— From EF —

Well, wow. I’m home. It was a great trip, I didn’t lose anything, I didn’t get my pockets picked, and I can still walk. (Sorta.) I landed Friday evening, we wasted no time before hauling ass to the ocean Saturday, and this being Sunday we made the ritual rounds to Hard Core Espresso and the Farmers’ Market. The sixth of the month is the regular day for me to pay the bills and Tuesday we’re going to plunge back into Lear rehearsals, but first there’s a slam-dunk Labor Day party at the home of friends who still believe in volleyball. Yup, back home.

I really did need going to the ocean, because I didn’t get my usual fix on this trip. My normal ritual includes getting on a ferryboat and going to Belle Isle, then walking around some part of that gorgeous rocky coast. Not this time, just a morning’s walk to the very tip of the Quiberon peninsula. Yes, Mama Ocean lives there too, but she was definitely in quiet mode, arrayed in white sand and condos.

I didn’t get to my giant solitary stone at Carnac, either. En route, I met an unusual family on a woodland path and chose to spend the middle of the afternoon with them, and I’m glad I did. A father, widower, with his three children — a girl about to turn thirteen and a younger sister and brother, probably about eleven and nine. Their mother died last year after a valiant struggle with cancer, enduring the hardships of chemo in hopes of gaining more time. But at least she died at home, holding her husband’s hand as she slipped quietly away. She was forty-nine.

He is now a full-time father. The combination of his wife’s pension benefits and what he has accrued in early retirement means that with frugality, he is, in his own words, a billionaire, a man wealthy with time. They were staying at the Carnac campground, getting from place to place on foot, taking their time. The young son has become the family’s map-master, the younger daughter is the chief photographer, and the elder daughter digs out information about what surrounds them. Their father’s job? They call him The Dreamer.

It was a lively conversation among five equal participants. At heart, I’m sure my stone approved.

— From the Fool —

 Once in school we had to write a poem. This was third grade, I think. So I sat there watching the clock, which was about two o’clock and hours to go before we got out at three.

The teacher said it didn’t have to rhyme, but my brain kept running over moon and June and night and light and love and shove and spinning its wheels like when my dad got stuck in the mud, only without the swear words.

And then I got the sudden inspiration. I’d never had an inspiration before, where something came into the head like a bug flying into your ear, but I guess that’s what happened to artists like Vincent Van Gogh till they cut off their ears.

The cow sat there. This seemed very poetic because I’d never seen a cow sitting somewhere. They stood around or they lay down, but their butts weren’t shaped for sitting. Poetry was stuff you just made up, which is what I did.

I knew it had to be longer, but I was on a roll. It shed a tear. But then I hit one of those speed bumps in English where tear looks like tear, and people would think I meant the cow tore its pants, so I crossed out the line and sat there watching the clock go down and then start its very long trudge uphill while the cow just sat there.

The teacher saw I was having trouble, so she asked Herman the smart boy to help me. He was into video games and suggested A bomb blew it up but I thought we might get in trouble because it wasn’t our cow. So I left it like that and Miss Young called it a haiku and gave it a B-.

I still think it’s the best thing I ever wrote.

— From CB —

From time to time, I write a spate of haiku. Perhaps it’s an antidote to writing novels: shorter by far. Perhaps it’s a way of sneaking up on writing longer poems, which I’ve done on rare occasions but find deeply intimidating. Perhaps it’s a quick hunger for living in the moment. Perhaps it’s a furtive lust for doing something with no clear purpose whatever. Sometimes I’ve kept to the traditional 5-7-5 structure; now, in keeping with contemporary AmerEnglish practice, I let it be what it will. In any case, disavowing all purpose, here are a few:

and morning coffee bind
two old friends

deep fog
white-haired cyclist

agent standing by
biting her lip

my son looks at me
his baby eyes
at forty-two

nursing mother
skimming the news
headlines across her face


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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