January Misgivings


In honor of Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, I find myself speechless, but I am resonating with:

Herman Melville’s Misgivings

When ocean-clouds over inland hills
Sweep storming in late autumn brown,
And horror the sodden valley fills,
And the spire falls crashing in the town,
I muse upon my country’s ills—
The tempest bursting from the waste of Time
On the world’s fairest hope linked with man’s foulest crime. Continue reading

On Ice

Dry Hydrangea on Ice

held in my petals
memories of last summer
slumber here on ice

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: This haiku is my contribution to a long-standing meme, Poetry Friday, which is organized by Kidlitosphere Central and hosted by various bloggers, around the web. I am very excited to participate for the first time. This week you can visit A Teaching Life and see links to the poetry.  Some of my friends write kids poetry. If you do, you should check this out. They publish anthologies of the Poetry Friday offerings periodically, and I have it on good authority that they actually PAY for the use of the poem!!! LOL What a concept! (Okay, it’s not going to make me rich, but hey, a dinner out… maybe.)

Poetry Friday Badge

Origins of Thought Haibun

Cherubs by Michelangelo, Courtesy of Samui Art

Cherubs by Michelangelo, Courtesy of Samui Art

Yesterday I walked gingerly over a six-inch thick sheet of ice to close my garage door. Slowly I turned back across it to my car, eager to pick up my daughter from preschool. I thought with hostility of ice, winter, and arctic temperatures, while I fumbled with my gloves, even though I did not fall.

Then I thought about thinking itself, where had those negative thoughts come from? I remembered how a fresh dusting of snow glints in the sunlight, how much fun my boys had digging snow tunnels and forts and I remembered sledding and hot chocolate. I smiled and felt immeasurably happier. I remembered my joy when the first flakes fell. I decided to view the last days of winter cheerfully. Spring is coming soon, and then winter will be a delight to look forward to again. Now where had those thoughts come from?

When I was in my teen years, my thoughts were often dark. I read horror, murder mysteries and psycho suspense with gusto, imagining death, blood and gore without flinching. I rarely gave any space to positive thoughts, except for some vague idea that my life would be better when I was on my own.

monsters within
words spilling blood
monsters without

My own life seemed cheap, all things absurd, all cultural mores without depth or meaning, all of us caught in a spider web of habits developed by people long dead. Pointless.

How did I get from there to here, where negative thoughts are automatically balanced by positive ones and my mind achieves serenity? I no longer dwell in the dark places or give voice to angst, betrayal and pain, despite treading water in it for years.

I had an epiphany. I’m not sure I should share it. Things that are too simple are often confused with the simple-minded. And yet, simple is the curve of a throat that make you catch your breath. Simple is a blue sky after a storm, the sun reflecting in all the wet places. Simple is ice in the summer or a warm hand when yours is icy.

If you are still reading, you may wonder what my epiphany was. In that case, I will tell you: I control my own thoughts. That’s it. No matter how dark, or scary or hurtful others are, they cannot control my thoughts unless I let them. I can look for beauty and good memories, and focus on those, letting the rest go. So I did, every time the negative thoughts came, I used mental muscle to shove them aside and substitute positive ones. Over time, the initial herculean effort became an easy, automatic one.

I came home from picking up my daughter, stepped onto the ice, and BAM, slammed into the trash bin, so thoughtfully provided by my city sanitation department. My first thought: that wasn’t so bad. Next thought: OWWW!!! That thought lasted longer than I like to remember, but eventually my well-trained brain found happy thoughts again: I’m so glad I didn’t break anything. At least my daughter won’t have to risk walking over it. My driving is done for the day. I can go lie down for half an hour. Spring is coming.

clouds part
rays of sunshine push through
contemplate joy

Inspired by Michelangelo, Haibun Thinking Prompt #7 and Samui Art.

Winter and Jack Frost

A good friend has written a delightful fairy tale about Jack Frost, partly inspired by my lit-tree photos, and I am honored to share it with you. I hope you like it, and it sparks some wonder on a cold autumn night. 🙂 Cheers, Brenda


There were only shadows and silhouettes when the little sprite-like

one awoke from his long, extended nap. The seasons had changed

while he slept and he looked around, not seeing his special ‘touch’

upon the land yet. He stretched his arms out and shrugged his thin

shoulders, shaking out his stiff joints, while wrapping his coat closely

around him.

The elfin man crept out from under the bridge, ready to dip his toes

into the chilly stream. He shivered with excitement and knowing it

was TIME.

As the water changed from moving sluggishly, freezing into a sheet of

ice, he tiptoed up the bank and left his tiny, crystalline footprints behind.

He hopped over the rock that led to the grass and he slowed.

He stopped.

He took one big breath IN! His lungs burned with the extremely brittle air.

He let one foggy (water vapored) breath OUT!

He prepared himself.

He took his hand from under his woolen blanket jacket and…

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