Morning Haiku and Waka – January 6, 2015

ah Befana*
sweep away these holidays
with your straw broom

feasting ends
this last day of Christmas

straw rope in Japan
straw brooms in Italy
nature customs
beginning each new year
with hopes of prosperity

© G.s.k. 15

*the article in the link is in Italian

Last night in many parts of Italy, children hung their stockings up hoping to receive candy and small gifts from the Befana or if maybe coal (there is a sugar candy variety especially made for this holiday) if they’d been naughty, she usually leaves both as there’s no child who’s without a moment of naughtiness. Throughout the cities of Italy today we can see women dressed up like the Befana cackling and handing out candy and “coal”.

The Befana is old and curved with a big nose and sharp chin, she’s dressed in rags and has broken shoes and is covered in soot because she comes down people’s chimneys after flying around on her broom during the night.

One of the stories goes like this:  the Three Magi stopped at an old woman’s house to ask directions for Bethlehem.  She was very kind to them so they invited her to come with them to greet the Baby Jesus but she refused because she had too much to do.  Once they’d gone though she felt she’d made a mistake, so she ran out to find them.  She stopped at many houses without being able to find them but in each house she left a gift for the children, since she couldn’t know if maybe one of them was the Baby Jesus.

Italy is a long country and historically it has lived under many different nations, so when it comes to the Christmas season there are many days when a child can receive gifts.  In the far North on the Austrian border (Bolzano) the feasting begins on December sixth with Saint Nicholas’s Feast and little further South in Trentino (but also in Sicily) on the thirteenth we have Santa Lucia but these holidays are not celebrated in most of Italy.

Of course  Christmas Day is for everyone and it has been influenced by the American way of envisioning Christmas thanks to the Second World War. Christmas trees weren’t a traditional ornament in most of Italy as most families put up the crib scene. If families did give gifts on Christmas they didn’t come from Santa Claus or Father Christmas but from Baby Jesus.

Finally we have the sixth of January with Epiphany, that is the day when the Three Magi brought gifts to Baby Jesus, the Befana sweeps away all of the Christmas Holidays. Though this was originally a Central Southern custom she’s become popular all throughout Italy.

Not long ago, people celebrated just one of these holidays and rarely children got toys on Christmas day as that was usually reserved for the Befana.

The Christmas Gift – Friday Fictioneers – December 18, 2014

PHOTO PROMPT - Copyright = Douglas M. MacIlroy

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

The Christmas Gift

Genre: Haibun

Mary-Anne had stolen David Wayne from Cathy-Anne. The blonde haired beauty sat by him in the lunch room at Elm Street Elementary School his Christmas present in her hand.  She opened the wrapped box, let out a yell and dropped the object on the table as she ran away in tears.

Cathy-Anne had watched the scene from the next table.  She picked up the box and then  exclaimed: “Oh this is so beautiful!”

“She’s really a silly kitty isn’t she?” said David Wayne, “Let’s go play ‘Magic’!”


Christmas present
wrapped in bright red paper
spider and cockroach

© G.s.k. ‘14

Linked to Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers – Genre Haibun – December 16, 2014


I was asleep in the back of the Dodge with my brother. The car had stopped.

I could hear the announcer on the radio: “The Kaskaskia has flooded its banks (static)”

Christmas lights were flashing up ahead.

“How long will we have to wait? Do you think the bridge is out?” Mom said.

“We’ve got water up to the car doors.  Maybe we’ll have to turn back home.” My father replied.

I imagined the water turning our car into a boat, then fell back to sleep.

going to Grandma
the Dodge is like the Ark
the waters rise

© G.s.k. ‘14


Childhood memories are sometimes just  fragments if not filled out by some adult.  Seeing the photograph, I vaguely remembered this trip back in 1955 or ’56.  We were driving from Mississippi to Illinois.

Song of Childhood – Quatrain – Red Wolf Poems – December 7, 2014


Do fairies fly in soft lofty shadows
Far above the lost forgotten door,
Where Puff the Magic Dragon passed
With the brother’s Grimm and Anderson?

Old dust brushed frost on my lost toys
There with a forgotten hop-scotch pattern –
Ah, soft as a sigh I see them now,
Waiting for me, in my mind’s eye.

My youthful games come back to me
Hidden in thoughts of hoary glossed frost –
Though autumn fills my mind with musty dust
The song of childhood calls to my soul.

(c) G.s.k. ’14


The Words: fly, dust, song, puff, frost, fairies, soft, door, lost, toy

The Twist:

Part two is the addition of three extra words that are near-rhymes (frost, soft, dust). Part three is mention a child’s game in your poem.

Linked to Red Wolf Poems

Friday Fictioneers – November 28, 2014

PHOTO PROMPT - Copyright - Randy Mazie

Copyright – Randy Mazie


The library is my home away from home.

I visited my first library when I was 7 years old. I loved the quiet calm atmosphere, but most of all I was enchanted by the wall to wall, aisle upon aisle, of books. I’d always loved books and I had my collection of Golden Books, but that treasure-house of books was so magnificent, that I stood in ecstasy. The first book I checked out was Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat”. How wonderfully different from my fairy tales. “Imagine that! A Cat in a Hat!”



Friday Fictioneers

Thanksgiving 1956 – Haibun – November 27, 2014

“Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner,” appeared in the November 20, 1869, Harper’s Weekly –


Today is Thanksgiving … and my mind goes back to when I was a little girl. 1956 was a particular year.  We’d moved to Illinois where my mother, my brother and sister and I would be living for a few months in an upstairs apartment in my Aunt’s house.  My father would be leaving soon for the Philippines, we would follow a couple of months later.

But on that day we were all together at Grandma’s house.  My aunt, mother and grandmother had been cooking since the day before.  The house was full of the aromas of spices and now the turkey, in the oven since early morning, added it’s own particular perfume.  We kids were all excited, running around like wild Indians in and out of the house.

Around 3:00 my other aunt and her family arrived just in time … Grandpa turned on the TV …  There it was!  The great Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We kids sat around on a quilt thrown on the floor to watch the parade. Just as Santa rode by on his sled, Grandma called us all into the kitchen for dinner.

Applesauce, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, candied yams, corn,  fresh-baked rolls and the turkey with its stuffing.  The Table seemed to groan with all the weight of that food.  We must have been twenty people around that table, mostly kids.  Grandpa had turned the TV off and had his radio going again … so we had music in the background.

But before we began to eat, we said grace. Holding hands, making a chain, each of us said a few words of thanks for all we had.

giving our thanks
celebrating abundance
united in love

(c) G.s.k. ’14


Linked to Haibun Thinking Free Style

Wordleing – Near the Banyan Tree – November 25, 2014


do you hear the spirits – those most effable of creatures,
no it’s not the fall wind blowing – rustling the trees –
that susurrus you hear, dear friend, is their gay laughter –
it comes from there, deep inside the park – near the banyan.

hidden in an orchid, you’ll see them if you look closely –
just over there, dear, near the tall banyan tree
look! there’s a strange device, of spiraling helical design –
rooted in a tiny chasm … among the orchid’s blooms.

there are the delicate bijou like inhabitants – nude as stars –
copper-colored and haloed bright, pretty little sprites –
though I should not be telling you, but then, it doesn’t matter,
for you cannot do them harm,  they only come out for me.

(c) G.s.k. ’14

Linked to Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie – Monday Wordle

Week 36

1. Halo 2. Susurrus (a soft murmuring) 3. Deep 4. Bijou (something small, delicate, and exquisitely wrought, a jewel) 5. Helical (spiral, having the form of a helix) 6. Chasm 7. Orchid 8. Fall 9. Etch 10. Copper 11. Root 12. Effable (expressible)


Sunday Whirl – Wordleing – November 23, 2014


Photo Credits:  Ezra Millstein


in moments of solemn meditations
I reflect upon the forgotten children
resolute to right the miserable wrongs
of a cloudy weight that stains my soul

bright pirouettes of winsome dances
in a forgotten past that never was
a flutter inside my mind reminds me
of Oliver or Annie the orphaned ones

ink spills of another age, stains of our past –
I hardly remember our neglected children today,
they live in favelas work long in the sweat shops
they make our cheap sneakers and fancy clothes

no Dickens will write of these children today
though they work under masters just like in his day
the “miserable” are still part of our bright world
though Hugo’s not here to tell us the tale.

complacent and warm we flutter and storm
about a new fashion, our car or our team
it’s natural sure, they’re so far away …
we rarely see any of these people in our day.

(c) G.s.k. ’14

Sunday Whirl banner

moments, pirouettes, miserable, neglected, resolute, forgotten, children, stains, decision,  spills, cloudy,  flutter

Linked to: Sunday Whirl




Frozen Angels – Haibun – November 20, 2014


Roses bloom into November but sometimes suddenly, the snow begins to fall. There they stand in stasis.  Once the snow melts .. the petals drop one by one.

The little girl saw the roses and said delightedly that they looked like frozen angels.

A warm front hit the valley and the petals dropped.

She cried when she saw the nude stems but then had an idea. She ran home, went up to the attic and rummaged in a large box.  Returning, she adorned the rose-bush with her Mum’s white Christmas tree angels.

 frozen angels
white November roses
nestled in  snow

(c) G.s.k. ’14


Linked to: Photo Challenge #35 “Flowers in Snow” and Carpe Diem Haiku Family “Shadows” #9 Angels (Have a look at these great prompt posts)
Haiku Horizons – Cold

The Grey House – Haibun Thinking – November 7, 2014

The old grey house kind of leaned slightly out of kilter. Looking at it you’d almost think it’d collapse like a deck of playing cards.  The old woman lived there by herself.  To my eyes of 9 she seemed to be an ancient witch, though to my eyes, she would have been in the white witch category.

That summer she sat on the old wooden slats that were the steps into her house … they were grey like everything else about that house.  She’d smile at the us as we raced by with our bicycles, who knew what she was thinking.  One day I decided to stop and talk to her for a moment.  My Uncle, who was actually a year younger than I, reluctantly stopped too.

She stood up and said: “Howdy, nice to see ya.  I’ve got some cookies on the table.”  Just as though she’d known us all her life.  We went in with her. There wasn’t much to see, an old wood burning stove, a table with two chairs an old rocking chair, a few shelves, and a closet next to her bed with a curtain along side it, which she drew when we came in.

She didn’t have a refrigerator, in fact thinking about it later, I realized she probably didn’t have electricity in the place either.  Although it was summer, there was a fire going in the old stove and an old metal tea-pot bubbling away.  I wonder now where her sink was, because I don’t remember seeing one at the time.

We sat drinking tea and eating cookies and she rambled on about her life; the people who used to live nearby but went “out west”, the depression, the war and her husband who never came back home from the war, the closing of the paper mill. She seemed to be talking to herself more than to us. She was caught-up in her memories, we were there to hear her testimony of what had been.

We finished eating then we said our goodbyes, she gave us a kiss on the cheek and a few more cookies to take with us.  It was sort of weird  to be kissed by that withered old lady … her skin was so dry and wrinkled and she had an odd perfume about her … she smelt like old flowers.

A few days later, she died, just like that.  She’d seemed so vital when we’d seen her, she certainly didn’t seem sick. When I asked my Grandma why she’d died, the only thing she said was that the lady was very very old.

Her grey house was torn down not even a week after her funeral. Nothing remained to say that she’d lived there.

an old grey house
memories her companions
– now lost forever

(c) G.s.k. ’14


“All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain.”
~ Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)


Linked to Haibun Thinking