It’s Autumn. Probably.

Red and green berries and leaves

Red berries

We didn’t have what I’d call a “summer” here in Atlanta. “Summer,” here, means sweltering, muggy days of 95° to 105° F coupled with 90% humidity or higher. Walking outside is akin to taking a sauna in a kiln.

Birds pant. It’s not attractive.

This summer, the mercury barely peeked over 90°. Usually it was in the 80s. Temperatures in the evening were in the 70s or even in the 60s. It’s been oddly pleasant even while elsewhere in the country, summer with its heat and humidity reigned.

And now, autumn is either coming or it’s already here. I’m not 100% sure which it is, yet. I don’t have any pecan trees, so it’s hard to know for sure.

My maternal grandmother, LaVerne Branch — Nanny — always said that the pecan trees knew. They knew when it was really autumn, and it wasn’t autumn until they reddened and started losing leaves. And in the spring, it wasn’t really spring until they began to green.

So in the absence of any pecan trees (and I pronounce it ‘pe KAHN’ to rhyme with ‘begone’ and not ‘PEE can,’ in spite of every southern stereotype in the history of ever), I guess I’ll just have to be content to say, “It’s autumn. Probably.”

And in honor of the change of the seasons (probably), I give you this haiku, inspired by the image at the top of this post.

crystalline frost limns;
deadly poison concentrates.
crimson berries, ripe.

That being said, I have no idea if those berries pictured are poisonous. We were told to write a haiku inspired by the image. The first thing I thought was “pretty berries, but they’re probably poisonous.”

It hurt me to not capitalize, but read the ‘rules’ of the contest if you want to know why I didn’t. I’m not still <twitch> twitching, am I? <twitch> Good. I didn’t <twitch> think so.

Heh. It occurs to me that I could make this a science fiction haiku by making it venom instead of poison.

Write Tribe

Haikus for a Writing Prompt

Pine Needles After Rain 2 by timage, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  timage 

Wednesday’s prompt on WriteTribe is to write a proper haiku. Many thanks to Ruchira Shukla for the succinct lesson. In brief, an English-language haiku should have 17 syllables in three lines with the pattern 5 / 7 / 5, it should mention or make reference to a season (kigo), and should have a juxtaposition. A juxtaposition is where one of the lines is grammatically separate from the other two. This last one is harder than it sounds.

Further, we were asked to make ‘rain’ the kigo, as it is currently the rainy season in India, where WriteTribe is based. Not to mention here in Atlanta, where it has rained almost every day for several weeks, it seems.

But rain means so many things to me. Rain has different personalities. There’s the light rain that falls straight down, leaving dry patches under everything. There’s the driving sheets of rain that stop traffic. There’s horizontal rain that hits windows with the force of pebbles and make you check your roof for leaks. There’s spitting rain that’s not really worth getting out an umbrella for, but it will leave you just as wet. So I did not constrain myself to just one haiku. So there.

Here are my six ‘rain’ haiku. Note that I chose to actually avoid the word ‘rain’ and instead obliquely refer to it, as it was one of the techniques mentioned by the page at WriteTribe. I’m also sure I didn’t accomplish a juxtaposition in at least three of them. Maybe.

Cicadas droning.
Thundershower’s pitter-pat.
Soothing susurrus.
Low, grey, dreary skies.
Children laugh with abandon.
Puddles for splashing.
Musty petrichor.
Pine needles, diamond laden.
Above, a rainbow.
Sunny and stormy:
The devil’s beating his wife.
No mowing today!
Some big, some little:
Muddy footprints on the floor.
Mud’s not just for kids.
Torrential downpour.
Weather loved only by ducks.
And I, with my book.

I should also note that ‘diamond’ in my particular dialect (i.e., Southern English) is two syllables, not three. So there are not eight syllables in the second haiku down in the first column. :)

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I wrote this story for The Write Tribe contest incorporating the following seven words in random order (they’ll be in bold): postcard, coin, tidy, wild, help, calendar, responsibility.

It is a bit of a departure for me because it is not genre fiction: it is “mainstream” fiction. Maybe I should have made him a cyborg. . . Anyway, it’s the story that came to mind. It is 493 words, well short of the stated 700 word limit. Which is also a departure for me. :)

(c) user Imelenchon (Iván Melenchón) on MorgueFile.com


Greg stood at the end of the short driveway, gazing at the mobile home in the early morning light. A wan, yellow glow in one window told him that someone was awake. Probably getting ready for work.

He checked the postcard again. Maybe he had the wrong address? No. This was definitely it. The address was drawn on the card in meticulous, cursive letters, as though the writer were an expert in calligraphy.

The place, by contrast, was a mess. Grass grew two feet tall in places. A wild profusion of weeds choked what few flowers and shrubs there were. The mailbox canted at a jaunty angle, its post half-consumed by termites and borer bees. He eyed the decrepit-looking Volkswagon van parked in front of him. It was probably twice as old as he was.

He pulled a coin out of his pocket. A quarter. He gripped it between his thumb and index finger so tightly, he imagined he could feel George Washington’s sharp nose digging into the pad of his thumb. It didn’t help still the quaver in his hand.

One little toss of a coin. Then it wouldn’t be on him. Heads or tails. Stay or go. Fate would decide. Very tidy, he thought. Leave the decision to random chance. Shirk yet another responsibility.

A trickle of sweat beaded at the nape of his neck and crawled down his back, agonizingly slow. He shifted his weight to his other foot. What was there to gain, here? He should just go. He had no business coming here. What had he even been thinking? Yes. He would go. He turned to walk away, and then stopped.

You are going . . . up to that door to knock like an adult.

He clenched his jaw. Put the quarter back in his pocket. Took several deep breaths.

He’d had today circled on his calendar for months. His true twenty-first birthday, which he’d found out from the sweat-stained postcard clutched in his hand. They — whoever answered the door — were his birth family. He’d been looking for them for months. He wouldn’t let a few weeds and some tall grass destroy his chance to learn his origins.

He squared his shoulders and purposefully strode up to the door, and, before he could talk himself out of it, knocked.

There was a long silence. Then, the knob turned and the door crept open. He found himself looking down into the kindly eyes of a grey-haired woman in a wheelchair. She wheeled herself forward, half in and half out of the threshold. In the growing sunlight, her eyes were bright green.

Like his own.

“Gregory?” she asked, her voice cracking. “Is that . . . Is it really you?”

All his anxiety fled, leaving him weak in its wake. He sank to his knees in front of the wheelchair and grabbed the woman’s hands in his own, crumpling the postcard.

“Yes,” he said, smiling. “It’s me. I’ve come home.”

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