New release today! Just under the wire of the fall equinox, 12 minutes of the summer that was. Enjoy a complete listen, as you might give one side of a vinyl platter.
A beanball for a bat flip
Hard slide, benches clear
39/162: Toronto 6 @ Rangers 7 W19-L20
Labor Day passes, we enter a new season. Back to school, and summer feels over even with a few weeks to go before the solstice. In an election year, the homestretch for the campaigns, new significance to the polls, debates coming up. College football starting, pro football imminent.
But most important of all: pennant races! The dog days are behind us, the Fall Classic beckons. Meaningful baseball. And for the second year in a row after a loathsome drought, Toronto’s beloved Blue Jays are in the thick of things, defending division champions and a game up in the once unwinnable A.L. East.
And I enter my own homestretch with Josh, Edwing, Joey Bats, Tulo, Devo, J.A. “Wildcat” Happ, and the rest of the flock. 137 games played, 137 haiku written. It seems so long ago I told a literary minded pal, “Well, I’m trying to write a haiku for each game of the season this year.” “Baseball has always seemed to lend itself to poetry,” he replied. Yes, but never quite like this.
The idea came to me in the 2015 season after the big trades. Tulo, then Price, something special in the offing. A few haiku ensued, but it didn’t take. As the team stormed through spring training earlier this year, the impulse returned. A Facebook post on April 3rd, then tweets ever since.
After two wins on the road in Tampa, the Jays seemed poised for a hot start, maybe a wire-to-wire season. Then came 2016’s first taste of adversity.
New double play rule
Bautista slide illegal
Tying run erased
3/162: Toronto 2 @ Rays 3 W2-L1
True to the form, each game is marked with three lines of five syllables, then seven, then five again. With only a few exceptions, I’ve captured an impression of each game soon after its completion.
The approach has varied. At times, I’ve had the haiku’s tradition in mind, as well as its form, and have evoked a moment without concern for conveying any of the game’s narrative or outcome.
Tulo checks his grip
Fingers form a letter “C”
Touching all four seams
90/162: Detroit 3 @ Blue Jays 2 W50-L40
I was struck by a broadcaster calling attention to Tulo taking the time to get the right grip on the ball while throwing on the run. But other poems are very much brief encapsulations of the play, as in the case of a pivotal comeback from a few weeks back.
Saved by rain delay
Down six runs before the storm
Win by six after
120/162: Toronto 12 @ Yankees 6 W68-L52
With at least 25 regular season games to go, and the promise of many more, I’m going to be living and dying the Jays the next few weeks, and writing a lot more haiku. Come along for the ride in a poem a game via #jaysseasoninhaiku. Bandwagon fan? Get the story so far in only 2,329 syllables! And while you’re at it, why not try some Blue Jays haiku of your own!
A new song in time to soundtrack Victoria or Memorial Day rambles.
Vallum Contemporary Poetry launched a “Poem of the Week” feature on its blog back in April. So far, they have posted poems previously published in Vallum Magazine by Domenico Capilongo, Garth Martens, Gary Barwin, James Deahl, and Pamela Porter, enhanced with an audio recording or a poetry video.
This week, “The Port of London” from Zeppelin is the featured poem. I made my second poetry video for the occasion. You can view the post here. The poem originally appeared in 2012 in issue 9.2, The Invisible Cityscape. Thanks to Vallum for supporting the poem back then and for the opportunity to be part of “Poem of the Week”.
Blaise took refuge in a cave, and led a hermit’s life. Birds brought his food to him, and came to him in flocks, not flying away until he had blessed them. When any of them was ailing it came to him, and was restored to health. One day the governor’s men had hunted over the countryside without finding any game; and coming to the place where Blaise had set up his dwelling, they saw a great gathering of birds and other animals crowding about the hermit to seek his protection. As it turned out, the huntsmen could not lay a hand on any of them.
A woman who was very poor, came and asked the saint to obtain the return of her only pig, which had been carried off by a wolf. And the saint, smiling, said to her: “Good woman, be not troubled! The pig will be returned to thee!” And at that very moment the wolf was seen running toward them bringing back to the widow the pig which he had stolen. From then on the woman and the wolf were friends. The woman sent the rescued pig to Blaise in prison for food. Blaise ate the rescued pig.
The seven women who followed Blaise after his first torture collecting drops of his blood, are a story on to themselves. Miraculously, when tortured, they bled milk. Whereupon their heads were severed—for they had survived the furnace; the fire would not burn with them inside—and they departed to Heaven.
The governor gave the order to cast Blaise into the pond. But Saint Blaise made the sign of the cross over the waters of the pond and at once they became as firm as dry earth. And the saint said: “If your gods are true gods, give proof of their power by walking upon this water!” And sixty-five men walked into the water and were drowned. An angel came to Blaise, to call him out of the pond.
The governor sentenced Blaise to be beheaded. And the saint, before offering his neck to the headsman, prayed that anyone suffering from ailments of the throat who should implore his aid, might be heard and healed. And a voice from Heaven said to him that his prayer was granted. Then the saint was beheaded and two children—of one of the women who bled milk—with him. This martyrdom took place about the year of the Lord 287.
Happy New Year from the Rowers team! Join us at the Central on January 5 for our first event of 2015, featuring Ava Homa, Jerry Levy, Carrianne Leung, Lee Maracle and Blaise Moritz. Doors open 6:30pm, readings start at 6:50pm sharp. Evening ends at 8:45pm.
We gratefully acknowledge financial assistance from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, The Toronto Arts Council, The Writers’ Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets
Ava Homa is a writer, teacher and editor who lives in Toronto. Her collection of short stories, Echoes from the Other Land (TSAR, 2010), was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Conner Short Story Prize and secured a place among the ten winners of the 2011 CBC Reader’s Choice Contest, running concurrently with the Giller Prize. The book has been translated into Kurdish and Farsi.
Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer, educator and business owner who…
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