Happy Birthday, Mom

 

4. Grandma the beauty - 15April 28 is my mom’s birthday. Today, she would have been 81 years old. It’s only the second birthday she hasn’t been with us, and still, I feel that split second urge to call her to say “Happy birthday.”

I try to cherish that split second, for it’s in that tiny moment that I feel she’s still with us.

I wrote a tanka for my mom’s birthday today. Since I still feel her with me, I hope she likes it.

Happy birthday, Mom.
I miss you every day.
But you’re still with me.
For in my reflection I
See you smiling back at me.

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Nisei, Sansei

In the last thirteen months, I’ve lost my mother and two uncles. Yesterday, I learned from my cousin that my Uncle Cold Outside (here’s how he got that name) passed away, the last member of the Sasaki Nisei generation.

May they all rest in peace, and may the Sasaki Sansei generation keep them alive in our stories and traditions.

Sasaki

the last Sasaki
proud Nisei generation
lives on in Sansei

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All Perfect

IMG_6568I’ve been looking forward to giving a workshop at Ozarks Writers League on February 21, and have become even more excited as I prepare the PowerPoint presentation. Is it possible for us to inspire ourselves?🙂

The workshop is titled “The Perfect Haiku,” and I must admit, initially I shuddered at the title. I’ll explain why in my workshop.

With the start of a full time job, I haven’t spent much time writing haiku, (or writing much of anything else for that matter!) in the six months since I began working. But this morning, as I perused this blog for examples of haiku to use in my presentation, I felt as though I’d visited an old friend.

So many memories captured in these haiku, and the seventeen syllables of each takes me back to what I experienced as I wrote them.

This morning, I wrote a new haiku to describe the feeling:

I open the door
to a room full of memories
good morning, old friend

If you’re in the Branson area on Saturday, February 21, I’d love for you to join me. We’ll learn about some of the haiku masters, and I’ve got lots of writing prompts to inspire you to write and share the power of your seventeen syllables.

Click HERE for more information.

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Man’s Best Friend

My brother lost his best friend a few days ago, a friend who was by his side every moment for fifteen years–when he walked to the mailbox, cooked dinner, tinkered with his car, swam in the pool, slept at night.

Chance

And so, when he texted me that Chance was gone, I cried with him. Not only for his loss, but for the memory of losing my two best friends, Jubie and Bear–not to death, but to divorce.

Jubie and Bear2

So I wrote this haiku, for sweet Chance, and all the dogs we’ve loved and lost.

Rest well, dear friend
By my side so many years
My heart lost its wag

 

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Alcoholism

martini

I once loved an alcoholic. In our relationship, I thought of alcoholism as an 800 lb gorilla in the room–rarely acknowledged, but always, always lurking. In the end, when alcoholism took his life, I called it a vampire.

More than a decade ago, when the vampire sucked the life from our relationship, I wrote this haiku:

intoxication
he chose instead of my heart
love’s glass is empty

This morning, months after his death, this haiku came to my mind:

the stream
became a raging river
that drowned him

Addendum:

Steve has had a lot of experience with alcoholics, both professionally and personally. He wrote a couple of haiku after reading this post:

back to the garden
that sweet intoxication
ended with a shot

###

just one more
never enough, death by
perfection

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Last Dances

One of my favorite things about autumn is watching leaves dance in the wind, swirling, spinning, drifting, until they gently touch their final resting place.

golden leaves

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Greater Kansas City Japan Festival

If you’re in the Kansas City area, come experience a little Japanese culture. Best of all, share your haiku!

Jan Morrill Writes

cropped-bannerheader2

I’m excited to head north to Kansas City this weekend for the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival. The festival is organized by a group of friendly, dedicated people and I look forward to seeing them again.

This will be the second year I’ve had the opportunity to attend the festival to talk about my book, The Red Kimono and the history of the Japanese American internment.

This year, I will be giving an additional workshop on writing haiku, a poetry form I enjoy writing to describe life, as I did in my book, Life: Haiku by Haiku. The following slide from my presentation spotlights a few haiku from one of the masters:

basho haiku

The workshop will also have a haiku exercise–my favorite part, because I get to hear the magical seventeen-syllable stories of the attendees.

This year, in conjunction with the workshop, the festival sponsored a haiku contest. We…

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Write Anywhere #79: Japanese Friendship Garden

Kristin Nador has posted some beautiful photographs of a Japanese garden. More importantly, she’s written some beautiful haiku!

kristin nador writes anywhere

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Walking and I have been having an epic struggle lately.

I enjoy walks outside. A stroll around the neighborhood, a paced walk around a track for some intentional sweating, or a gentle hike in the woods all suit me fine.

My foot and ankle haven’t agreed with that assessment at all. They protest in pain, refusing to participate in the simplest activities. Foot and Ankle were forced into an intervention with a podiatrist, and now after some painful injections and custom orthotics, foot is about 85% better. Ankle is still questionable, with MRI results pending, but much better than before.

I’ve gotten to the point where I can take very short walks without aggravating the healing process. We have nice sidewalks in our apartment complex, but once you’ve walked around a building a few times, it’s time for more interesting views. I found the perfect spot…

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Home

Today I’ll be continuing to move “stuff” from the townhouse I’ve been renting for the last year, into a real-life HOUSE. I always knew the last year was transitory, so I never became attached to this place.

Still, moving reminds me of one of the haiku I wrote for The Red Kimono. This haiku encapsulates Sachi’s feelings as she leaves her home for the last time before being relocated to an internment camp during World War II:

My house is empty
But memories will remain
Echoes in my heart.

I wrote this haiku based on my own memories of leaving my house in Tulsa when I moved to Fayetteville in 2003.

tulsa house

I lived in this house for twenty years. It was the house where I raised my children. It was a part of me. I remember packing to move and finding an infant diaper tucked deep inside my linen closet. I remember feeling like my heart was breaking as I walked through the echoing rooms for the last time.

Jubie and BearThen, I lived at the farm for ten years. It, too, was filled with lots of memories, both happy and sad. When I packed my belongings after the divorce, I tried to focus on the future and not the past. But the memories had a hold of me, stubborn to let go. When I turned to say goodbye to Jubie and Bear in the backyard, again, I thought  my heart would break.

So, as I prepare for what may likely be my last move, I am thrilled to get the move over with and begin to make new memories–to make this house a home.

House

What are your memories of “home?” Can you describe it in a haiku? Please share it with us!

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October Walk

I’m not sure who likes our walks more–Tommy or me. Especially now that Fall is here.🙂

leaves rain down on me
acorns crunch beneath my feet
an October walk

walk

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