Sunday, October 25, 2015

SMILING BACK: Linking Poetry Japanese Renshi style

In my book of linked poetry, Another New Beginning, the first poem is entitled A Tiny Flower. It spoke of a small, surprise act of kindness extended to me on King Kamehameha Day. The following words, the last line of the poem, are used to form the title for the next poem:

Air brakes lift
We roll forward, and
the universe smiles back.



My poetry is loosely patterned after the intriguing renshi poetry of Japan. The Japanese word, ren, means “to link.” The final words of the previous poem suggest the title for the next one, thereby linking them. Then there is a shift as the new poem changes topic or idea to present a new thought. 

In today’s poem, Smiling Back, one of my alter egos of past decades recalls “after hours” fun times with co-workers, eventually overshadowed by shifting lifestyle. Anyone over the age of awareness knows life does not move forward at a predictable pace but shifts and changes, often with the wind. This is colorfully expressed in Steinbeck’s “best laid plans of mice and men” which suggests that things do not always work out as planned, no matter the extent of preparation.
Those flexible enough to bend with the wind will most comfortably weather the storm. Over the years, I’ve weathered many storms. I believe learning to give thanks and forgiveness has allowed me to become a content person, comfortable with my inner being.
Smiling Back 
From shadows,
smiling back at me,
clear memories
of frothy rapids
while tubing down
an apple-scented river. 
Company softball games,
cheering on my teammates
win or lose, celebrating
El Torito style.
All too soon, highways
move me state to state,
major life changes
blinding me to loss. 
Above the clouds
endless open skies
ease me from the past; with
lazy eagerness, promises appear
of another new beginning.

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