Planting Seeds of Change: Pandemic Haiku Part Two June 9, 2020 11:47
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I wasn't sure if I wanted to include additional poems in this month's blog post or not, but when I read through the haiku from this past month, I observed some significant shifts and patterns that were quite different from the previous poems.
Needless to say, this month has been challenging for many reasons. COVID-19 has not yet released its grip around the world, and, on top of that, here in the U.S., we are grappling with the collective grief, rage, and pain of racism, police brutality, and economic hardship.
It's been a difficult month for many, and while I have been staying put at home, for the most part, I have also been deeply aware and connected to the concerns of others. These concerns have drifted to the surface of awareness through this daily haiku practice.
* Connection with Nature
For centuries, haiku have connected to and referenced the natural world. While I wrote a few poems in the previous month that alluded to nature, wildlife, and the environment, the haiku this month seemed to slip deeper. They moved beyond mere observation to create a more direct, organic connection to the natural world.
Our eyes met briefly
as you trotted through the yard.
Wild. Searing. Amber.
Komorebi * (5.11.2020)
Shadows of oak leaves
dance on white walls. Light and dark
play until dinner.
(* Japanese term: play of sunlight through leaves)
Dwarf Rhododendrons (5.19.2020)
Tender white petals
expand, hold time and stillness
close in drops of rain.
Sunday Afternoon (5.24.2020)
Even in full sun,
this room is cloaked in green leaves.
Oak, Ash, Hickory.
*Uprising of Grief
In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, I noticed a palpable tension that gradually intensified. It was a subtle shift, slowly rising to the surface. I went through periods of grief--intense sadness for no obvious reason. Then, reasons began to emerge--a former student of mine was murdered; then, George Floyd was murdered, and racism, injustice, corruption, and brutality were justifiably called out into the open. The daily protests continue even now; voices rise up, screaming for change. An ancient wound has been acknowledged at last, and accountability has been demanded.
Space between Stimulus and Response (5.3.2020)
Fine line between left and right.
Not this…Not that…Here.
As If the Virus Wasn’t Enough (5.5.2020)
Toxic stings, hot nails
in flesh. Murder hornets rip
honeybees to shreds.
Remembering Tori (5.13.2020)
Red hair and freckles,
giggling with best friend in hall.
Restless. Kind. Spunky.
Her body shakes; claws
dig into chair cushion. Raw
struggle for control.
A knee to the neck
for nine minutes. Cries for help
ignored. “I can’t breathe.”
*Call to Practice
The third pattern that has emerged is a distinct call to practice. I've stayed up late several times this month to watch H.H. Dalai Lama give live stream teachings and transmissions from India. A friend and Dharma teacher is currently living in Israel right now. She's been hosting weekly meditations and talks on Zoom. I've awakened at 4:00 a.m. on several occasions to join them. Saga Dawa, one of the most significant Buddhist holidays, is currently happening this month. It celebrates the birth, death, and parinirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha.
I've spent more time on my cushion in quiet contemplation, or in meditative movement practice as a way of processing this undeniable collective grief and anger. I came across a Thich Nhat Hanh quotation recently that resonated: "Meditation is not evasion. It is a serene encounter with reality."
These poems have been attempts to acknowledge and come to terms with this difficult reality as well.
Golden light spirals
from the center of the spine.
May you be happy.
Paint each vertebra
with an exhale. Spinal curves
and breath undulate.
Precious Garland: Day One (5.15.2020)
Gold robes, orchids, silk.
He speaks of love, compassion
between sips of tea.
Inhale: Pain. Exhale:
Joy. Inhale: Black Smoke. Exhale:
Gold Light. Receive…Give…
May all of you reading or listening to these words be happy and well. May you be free of suffering, and may you find joy.
I have added several new designs to the Middle Moon Malas online shop, so if you haven't visited in a while, feel free to browse the collection at middlemoonmalas.com.
Take care, everyone!
Pandemic Haiku: Finding Hope and Healing in Seventeen Syllables May 1, 2020 14:09
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We're all coping with this strange new normal as best as we can. I've certainly done a fair amount of yard work (for me, that means picking up fallen limbs and branches and throwing them onto the burn pile), stress cleaning, organizing, and experimenting with new recipes as a way of managing my own concerns and worries.
However, I've also found another effective coping mechanism for dealing with the uncertainties of lockdown lifestyle: writing daily haiku.
5...7...5: Three lines, seventeen syllables! It's the perfect form for staying present and honing in on a specific event or moment.
Since the middle of March, I've spent a few minutes every evening focusing on a specific image, memory, or happening from the day and attempted to capture the essence of that moment.
It started as a lark, really--a way to lighten the mood, and decompress from the onslaught of depressing news coverage, but after 40+ days of documenting my experiences in bite-sized poetry, I've discovered a few surprises.
Surprise #1 These poems have become important reminders that spiritual practices are not limited to the cushion. Actually, they are extensions of meditation, contemplation, and study. In a way, they are nuggets of attention, intention, and practical wisdom.
Full Pink Moon (4.7.2020)
Blushing in the dark,
she shimmers, while peeper frogs
cheer from deep ravines.
Imagine Leaving an Imprint (4.16.2020)
in warm sand, uncooked
pastry dough. Skull. Ribs. Pelvis.
Vajrasattva Recitations at the Laundromat (4.30.2020)
Linens tumble dry.
Quarters, green numbers mark time.
Fluff. Fold. Purify.
Surprise #2 Much like an archaeologist digging for ancient artifacts in the sand, these poems are clues to what matters...what really matters right now (family, humor, nourishment, safety, nature).
Vegetable Soup (4.3.2020)
Slow-cooked leeks, carrots,
potatoes fill the house with
the scent of normal.
Sock Monkey Bandana (4.10.2020)
Wore it as a mask
on a Target run. You thought
it was underwear.
Terrier Vs. Dandelions (4.27.2020)
She runs through tall grass
snatching heads of suns and moons
between sharp, fierce teeth.
Surprise #3 Finally, these poems are evidence of connection and interconnection. They are reminders of the importance of compassion for others, gratitude, and thoughtful reflection.
Bright Spot (3.18.2020)
She waited in line
at Fresh Thyme, cradling yellow
tulips like a child.
Online Zoom Class (3.19.2020)
rise, flow, soar, sway, transcend space
from small square boxes.
Miumiu and Paulo: “Fly Me to the Moon” (3.26.2020)
Two guitars, one voice.
China and Nashville share a
masterclass in grace.
Storms and wind brought them:
body twitching, head thumping
hard against wood floor.
The Early Bird Gets the Clorox Wipes (4.17.2020)
Noon brings empty shelves:
vinegar, lemons, vodka—
Sleeping in has perks.
To date, I have written 40+ pandemic haiku. I don't know how long this sadhana practice will continue, but as with every meaningful practice, motivation and intention are much more important than rushing to completion. Taking a break from frenetic busyness has many blessings and benefits. This haiku project, for me, has helped to recognize and appreciate them.
To view the mala collection, click here to access the Middle Moon Malas online shop.