roller-coaster of happenings, bringing with it the ups and downs of emotions. Physically – it’s been all up – I completed a January Step Challenge with my running group, She RUNS this Town (formerly known as Moms RUN this Town, but changed to the pronoun for inclusivity since not all members are moms). My team won 1st place which was totally awesome! We were consistently getting over 20K steps a day – well, not me, but my teammates did which is amazing! I’ve started the Taji100 (100 miles in February to support veterans) and am currently in 3rd place in my age group for my state.

Emotionally – it’s been mostly down – my good friend suddenly lost her mother to COVID, we’ve also had numerous COVID infections at our church which has made my work there difficult, we’ve had several good friends also come down with COVID and now my daughter is sick with strep throat (thank goodness it’s not COVID!). I am trying to be like that tree with the cut, letting amber flow out to seal it off and trap whatever insects (aka stress) caused the cut to analyze for later.

February is Black History Month in the USA so this photo of two Black men talking to a white man really captured my interest. As you might know. the issue of racism is still very prevalent here in the USA, as evidenced by the killing of Ahmaud Arbery (which I’ve written about here and here), George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people in 2020. Now, some Americans are in an uproar about Critical Race Theory (even erroneously thinking that Black History Month is part of CRT) which takes away from actually addressing the issues of racism and working towards equity and yes, friendship – or at least, respectful connection – between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Diversity is a strength. Being empathetic is a strength. Being able to laugh in the midst of trying times is a strength. Can we find strength to be the harmony?

©️ 2022 iido

The Muse Despairs – A Quadrille

In a cavern

My muse languishes.

Beside her

A broken paddle,

And smashed frame.

Her voice blusters,

A construct of words without meaning

The how of creation

Forgotten in the wake of her shipwreck.

Without poetry,

My muse readies herself

For the long goodnight.

This photo was taken somewhere in Nevada – we had stopped at a place with underground caverns.
The coolness was a relief from the heat outside. I can’t remember the name now, but I remember the feeling.

A double achievement today – and maybe proof that my muse is alive and well! First, this poem which was inspired by De Jackson’s dVerse Monday Quadrille prompt to write a poem of 44 words incorporating the word “muse.” I have to admit, I had forgotten it was quadrille Monday and had written a lovely yet longer poem which I then had to cut down to 44 words. Hopefully, I chose the right 44 words to keep!

Secondly, I am almost caught up with keeping my streak for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge! Well, if a streak could zig zag and backtrack and then move forward…what do you say, Patrick? I’ve incorporated #296 – Bluster, #288 – Wakes, #282 – Cavern, #281 – Paddle, #280 – Construct, #279 – Frame, #278 – Creation and #276 – Poetry. As a blogger, consistency is key so I am quite proud of my efforts in keeping this streak going.

The muse may be despairing in this quadrille, however, I have to admit, I am feeling quite the opposite. Maybe it’s because it’s a new year…maybe it’s because I am writing again and reconnecting with all of you and reading all the wonderful bloggers that I have missed in the past few months…maybe it’s because I have also started running again….maybe it’s because all these maybes mean potential and potential is hope…and if ever there was a better muse to muse about, it would be Hope.

©️ 2022 iido

Resolution – A Haibun

There is no chill in the air despite the manger-as-cradle being filled by The Babe. Maybe this was the real climate during the first Noel? Mary and Joseph traveled to the rocky hills of Bethlehem in Palestine where she gave birth to Jesus Christ – hills covered in dry, scratchy sand and small grasses not soft wet snow.

I wonder if they ever looked back – to see what they were leaving behind, to realize how far they’ve come. Or did they only look forward, to the hope of what – of who – was to come?

On this warm December day, I must look back before I can look forward to new beginnings. Otherwise I fear the unintended and unwanted irony that could result. I feel the sweat forming on my brow as I imagine what this next year might bring. 

Outbound Old Year laughs

With relief or craziness

Cautious New Year starts

This photo was taken on our cross country in 2016, somewhere between CA and UT.

I wrote this poem last week when we were still in December 2021 for Go Dog Go Cafe’s Haibun Wednesday and for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #295 Chill, #294 Travel, #293 Cradle, #292 Rocky, #291 Beginnings and #290 Outbound. I need to catch up on Patrick’s challenge to continue my streak (hope it’s still valid even after my hiatus!).

This is Day 3 of 2022 – so far, it’s gone well. I never really write down resolutions but my daughters have started to write their goals for the year and have checked it off as they have accomplished them. They both successfully completed most of their goals from 2021.

I have to admit that I have never written out a list of goals – interesting, right? Why not? Did I not have dreams that I strived for? Did I have no vision for myself growing up? Thinking back, I don’t think I did. I never really thought about what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do; I never even really thought about getting married and having a family. I always thought that life – or God – would just lead me where I was meant to go.

One thing for sure though – I never felt disappointed in my life. How can I be disappointed by not reaching a goal when I didn’t have any goals to reach? Some would call this being an under-acheiver…or being naive about how life works…. I would call it being trusting….is that a goal or a resolution to have or to change for 2022?

©️ 2022 iido

She Smiled – A Poem

And she was Freed

Through the Right of Combat

Won with Fairness and Grace

Triumphant, she scaled the Highest Tower

Of the Fortress that had been her Prison

Below her, Chaos reigned

As her captors pointed fingers

And ran away from Responsibility

She smiled, basking in her strength and resilience.

Image credit: Sean Thomas @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a huge dragon on the corner rooftop of a building. The building has columns and a balcony and the corner rooftop is domed.

Catching up with inspiration from Sadje’s What Do You See #94 and Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #272 – Freed, #273 – Right, #274 – Fortress and #275 – Chaos. It’s been so long since I’ve put ‘fingers to computer” (the modern day “pen to paper”) – this poem came easy after seeing this fantastical picture from Sadje.

Sometimes, I am dragon in the picture – strong, fierce, fighting for what she believes is right, triumphant in her accomplishment. But often times, I am more seen in the “traditional” view of the dragon – the bad one that needs to be defeated, the one causing chaos and trouble, the unreasonable one. I look at all the Disney movies where the “bad guys” are actually women – mothers – and wonder about the families of origin of those story writers.

What is it about a strong woman that seems scary? That make people want to contain them? Tame them? Dampen their greatness? Simone Biles – Serena Williams – Hillary Clinton – they have nice teeth and no spiked wings, I haven’t seen them sitting on any rooftops….so what is it about strong women that make people want to vilify them?

©️ 2021 iido

Doubting Starlight – Prosery

The starlight winks, as if it is a joke that it is crucial to finding the way. Is this? There is no beginning or end – the sky goes on and on and on – how do we know this is the right one to follow? Balthazar says this one suddenly appeared. Melchior observes this same one hasn’t wavered course.  

Gaspar holds the compass in one hand and my hand in the other, “My dear, trust my friends, this is the one, He will be the one.” 

I smile at him, my king and my love. “I will follow you to the ends of the earth, but this star, is it really that important? I see it twinkling, laughing at us poor mortals who follow without knowing the destination.” 

Smiling, Gaspar leads me to the camels, “We will know we have arrived, when we get there.”

Photo by Neale LaSalle on Pexels.com

Hello, Readers! Merril’s Prosery Monday at d’Verse and Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #271 – Starlight inspired this little story and brought me out of my writing drought. If you are a Christian, you might recognize the names used here although in the Bible, the names of the maji or where they came from or even how many there actually were and what they rode were never specified.

Merril’s prosery prompt also required the use of the phrase, “Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.” written by US Poet Laureate, Jo Harjo in “A Map to the Next World.” I changed the punctuation to fit the story, hoping to evoke the sense of faith and trust.

This sense of faith and trust is something that, I feel, is missing in our world right now – or at least in my world. Our state will be removing the mandates for masks at the end of this month. From then on, we will rely on the “honor system” – that people who are not wearing masks are fully vaccinated (as per CDC guidelines) and that if you are not fully vaccinated, that you will continue to mask.

I doubt that everyone who is not wearing a mask will be fully vaccinated.

As of today, only 45% of people in my state are vaccinated. That means it is more likely that the unmasked person in front of me is unvaccinated.

Without faith and trust that the people around me are doing the right thing and following the rules like I am, the honor system doesn’t work. Is faith and trust crucial to finding our way in this world? I would say, “Yes.”

©️ 2021 iido

Silence is Not an Option – A Poem

In the whisper of night

My voice finds her way

Through the crack in my heart

Image credit: Jasmin Chew @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the visually a young Asian woman looking up to the sky, where a crescent moon is visible. Her stance is meditative.

Sadje’s photo choice for her What Do You See #75 pairs beautifully with Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #270 – Whisper. Many times in the past weeks, I have looked up to the heavens, eyes closed, willing a moment of peace, whispering a prayer but really wanting to shout my anger and anguish to the sky.

I was asked to write about the recent news coverage of violence against Asian Americans for a local group that I write for. I am the only Asian person in this group and as such, the assumption was that writing a piece about this topic would be easy. Even I thought it would be easy…but it wasn’t. I’ve been conditioned to believe in the “model minority myth” – the one that says that Asians (especially Asian women) are the “good ones,” the “minority group” that has been able to achieve the American Dream, and because we don’t want to lose this status, we should overlook the ways in which we have been discriminated against, the ways in which racism and sexism has adversely affected our lives. I’ve always been told to keep my head down, do my work, don’t complain, don’t speak my mind, don’t rock the boat. That was how we have survived.

But now – it seems obvious that despite this moniker (that really only served to separate Asians/Asian Americans from other communities of color), we are not exempt from being victims of violence due to racism. No matter how quiet we are, how much work we do, or how many ways we serve this country – we are still considered “other, different, foreign.” There is no way we can assimilate our eyes, our skin, our hair to the white culture of the United States of America.

Yet for years, generations, we have kept quiet. Sure, there have been a few who have spoken out, who have gotten politically involved, trying to make a difference, make a change. But for the most of us, the rest of us, we have continued the mantra of “keep your head down, do your work, don’t complain” – don’t be noticed and they will forget about you and let you live your life in peace.

This belief is like when little kids cover their eyes and think that just because they can’t see us, that we can’t see them.

It’s cute and fun when you’re two, but it’s dangerous and scary to believe this when you’re 22 or 42 or 62.

Asian Americans need to open our eyes. We are not immune to racism or sexism or any other – ism. Whether we stay silent or not, whether we work or not, whether we save lives as a doctor or not, whether we serve in the armed forces or not (I can go on, but I think (I hope) you get the point), none of these behaviors can combat racism because racism needs to identified, racism needs to be called out an held accountable, racism needs to be decried with the loudest voice we have.

Racism needs to be identified.

Racism needs to be called out and held accountable.

Racism needs to be decried in the loudest voice we have.

I hope my broken-hearted voice is loud enough in the roar of day.

©️ 2021 iido

The Geometry of Sunshine – A Haibun

Parallel lines seep through the leaves. It highlights the perimeter of moss, a verdant tangent kissing the circumference of rocks and logs. Morning dew collects in an overturned mushroom umbrella, bending the light at a 45 degree angle. The reflection distracts a vibrant red cardinal from his song. He puffs out his chest, taking measured steps along the branch, before resuming his aria in the spotlight. 

A grid of trees holds points of sunshine, a linear connection between time and purpose. At one vertex, a grateful squirrel pops out her head, inhaling fresh air, thinking of her cache of acorns. At another, a woodpecker begins a radius from bark through phloem to heartwood. The tap-tap-tapping sending perpendicular reverberations, intersecting the quiet morning light. 

Morning’s right angles

Chords of sunshine connecting

The shape of nature

Full disclosure – this is not a “morning sun”, it’s the setting sun. I am a night owl and not an early bird.

Catching up with Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge! This haibun incorporates #264 – Sunshine, #266 – Vibrance (I used “vibrant” instead), #267 – Light and #269 – Geometry. Geometry was one of my best subjects so this poem was a fun challenge! Can you find all the geometry terms?

I have always loved math even though after a time, the concepts started to elude me. This happened when I started high school, around the time when my head became filled with other things. I didn’t understand this phenomenon until I became an adult and studied it my feminist social work classes.

My older daughter (the author) turns 13 tomorrow. I see this process starting to happen to her – she is really good at math and science (she’s a whiz at computer coding) yet she claims she hates this subjects. She is only one of three girls in her private school class and I know she’s heard comments from other students when she is able to grasp a concept before others.

Nature can be cruel (as the saying goes), but nature is also full of beauty and wonder. This is also true of humans. We can chose what we focus on. We can chose what narrative governs our lives. I hope my girls can see the options and make the best choice.

©️ 2021 iido

Perpendicular Perspective – A Poem

You look down on me without realizing 

Your strength and beauty perfectly balanced 

From your perch 

A perpendicular perspective 

Your artist eyes watching 

My plateaued trajectory 

You don’t realize your wings are ready

To feel the air and lift

An arrow at the end of your line

Infinite, vertical 

Do not continue to look down

My line ends in a point

Flatlined living

Look up with your artist eyes

And imagine, create

Look up with your eagle eyes 

And focus, achieve

The scale has shifted

I look up at you and realize

You’re strength and beauty perfectly balanced 

Image credit: Sonny Mauricio
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows a bald eagle sitting in the bare branches of a tree. It is looking down at the camera

Hello! Hello! It’s been a while – over a month (yikes!) since I’ve last posted. I’ve been busy – and I’m excited to tell you with what – but first, I’m catching up…well, you know, catching up in my usual “late to the party” way…is there any other way? (cue eye-roll and self-deprecating facetiousness)

Three things inspired me with this poem. First, was this adorable picture from Sadje’s What do you see #73. I missed the deadline to be included in her round up, but you can read all the other wonderful submissions here. Second, was Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #268 – Scale and #269 – Perpendicular. Now, I have been a long time fan of Patrick’s challenges and am actually on a streak. Being the “competitive” person that I am, I will have to go back and complete the other challenges because there are no breaks when streaking!

Third, and probably the most meaningful inspiration for this poem is my older daughter who just self-published her first book at the tender age of 12! Yes – my daughter has published her own book before I have! At an age when I was consumed with awkwardness and other growing pains, my daughter has the self-confidence, the motivation, and the perseverance to spend this past pandemic year writing a book and designing and creating the cover art. She even did all the research for how she can self-publish it.

If you can’t tell, I am very proud of her and very much in awe of her accomplishment.

You can find her book on Amazon. She joins the ranks of other esteemed writers on WP such as Mich (see her book here) and Ivor (see his books here and here) and Chris (see one of her many books here).

©️ 2021 iido

Hunter vs. Runner – A Haibun and Runfession #16, January 2021

Her white belly, like a dangerous cloud against the blue sky, was difficult to see at first. But hints of brown and the predatory glint of sharp eyes gave her away before her ear-piercing screech did.   

I pump my arms faster, willing my legs to follow suit as I traverse a country road where sage greens are losing the battle against fiery reds and commanding yellows. We are racing, this eagle and I, although my plodding footfalls are in no way as graceful as her gliding gilded wingspan. Wind rustles the golden corn stalks, the soothing cheer interrupted by a final taunting screech as the eagle and I part ways.

Hunter’s glint flash bright

I am not competition

Does that make me prey?

My first runfession of 2021! I’m finally able to link up with Marcia’s Healthy Slice, the creator of the Runfession Forum. It’s been months since I’ve had a proper runfession and my soles were getting heavy.

I was able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word #263 – Bright into this haibun that was inspired by Frank J. Tassone’s prompt of a haibun about eagles for d’Verse’s Haibun Monday. Full confession (since this is a runfession!) – I think the 1st picture above is actually a hawk (taken during a run in downtown Harrisburg) and, while the 2nd picture is an eagle, it’s not real but an iron sculpture at the Hawk Mountain Conservatory in Kempton, PA.

I did try racing a raptor during a run a few years ago. I wasn’t sure exactly what type of bird it was (probably a hawk) but I was on a country road training to get my road apple award when I noticed the bird flying over the corn fields to my right. I was so intrigued by it’s elegance that I actually almost fell into a ditch on the side of the road. Thankfully, I caught myself in time and only stumbled. By them the bird flew away, it’s screech was probably laughter at the clumsy creature hobbling along below.

But I digress…I’m trying to distract you from the true purpose of this post which is to give a good runfession because Saucony knows, I need it….

I runfess…2020 was dismal year for running for me. Despite doing 100 miles in February 2020 for the Taji 100, when the pandemic hit in March and everything closed down, my motivation was gone faster than the time it takes me to wash my hands (20 seconds or singing “Happy birthday” twice). But 2021 is new year and I have already committed to several challenges this year.

I runfess…Maybe I’m crazy but I’ve always wanted to run across the USA like Forrest Gump. So when a friend asked me if I wanted to run the Amerithon with her, of course I said yes! January was a slow start with only 41 miles for the month, but at least it was a start.

I runfess…I’m doing a little double dipping with my miles for February. Not only am I running the Amerithon, but I also signed up for the Taji 100 (again!). Yes, 100 miles in the month of February for Team RWB and to support our men and women in the military. I have a nephew serving in the Air Force and numerous friends who are retired military so this challenge has significant meaning to me.

I runfess….I am still injured and am probably a little crazy to attempt this high mileage after several months of inactivity. However, I am tired of feeling like the injured mouse just waiting for some eagle or hawk to swoop down and put me out my misery. I’m actually walking about 90% of my miles, so while that will take longer, I think (hope) it will keep me from totally exacerbating my injuries. Just don’t tell my sports medicine doc what I’m doing…

I am so glad that running/walking has returned to being a bright spot in my life! I do feel so much better with regular exercise. Even if I don’t reach 100 miles in February or complete the 3521 miles for Amerithon, I know that the journey is more important than the destination. With the pandemic still going strong here in the USA, I’m not sure what else this year will bring, but at least my intentions are clear – 2021 will be a better year!

©️ 2021 iido