Writing 201: Poetry: Water: Haiku

Spring peeper frog music

Lone sentinel Blue Heron waits

Contemplates food thought [5-7-5]

 

Many moons passed

History written speak your heart

Thine own self be true [5-7-5]

 

Camellias kitchen fire

Spring home for eighty-eight years

Still learning to cook [5-7-5]

 

Sympathy, love, understanding

Without—within, which is worse?

Heart must rule the head [5-7- 5]

 

Other side of love

Together alone, love new

Love the other side [5-7-5]

The Winter Dance

The Winter Dance

We head out onto the snow-covered frozen lake with darkening skies on the horizon.

The golden retrievers excited at getting out for the daily nature excursion.

Northwest winds, cold and cloud do not dampen our enthusiasm as a change of weather, a collision of fronts low and high fascinate on a piece of the earth that we inhabit together and alone in our exploration.

Just as we reached the far shore the dark clouds opened, shearing winds broke free.

First snow then snow squalls in wind-blown gust engulfed us in a dancing natural whiteout of changing weather and temperature.

Turn to get the wind with us as we head back toward the warm shelter of home.

Stopped in awe at the beautiful and wild chaos moving all around Snow devils jumped up everywhere and moved to gusty rhythms in wild dances Spins swirls to and fro in small tornadoes of snow.

They existed as energetic torrents of wispy shades of white as alive as you and I. They lived a short time jumping up dancing and moving only to disappear in the distance.

Others seemed to see the fun and jump up to take their turn as dancing ghosts. Past snow lifts from the lake to grab a new snowy partner in a celebration of the cold and gusty winds that supply the music.

They move and fly across the floor as we make steps toward home. First steps in new snow Ghosts and Apparitions up from the Past appear to move to the Future as we walked among them in the Present.

Just another gift from the great spirit in the sky comes down to play on a mild calm to windy cold day.

The powerful winter dance felt and embraced fast and fleeting in duration yet Forever in spirit memory’

We bend at the waist bow down and thank you for the dance.

My Faithful Instrument

My Faithful Instrument

The Music of my life
The Beat of my heart
The Dance of a lifetime
The Joy and Laughter of my Spirit
The perfect rhythm and movement of each all of my days
The sweetest of melodies
The heat of love and compassion
The warmth and tender closeness of the waltz
The stage for my performances
Your body and spirit are my smooth and perfect instrument
And together in each other’s arms exist the only safe place and piece of heaven I have ever found
Handled with care
We will play on….

Searching for a good honest woman

A FUN ONE
You are my joyous entertainer
Not just a cartoon character though just as animated
You are the all-time best variety show, an Emmy winner for sure
You dance, you sing, you mimic
And always you bring laughter
You are the talk show host and the sidekick
You are the invited guests; the singer, the dancer, the song and dance master.
You are the crazy and novel talent act
The storyteller and listener
Advisor and commenter
The clown, the standup comic and court jester
You are the Queen of gesture and animated face and body language
You are quick witted and on the spot of any real moment,focused and truthfully present
You are an original
As you provide joy and truest laughter to my life
And you are perfect just the way you are

Person In The River Dedicated to the Firefighter/First Responders of 9/11/2001

9-11-2001

Person in the Water—Dedicated to the Fire Fighter/First Responders who gave their lives responding on 9/11/2001—a 911 emergency

The twenty-four hour tour of duty was just beginning. After radio check the crew of three from the outside satellite station had started their assigned tasks around the house. The officer was cutting the grass, the pump operator checking and cleaning the truck and equipment, and the back step firefighter cleaning the station. Bells and radio signal draw immediate attention, and station details are no longer of importance.

The call comes in with two bells and the announcement over the Personal Address speakers “Person in the River,” followed by closest location reported and response assignment.
Crews of First Responders head out the door; the closest crew of three arrive on scene where they are signaled by waving arms of the location. Just past the old stone arch bridge the river bends by a grassy field and is bordered by a line of trees and brushy growth, a place where there is a view of the river and shelter from the summer sun. A place where the old man who waved us over had been fishing until a passing pleasure boat transiting the river sighted someone floating in the water. It is a place where a homeless person known to the district fire company and police had been living recently.

Years of experience tells the initial crew that it is too late for a rescue. The officer unofficially announces a death over the radio with the transmission, “To all responding companies, this is a recovery, repeat, this is a recovery.” The response continues and the drill is the same as a rescue but subtle sorrow replaces urgency as another pump, ladder truck with rescue boat, command car, police local and state, and ambulance crews arrive. first responders all and the true meaning of 911 where calls for help of any kind are answered and dealt with professionalism and respect no matter who you are, alive, recently departed or those grieving and left behind.

The crews set up on shore at the opening as an inflatable life ramp is filled from one of the same air tanks used to breathe at fires; one firefighter in a bright orange Survival Suit enters the water tethered to shore by a colorful floating safety rope, a ‘Go Rescue’. The firefighter moves quickly and without hesitation. He is the first human contact for the victim. Carefully, condition and death are confirmed. The colorful line is delicately placed around the floating man and held together with a carabiner connector. If it were a rescue the firefighter would also be connected and wrap his legs around as the line tenders pull rescuer and victim to shore. The reality of a recovery is now in some waiting as the colorful line connects victim to shore, to the place where he watched the river.

Yellow hazard tape is set up around the scene to keep onlookers at a safe distance and to cordon off the scene until state investigator, photographer and coroner’s pickup van arrive. The cause of death, ruling out foul play, and recovery await their arrival. The first arriving responders stand by and stand guard over the man in the water near the river bank. We believe him to be the homeless person. Alone in life, he is now the center of attention and conversation to the onlookers outside the tape. The old man who waved us to the scene has strangely gone back to fishing, not knowing what else to do, as helpless as the victim and first responders without a rescue. The ladder company has checked the shore and river in the rescue boat for other victims with nothing found. The family transiting the river in a pleasure boat is questioned over the same cell phone the 911 came in on. They continue down the river to safe harbor and out to the ocean for the day. The day though sunny and hot is not as bright and warm for any of us who are witnesses, waiting, or standing guard. Who is the man in the water? Center of attention in death, he is tethered to land in a subtle noninvasive way by a lifeline. His life and soul passed probably a day earlier. Troubled spirit lost long before today? Who is he?

Clues and Questions
The water he watched from the riverbank had held him in a cool embrace and protected him from the start of a heat wave which followed violent thunderstorms. Embrace released, he now floats facedown like the lily pads across the river hugging the opposite shore in sunlight. His black sunglasses were found in a private place hidden from sight. Next to the glasses a bottle emptied of cheapest rum. He was wearing tee-shirt and shorts, black belt, white sneakers. He was about the same height as the homeless man who always stayed on the shady side of the river by the grassy field. The line of growth between field and river offered cover and privacy from critical eyes. The First Responders had helped him many times in past weeks. Calls for ‘person down’, had brought them to various locations to help him up, tend to injuries, get some history and give a little pep talk before he was taken to the local hospital—cleaned up treated and put back on the street. –911 responders get to know the regulars, ‘frequent fliers’, they know the present problems and get hints of troubled pasts. The regulars come and go, always to be replaced by another broken spirit standard-bearer. First responders can only help with immediate medical and emotional needs. First responders can not heal broken spirits and find lost souls. But they try! The clues point to the homeless man, the questions remain. The field, wood and river are the homeless person’s companions without judgment or criticism. A place where swans occasionally transit the river, nature in its perfection and the human nature of imperfection in uncomplicated unquestioned connection.

Who knows what defeats the spirit? What starts the downward spiral of hope and loss of faith? Why do so many get lost in a bottle, a drug, a bet, abuse and trauma? How the human nature of imperfection can let us think that we can find our spirit in imbibing substances? That we can find solace in anything that brings relief no matter how temporary or futile? Why did the homeless person leave the perfection of nature, walk past the health food store, the coffee shop and go instead to the liquor store? Was his last walk back to his natural shelter, the last spiral down the bank in drunken stupor into the cool embrace of his river? Did he die alone and frightened during the violent thunderstorm?

The investigator arrives and agrees with what the First Responders already know. The photographer arrives and takes his pictures of the scene. Both have a tough job in giving some closure and finality to the task at hand. Outside the tape the onlookers, bored, find connection and chatter with others who pass by and stop. They are told to move on, to move back, that this is nothing they want to see. Some of them have their children with them in a place no child should be. They move on but still gawk from a distance so the ambulance is moved closer and in their way. Bored curiosity and open indifference could be better spent. Children should be playing! Did the onlookers care at all when the man was alive? How many times was he told to move on, to be someone else’s problem? To find shelter in nature where questions were not asked and some peace found.

The Recovery
The minivan/hearse arrives. The coroner’s body recovery person is a young man wearing shorts, tee-shirt, black belt, and white sneakers. He is so relaxed and casual that his identification is checked. Already too experienced at a ghoulish but necessary job he covers up in a throw away white coveralls suit and the end of the recovery nears.
The line is cast to the rescue boat and they move to slowly bring contact with shore. Fire fighters and the ambulance crews grab the rope, belt, clothes and sneakers and carefully move him to a white body bag on the bank of the river. Pictures are taken, it is his tattoo, we cut open his back pocket to remove the wallet, and it is our homeless person, though with loss of life, spirit and soul he bears no resemblance. The bag is zipped up and six of us in procession move his body with care and respect to a stretcher. He is placed in another black bag, zipped in and strapped down to the stretcher. The responders are silent except for the commands to move and the sound of zippers and click of strap connections. He is moved into the back of the minivan hearse and the driver who is dressed the same but for the color of the tee-shirt leaves the bank of the river, drives across the grassy field, by the health food store, coffee shop and liquor store. He carries our once frequent flier over the river across the old stone arch bridge and along the sunny side of the river to highway and mortuary. The rescue boat crew follows the river back to the launching point and return to service as a Ladder Truck Company One. The onlookers disperse and all but the initial crew move on to other calls and duty. The first due company removes the hazard tape and retrieves the colorful lifeline. First to arrive are often also the last to leave. They return to quarters and the details of fire house keeping, cutting grass and mopping floors, checking equipment to ready for their next call, the next run out the door.

The Downward Spiral
We know from past calls that he is from the same neighborhood. We know he once owned a house in another town and lost it. He grew up not far from the river. He lost home, house, business, jobs, cars and license. He made and lost friends family and connections. He played ball on the grassy field as an adolescent, hung out as a teen. He returned to his old neighborhood because he did not know where else to go. He returned for the memories of that childhood to teen home as a lost adult. Lost in a river of troubles he ended up in the water’s cool embrace. He found fleeting relief in a bottle but no answers. He slowly buried his spirit long before he became homeless. His troubles were just the marking posts of the loss.

Will the trees, field and river remember his passing? The river flows to safe harbor to ocean where it is freed to be part of the whole. From the ocean waters clouds rise and become rain. The lake fills drains to the river that flows by the shore. It washes a wooded bank by a grassy field. The rain splatters on lily pads as swans seek shelter where a boy played and a homeless person lived. The water carries a spirit and soul to find restful peace.

Who Is The Homeless Person?
The person is Everyman, who everybody knows and everyone has inside. He is in every family, in every town, village and city. He is everywhere we go.

He is us! He is the homeless guy, the alcoholic, the druggie, the lost soul, the village idiot, the gambler, the abused and the abuser, the trauma and the tragedy. He is your neighbor, your friend, your partner, your spouse.

He is the human being, the spirit, the soul, the body, the connection to us all, to the whole that we are all a part of and he is everyman. He is everyone who can see, feel, and care for the nature of it all.

He is hope, faith, love, charity.

He is connection, communication, caring, empathy, sympathy and warmth. He is commitment and truth. He is all of us and he is a broken spirit and a lost soul without us.

© Ken Pothier July 17, 2006—edited and republished on 9/11/14

2014 Sand Sculpture Competition at Hampton Beach N.H.–Overview

Great job but a long day in the sun.

Great job but a long day in the sun.

DSCN2021DSCN2114Hit the road early to ride the 99 miles from home to Hampton Beach. I wanted to take pictures of the Sand Sculptures before the afternoon downpours alter the art perfection. Already some wind though hot hazy and sunny as I tucked my self behind the Cycles shield for gusts. Route 4 to Route 93 to Route 101 all a good motorcycle cruise to my destination. The beach culture was just getting started with various groups and couples heading to the sand, some starting volleyball games, some swimming and exploring the shore. The Sand Sculpture is a joy which I am drawn to each year. Enjoy!

Working on the tan

Working on the tan

The strip with so much to do see and buy.

The strip with so much to do see and buy.

Side detail

Side detail

Bathing beauty

Bathing beauty

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DSCN2092

Vollyball

Vollyball

DSCN2088

DSCN2089

DSCN2025

DSCN2013

DSCN2014

DSCN2015

DSCN2016

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Wait for me!

Wait for me!

Family excursion

Family excursion

Life is a beach! Hampton Beach N.H.
Sand Sculpture Competition 2014[/caption]

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“Ass in the chair is the only rule of art.” Donald Murray

Ernest Hemingway and Donald Murray

What I continue to learn! Why I am inspired by these giants of writing.
I have experienced 6 weeks of Monday night classes at Donald Murray’s home in Durham. I sat in as a want to be writer with writers of varied experience in his living room. I worked on a Friday night deadline for 6 weeks and held to it. The secret Don said was to write. He did not believe in writers block. He said to start with a word and go from there.

I have experienced 7 weeks of a class: Ernest Heming way: The Paris Years. It has been an ever changing and interesting experience. I only knew of Hemingway from his book The Old Man and the Sea and the short stories The Hills of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. I was amazed and inspired by all three works.

So I have gone from The Paris Years to the Portsmouth Ideas and enjoyed the ride. As Sir Robert said on the first night of class, that it is ‘’Like a river ever flowing, ever changing.” I have discovered that the more I read of EH and DM the faster the river flows, quickening the pace of change. There is so much to learn so much to mine for the craft of writing.
Mr. Wheeler also quoted Donald Murray, “I have to fight the tendency to think I know the subject I teach.” Ernest and Donald were now forever intertwined in supplying inspiration after that first night of class. I left that night enthused and looking forward to my readings and the next class.
I read of generations passing and searching for meaning in “The Sun Also Rises” and immediately realized a connection between EH and DM. They were both great observers of what is happening all around them. Murray had said in class that to be a writer one must see what others do not and craft a way to let them see what they missed.
I learned that there have been countless biographies on EH since his untimely 1961 death and that as a Journalist, Travel Writer, Short Story Writer and Writer of novels that he had squirreled away lots of writing. He did this despite being a womanizer, a drinker, a sportsman and a husband and father.

As a Journalist Hemingway covered stories for the Kansas City Star and then as an expatriate freelance writer covering post war Europe. I found that he learned valuable lessons there about writing in a concise manner. From the 1954 book, The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway the Early Years by Charles A. Fenton much was gleaned. Ernest Hemingway was a working newspaperman both intermittently and for long intervals during the years Oct. 1916 and Dec. 1923. Other influences were War, Travel, and Sport. His work habits were extensive, sustained and purposeful. He wrote expatriate fiction in 1922-3. In a very real sense his apprenticeship never ended. Hemingway had durability, he was demanding, always growing and had rigid discipline when it came to writing. He said to a friend in 1949, “I’m apprenticed out at it until I die. Dopes can say you mastered it. But I don’t know nobody ever mastered it, nor could not have done better.” [At it]
Hemingway only worked at the Kansas City Star for 7 months but the rules from the papers style sheet book had 110 rules which stayed with him for live. Language and words could never from this point be lightly regarded (pg. 32). In 1940 Hemingway said, “I’ve never forgotten them, no man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them (pg. 34). Some rules were simple; like never use old slang, avoid use of adjectives, and use short sentences. The only way to improve your writing is to write. The English language yields to simplicity through brevity (pg. 43). Charles Fenton an English Instructor at Yale said, “It wasn’t the literary hothouse of Paris in the 20’s that shaped Hemingway so much as fledgling High school journalism in Oak Park, Ill. and the newsrooms of Kansas City and Toronto.”
Journalism was writing for the moment; as such it was doomed to the death of topicality but the fiction writer by adding invention to experience gave his work the possibility of enduring life. Hemingway granted that it was okay to begin in journalism because it lumbers you up and gives you a command of the language, it was good practice. [Read Paragraphs pg. 232 and 225]

Notes:
Hemingway peaked early, burned out early, copped out and exited early missing a head, yet left a body of work. He lived his time fully but not a full life because you must finish the journey and he up and quit. He left a mess for others to decipher. He was another casualty of another lost and searching generation.
“Old’ man take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you. I need someone to love me the whole day thru. Ah! One look at my eyes and you can tell that’s true” (Neil Young). I am not Hemingway but I do write. I am only alive because I put up a fight to survive. I mine for the words and a heart of gold. Pray I do not lose the spontaneity. Did EH become so tough because his name was Ernest or because he was? EH and DM were both bears of a man. Their paths may have crossed. DM knew of EH’s work and work habits and quoted them in his writing notes. DM went out with his writing boots on dying a day after submitting his last column for the Boston Globe. EH left us too early after burning out. Both lived full and humanly complete lives of observing and learning and writing it all out. Each part of the story gleaned from focused observation and from attempts at learning lessons. The jumbled beginnings of a journey jotted down from viewing another lost generation. From Donald Murray, “Ass in the Chair is the only rule of Art.”

Works Referenced:
(Weber) (Fenton) (Phillips) (Murray)
Fenton, Charles A. The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway-the Early Years. NY: Viking Press, 1954.
Murray, Donald M. Welcolm to the Writer’s Craft. Writing Guide. Durham, NH: Donald M Murray, 2006.
Phillips, Larry W. Ernest Hemingway on Writing. NY: Scribner, 1984, 2004.
Weber, Ronald. Hemingway’s Art of Non-Fiction. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.