(reblog), haiku, photography, politics, tanka

Twilight Tanka

In context, the phrase «world slipping into darkness» in a recent challenge refers to serene twilight in the natural world.  In the political world, the same phrase has an utterly different mood.  What to do?  Write a tanka and dig deeper for ways to fight the political world’s descent into darkness.
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The challenge is reblogged (in effect) below.  I was jolted by the clash between the serenity of the image and the political interpretation of a phrase in the poem.

ebbing-radiance-near-lions-bay-british-columbia_840x520

In the ebbing radiance
Of a world slipping into darkness
The light is most vivid
Capable of magiks
Unknown to daylight

© Patrick Jennings | Radiance ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #243

Radiance and Darkness
|In sure and certain hope
|that light returns tomorrow,
|sky’s radiance fades.
|
|But slipping into darkness
|is not serene for nations.

 

photography, politics

Freedom for Whom?

«Normally I let people interpret my poems as they will, but here I will be crystal clear on one point.»  So says Patrick Jennings in #236 of his Pic and a Word Challenge series, and I concur.  My poem in response to the challenge has a final couplet that could be misinterpreted, so I too will try to be crystal clear afterward.
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Freedom ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #236

Breonna Taylor and George Floyd did not enjoy freedoms that a white guy like me could easily take for granted.

Freedom?
|Freedom to be left alone,
|not be shot in my own home.
|Freedom from the nagging fear
|that a racist cop is near.
|Freedom to salute the flag,
|or to burn it like a rag?

flag_716x632

The Pledge of Allegiance ends with an aspiration, not a fact.  Maybe some flag burnings are meant to protest America’s failure to provide liberty and justice for all, but they don’t look like that.  They look like flag burnings in Tehran, like hatred of the republic for which it stands.

Tho ardent about civil liberties, I can accept prosecution of flag burners for violating local ordinances against open burning and the air pollution it causes.  Don’t give jerks who alienate potential allies an excuse to fancy themselves as martyrs for freedom of speech.

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There are respectful ways to protest with the flag.  Fly it upside down.  Display artwork that incorporates it, such as the moving “Close the Camps” stickers (designed by artist Pablo Stanley) that were distributed by MoveOn.org in 2017.

Above all, remember that the worst defilers of the flag are the bigots and plutocrats who hide behind it, while denying others the freedoms it represents.

Remember in November.

language, philosophy, photography, science, seasons

Emergent Leaves and More

Much more.  Careful consideration of emergent things provides some hints about how to live fully and righteously on a little blue planet in a big oblivious universe.  Does that sound too grandiose?  Let’s start small, with some spring leaves and two ways to make adjectives.
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Turning Verbs into Adjectives

While we do it mostly by adding the suffix [-ing] (and maybe tweaking the spelling), we sometimes add [-ent] (or [-ant]) instead.  There is a subtle but important difference when we turn [emerge] into an adjective.  Leaves emerge and then go about the business of growing and photosynthesizing.  It would be a little better to say that my photo shows “emerging leaves” because there is no “and then” for emergent things.  They just are emergent.  What they emerge from is still there.

For example, look again at my photo, not as leaves but as an image.  It emerges from about 700,000 pixels encoded with about 480 KB of data in JPEG format.  That matters if I want to e-mail it to somebody who pays for data flow over a slow connection.  For many other purposes, to fret about the underlying pixels and bytes is a waste of effort.  The shapes and colors and composition are not in the pixels themselves.  They emerge from the way the pixels are arranged and interact with each other and the viewer.

My mild misuse of the [-ent] suffix for emerging leaves is a point of departure for considering bigger issues, not just a bow to the exact wording of Patrick Jennings’ challenge:

Emergent ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #232 – Pix to Words

Poetic Naturalism

Once we start looking for emergent things, we find that the world teems with them.  (Water, ice, and steam all emerge from crowds of the same kind of molecule.)  We find that fretting about “ultimate reality” may well be as pointless as trying to understand my photo by always diving down into those 480 KB and never looking at the emergent image.  While some contexts demand a deep dive, others demand a shallow one.

One of many places with examples and discussion of various emergent phenomena is Sean Carroll’s book The Big Picture, which somehow manages to be a good read (and a mostly easy one) despite dealing with deep stuff in science and philosophy while being fair to other viewpoints.

While nothing in science is nailed down as tightly as 3+2 = 5 in math, there is much evidence that we are in a tiny corner of a vast universe that goes its own way with no overall design or purpose or supernatural intervention.  Can we live fully and righteously in a cosmos that does not give a rat’s ass about beauty or goodness?  In much more detail than I can hope to put into a blog post, Carroll argues that we can.  Emergence is part of the story.

Tho a little queasy about Carroll’s use of the phrase [poetic naturalism] to name his upbeat attitude in the face of knowledge that would depress many people, I can’t think of a better name or a better attitude.

Don’t despair if love and justice seem as fanciful as unicorns when U consider only the underlying dance of atoms and molecules.  Love and justice may be real enough, but emergent.

 

flowers, humor, photography, seasons

Nothing Needed

Long ago, I bought some dwarf tulip bulbs and went thru the forcing rigamarole to get indoor blooming before planting the bulbs.  Nothing but leaves came up.  Feh.  Tossed the bulbs out back.  Guess what happened about a year later.
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Nothing ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #231

Yes, the bulbs survived and put out leaves.  And flower stalks.  Which bloomed.

Year after year, the discarded tulips bloom in spring, while I do nothing for them.  Maybe they are old Yankees like me: compulsively self-reliant.

haiku, history, humor, photography

Vertical Shoreline

How can a shoreline be vertical?  Well, steep cliffs can plunge nearly straight down into the sea.  There may be a cave entrance right at the actual shoreline.  Do we dare enter the cave?  Perhaps (to borrow a few words from Patrick Jennings’ Challenge #220) a beautiful light awaits us there.
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Shoreline ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #220

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Is the sea at Capri’s shoreline still as clear now as it was when I was there in 1977?  I hope so.

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While we’re on the subject of clarity, let’s note that it is not clear whether the eponymous goats really did live on ancient Capri.  But it is clear that the island sited precursors of Mar-a-Lago for Imperial Rome’s fat tyrants.

From the outside, the Blue Grotto (Tiberius’ private pool) looks much like the (other?) grotto in my photo.  The view from inside is entirely different.

A cave entrance right at the shoreline can sometimes work magic.

capri-grotto-crop_HDR_bri-32

Blue Grotto (Capri) [edited image]

Capri Shoreline, Long Ago
|Goats traverse cliffs while
|pink whale swims in blue grotto.
|Naked emperor.

food, haiku, photography

I Dig This Challenge

Photographer-poet Patrick Jennings posts a weekly challenge to create something inspired by one of his photos and a single word.  Challenge #219 is posted with a photo and an appropriate haiku (using the challenge word “dig”).  Fortunately for me, it is OK to reuse Patrick’s splendid image in a haiga with my own haiku.
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clam-diggers-mendocino_840x435

© Patrick Jennings | Dig ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #219

Low Tide at Seaside Creek Beach
|To dig for clams is why
|we are here, beneath this sky.
|No clams?  No problem!

Two Cheers 😀 😀

The first is for anybody who noticed that changing the haiku’s initial line

To dig for clams … ⇒ Clam digging …

would make the haiku comply with the 5-7-5 rule.  The second is for anybody who noticed that the version of the initial line with 6 syllables has a better rhythm.  The actual editing change was from 5 syllables to 6.  Does that seem like an odd direction to move?

The outside story says that a haiku “is” a 3-line poem in blank verse with syllable counts 5, 7, and 5.  While this story is oversimplified, it is still a good place to start.  (Some haiku poets disagree.)  The inside story is more complex.  Various poets bend or break various rules at various times for various (and often good) reasons.  Tho messier, the inside story is ultimately the better one.  Just ask the clam digger who went home with an empty bucket but a full heart.

 

photography, seasons, serendipity

Two Visual Illusions

Follow the photons.  The backstory of one illusion begins far away and ends on a window pane.  The backstory of another illusion turns day into night, but not in the same way as the challenge that inspired this post.
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A ghostly translucent squid seems to hover in midair between the viewer and nesting herons.  No, I did not combine a heron image with a squid image in my photo editor.

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The photo is of a page from National Wildlife magazine, taped to window glass and lit from the outside.  (The page blocks a reflection of the sun from a neighbor’s window.)  The squid looks a good deal closer than the herons despite being farther away, but only by the thickness of the page.  The illusion in real life is just like the illusion in the photo.

The photo below illustrates a haiku about a bright full moon shining thru autumn leaves.  Is it really the moon or just a flood light?  Neither.

Chiaroscuro_moon_443x449

The photo was taken by daylight.  The sun was above and behind me, but the light was dappled by unseen leaves (between me and the sun) before reaching the leaves I photographed.  I was hoping for some chiaroscuro and got more than expected by sheer dumb luck.  Most of the photographed leaves were in shade.  Thanks to some unusually reflective green leaves that were in bright sun behind the colored ones, those colored leaves seem to be transmitting light from behind them when they are actually reflecting light from in front of them (and behind me).

The photos displayed above were chosen from among several exposure settings, then edited only by cropping.  More extensive editing may be needed to create other illusions or to compensate for differences between how cameras and eyes see things.  In particular, consider the challenge that inspired this post:

Illusions ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #213

Here are smaller versions of the images displayed in the challenge:

Desaturating a deliberately underexposed photo turned day into night.  At any single exposure setting, a photo of the contrasty daylight scene would be either washed out in light areas or blacked out in dark areas.  (Maybe both.)  Editing merged several exposures to approximate how the scene looked to human eyes.  Visit the challenge for more details on HDR editing and a fine haiku with no technical prerequisites.

(reblog), humor, music, photography

Cathedral & Lighthouse & Xmas Carol

Claude Monet’s paintings of the cathedral at Rouen illustrate the principle that what U see depends on when U look.  Patrick Jennings’ photos of the lighthouse at Amphitrite Point illustrate the same principle.  The prose poem posted with one of them has also inspired new lyrics for a classic Xmas carol.
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RouenCathedral_Monet_1894_559x874

Claude Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral are well-known.  Tho built for utilitarian rather than devotional purposes, the lighthouse at Amphitrite Point (on the coast of British Columbia) has much in common with the Rouen Cathedral.  Each tries to guide the viewer to some form of safety.  Each looks different at various times (and from various vantage points).  Each has had its beautiful variety captured by a great artist.

amphitrite-point-lighthouse

© Patrick Jennings | Pix to Words | Amphitrite Lighthouse

Click on the image credit for access to Patrick Jennings’ other photos of the Amphitrite Lighthouse.  Each image is accompanied by poetry.  The prose poem posted with this image is an evocative dialog between the “Great Light” of the setting sun and the “little light at Amphitrite” (who gets the last word).  Hmmm.  “Little light at Amphitrite” could have a nice rhythm and an internal rhyme.

While the name of the eponymous Greek goddess is pronounced like [am-fi-tright-ee], it is OK to pronounce the place name like [am-fi-tright].  (Amid wind and waves, saying the [-ee] would sound rather twee.)  Why do I care?  Consider the tune of the Xmas carol O little town of Bethlehem.  As with Greensleaves or Glorious things of thee are spoken, a great musical foundation can support many lyrical superstructures.

|O little light at Amphitrite,
|how bright we see thee glow.
|The sea can smash a boat on rocks,
|as all good sailors know.
|But sailors steer with confidence
|they will not drown just yet.
|Thy beacon guides them safely home
|no worse than cold and wet.

haiku

What Waves Wash Ashore

I finished this haiku trilogy after Patrick Jennings’ Challenge #160 closed.  That’s OK.  Can’t rush barbecue.
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© Patrick Jennings | Contemplation ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #160

Waves #1
|Waves wash things ashore:
|bouyant trash from far away,
|driftwood, and sea weed.

Waves #2
|Synchronize your breath
|with the ebb and flow of waves.
|Feel the ocean’s pulse.

Waves #3
|Contemplate them all:
|driftwood, sea weed, even trash.
|Insights ride the waves.

 

(reblog), haiku, photography, tanka

Dawn Can Endure

Tho originally written in response to a challenge on a blog other than CDHK, the tanka here can also respond to Carpe Diem #1214 dawn because it uses the word dawn and has fragment/phrase structure on 2 levels: between the haiku and the rest of the tanka as well as within the haiku itself.

My tanka responding to a challenge posted by Patrick Jennings is a riff on the splendid photo he provided, with hills that seem to go on forever in both time and space.

Originally posted by Patrick Jennings in
[Evanescent ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #89]:

himalayan-foothills-sunrise-kunjapuri-devi-temple-rishikesh-uttarakhand-india-copy

View original

Seize the Sunrise
Evanescent dawn.
Do hills endure forever?
No, but long enough.
~ ~ ~ ~
Art subverts time with pixels;
the moment also endures.

(reblog), haiku, photography, tanka

Seize the Sunrise

My tanka responding to a challenge posted by Patrick Jennings is a riff on the splendid photo he provided, with hills that seem to go on forever in both time and space.

Originally posted by Patrick Jennings in
[Evanescent ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #89]:

himalayan-foothills-sunrise-kunjapuri-devi-temple-rishikesh-uttarakhand-india-copy

View original

Seize the Sunrise
Evanescent dawn.
Do hills endure forever?
No, but long enough.
~ ~ ~ ~
Art subverts time with pixels;
the moment also endures.