What I'm Wearing:
A few weeks ago historic Prospect Park in Brooklyn was host to The Great Googa Mooga Festival--possibly the best, or at least the most amusingly, named festival in the history of festivals. The park was transformed into an amusement park of food and drink. The festival's website describes the event as a gathering of “approximately 75 food vendors, 35 brewers, 30 winemakers and 20 live music performances... on hand to help us relish some of life’s greatest pleasures—gathering with friends and neighbors to eat, drink, talk, laugh, dance, linger and just... be together.”
Sounded good to us!
Alas, that description sounded good to everybody with a pulse. Tickets sold out early, and we could only smell and hear the Great Googa Mooga. We could not taste it.
But as another New York poet once put it: "Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost." Around that same time I happened to be studying a new poetic form that has since come to obsess me-- haibun. Haibun is a Japanese literary form that combines prose and haiku, but it's so much more than that as well. The whole is greater than just a prose poem with a short 5-7-5 syllable poem stuck on the end. But... I'm no expert on writing haibun, so I'll quote one instead.
Constance Brewer, an editor at Everyday Poets, inspired me to take a shot at it myself when she elaborated on the delicate balance between the two parts in her explanatory essay on the form: “Although they complement each other, the haiku is not meant to be an echo of the prose poem, nor is the prose poem merely a set up for the haiku. The prose poem shouldn’t be a piece of flash fiction with a haiku attached, but rather a reflection on a physical or emotional journey the writer has undertaken.”
The challenge of striking that balance between two disparate types of poetry in order to create something that would work together intrigued me that cold, wet Monday morning aftera disappointing weekend spent shut out of earthly paradise. And the moment inspired my first haibun. I ended up submitting a different poem to the Japanese short form contest at Everyday Poets (fingers crossed for me please!), but below was my first attempt. If you like the form be sure to check out more examples here.
The first thunderstorm in Park Slope the day after the Great Googa Mooga Festival: rainwater washes away the red of festival cups and lashes plastic forks down the steep hill that leads to the flatlands of Brooklyn--the other side of the tracks, Gowanus, where the refuse will come to a more natural resting place amid the ever-festive squalor and cheap consumption of the shopping malls on Flatbush. Cheese straws will twist around plastic Victoria Secrets' hangers and cocktail umbrellas bedeck Kmart shopping carts.
We were shut out of the festival this year, my husband and I. Exiles by virtue of procrastination. “Tickets sold out early. Online.” The vendors guarding the gate informed us, ignoring our moans of despair. Like Kafka's hero longing for our judgment to be repealed, we lingered hopeful for hours before the gates tortured by the smell of culinary grandeur galore. At last heads hanging we came home. All day revelers trudged up the slope to the park, seeming in our anguished view to smile smugly at us as they passed by. And now the storm will wash their fun back down upon them. I watch my tiny yard turn verdant, sopping, bowed grass washed clean of pollen just as the sidewalks are swept clean by the downpour. I smile reflecting on the nature of revenge.
rain falls into plastic cups
same as fountains
mingling with beer and pennies
And well tongue-in-cheek fantasies of revenge aside...there's always next year! So have a great weekend, and write or read some poetry for your old pal, Izzy :).