Tuesday, August 5, 2008

three haiku from 2005 with Japanese translations

two butterflies
stop and go, but mostly
keep on going

August 20, 2005

つがい蝶 ならびまろびの 飛翔かな
tsugai chou / narabi marobi no / hishou kana

Translation to Japanese, Ken Saito

tsugai : a pair of, a brace of
narabi (narannde) : to go (in flight) in line/tandem, or, side by side
marobi (maronnde) : (rather old fashioned saying meaning )
to stagger/totter, or to drop-off (from flight)
hishou : flight

"a couple of butterflies flying, (sometimes/mostly) in smooth and side by side flight, (sometimes) troubled flight"

unenlightened, as yet—
how thunderbolts follow
one another

DW Bender
Haiku, 2005

悟るなし  雷神あまた  お在せども
satoru nashi / raijin amata / owase domo

Translation to Japanese, Ken Saito
(alludes to the haiku by master, Matsuo Basho [1644-1694]:

"How admirable!
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.")

almost before
it starts, it stops.
afternoon rain

DW Bender
Haiku, 2005

午後の雨  降りだす間なく  降り止めり
gogo no ame / furidasu manaku / furi yameri

Translation to Japanese, Ken Saito

Monday, June 23, 2008

To Don Cecil's "Flight School"

Don Cecil
continues to create wonderful photomontages which he posts at Flicker. With their sense of the universal, of childhood, of wonder, mystery, sorrow, humor, whenever viewing each new offering, I realize I am stepping into the inner realms of contemporary a master artist:


holding my breath,
made a dandelion wish—
let it blow

DW Bender
June 22, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tanka, 2003: untitled

click to view larger image
DW Bender
tanka, haiga, 2003

Thursday, May 8, 2008

L'homme est un arbre des champs (by artist, Kola Remaz)

May 8, 2008
To a picture:

While the winter passed,
for sake of art, have cut out
and erased my self.

DW Bender

See Kola's picture, and his other artwork on Flickr, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kolaremaz/2476630438/

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Basho's Monkey Mask Haiku & So-gi's Temple Bell

For my "Monkey Sox" avatar and my dream:^D, two haiku. There is an insightful commentary on these two poems by Hugh Bygott (UK) on the old Shiki Salon haiku forum, in which the use of metaphor in this poem of Basho's is examined:

toshidoshi ya
saru ni kisetaru
saru no men

year after year—
on the monkey's face
a monkey's mask

haiku by Matsuo Bashō
(松尾 芭蕉, Matsuo Bashō, 1644 – 28 November 1694)

kane zo naru
kyo- mo munashiku
sugi ya sen

The temple bell
sounds on another day
empty of insight.

hyakuin by So-gi
So-gi Dokugin Nanibito Hyakuin
"A Hundred Stanzas Related to 'Person' by
So-gi Alone."
Translation by Earl Miner

Makoto Ueda's commentary on Basho's monkey's mask poem may also be found at the University of Oregon's site.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Prayer, A Dream, A Psalm of Prayer

Oh God, heal us!
Teach my spirit to restore
what I have wasted

DW Bender
prayer, March 20, 2008

I had a dream the night before last, in which I was explaining something which I don't now recall to a woman. It was mundane sort of helpful information, as if she were a customer or someone asking directions. She had a pained look on her face. I intuited what she was feeling: that she felt I disliked her. And although it wasn't how I felt at all, I questioned her directly about what her face told me. "Please forgive my bluntness; I don't wish to offend you," I asked, "but by your expression, I sense you feel that I dislike you in some way?" She responded yes, that was indeed what she was feeling, by the way I was talking to her. I apologized and thanked her for her honesty, saying that this was not the first time I had experienced that kind of reaction to the way I spoke and presented myself, recently, and that I should examine myself to see how I could say and do things differently. I felt deeply sad and embarassed, and woke up immediately.

I'm sure I had this dream in relation to a waking-life mundane online exchange on information about the use of a foodstuff as an appetite control tool, which became misunderstood and strained, which I quickly bowed out of, so as not to make it worse, email being too a limited tool for conversation and expression. In a related sense, I think both women in the dream represented aspects of my personality, and the opportunity to examine, change, grow.

Below are copied gracious words to live by, today and always. It expresses a heart-prayer which has been mine for many years, to be real, to be authentic (and another is to be blessed and made a blessing) but now, have found it put into actual words, today in a modern but timeless psalm written by Joseph Bayly:


Lord of Reality
make me real
not plastic
pretend, phony
an actor playing out his part
I don't want to keep a prayer list
but to pray
nor agonize to to find Your will
but to obey
what I already know
to argue
theories of inspiration
but submit to Your word.
I don't want
to explain the difference
between eros and pilos
and agape
but to love.
I don't want
to sing as if I mean it
I want to mean it.
I don't want
to tell it like it is,
but to be it
like You want it.
I don't want
to think another needs me
but I need him
else I'm not complete.
I don't want
to tell others how to do it
but to do it
to have to be always right
but to admit it when I'm wrong.
I don't want to be a census taker
but an obstetrician
nor an involved person, a professional
but a friend.
I don't want to be insensitive
but to hurt where other people hurt
nor to say I know how you feel
but to say God knows
and I'll try
if you'll be patient with me
and meanwhile I'll be quiet.
I don't want to scorn the cliches of others
but to mean everything I say
including this.

from Psalms of My Life, Joseph Bayly
Tyndale Treasures, copyright 1969
found at Barry Blog - designsmith

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Two Untitled Tanka (One collaborative)

seeing again
the beauty of tear drops
against dew drops
the mosses, catching them,
reveal a universe

untitled tanka
Susumu Takiguchi, UK: /st
DW Bender, USA: /db
January 4-5, 2007

without announcement
a spell of winter rain falls
into loneliness...
how my feet keep on slipping
over clouds dropped by the sky

DW Bender
Janauary 18, 2007
untitled tanka

Friday, March 14, 2008

Force of Gravity (tanka, 2001)

deceptively still,
far suns of night burn
in silence,
drawn away as I am
by force of gravity

DW Bender
unpublished tanka, May 8, 2001

Sorry, I've been busy with some other things, and have not been visiting my poetry blog for a little while...I do need to answer your kind comments, friends, readers. Soon.

A couple months ago, I discovered a wonderful artist/photographer, Donald Cecil, aka Don Cecil who posts many of his creations on Flickr. I am blown away and transported by the awesome wonder of his work, which call forth the language of dream, imagination, childhood... . I hope he will one day publish some of these in books. I can't begin to describe what kind of profound and stong feelings and yearnings (related to childhood and creativity) the images he creates bring up in me:


Visit all of them, but especially see, these Sets:

Kid Years

New Story

Cancer Time

50 Years

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spring Night, Ink

Haiku: One Deep Breath, Prompt 89 theme: Ink

1. Tanka with digital art

how could I help it—
escaping with the spring moon
on this quilted night

somewhere a slow, shifting sound
and ink melts, slips over stone

DW Bender
untitled tanka 2000

2. 2 Haiku


spring nightfall
ink melts
over stone

tombée du jour
l'encre fond
sur la pierre


back and forth
grinding ink slowly
the weight of my words

allant et venant
broyant l'encre lentement
le poids de mes mots

DW Bender, 2000
untitled haiku
published in Temps Libres/Free Times, 'Favorites'
Translated by Serge Tomé, Belgium

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Leeches, Amoebas & Algae (Oh My!)

furuike ya...kawazu tobikomu...mizu no oto

stagnant pond...
a frog-leap into
water's sound

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
Translation version by DW Bender

Our (awesome) youngest grandson, who is in Middle School, has a new science homework project. He must blog what he's learned each day in science class. Currently the class is studying the inhabitants of a nearby pond: algae, amoebas, leeches and dragonfly larvae. His teacher even made a video of the field trip.

Mike was born with the gift of natural wit. Since he learned to talk, which was, developmentally, a bit late due to temporary hearing losses from constant ear infections, he's come up with hilarious, unexpected and perfectly timed quips. While his hearing was impaired, doubtless he was listening intensely in order to make sense of the world and his favorite cartoon shows. He's also extraordinarily smart; recent national testing put him in the top 2%, of his school peers.

the spring rain...
chalk equations washed
from concrete

haiku by DW Bender, 2002
Nightingale, June 2002 (revised 2008)

His mother, our daughter, is also funny, rather sarcastically so; a future "Maxine" in the making. Almighty Heidi assisted ScienceBoy in premiering his newborn blog. The first version of the homework-site was a creative hoot. And that's not just grand-maternal baby-book pride speaking. Both grandson and his mother are truly funny, unlike me, who loves to be inanely silly, but being more introspective, am not exactly a comic wit (and not even a brag-book holding grandma.)

His teacher wasn't amused, however, probably due to frustration with the genius's failing grades. This, due to his persistent and inherent 12-year long insidious streak of utter lazy-boned-ness. Science is his favorite class, led by his favorite teacher nonetheless. So, wisely deferring to his teacher, our duly chastened student changed the name of his blog from "I Hate Homework" to the more sensible, "Mike's Science Homework", toning down the bloggery humor to a more pablum-esque juvi-scholar mode. Still, I truly wish his teacher would have been more open to ScienceBoy's sharp sense of the comic, especially relating to the homework project. It would give that creative facet of the child further chance to blossom, enhancing his understanding of, and love for science.

spring loneliness
the inch of fathomless space
between two stars

haiku by DW Bender
"bottle rockets", Issue 7
& Simply Haiku 1-5, November 2003

Which brings up a point of concern. It grieves me when teachers don't realize, understand or encourage the complementary inter-connectedness of creative gifts to applied learning...and to the enjoyment of learning. Many throw discouragement toward those who might attempt to mingle the two, even if instinctively, as in the case of young students. Although most don't realize this concept, such talents are given not only for enjoyment. In fact, the entertainment factor, while equally valid and important in it's own right, probably developed as a secondary benefit. In the case of the gifted, the derived pleasure might simply be a motivational impetus. After all, we do many things, even things we wouldn't otherwise do, only because we find them pleasurable. I believe the precious creative gifts are, primarily, superior and inimitable learning tools bequeathed by the Creator, who, by sensible deduction, would surely desire us to use them for the good. What brilliant mental leaps can be made by children or adults when the love of music is applied to math, drawing to grammar, poetry to psychology, humor to biology, culinary arts to sociology or any number of combinations. So much potential. So many aborted and unborn bright synaptic fireworks. What unmitigated dulling down of the species! O ye wet rags! What are we thinking? How are we thinking? Are we thinking at all? (Deep, deep, deep grandmotherly sigh. Groaning.)

Brighten up. Take those Omega 3's. Better yet, let's remember how to intuit. Have some chocolate with the fish oil! Yes, Einstein, it isn't rocket science (or perhaps, actually, it is), yet it is as you have spoken: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Fortunately, Mike's teacher is a person who cares very much about his students, and who is wonderfully talented and creative, himself. He makes learning fun. Even ScienceBoy's mother confesses she'd love to have been a student in his classes. So, there is hope that he'll indulge the wit when the wit gets serious with his grades. And I trust our grandson's love for his class and respect for his teacher will stimulate his left brain clear out of his mismatched right-brained lazy-socks.

shuncho ni...nagaruru mo ari...ya no gotoku

a sprig of algae...on spring tides....
.........shoots by...swift as an arrow

haiku by Sugita Hisajo [1890-1946]
translation version by DW Bender


Meaning lies in meaning's absence. The mist / Is always almost just about to lift. / Nothing is truer. Dear, not even this / Candle can explain its searing twist / Of flame mounted on cool amethyst.—Excerpt from 'Sugar Dada', by J. Allyn Rosser

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2008 Villanelle: Gravity


DW Bender
February 18-20, 2008

'Tis gravity that ages you and me;
we circuit day by day, year after year
on clockwork gears of earth, sun, moon and sea;

So round we go, flies on a string, and free
to rise or fall within our atmosphere;
'Tis gravity that ages you and me:

The constant pull and push on A through Z
grinds periodic elemental spheres
on clockwork gears of earth, sun, moon and sea:

As sure as warmth draws sap up through the tree
and water draws the root down deep and near,
'tis gravity that ages you and me.

All Adam's clay, we sink to whence we spring
(o just another ruse, dear Chanticleer).
On clockwork gears of earth, sun, moon and sea

the wheel of life-death-life spins until we,
weary, find rest in That which holds us dear.
'Tis gravity that ages you and me
on clockwork gears of earth, sun, moon and sea.


Hyperlinked here, are pages of a site with a favorite villanelle by Theodore Roethke, The Waking. Also, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Bob Dylan. Others villanelles and poems are available on the site, including a surprising one I've not read before: In Memory of the Unknown Poet, Robert Boardman Vaughn by Donald Justice. Here, I discovered a villanelle I like very much, Sugar Dada, by J. Allyn Rosser. I am especially drawn to Rosser's deep and Zennish, if not philosophically disillusioned lines, "Meaning lies in meaning's absence. The mist / Is always almost just about to lift./Nothing is truer. Dear, not even this ...". Love the poem.

Another site with some of my favorite villanelles by other poets: Mad Girl's Love Song and by Sylvia Plath, One Art by Elizabeth Bishop; some also on the above site.

Villanelles 1976-2003

3 villanelles, published previously at WHCpoetrybridge, World Haiku Review 5-1, 2005

Three older villanelle's below. "War of Dreams" was the third villanelle I penned, just before our son enlisted in the Air Force, about 17 years ago (revised):

War of Dreams
DW Bender

The end of hope is never what it seems:
Men lose and gain in war a prize not planned
So sons must fight to win their fathers' dreams.

O Glorious Future beckons. Battle screams.
War heroes, good and bad die, bleeding men.
The end of hope is never what it seems.

Just one more killing field! Bright promise gleams
Right at arm's length; the end is near at hand,
So sons will fight to win their fathers' dreams.

Ripe fields of blood are harvested and gleaned.
Felled seeds of wrath lie shell-burst in the land.
The end of hope is never what it seems

And what is spawned of war, they did not mean.
Downed hope, redressed, is bannered once again,
So sons must fight to win their fathers' dreams.

Men fight and lose, yet victory and the things
They sought might come in other ways, but then,
The end of hope is never what it seems—
So sons fight on to win their fathers' dreams.

The following is the first villanelle I wrote, in the mid-1970's during a poetry seminar held by Salvatore Salerno at Johnson County Community College, Jacksonville, NC. He had warned us against using trite phrases and cliches in poetry, end-rhymes such as "night, bright, light." So I, of course, got silly and made a poem just to use those words as end rhymes. I would have used "moon, spoon, June," too, but thought better of it, in lieu of making at least a halfway decent poem.

The Finger Pointing to the Moon
DW Bender

The moon you gave to me and all its shine.
I, being blind, had only seen the night.
Without the vision, I can't know what's mine.

The moon, you said, is like a silver dime.
You tried in vain to make me see the light;
The moon you gave to me and all its shine.

We've touched the moon. It's not so far in time.
I felt the coin's edges, thin and slight.
Without the vision, I can't know what's mine.

The moon has eyes, but cannot see its mime.
Its lifeless face reflects another's bright.
The moon you gave to me and all its shine.

Your finger pointed to the moon. We rhyme:
The moon and I are dark as sun is white.
(Without the vision, I can't know what's mine.)

To know the moon is having it in mind.
Your words gave this blind witness to your sight.
The moon you gave to me and all its shine;
Without the vision, I can't know what's mine.

I believe that "Alien Invasion was the 2nd villanelle I wrote, around the same time I wrote "War of Dreams." I don't recall which came first. At the time, I was working on a group of poems based on 1950's American culture.

Alien Invasion
DW Bender

..........(Don't touch that dial. we'll be right back!)

They came to earth to steal the minds of men;
We dare not say that we were unaware.
In black and white this truth is waived again.

Through tabloid hype and sci-fi's silver screen
We looked past Sputnik into future fear:
They came to earth to steal the minds of men

And saucer-eyed we begged them enter in,
Hypnotically enslaved by sightless stare
In black and white. This truth is waived again

Subliminally from images we've seen
And heard from channeled messages. Beware:
They came to earth to steal the minds of men!

In homes, the quasi life-form's "master plan"
Would change the world by mastering the air.
In black and white this truth is waived again.

And bit by bit we've changed to be like "them":
At finger's flick, antennae raised, we stare.
They came to earth to steal the minds of men.
In black and white this truth is waived again.

........ (Tune in tomorrow, same time, same station.)

"When All in Play" was written in the early 2000's, for fun.

When All in Play
DW Bender

When all in play I turn my words to sing,
and rhythms of far heartbeats mix with mine,
perchance the voice of my own soul shall wing.

In melodies of ancient shores that ring
I hear strange languages from other times,
when all in play I turn my words to sing.

Such cadences, so like, yet differing!
Should I delight to verse these friendly lines,
perchance the voice of my own soul shall wing.

But soft, what phrases rouse through wondering,
and make me wish to poem them into rhyme
when all in play I turn my words to sing?!

As psalms of mendicants and saints shall bring
together choirs of celebrants, sublime,
perchance the voice of my own soul shall wing.

O sweet, exotic music, let your strings
be in my ear and on my tongue in kind;
When all in play I turn my words to sing,
perchance the voice of mine own soul shall wing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Drifting apart

side-by-side, riding
through the common hours
we drift far apart—
your mind on the driving
and my mind on the drive

DW Bender
Tanka 2-18-08

a summer haiku from the past:

outdoor café
world problems solved
over coffee and tea

DW Bender
Summer Haiku, 2002, rev.2003,
World Haiku Review:
From A Haiku Editor's Desk,
"Writing Under the Influence"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

first azaleas

first azaleas—
how effortlessly hours pass

DW Bender
February 17, 2008

first azaleas—
yet I have wasted a day
viewing photographs!

DW Bender
February 17, 2008

and older spring haiku:

returning warmth—
so close I can only hear
your unspoken words

DW Bender
from From the Trees, haibun

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love Haiku (for my first love)

that boy I once loved
is the man I still love...
warmth of the far sun

DW Bender
Haiku, February 12, 2008

How to Haiku: In 2001, I wrote a lesson-method article for World Haiku Review. Haiku Sketchbook offers beginners in haiku a way which I, myself, use to learn how to haiku from the masters. For this, I recommend studying only Japanese haijin at first. Why? Most of us, in beginner's ignorance are not writing haiku (or tanka, senryu, and haibun) at all. If you wish to learn to write haiku, to percieve the spirit of haiku, please do such a "sketchbook" study each day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

White Lotus

Original poem:

At dawn I asked the lotus,
"What is the meaning of life?"
Slowly, she opened her hand
with nothing in it.

DW Bender, 2005

See the previous (the following post in blog page order) post. The work-in-progress stanzas combined together, the poem, to date, would be something like thus:

White Lotus
DW Bender, 2008

At dawn I asked the lotus,
"What is the meaning of life?"
Slowly, she opened her hand
with nothing in it.

Receiving what is given,
She does not grasp to retain;
In the heart of the lotus,
what is ever lost?

Her cup overflows with light:
The cosmos rests in her palm.
When darkness settles on her,
she enfolds the sun.

At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must we die?"
The lotus vanished, and all
turned into her dream.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Song of the Lotus, February 2008

At dawn I asked the lotus,
"What is the meaning of life?"
Slowly, she opened her hand
with nothing in it.

Debra Woolard Bender 2005
(published by permission Workman Publishing Company in the Smith & Hawken, Secret Garden Calendar, 2006: Month of April page)
First published by permission on Michael Garofalo's "The Spirit of Gardening" website, in the quotes section.

My above poem has been visiting my thoughts recently. Sunday morning, I awoke with stiches and thoughts forming towards one or more stanzas which would be a continuation. The finished piece could possibly be titled, "Song of the Lotus." Maybe not. "White Lotus" might be it.

The verse which follows, and which I wrote Sunday morning, comes from a dream I had several years ago. The dream seemed profound and beautiful, and has remained with me. In it, I was looking up into a dusk sky above my head. I gazed at seven or eight large ovoid bodies, still, pure white living objects (or beings, although, not with bodies like ours). These hovering forms were composed of petal-like shapes that silently transformed by way of folding and unfolding within themselves. Their movement (in my conception when waking) seemed like an elegant and more complex version of the child's origami 'fortune teller' finger game. Luminous, the pendant orbs were lit from within, like benevolent and awesome heavenly lanterns afloat aove the earth. Other people milled about. I wondered if anyone else was seeing them. On awakening, the only descriptive word-thought that entered my sleepily awakening consciousness was "white lotus." Although they were similar, they were also different than lotus flowers. They did look much like the blossom in this picture: White Lotus
And they also resembled, in some ways, the beautiful pendant kit lamps often created by Scandinavian designers, which are formed of geometric patterns and made of paper or plastic, such as these: Pendant lamp 1 Pendant lamp 2 . But the dream-lotus shapes were moving within, serene and living, their internal patterns morphing, shifting in pattern. More intricate and much more beautiful. Following is a verse which came from that dream. I didn't realate the images to death or ask that question in the dream -- but later, on Sunday, contemplating on the poem and the dream, the images, thoughts and questions arose in poem:

At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must I die?"
The white lotus, deepening,
turned into a dream.

or alternatively:

At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must we die?"
Floating away, the lotus (or: Descending, the white lotus)
turned into a dream.

*Lotus blossoms descend into the water at night, and reappear in the morning.


At dusk, as her petals closed,
I whispered, "Why must we die?"
White lotus vanished, and all
turned into her dream. (I feel this is the right one)

One of the verses that arose from the thoughts, were these following words, which might become a middle stanza, while further stanzas which may arise later:

Her cup overflows with light:
The cosmos rests in her palm.
When darkness settles on her,
she enfolds the sun.

or alternatively:

Her cup overflows with light:
The cosmos rests in her palm.
When darkness comes, the lotus
embodies the sun.

*both "enfolds" and "embodies" are the right words, but I can use only one.

Written (or rather assembled) from that morning's thoughts, just now:

Receiving that which enters,
She does not grasp to retain;
In the heart of the lotus,
what is ever lost?

Note to reader: Although I write poetry in Japanese genres, and I know that the lotus is a spiritual symbol in Asian religions (and in Hindu and Egyptian religion and mythology), these verses are not written out of any particular religious belief or practice (I'm Christian). They are written from the underwaters within.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Two Haiku 2008: ancient fountain; clear tidepool...

ancient fountain
into which now falls only
its weight of winters

DW Bender
Haiku, February 1, 2008

clear shallows—
gulf weed floats over
its shadows

DW Bender
New Year/Winter Haiku, February 1, 2008
*gulfweed/sargassum - a New Year kigo

I want to remember this poem, "A Measuring Worm," by Richard Wilbur, published in The New Yorker.

Friday, February 1, 2008

winter rain...2008

winter rain...
again the sound of water
changes shape

DW Bender
Haiku, 2008

*first written as "summer rain..." for a photo, but this is winter, and we just had a winter rain last week. In other areas than Florida, the sound of water changes shape even more drastically, variably and noticeably.

A older "sound" tanka from 2001:

How could I help it?
escaping with the spring moon
on this quilted night...
somewhere a slow, shifting sound
and ink melts, slips over stone.

DW Bender
Tanka, February 12, 2001

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Although no snow in Florida

For Haiku: One Deep Breath Week 87 Theme, "Winter Wonders"

even the child
painting, makes snowmen—
where no snow falls

DW Bender
Haiku, January 27, 2008 (rev.)

Notes: In Central Florida, we do not see dramatic winter miracles of snow and ice. However, I experienced a small wonder last week: a bright male cardinal scavanging food on a dry wintering lawn, which became the subject of a haiku in an earlier posting. This month my husband and I enjoyed viewing Japanese hanga, or woodblock prints at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs. Two favorites were shin-hanga snow scenes. This weekend, I have been viewing the wonderous drawings and paintings of children for my own artistic inspiration.

My all-time favorite winter haiku is by the late Owen Burkhart of Dyer, Indiana, who I knew through the Shiki mailing list, and World Haiku Club. He published a book of his poetry, A Single Breath:

first snow
only very small

Owen Burkhart (1930-2005)

Here is one of my older digital artworks with a Western-styled rhymed poem constructed with a haiku-like winter sequence (from around 2001):

The Grocery Cart

Debra Woolard Bender
Written loosely in the style of haibun, January 27, 2008
Haiku: One Deep Breath theme for Week 86: Vision

In a dark time, the eye begins to see. — Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

My son, having less than three years left toward his second decade in the Air Force, recently volunteered to go to Iraq. His intentions were toward an open teaching position. A leader and instructor, that is what he does. His motivating desire is to give something of value to the Iraqi peoples. To give their military his knowledge-tools for rebuilding that they may become more self-sufficient. To use his teaching skills built through his field of work and experience. But last Tuesday, he was called to a four month stint, a duty not of his choice, and not in his field of expertise. That is the way of the military.

He will be leaving Georgia on Friday en route to the base in Iraq where he will serve. Originally, he was ordered to fly out only two days after notification, which didn't leave enough time for preparation. Although both work full-time, money has been too tight for my son and his wife, and this tour of duty will provide extra pay to help them meet expenses. He had been praying for an opportunity to add income in some way. He feels that this is the way of God's answer.

Later, in the afternoon of the day he told me the news, he phoned again. In the course of conversation, he told me about a quick trip to the grocery store with his wife and baby daughter to buy milk and bread. Before them, in the checkout line, stood a black woman and a white, retarded boy waiting for the cashier to ring up the total.

"Mom, the boy was so happy just to push the cart. Just pushing that cart made him so proud and happy." My son grew quiet, and I could hear him sobbing. It took awhile for him to gather his composure. To be able to speak. His voice came out strained. Completly broken.

"She told the boy, 'We don't have enough money for everything. We have to put some things back.'

"Do you know what they were buying?...What she had to put back?... Laundry detergent...staples. I wanted so badly to buy it for them. I didn't have the money to... . I had to buy food for my own family... . I couldn't...even... ." Driving home, he told his wife they had to find some way to do something for others who are in such need in their town when he returns from Iraq. Such is the way of my son.

frosty window
two abandoned cats watch me
prepare breakfast

Note: Please read the referenced, linked Roethke villanelle poem, In A Dark Time.

Update: February 1, 2008 - My son's deployment date was bumped up a week. This morning he was notified that this change in dates brought about another change. The Air Force powers-that-be reviewed the position, decided it was not critical at this time and therefore, his orders were cancelled. In many ways, he is disappointed not to go, although his family breathes a collective sigh of relief. Thank you Debbie@piacere, and those who have been praying for Mark and the family. Your prayers have been answered in this unexpected way.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

January 26 - a male cardinal sighted

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight" (Luke 12:6).

withered grass, yet
here even the cardinal
has found a meal

DW Bender
January 26, 2008
winter haiku

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January 23, 2008 - tanka

dream on, dear one,
only I am wide-awake
this winter night...
how silence gently seeps
around our limbs

DW Bender

and older modern haiga image:

winter haiku 1-22-2008

smoking chimney...
walking sticks at rest
beside the door

Debra Woolard Bender
Winter haiku, 1/22/08

an older haiku:

leaf rake
leant against that wall
since winter

onaji kabe tate-kake-rareshi kumade kana

Debra Woolard Bender, 2001

(Romanji translation by Susumu Takiguchi, UK, World Haiku Club)
Selected in WHC's Second Hoshino Takashi Kukai, August, 2001

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter haiku & digital art (Socks)

(Please click image to enlarge and view)

chill morning—
we all go to dancing
on the roof of Hell

DW Bender
Winter haiku, January 2008

The above is an "allusory haiku." It refers to the following haiku haiku by master, Kobayashi Issa (1763 -1827):

yo [no] naka wa jigoku no ue no hanami kana

in this world
over Hell, we promenade,
gazing at flowers

(translation version, mine)

Read more of Issa's haiku at David Lanoue's educational website, haikuguy.com: Haiku of Kobayashi Issa. David has a different translation of Issa's above poem, with notes on its Buddhist meanings.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tanka, January 18, 2008 (HODB Theme: A Childhood Story)

Untitled Tanka
for - Haiku: One Deep Breath
Week 85, Theme: A Childhood Story

paper snowflakes
that Daddy taped at every
the twinkling hush beyond
drifting whitely through time

DW Bender
Janauary 18, 2008
untitled tanka

The warmth of friends - Winter haibun

morning and late afternoon brings visitors—two tomcats—to my front door for free meals. Both the strays have something like a code gratitude, expressing affection to me before eating, and often between gulps of food. I have given both names to which they respond. One is a hefty young adult; judging by the state of his orange coat, he's a fierce warrior. His beguiling golden eyes are pink-rimmed, matching his nose and skin color. The other is nearly a year old, a muscular, velvet-gray foundling, who was apparantly adopted by my next door neighbors after being discovered as a tiny kitten — according to their other next-door neighbor. A friend of our indoor-outdoor male longhair, the graycoat prefers human attention. Unlike the orange tabby, the gray comes indoors when invited, to warm and rest himself. He has taken up as temporary residence, the main bathroom.

chill-damp night
into which sound has fallen—
slumbering deeply

DW Bender
Friday, January 18, 2008