A Haibun for the Sun

Today, March 21, 2019, is World Poetry Day! Here’s a haibun with a picture of our good friend! Sorry beloved folks in the southern hemisphere! We’re really excited the sun is coming closer!

I was frightened you would come halfway around the world, see the state of things, and turn around. Snow and ice have covered lawns torn apart by plows and ground saturated with salt. The grass seems brown and dead.

Here we are on the day after the choice has been made. Here we are and you draw even closer. Here we are and your light shines on cold ground that I feared would be frozen forever. Birds have begun to sing, clouds have given way to deepest blues, and warmth fills our land little by little.

Soon the bees will bumble, the worms will wriggle, and the flies will buzz. Soon the mosquitos will awaken as bloodthirsty as ever. Soon summer storms will wash away the salt and grime of winter. Thank you for everything–even the mosquitos.

Welcome back old friend.
Heat the soil of this good earth:
Bring growth from cold land.

“Haibun for the Sun” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019

“Here You Remain” Rondeau

Today, March 21, 2019, is World Poetry Day! Here’s a rondeau I wrote which grew out of a rondelet I wrote back in February called “You have a voice.”

We each have to make our own choice
About how we will use our voice.
All choose to either make a stand
Or bury their head in the sand,
But each person has made a choice.

To speak out with your loudest voice
or to whisper if that’s your choice.
Each word is a line in the sand:
Here you remain.

To do nothing may be your choice
As you sit silent with still voice.
Remain still and hold your own hand
As others watch the flames you’ve fanned.
Silence is a deafening voice:
Here you remain.

“Here You Remain” Rondeau by the Distracted Pastor, 2019

“Living” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “living.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! These love locks can be found (for now) on the Greenway trail in Vestal. I know they’ll likely be cut off following Paris’ lead, but I give credit to those who spit into the wind. Wasteful? Yeah. Still, they are a romantic gesture.

Living sometimes means
Leaving one little gesture 
Despite bolt cutters

“Repentance” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “repentance.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! The photo was taken off of the trails in Vestal. In particular, it is in the section labeled the “Greenway.” I will include an extra picture with the nearby placard if you wish a little context.

This pipeline runs through Vestal and travels through rivers where local folks catch fish. Probably not surprisingly, the number of people who catch fish where these pipes risk contaminating the waterways are often economically lower on the scale than the folks who get their fish imported from the local Wegmans.

Forest torn down bare.
The Chugnut homeland long gone.
No repentance here.

“Chosen” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “chosen.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! When I was a child my dad asked what I wanted to play in the band. I said drums. I was told to choose again. I said trumpet or bugle. I joined the choir. When my eldest asked if she could do percussion, my heart smiled. She has chosen well and I am blessed to be chosen by God to be her dad.

The instrument choice:
Neither quiet nor subtle.
She loves it. I’m glad.

“Good” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “good.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I caught this huge flock of geese flying north! Spring is coming and that’s a really good thing!

A voice calls my name.
My neighbor points to the sky.
We watch spring’s heralds.

“Weighed” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “weighed.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I saw this beautiful bald eagle on a walk the other day. The question I’m pondering is whether the weight of the bird is greater on the tree than the need for food is on the bird. This must not be an easy season for this noble bird.

High above the marsh
Branches creak under the strain
As eyes search for life.

“Accomplish” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “accomplish.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so below is a haiga!

A word of explanation: I have spent nearly five years living in the Binghamton area and I have driven down 26 to Vestal Parkway probably hundreds of times over the years. Almost every time I either drive over this bridge and exit to drive underneath it or take a back road which leads me to drive down the parkway under this bridge. In nearly five years, I never knew what was over the dirt embankment. It turns out it is the Vestal Rail Trail which I walked and prayed over on Sunday. This is several kilometers from where I started to walk. I saw something new while doing something healthy with my stress. That’s a great accomplishment for a pastor who usually spends Sunday afternoon napping!

Sunday afternoon
I walk, pray, and search for peace.
I find a new sight.

“Dazzling” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “dazzling.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I was walking with my toddler while praying through life yesterday when suddenly the sun burst out of the clouds. It has felt like forever since the sun struck my skin. It was glorious and reminded me of those first few verses of Genesis…

Bursting through the clouds.
Bring color to gray chaos:
Dazzle and create!

Taking a break with quadrilles

Tonight I had the first night of three evenings in a row with committee meetings. I found myself coming home and needing to let off some steam by thinking about something besides the church. I noticed that dVerse~Poets Pub was having another poetry challenge. Today’s is the quadrille or a 44 word poem with the word “Spike” involved in some way, shape, or form in the poem. I tried a pair of different poems for fun.

The first poem is inspired by my marvelous wife who sometimes forgets just how talented she happens to be. At the Father-Daughter dance at the school the other day, a friend remarked how the look my daughter gave her sister came straight from her mother. My wife is fierce, strong, and intelligent–Athena personified in my life. So, this first quadrille poem is for her. Also, it is a rondelet because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.

My favorite warrior princess… The kid is pretty great too.

You pierce my heart dear.
My heart rate spikes as I stop to wonder.
You pierce my heart dear.
Athena questions her footing in fear
While I listen and hear ringing thunder
As heaven’s mold she does break asunder.
You pierce my heart dear.

“Athena’s Rondelet,” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019. Written in honor of my wife.

My second poem is far less serious. It is entirely about a fictional video game character that I have been hanging out with off and on since July 13, 2016. We’ve been spending more time than usual lately as it turns out walking is the one exercise I can do well without throwing out my back. That comment is not an invitation for advice… The character is my Snorlax from Pokémon Go, which is totally not my intellectual property. Hey, free publicity though… I like your game. It is mindless and good motivation to keep on walking. The number of kilometers I have walked with this goon kinda shocks me. The poem’s form is ABABCC

My Snorlax is the best Snorlax… Well, he will be if he wakes up.

Five kilometers for just one candy.
My heart rate spikes as black ice makes me slip.
My Pokémon Snorlax will be handy
If I could only earn more on this trip.
I straighten up and continue walking.
No one loses weight sitting and talking.

“Pokémon Quadrille” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019. Feel free to use this Niantic!

“Rest” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “rest.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! Today’s Sabbath reflection comes from last Friday. I kept whispering sweet words to my youngest daughter as she napped. She kept smiling.

I call you sweet heart.
I mean each word. As we rest
Your heart beats with mine

“Test” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “test.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! This photo describes life with a furnace you don’t own, can’t replace, and just want to go all “A Christmas Story” on but can’t because the kids are home and you’re a pastor.

I call you to fast.
You give up Facebook to me.
I want your anger.

“Full” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “full.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! This photo was taken at a spaghetti fundraiser for a family friend’s child (who happens to be probably as close to a best friend as my one year old has at this point).

Pasta on her face–
Hope filling up the belly.
We love our buddy.

A Senryu for my 200th Post

“Hey Candy. Crush me!”
I laugh. The gummy bear flew.
Twenty six pounds hurts.

“Gummy Bear Senryu” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019

I wrote this senryu to play a little bit with the “Games Night” theme at the dVerse Poets’ Pub. I have played enough video games to realize that it is sometimes fun to pretend not to know anything about them.

This poem is inspired by a twenty six pound Gummy Bear that you can actually buy. Who needs chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Seriously though, you could kill someone with that thing. I imagine it’ll make an appearance in a Dead Rising game at some point if it hasn’t already.

By the way, this is my 200th blog post! I have others scheduled for the next few days, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who keeps encouraging me by reading and enjoying my posts, even when they’re silly. Blessings to you.

“February Sweater”

On the cold days when all warmth seems to fall asunder
I seek out the deep depths of my wardrobe to plunder
One of the best blessings from Christmas past: warm sweater
To keep the frost from my bones during winter’s wonder.

For some a warm blanket might seem a choice far better
Or a towel from the dryer when things are wetter;
still, I do feel there is nothing else that I could know
To be as warm and cozy as once gift wrapped sweater.

So on a frosty morn with coffee in hand I show
This ugly sweater that they once gave me years ago.
Yes, I will join them under a blanket warmed with love
But that warmth fills my heart. I can take both kinds to go.

If you see me with February reindeer don’t shove
Me out of your mind with coarse fashionista’s glove.
I do not wear this as a fashion faux-pas blunder.
I wear it because it warms me with both wool and love.

“February Sweater” by The Distracted Pastor, 2019
Don’t go judging me! For the record, this picture was taken in December. I don’t wear the reindeer clergy shirt in February. I do wear the hat though. It was made by a local knitter, was a gift from my wife, and it keeps my shaved head warm…

I wrote this poem for the dVerse poetry form rubaiyat challenge. We were invited to reflect on our writing process. I was thinking about the prompt offered by Frank Hubeny in the comment of “vortex.” I did not want to go straight into the vortex as I somewhat covered my feelings on the polar vortex with my blogs on “Ice” and the angry poem about that groundhog.

I started to think about the polar vortex and the cold that filled our home despite our best efforts last week. I thought about how nice it was to be warm, but that most forms of being warm were transient. Despite the subzero temperatures, the sweaters I wore did keep me warm wherever I went. I didn’t look very fashionable, but I was warm.

So, in many ways this was an ode to both those awful Christmas sweaters and to the kids who made sure I had warm clothes to wear. I enjoyed writing it even as it wandered around from one quatrain to the next. I guess, in a sense I am grateful for the kids, the sweaters, and for the prompt for happy contemplation.

If you were wondering, I do own an actual wardrobe. No, I haven’t found Narnia… yet…

“You!” Senryu

You are in spotlights…
How did you not see shadow???
You lying rodent…

The Distracted Pastor, 2019

This senryu was written while waiting for a chance to grab lunch. Hunger has an effect on my sense of humor. It was written in response to Frank Tasson’s Haikai Challenge. The challenge responded to being cold and was presented on the day when the famous shadow forecasting of a particularly coddled groundhog on February 2nd said it would be warm soon. I obviously went with the senryu form, which is obviously not to be taken as a personal insult to the people of Punxsutawney.

“Perspective” Haibun

There is a time for every matter under heaven. There is a time for challenge and a time for winter. There is a time for difficulty and a time for tears. There is a time for brokenness and a time for loneliness. There is a time for solitude and a time for silence. There is a time for every matter under heaven, so why be jealous of those whose tears are yet to come? Why be envious of those who will know broken days? Why wish to be those who have had perfect days? There is a time for every matter under heaven…

Tomorrow will come
And all will be different,
So breathe through the pain.

“Perspective” by The Distracted Pastor, 2019

This poem is written in response to the challenge from the dVerse Poets’ Pub challenge for a Haibun on Solitude. This poem is dedicated to a good friend who knows why I wrote it. Thank you for listening, my friend.

“Ice” (Didactic Cinquain)

Ice.
Accumulating floe.
Choking, Seizing, Stilling.
Grinding to a halt...
Frozen...

The Distracted Pastor, 2019

The polar vortex froze the water in the pipes running through the lawn between our home and the church from Thursday through Sunday. We left town to go to a training, but returned before the thaw. It was very stressful, so this poem has been writing itself in my head for a few days. I thought I would get it out of my system and share it for fun.

A picture my wife took of the just brutally gray weather last weekend. This was taken around noon at the brightest point of that day…

“Steep and Steep ” plus an extra poem

Today I wrote a poem in response to quadrille challenge #72 on the Poets’ Pub at dVerse. I wrote the poem while having a cup of green tea, despite the words of the poem. Given the fact that I am baking stuffed potatoes in the other room, it is surprising that they didn’t make their way into the quadrille.

Steep your tea and think your thoughts for our days are brief!

The challenge is to write a forty four word poem. I based my poem on a 44 letter poem I wrote based on the unitoum form, although it is not officially a unitoum as it is only three stanzas long. As a result, the related quadrille is not a proper pantoum, but does have the neat feature of having the letters in the last word adding up to 44 letters in a 44 word poem. I like the symmetry of that construction. In honesty, I personally enjoy the 44 letter poem more than I like the resulting quadrille.

Steep and Steep

Black leaves steep.
Pour out Your
Pot of fragrant tea.
Fill your mug now.

As you sip your
Tea think about life.
Go slowly now.
Ponder things and drink

Think about your life
While there is
Still time to drink
And switch life up.

Bonus: Quadraginta Quatuor

Steep
Your
Tea
Now

Your
Life
Now
Drink

Life
Is
Drink
Up