Saturday, September 10, 2011

さようなら IRENE: Sayōnara

Gray for days: Peeking out from safety during IRENE.

A close friend recently gave me a blank poetry/journal book with a cat-ear cover that was inspirational. But not so “spiritual” and unapproachable that I couldn’t spill coffee on it, which I did.  Then, during Hurricane IRENE—and the associated power outage that lasted nearly four days--I wrote a series of Senryū.  Moods fluctuated, as the survival instinct kicked in. (This meant living out of a cooler with no power--hardly a real crisis, but...)  More important to the translation of hand-written poems in the notebook is the artisty of  Margaret Scott, featured here.

 Senryū.  A Senryū is a three line Japanese poem structurally similar to haiku, that is, 5/7/5.  It is is not rhymed, and is generally satirical or ironic.

·  line 1  is  5 syllables   ·  line 2  is 7 syllables  ·  line 3 is  5 syllables

Here's one from the creator of the form, Senryū Karai, 1718-1790, whose collection launched the genre into the public consciousness.  This poetic form focuses on human foibles, while haiku are usually about nature.  Finally, Senryū  are often ironic, cynical or even darkly humorous:  “Catching him /You see the robber/is your own son.”   When translated into English, however, you can see that the 5.7.5 format rule has changed.

August 26th…Irene arrives. Power on, but rain, high winds.


My cat just spit up.
Oh, how I love her gray fur!
So I clean it up.

August 27…Hurricane Irene’s high winds, rain continue.

They were both with me:
Jacuzzi at my feet,
Camilla, my head.

British Short Hair, one.
The other called a “Torti.”
Part of my life now.

August 27…11:30 p.m. Scary wind-driven rain. 
Lose electricity (power), but I didn't know until morning.

Sleeping cats. By Margaret Scott.
All drawings: Margaret Scott.

Irene rages on
but my two cats are sleeping.                        
How I want their ease!

 Dream? What?

Did you just kiss me?
I thought I felt something:
Wet, warm and quick.

August 28…Morning…No power!  
Talking to myself, cats, birds.
Buy ice, try to save food.
Wet towels scattered around.


Cardinal out there
waiting to eat the new seed.
Red, his mate light brown.

Comparing Hands

How many brown spots
Do you see on your hands now?
I have twenty-one.


Can we stop aging?
Maybe without stress and rage?
I throw my cell phone.

                                          Past-tense intense now.
                                          How did I achieve that state?
                                          Put myself to sleep.

August 29…morning
Refrigerator off, discarding more food; 
hoping for return of power;

eating out of cooler, stress level rising, 

Margaret's writing...
Dumb Fly

Fly, I tried with you—
to let you out my screen door.
You made me swat you.

Meat thrown in trash can!
I also threw my keys in—
Stupid!  New Vegan!

Out with that mayo!
I tried to hang on to it,
calories and all.


                                               “Testosteroni” –
                                                New kind of pasta salad.
                                                Bluff and bravado.

Limited Arsenal

Is that what you do
when I just say NO to you?
Toss me a word bomb?

Cats Again

Little pointed ears
with the sweet soft voice I love—
My joy, Camilla.

Don't ask...why me?

Romance of candles...But Envy Rising

No Power—no change.
Only a few houses now
with candles at night.


Nice offer, but “No”—
Hooked to a generator
like hospital tubes!

August 30…morning
Irene has moved on…
Still no power, but hope rising

Variety of Moods

Restaurant last night,
sharing a lamb shank and wine.
Too many words though.

Peaceful with cats now—
pointed ears in silhouette.
What are they sensing?


Well, isn’t it true?
We want what we don’t have, yes?
Hot shower right now!

Still No Power

I want power back.
This is starting to bore me—
But oh, the sunrise!

                                              Stink Bugs

                                           I’m killing stink bugs
                                           on a case-by-case basis.
                                           Careful where you land!


Play it by the rules!
I told you what I thought once.
Don’t ask me again.

 Twice for emphasis, see below:
Emptying All

Clear out the old stuff
to make way for nothingness.
I need to have peace!

August 30...3 p.m.
Surprise: Power back! Two days early. Gratitude.

Sigh. Back to norm

Numb, with lots of shrugs,
and boring food in my house.
Cooler, melted ice.

August 31…
Breakfast Alone at Forest Diner

Seeing Betty Boop
with that white skirt sailing up.
her eyes looking left.

I choose Decaf now--
shoring up my boundaries
one cup at a time.

Breakfast at Forest Diner, 

Too noisy in here!
Feeling Irene in our lives!
But you cut a swath.

I am out of sorts.
That conversation we had.
Did we say too much?

In “Carl’s Dining Car,”
Nathan’s hot dog sign in green,
the mustard, yellow.

September 1…Cleaned, Shopped, Almost no Poetry.

Day so soft and sad--
old conversations haunt me.
Focus on your cats!

Hair Cut and Other Fix-ups

Look in the mirror?
A new version of myself—
I liked the old one better.


Monday, speak my mind.
Tuesday, launch damage control.
Thursday, I don’t care.

Cats Again –Always

Constant source of joy--
And there is no disputing:
You spray your markers!

Week of September 5, 2011, Tropical Storm Katia hit the area hard, much harder than Irene, with prolonged torrential downpours that quickly caused major flooding of  our vulnerable Ellicott City Historic District, closing Main Street to traffic and soaking old masonry and wood structures. The Patsapsco River, boundary between Howard County and Baltimore County, overflowed its banks—up and over the top of the bridge.

Now, waters have retreated. Today, September 10th, we may not have rain at all.  Last night, the humidity dropped, and  the sky opened up to those wonderful little “street” clouds that march along in a horizontal row—they made me smile. I’m fairly sure others looked up and smiled too.

Tropical Storm Katia could be another blog, but I think not; know not…moving forward now, with renewed “power.”

Power on.  Please stay on now.

Blog content: Kay Weeks
Art: Margaret Scott
with gratitude to my friend, artist Margaret Scott and special thanks
to neighbor and friend, Neil Bobroff, for helping me recall the chronology
of Irene and the power outage.

Margaret Scott lives and works in Washington, DC.
Her art may be seen in

She is also on Facebook. If you are a friend, you can
savor her work every day.  Lucky you. And lucky me.

For comprehensive information on Ellicott City Historic District
and beyond, be sure to vist



Anonymous said...

well, golly, that's some blog. says it like it was.

enjoy those 'street' clouds.

ciao, lora
seattle, WA

Anonymous said...

Anatomy of a storm and power failure in senryu. Enjoyed it. Mary B

Anonymous said...

I like this most recent blog with your drawings the best!

David Curtis
Portland, OR

Anonymous said...

...Nice. In fact, fascinating. And pics are good.

Wendy Webb

Anonymous said...

Loved the poem and nice art.

San Diego

Anonymous said...

Those are so good. Where in the ___ do you live??

Kaye Boren,

Caroline Gill said...

What a response, Kay! As ever, C&J to the fore throughout ...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Irene wasn't much fun at your house. I hate to be without power, we are so used to it, and it feels so enormously unnatural to have things so quiet and to not be able to open the refrigerator!

Back to tennis. . . .

Karen O.
Redmond, WA

Anonymous said...

I can't begin to tell you two how much I love *A Walk Into the Past"! Wonderful and delightful and it made me smile and laugh! :)

Ann White Matthews

Denee Barr Art News and More said...

Fabulous Collaboration!
It is the artists, the writers, the poets that know how to reach us in ways that resonate in our souls, a document and testimony to the human spirit.

p.s. On separate note kudos, journal writing/drawing is always a good idea!

p.s.s. Thanks

Author Amok said...

Hi, Kay. I especially loved the cat senryu. Thanks for sharing your link with me. (Think about joining Poetry Friday, okay?)

Anonymous said...

Melina wrote: "a precious collaboration!"

Melina Santoriello

Facebook capture. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

A splendid collection of senryu & drawings! Making a good use of a hurricane! Every cloud has a silver lining.

Anne Hilary Sanderson

Anonymous said...

Hi Kay!

Our computer and tv were down for 3 count 'em 3 days. Sigh.

I really like what you are doing and have been doing with your blog.

Good for you: A creative contribution to others. A building of your own craft to sail the seas.

And a lot of churning up of thoughts in the silence and powerlessness of no electricity.

The illustrations were inspired by great text.

take good care ---