life–dVerse Haibun Monday

Cedar Wax Wings--Source Unknown


around me
(though chill seeps in)
life flourishes

winter birds
cull berries from leafless trees
drink from rainwater puddles

a lone purple flower
flaunts beauty at
my garden gate

three weeks ago today
i was there to receive
her last breath

eternal life flourishes

On October 30th, I arrived in Huntington Beach, California, to celebrate my almost-96 year old mother’s birthday on November 5th. I spoke to her the day before I left and she was happy I was coming, telling me, as she did quite often, “Don’t forget you are my little girl!”

When I arrived, I found that she was non-responsive. The night before she had told her caregiver that she was tired and was ready to die. The following day, she did just that–peacefully and with loved ones at her side.

I returned home yesterday, after three weeks sans Internet, tending to what I term “the business of dying.” That explains my absence. I have a lot of catching up to do here at home, so I may not be real present this week either, but wanted to take advantage of today’s wonderful Quadrille prompt at dVerse that asks us to use the word “breath” in any of its forms in a poem of exactly 44 words. Please join us. Little by little, I will get around to reading yours.


(De)Composition–Haibun Monday

Oh, please visit dVerse for today’s exquisite Haibun prompt, offered by Toni (Kanzen Sakura). This will be your last chance to enjoy her hosting for a while as life invites her to take a break. Life does not let us escape CHANGE, does it! 

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto


At night the temperatures fall into the upper 30’s or lower 40’s. Here and there I spot a tree that’s gilded gold or swathed in vermillion glory. In my mirror, however, autumn cedes way to early winter. Youthful energy wanes. Skin bears etchings, scars that remind of the battles of life, survived. But spirit-youth prevails, fills the heart with joy, a heart that soars at the sight of her loved ones, rejoices in the presence of friends, tastes the Divine. As winter slowly invades, it brings change. Life, like the bare branches of trees, becomes simple. Above ground, much of the goings-on, the life-surges, may not be at all apparent to others. But growth flourishes, deep within. Wabi-sabi.

branches appear dead
root tendrils stretch out, nourish
into fertile soil


wilderness committee

diffuse sunbeams back-light winter beauty

pausing between branches of our naked maple.

i recall days of glory—full branches sheltering,

offering shade from summer’s swelter.

dimming light softens the tree’s harsh outline,

compels me to bear aching cold

to drink in Jay’s bold blue, (cerulean

contrasted against a snow-draped background)

to balance ecstasy and pain.

The term “intrusion” refers to the appearance of birds in a locale that they do not usually inhabit. Blue Jays do stay in our area year-round, but somehow it’s always a delight to see them at this time of the year.

On a Night Like This



On a Night Like This

55 Words

On a night when the full

moon slices through cloud

cover, gilds maple leaves—

On a night when the breath

of wind whispers empty

promises, feigns delight, deceives—

On that night we stand in dark-

ness, waiting to dispel the chill

that came between us.

On a night like that, Sun

dawdles, lingers to the East.

Linked to dVerse Open Link Night–a delayed response to Sam’s prompt last Thursday for a 55 word poem. The extreme cold is nonfiction (-4 degrees F early morning) but the scenario is fiction. The pub opens in about 45 minutes. (12:00 PM EST) Come on in and warm up…or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, chill out! Poetry and community abounds.

Winter Coming Home–dVerse Open Link Night


Photo Credit: David Slotto

Our droughted land thirsts.

Dry timber, broken branches,

creviced earth wait in silence.


Migratory birds pass through,

shelter in the branches of an evergreen,

huddle together in thickets of bramble-


berries. Stretch their necks and sing

farewell, then leave us behind, wanting

more of their lilting joy.


Yesterday, a short-lived intrusion

of warblers surprised us with a brand-

new song, stayed for a while then took


flight. This morning I keep watch.

Hesitantly, gray skies yield sparse

flakes here and there until


at last, earth opens her yearning maw,

welcomes her winter lover,

soaks in bliss.


My contribution to dVerse Open Link Night as we enjoy our first snow this morning. If only I didn’t have to go out this afternoon!

Dark December Days–Monday Meanderings

Today is dreary. My meditation time was drearier. I look out the window and the branches are bare. The few leaves that remain hang listlessly. There is no breeze to stir up some action. Not a bird shows up to feed on the fruit that remains on the ornamental pear tree. Everything is still, empty.

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto

I’m in concert with nature until I remember that it’s the first Sunday of Advent. Celebrated in Christian communities, Advent marks the four Sundays leading up to Christmas—the arbitrary date chosen to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word for “coming.” It denotes an attitude of anticipation, expectation, hope, waiting—much like that of the early Jewish people who lived in expectation of a political Messiah who would deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman occupation of Israel.

Understood from the Christian perspective, which views Jesus as the Messiah, this deliverance is spiritual rather than political. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In this sense, I find that the spirit of Advent offers a message for people of all spiritual traditions.

We are attuned to the seasons of the year. We mirror them in our own lives. When nature sleeps, we may experience our own emptiness and know innately that there must be more than decorations and shopping and whatever else we turn to in order to dispel the darkness within.

Advent is the season for the child inside of each of us. It a time to be excited about what is yet to come, to believe in a spiritual Santa Claus who will appear in his own time to fill those empty spaces in our heart and spirit. When we are surrounded by barren landscape, those gifts will fall gently into our lives like pure snow. We await beauty. We hope for peace.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

This image is that of an Advent Wreath. In Christian churches and homes, a candle is lit on Saturday Eve each week to open the vigil of Sunday’s observance. Usually the candles are purple to make that sense of emptiness however, on the Third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, a pink candle promises joy. Gaudete means joy in Latin–the first word of the reading from Isaiah–Rejoice, Israel. Your salvation is drawing near (my paraphrase).

Written on Sunday for Monday Meanderings. The sun decided to show up and the birds are having a great time in our pear trees.

For more indepth reflections on Advent, shared by writers and poets of many spiritual traditions, I invite you to check out Into the Bardo, an interdenominational site that will post an Advent-related essay or poem every day until Christmas. One of the things I appreciate most about this site is that it highlighst similarities, rather than differences between many diverse spiritual points of view, showcasing, somehow, they most often converge into a whole. Differences are respected and teach us new ways of understanding mystery. It is sites such as Into the Bardo that will, we hope, bring us closer to one another. Into the Bardo is hosted by poet/author Jamie Dedes with the help of contributing authors. I am honored to be one of them.

I-395 South in Winter

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Contrails etched in the newborn sky

burst into flames at dawn.


Diamond-studded acres of frozen snow

bristle at sun’s caress.



We descend the mountain road

into a bowl of milky fog,


creep forward through thick mist

then emerge beneath its weighty layer.

Photo: Alex BoywerMono Lake Fog

Photo: Alex Boywer
Mono Lake Fog

There lies Mono Lake, still and peaceful

as light breaks through in the East


illuminating her surface into

a pool of liquid silver.


A gilded strip on the horizon beckons.

We rise again through the miasma,


We arise to crisp blue that shimmers,

shivers, surrenders its secrets.


In the desert, Joshua trees, tipped

in gold leaf, bow at our passage.

Photo: tripadviser

Photo: tripadviser

Contrails etched in evening skies

burst into flames at sunset.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

We’re arrived in the desert after a two-day drive. This stunning trip never ceases to amaze me but this winter topped them all. I wanted to pull over and take photos every few miles but because of the conditions, it took longer than usual. Wish I could find the words to describe the PEACE and beauty that this dip into nature brought to me…and Peace in the theme Mary has invited us to consider over at dVerse Poetics!


Winter Snow - Landscape

Winter Snow – Landscape (Photo credit: blmiers2)


Staggering through a maze of words,
The poet gropes for one to fill the emptiness.

Dark skies obscure even shadows.
Monochromatic gray scales the horizon.

Flecks of asphalt sprinkle once-white snow,
heaped in mounds beside the road.

Remembrance of beauty fades, evades.
November dies with dreams of loveliness and magic.

Winter doldrums stagger through a maze of words,
extinguish artistry, ignite loneliness.

Perhaps a bit out of season for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. This is an old poem, edited and posted for dVerse Meeting the Bar where Gay Canon challenges us to write poetry about poetry. I’m late, but there’s still time to join!

Write2Day–Writing from the Light Side

English: Binswood Avenue in the sun and snow. ...

Image via Wikipedia

This will be a somewhat short post, since I’m compelled to give my elbow tendonitis a rest. Last week we discussed writing from the dark side. We all know, there’s plenty of darkness to go around. So today, in order to add contrast to our writer’s palette, let’s light up the place…an appropriate topic for this season of the year when so many traditions celebrate light in one form or another. Think of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Diwali…all celebrations that revolve in one way or another around light.

So, for today’s prompt, consider writing about your celebrations of light–or light sources such as the moon, the sun, stars or candles. Maybe you would like to post a humorous piece or something with bright happy colors. How about an event that features joy: children at play, dancing, or music. Take it wherever you like, but let’s get out of the doldrums for this week’s prompt.

To participate:
Write your poem or short prose and post it to your blog.
Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
Include your name and the direct URL to your poem.
Visit and comment on other participants.

You will find my poem for dVerse OLN in the previous post!

Next week at dVerse I will be hosting Meeting the Bar (Thursday, 3 PM EST). In that post, I will focus in more depth on the subject of contrast. Hope to see you there as well.


Photo: V. Ceretto-Slotto


If only Autumn
would not go away
so soon.
If Winter
would hold back
and not rush in to
fold us in
her gray embrace.

If we could just
go back in time
to summer days
and love beneath
a canopy of stars.

But youth evades us now
and so we settle in
and wait.

Hey, I’m going to dVerse Poets’ Pub for Open Link Night in an attempt to shake off this gloom. Hope to see YOU and your poetry there. Can’t wait!