Still life in colour

They were sitting in La Barantine in Bruntsfield, at one of the two tables that gave a good view of the passers-by on the pavement directly outside. It was at such an hour of the morning that the sunlight, slicing over the high roof-tops, cast a square of buttery light on their table. Before them were two steaming cups of milky coffee, their foamy surfaces decorated with a delicate fern-leaf pattern. Vuillard or Bonnard might have painted this scene, thought Isabel: the tables, their covers, the display case of delicacies – it was all a tiny island of colour and comfort that would not have been out of place in an intimiste painting: Man and woman in a cafe, morning, perhaps, or Mme Dalhousie prend du cafe avec M. Stevenson. She liked the titles given to paintings; they could be so pithy and poetic, first lines of an incomplete haiku.

– from The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus, 2016)

Le journal illustre, now known as Woman Reading, was painted by Impressionist Edouard Manet in Paris in about 1880 and forms part of the Mr and Mrs Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection at the Art Institute Chicago. Image: Art Institute Chicago

winter evening
an unbought brioche
under glass

Jennifer Popolis, The Wonder Code (2017)

early evening rain –
the man at the bar
folds his paper into quarters

Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 15.3 (2013)

tea ceremony —
it begins & ends
with an empty cup 

Stanford M Forrester, The Signature Haiku Anthology (2020)

Le Déjeuner des canotiers or Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-August Renoir dates from 1881. It is now owned by The Phillips Collection in Washington DC. Image: Wikipedia

midday
the coffee turns
to wine

Tom Clausen, The Wonder Code (2017)

river dripping
from both the oars
one last wish

Sharon Pretti, Another Trip Around the Sun (2019)

near evening …
willow shadows return
to the river

Mohsen Farsani, The Wonder Code (2017)

Postcard from San Francisco

Well, here it is folks, the final postcard from my North America trip.

Carolyn Hall (see Postcard from Santa Rosa, below) drove with us to San Francisco and was a great guide, pulling us off the highway for lunch at Book Passages (a glorious book store too) near San Rafael.

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge – is there any better way to enter a city? – and I, for one, was as excited as a little kid (I may have been the only one in the car skipping about on the inside. Carolyn’s done it many times and the driver was, well, driving).

Then she tested our driver’s skill, and nerve, by sending him up one of those terraced streets that San Francisco is renowned for. Every block was either an uncontrolled intersection or lights – you want to be the leading car when you reach the intersection as that’s the only flat place to stop, and not 3 cars back on the steep slope! But we wouldn’t have swapped the experience for the world, and next day, when riding one of the famous cable cars, saw a street – or didn’t see a street – that seemed to disappear off the edge! Filbert Street has a 31.5% grade … Stephen von Worley has written about driving such streets and compiled a list of what he considers to be the 10 steepest.

summer solstice
the measuring tape reels back
into its case

– Carolyn Hall

Carolyn had more haiku fun in store for us with a group gathering at her apartment and then strolling round the corner to a great Thai restaurant.

sanfran

Dinner party, from left back: Keith Frentz, Carolyn Hall, Buck Hall, Sandra Simpson and Betty Arnold. From left front, Richard Goldberg, Sharon Pretti, Patricia Machmiller and Richard Bruns. Photo: The waiter

Patricia Machmiller is a well-known name in haiku and I was pleased to sit in on her session at Haiku North America in 2013. She began writing in 1975 with Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, founders of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and was the society’s president from 1978 to 1981, and is currently treasurer. Patricia is also a talented brush painter and has held exhibitions of her work. Her delightful sense of humour came to the fore during our meal and I was amazed to hear that she’s not long recovered from a broken neck, a dreadful injury that occurred when she was hit by a vehicle while out walking.

squash blossoms
the ribbon on her dress
unravelling 

– Patricia Machmiller,  winner of a 2016 THF Touchstone Award
published in Frogpond 38.2

Betty Arnold is editor of the Yuki Tekei’s magazine Geppo, as well as being a member of Haiku Poets of Northern California. She was introduced to haiku by Christopher Herold when he was still living in California and well remembers the serene atmosphere he created for his guests. A retired paediatrician, Betty also enjoys writing tanka but isn’t too bothered about getting her work published. She writes for her own pleasure.

welcome home surprise –
all along the driveway
forget-me-nots

– Betty Arnold

Sharon Pretti, who is a social worker in a care facility for adults, is relatively new to haiku but has already had poems appear in such august publications as Modern Haiku and Frogpond. Her partner, Richard Goldberg, is a visual artist. See his website here.

in remission
acacia dust brushed
from the windshield

– Sharon Pretti, Second place in the 2015 Porad Haiku Award

Richard Bruns had told me the day before that although he didn’t write much haiku, he was nonetheless interested in it and liked hanging out with haiku folk! His write-up of our visit revealed a little more … he has in fact been interested in haiku since the 1960s and been writing poetry of all sorts off an on ever since! Joining HPNC after he retired in 2012 “forced a complete reassessment of my own work in the face of 21st century haiku standards”. Richard is attempting to meet that challenge and has had some success and is also enjoying writing science fiction poetry.

Thank you to everyone in these postcards who helped make my visit to the US so rewarding. It was a pleasure to spend time with you all!