Moon Castle on the Hill

Moon Castle on the Hill

My grandfather’s last name was Lunenschloss, meaning Castle of the Moon. When my father was lost in WWII, Mama and I lived with my grandparents in this white castle on the hill. We were alone on the summit until a couple of families joined us. Grandpa had built the home when they lost their original one during the depression. He named the dirt road that led up to it Castle Crest Drive.

The view from atop the hill was breathtaking, especially at night. Overlooking Los Angeles to the East and Glendale to the West the cities lay like twinkling stars at our feet. Daytime brought no end of joy for a child: searching for quartz with veins of gold, sliding down hills in cardboard boxes, and climbing “my” pepper tree. Mud pies, hide and seek, kick the can—life was an outdoor adventure, morning till night.

Mythic memories
Winter moon—childhood magic
Lifescapes ebb and flow.

Posted for dVerse Monday Haibun where the prompt this week is Hometown Haibun.

Photo: Labeled for non-commercial reuse. The home was the only one at the top of this hill. The area has completely changed.

Grieving–dVerse Quadrille #36


I’m so caught up in flicker-
flashes of your presence, though
I can’t see you. I find you cached
in photos, letters, a memory.

You journals suck me into the rip-
tide of your life, drown me in joy,
sadness–wishing I’d been there.

A second poem for Grace’s Flicker Prompt at dVerse Haibun #36. Please join us.

Photo: David Slotto
My mother’s 90th birthday party. She died 4 days before her 96th, the end of last year.

Gold–dVerse Haibun Monday


I remember the scent of summers from my childhood—the sweet waft of delicate blossoms abuzz with bees, followed later by that of the small golden globes that grew from them. Oh, the soft touch of ripening skin, carefully tended by my watchful grandpa, who allowed no one close to them until they had come unto their fullness.

He’d let me watch the harvest, but not squeeze the fruit, almost as protective of it as he was with me. Then he’d pile me between Mama and him into his 1940-something red Ford pickup and we’d tootle down the hill to Mr. Dinwiddie’s whose enormous yard held a number of sprawling trees like our own.

At last, the day had come: let the games begin! He and Mama set out on their annual quest for gold—the gold of apricot jam. The competition was fierce. Grandma and I watched from afar as she read to me—“Once upon a time…” When the battle concluded, we tasted, but never declared the winner. We all savored gold.

spring blossoms give way
to succulent summer fruit
birds feast on the scraps

Photo: maxipixel: labeled for non-commercial reuse.

This week Grace is hosting Haibun Monday  at dVerse and asks us to share a nonfiction account from our warehouse of memories, followed by a haiku. This one goes way back to my very young childhood when my widowed mother and I still lived with my grandparents. And Dinwiddie was the man’s real name–not hard to forget!

Summer Fading, 1948




Summer Fading, 1948

Photo: Randy Robertson Labeled for non-commercial reuse

Photo: Randy Robertson
Labeled for non-commercial reuse

The leaves of my pepper tree tickle me as the gnarly bark scrapes the back of my legs. I take a leave and crush it, inhaling the pungent fragrance evokes a sense comfort in me. Red berries, peppercorns, hang in clusters. What better place for a 5 year old to consider all those important things that occupy her life.

Moments later, Mama beckons to me from the back door. I scurry down the tree with conflicting feelings of regret and anticipation and slam the screen door behind me. “Take your sweater, Vicki, it will be cool when you come home.” I grab it off the dining room chair and sprint down the hill, across the dirt road to Stewie’s house where, on his 12” black and white TV, Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent has just joined his buddies.

setting summer sun
slips gently behind our hill
peace-filled memory

Happy to have Lady Nyo hosting this week for dVerse Haibun. Please join us. 

Chester and Vi–Haibun Monday, Romance

Today, for dVerse Haibun Monday, Toni (Kansen Sakura) asks us to write of romance. The prose aspect of a Haibun is a non-fiction account. This event occurred when I was nursing in Long Term Care, Toledo, Ohio in the mid-70’s.



Chester and Vi
a Haibun

It’s early morning and the scene repeats itself. After bathing his wife, Vi, Chester trods down the neon-lit hallway to the unit’s kitchenette to blend an assortment of foods for her breakfast. He knows her likes and dislikes and takes care to please her. Though it’s been years since she has spoken, years since she has even shown signs of recognition, he speaks to her, telling her news of the day, of other patients and of his love for her. Chester once told me that he digs into his memories of those times before a massive stroke rendered Vi helpless, excavates moments when the love they shared was everything to him, as it remains. When he’s certain she is comfortable, he comes and finds me, helps me with other bed-bound patients, seeming to offer them the same care and gentleness he has given his beloved. Old, but healthy, Chester is my sagacious teacher. Without speaking a word, he gives me a glimpse into the true meaning of romance. The day goes on in its endless routine; his loving attention endures.

mourning dove still waits
scattered feathers mar spring joy
hawk feeds her young ones

Just to add a bit of humor, Vi did speak once when Chester was feeding her and I stood by, ready to suction her in case she choked, as she often did. He asked her how her dinner tasted. She responded, “Like shit!” True story.

Dedicated to a friend who is lovingly caring for her husband.


Making Scents of Memories

Today for dVerse Poetics, Grace invites us to “drizzle your poems with fragrances.” I find this my most favorite sense to slip into both prose and poetry because it so easily accesses memories. I took you back to my childhood in the late 40’s and 50’s and just a few sensory related memories. I grew up in my earliest years in the foothills of L.A, in the home of my grandparents until my widowed mother remarried when I was seven. That is the setting for this poem.



Making Scents of Memories
Mama melts blue cubes
in cold, then boiling water.
Clean, fresh smells erupt,
linger on my Sunday dress,
on starched crinoline petticoats.

I hide in branches of my pepper tree,
crinkle its leaves,
breathe in its pungent aroma,
taste secrets.

Mama smells like roses—
Grandma’s funeral,
like gardenia and cigarettes.

Incense—inhale the Sacred.
Clouds billow,
wisps snake around blessed candles
in dark, consecrated vaults.

Fear—our hills are aflame–
acrid smoke from eucalyptus torches
and burning brush.
Grandpa carries me off the mountain
to Aunt Mary’s.

When my widowed Mama remarries,
I weep goodbyes.
Lilies of the valley wave
fragrant farewells.

Please join us and invite your poet friends.

Yokoburi–dVerse Haibun Monday

Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto

Yokoburi–Driving Rain

Drizzle could not deter us, remember? We headed out, the second day of golf at Pinehurst, a privilege you had won by completing a survey, something we could never have hoped for on our own. Dew sparkled on the grass and gray squirrels scampered across the fairway. Already exhausted from playing the U.S. Open course the day before, we forged ahead, not worrying too much about our game, rather soaking in the beauty of the September day. Little-by-little, the rain increased in intensity. By hole #11 the skies open in earnest and you pulled the cart over, beneath the trees, waiting for a break in the driving rain that never came. Your last drive had landed in the fairway—a cannon ball. Finally, accepting the whims of weather, I retrieved your ball and, skirting puddles, we splashed our way back to the clubhouse.

beneath tree branches
strong scent of pine refreshes
bathed in loveliness

Kanzen Sakura, Toni, offers us an exquisite prompt for Haibun Monday–sharing the 50 Japanese words for rain. Please visit us at dVerse, learn more about the prompt, and enjoy reading and writing about rain.

Orange Shoes

Photo: Nazeera Meedin (Pinterest)

Photo: Nazeera Meedin (Pinterest)

Orange Shoes
a Haibun

“Oh, I’ve made my share of mistakes,” Emily said. “How boring life would be without them.”

Sunlight stripped across the crevices on her 89-year-old face, creating hills and valleys in much the same way as her life had. But in her deep blue eyes, I saw the shimmer of stars, the reflection of the moon on water.

She took a sip of tea while I tried hard not to worry about the next patient on my list of hospice visits. She needed to talk and I wanted to listen. To really listen. “Do you want to talk about them,” I asked, hoping I wasn’t being intrusive.

“Oh, there was the man I loved who turned out to be pure evil. Because of him, I left a toxic relationship, so it cost me a few bucks. He conned me and broke my heart in the process. Without that lesson, I would never have been able to move on. In his own way, he gave me the gift of courage. And then, the job I took for money—it was pure soul-death, not suited to me at all. But that’s where I met someone who saved my life. I could go on and on; there are tons of lesser things.” And she did while I listened and learned.

Gently, when exhaustion emerged in her expression, she dismissed me. “In the end, I believe, the greatest mistake is not to forgive others or, especially ourselves. And not to forget that we are forgiven by the One who made us. I wear orange shoes with my purple dress.”

blue jay sings off-key
petals fall from the roses
imperfect beauty

Linked to dVerse Poetics where our lovely guest hostess invites us to reflect on mistake we’ve made. I wrote this as a fictional account, but, who knows, there may be some truth within.

Terremoto–dVerse Haibun Monday


October 10. 1986 Earthquake San Salvador

October 10. 1986
Earthquake San Salvador Santa Catalina School–where 42 children died.



Overwhelmed, I stand in silence before the waist-high pile of rubble: bricks, chunks of cement and pebbles. A miasma of dust obscures the entire region like a pall. The taste of death lingers as I look upon the fallen wall that claimed the lives of 42 children barely 72 hours previously…children waiting outside the Escuela Santa Catalina on the last day of school. Children awaiting with eagerness a time of vacation.

The scene repeated itself throughout the city and surrounding locales. Children, dirty and barefoot, scavenged 2 X 4’ in anticipation of future rebuilding. Father’s pitched tents in the byways as mothers chased tankers bearing potable water, returning with the jugs balanced on their heads.

We set up our clinics in the street and a long queue formed as began the tedious process of debriding wounds and administering tetanus shots. At night—a few hours of sleep in that same school that still reeled under the weight of such massive loss.

october monsoons
upcloserealismcleanse the earth with bitter tears
a small flower blooms

On October 10, 1986, the country of El Salvador suffered a devastating earthquake. Already torn apart by civil war and the ensuing unrest and poverty, the people didn’t delay taking on the task of rebuilding.

I was asked by the religious community of which I was a member to lend my nursing skills to the recovery effort. I stayed at the School of Santa Catalina where the children had lost their lives—a school run by our sisters in that country. Nearby, we also ran a 900 bed facility for war orphans that was unfit for habitation. The military set up a tent city and guarded it, patrolling with their submachine guns. So many of these soldiers were just kids themselves.

As it is, today at dVerse, for Monday Haibun, guest blogger, thotpurge, asks us to write about a memorable journey. I could never forget this one—it so deeply affected me. I could write reams about it, but will make it brief. The pub opens its doors at 3:00 PM EST—please join us.

This is a YouTube Video in Spanish about Santa Catalina School.



Midwife to the Dying–dVerse Poetics




Midwife to the Dying

“Watch with me, please stay.”

Her raspy whisper rouses me from an impending 3 AM stupor. I take her outstretched hand, cold and gnarly. The veins read like a roadmap, the radial pulse thunking in violent resistance to death.

“I’m here.” I squeeze her hand a bit tighter, dampen a small sponge “lollipop” and moisten her cracked lips and tongue. The hissing of oxygen, a gurgling humidifier and her labored breathing play the dirge of dying.

A glow, cast by a small night light, throws the shadow of her struggling profile on the blank wall. “I’m right here,” I say again, as I witness for the umpteenth time the drama of letting go, wondering the while how many others are enacting this final scene of their lives at this moment. Alone.

Watching the dying,
sacred moment of birthing
to another life.

I ask myself once more: “Will someone watch with me?”

Today, at dVerse Poetics, we are honored to welcome our guest host, Lynn, who bids us to consider the title of Harper Lee’s new title, “Go Set a Watchman,” a title based on a verse from Isaiah. I went with a memoir-like haibun.