INSOMNIA FULL MOON HAIKU
Asleep, I would miss
the near-full moon captured by
pines at five a.m.
Sunrise on oranges
on my windowsill at eight
tonight when the moon is full
blame all on the moon
“You never find your boundaries, until you fall…”
Taj Johnson, Tai Chi instructor
I’d hate again to fall…
We’ve fallen flat
on our backs
down our childhood’s stairs—
it was our mother, drank the wine.
Mother nightly drained the wine.
She’d stand inspecting goblet stem, then bound,
on us as we lay flat,
wondering if our backsides
were intact, and stared
at those high stairs.
Once I tumbled down, her snatched wine
glass shattered in my hand half-bound
with her scarf worn all that chilly fall,
the paisley pattern flattering
and fashionable back
in Venice years before… I glance back
fifty years and many flights of stairs,
many a glass of thrown-out wine
to a life as yet unbounded
by marriage, motherhood: I fell
in love, flattered
to be loved, and I flattered
in return with awkward verse. Back
then five flights of stairs
up to my flat no obstacle but I shunned wine,
recalling childhood nights when, unbound,
my mother teetered, poised to fall
and mortify us children. She’d fall
upon somebody’s bed flat
out drunk. Yet every morning, she’d be back
brilliant and cheerful while we stared
at emptied jugs of wine.
Then, school bus honking, we’d bound
outside in one unbound moment, almost fall
flat backwards down the stairs,
all relieved to flee another day of Mother’s too much wine.
Each time my daughter flies, I fret.
Again her destination is unknown.
Perhaps en route
she tried to phone?
Her message box reiterates
one half-hour of airport din:
the clatter, clack of carts,
screech of sirens, bells,
buzzers, click of heels,
stomp of boots,
loudspeaker chatter undecipherable,
bang of metal, roar of jets.
No human words, or alien.
Then only stratospheric hum.
No longer child, she’s old enough to fight.
A mother, still, I listen, freeze, and wait.
SINISTER GAMES OF MUSICAL CHAIRS
The music grinds.
Each player has a chair
but one who waits
to grab a seat—
They all die…Nothing new.
The famous—you clip
obits, which pile
years in your desk.
The friends—you write
kind notes to those
left behind, promise to visit—
Perhaps you do.
The secret lovers—you don’t
dare write to their survivors
who must not learn you cried—
Or no one is left to discover.
Once more the music grinds
and stops, resumes, stops,
begins, each time
with one less chair.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL TREATISE
ON MOONS, WILLOWS, HURRICANES,
A PASSING OF SEASONS AND LIVES
Fat moon over our old willow does not
resemble the silver disk
behind the skinny willow
swaying in Hiroshige’s woodblock.
Our willow a jump rope could not
was better fit
for birds, raccoons, bugs,
an occasional Adam to scramble up.
Hurricane Ernesto topped our willow,
tossed out the houseful of critters
who considered the attic of our river-
side house their Noah’s Ark.
The tree is now mulch in the marsh.
SCRABBLE WITH MOZART
a guest at Dali String Quartet
St. Petersburg, Florida
Come on, the break’s a blast!
You earn double score
for composers’ names!
The musicians invite
this misfit for
their half-time game?
I can’t play a note.
Still, words on my tongue
sometimes skitter in tune…
VON WEBER? MOZART?
That Spaniard ARIAGA? SCHUMANN?
They all died so young…
Could I make out with BACH?
Is CHOPIN on key?
Tonight I am downright hot.
H, T, A, E and D…
What could these letters spell?
A,T,H,D,E? Need some all-purpose blanks…
This hall’s too air-conditioned for me.
Prestissimo chilled, an Arctic sarcophagus.
My bones clank like untuned kettledrums.
I tranquillo off-stage
into the tropical night.
A dangerous moon.
I drop my five wooden squares.
Could I diminuendo
that tone-deaf decomposer one
more time, escape D,E,A,T,H ?
Elisavietta Ritchie, Broomes Island, Maryland