Suburban Haiku: Thanksgiving (a guest post)

©2013 CEStankiewicz all rights reserved

(Today’s post, like last week’s, was prompted by my recent Japan trip. I asked Peyton Price, the genius behind Suburban Haiku, to share some of her witty work in the familiar Japanese poetic form.  She graciously obliged, using the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as her theme. I’m very thankful.)

I love haiku—little poems with seventeen syllables in three lines: five syllables, seven, then five.

The simplicity of haiku leaves space for readers to fill in personal details, seeing their own lives in the space between those three lines. I’m writing about my neighborhood, but you’ll want to know whether I’m spying on yours. (Answer: No comment.)

And it’s so satisfying, really, to boil life’s absurdities down to seventeen syllables. Being a mom is so complicated, and somehow so mind-numbingly boring. The holidays are a perfect example. Are you feeling the pressure yet? Wouldn’t you rather laugh than cry? A tiny haiku can be sweet revenge . . . or just sweet.


Preschool Thanksgiving:
Moms and dads in tiny chairs
ask “Did you make this?”

The teens volunteer
at the neighborhood food bank
for their rèsumès.

My kids cannot wait
to wake up on Thanksgiving
and see all the ads.

Thanksgiving parade:
A Pilgrim in white stockings
and white Adidas.

Once our guests arrive
I start out with a simmer.
Then I stir things up.

Every November
he sits there stuffing his face
with all our birdseed.

Weekend visitors
finally head off to bed.
Even the cat purrs.


Peyton Price lives in suburbia (of course) with her long-commuting husband (of course) and two above-average children (of course). You can find Suburban Haiku on twitter, facebook, the blog, and Amazon (of course).


The Well-Versed Mom & Tom.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Well-Versed Mom & Tom.


Omikuji – A Poem-Drawing


Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo

This week I am fortunate to be visiting Tokyo on vacation, and I’ve quickly come to love what I’ve experienced of Japan’s culture so far. Of course I’ve been doing all the requisite touristy things: experiencing the bustle of Tsukiji Fish Market early in the morning, eating my fill of sushi and tempura, learning my way around the subway, and visiting the many temples and parks with which the city is blessed.

On Monday, I found my way to Meiji Jingu temple, a large and lovely Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who came to the throne in 1867 as Japan’s feudal era was ending. A popular ruler, the emperor was an accomplished poet, as was the empress. Both favored the form of Waka, traditional poems of 31 syllables in the pattern 5-7-5-7-7.

Just outside the main building, visitors arrive at a small hut bearing this sign:


For 100 yen ($1 U.S.), I got to shake a cylindrical wooden box filled with wooden sticks numbered 1-20, each corresponding to one of the emperor’s or empress’s poems. I paid my yen, shook the box and drew the number 12. My poem was by Empress Shoken:


Ever downward water flows

But mirrors lofty mountains;

How fitting that our heart also

Be humble, but reflect high aims.

–Empress Shoken

A wonderful sentiment, and as the sign had expressed, one that did in fact have particular meaning for me. Happy and inspired, I moved on to the main shrine, clasping my poem to my chest, feeling the words of the empress deep in my heart.


Daylight Savings Time

Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 6.59.39 AM

How wonderful to wake up today and find ourselves in possession of an entire extra hour to use as we please!

And how bittersweet this time of year is. The autumn air and fall foliage are such a welcome change — yet we have fewer hours of daylight in which to enjoy them.

Today, in spite of having 60 more minutes to compose a new poem of my own, I’m instead bringing you a lovely little verse by Pulitzer Prize winner Phyllis McGinley.  And now I’m off to relish my remaining 45 minutes…


In spring when maple buds are red,
We turn the clock an hour ahead;
Which means, each April that arrives,
We lose an hour out of our lives.

Who cares? When autumn birds in flocks
Fly southward, back we turn the clocks,
And so regain a lovely thing
That missing hour we lost in spring.

 — Phyllis McGinley