An Already Thankful Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon

Here’s this week’s heap of haikus:

The day must leave us …
we must rest to prepare for
the struggles to come.

(Photograph courtesy of Kristina Rebelo)

Swimming through muck, keep
your eyes shut and dream of a
better tomorrow.

(Photograph courtesy of Kristina Rebelo)


Another day comes
to a fiery end.  Night soon
comsumes the embers.

(Photograph courtesy of Kristina Rebelo)

The bird kept staring
at the strange little boy who
would not eat a fish.

(Photograph courtesy of Kristina Rebelo)

Footprints on the beach …
When I could not go on, God
drove me in his jeep.

(Photograph courtesy of Kristina Rebelo)

Thanksgiving-kus:
And so, we gather
to rejoice and to give thanks
for we are so blessed.

Let each turkey slice
and wedge of mom’s pumpkin pie,
demonstrate our thanks.

Mash the potatoes,
baste the turkey, eat some pie,
then take a long nap.


tanka haiku:

My tenth great grand-dad
was at that first thanksgiving …
I imagine him

saying the turkey was fowl
and the yams needed more salt.

Maples, elms and oaks
burst with yellow, red and orange;
the forest ablaze!

As the earth prepares
to take its winter snooze, the
foliage blushes.

 tanka haiku:

Now that I am old,
I don’t have to ask for help,
nice folks will offer.

Of course, what they offer is,
seldom what I really need.


Immortal souls that
live in mortal bodies … That’s
one of God’s jokes, right?

This’ll float your boat;
Naked Gondoliers is what
made Venetians blind.


To be committed
is to fly through each sunset
in search of the dawn.

A fashion mash-up:
Paisleys, polka dots, Stripes, plaids
and some argyle socks.


In their living room,
a conversation started
in jest, ends sadly.


Lazy sunlight drifts,
through the parted lace curtains,
of the drawing room.


In a quiet room.
a book lies open on a
mahogany desk.


Mournful elegies
echoed through the cathedral …
loved ones laid to rest.

The moon changes shape,
‘cuz the earth goes ’round the sun …
I just eat too much.

Why-does-a-chicken-ku:

Psychic helps chickens
to get to the other side;
Is that Poultry-geist?

Double haiku:

Two ballet dancers
arch their backs and reach their arms
up to the heavens.

A plea to God to
understand the suffering
of this mortal realm.

 Blistering come-backs
raced through his head, but all he
could say was, “Oh YEAH?!”


Just one small request;
Don’t forget to feed the dog.
What dog?!!  ( Oh, dear Lord … )

Willows in the wind,
gently swaying back and forth,
like sleepy dancers.

He tried to please her,
he tried to reason with her,
she tried his patience.


On some distant shore,
A time long ago, we were,
Our ancestor’s dream.



Please prioritize;
carts go before horses and
socks on before shoes.


Societal ills;
Do you blame those above or
those that are below?


An old weathered rope,
hangs ’round a lonely fence-post.
Purpose forgotten.


Moon behind the clouds,
fields aglow in bluish light,
while foxes prowl.

All things pass away
And all relationships change
We are in motion.

She had placed her hand,
gently on his shoulder, when
he broke down and sobbed.


An incoming tide,
coral clouds at sunrise … all
our Hopes are reborn.


 A haiku cycle in 3 parts:

20’s-ku:

The promise of youth
may be mere speculation,
but it’s all I’ve got.

40’s-ku:

The promise of youth
may have to be postponed, but
it will be fulfilled.

60’s-ku:

The promise of youth;
a lie, a sham, a fraud … but
it kept me going.


What do small boys think
when they play at being men?
“Has mom made my lunch?”


 A tiny sparrow
is chased by a feisty pup
pulling a young girl.

——————————–

Reading comic books
and playing travel bingo
got them to Grandma’s.

—————————————

Brightly colored flags
flapped happily in the breeze;
quite a stirring sight

Slouched in a corner,
of a dingy juke joint, a
young man learns the blues.

Whatever ends will
begin again; our journey
is but a circle.

Words had no effect,
so, reluctantly, he tried
throwing sticks and stones.


Courtesan and muse,
she was unemotional …
though she was tickled.



Scars are reminders
that life can be risky, but
we can, and will, heal.


 Do not weep all night
then wonder why the world seems
so full of teardrops.


tanka haiku:

His reading glasses
slid right down his nose and dropped
into the toilet.

This dilemma was not solved
until he could stop laughing.


As I drove away,
to start my life anew, I
still thought about you.

****
This week’s bonus stuff:  Another piece of writing from my past, found while looking through my diskettes.  Last week’s play, Doin’ it for Defense, even though a salvaging of material, did wind up getting produced a number of times in small venues.    This week, I offer a passage from a play that I started, but never completed.  After reading Doc Cleveland’s advice to actors, I remembered this piece.  It’s original title was, “So What Do You Want From Me, A Play?” …  At the time I started writing it, (the mid-1990’s), it appeared as though Theater was truly dying and this was an attempt to deconstruct a play and re-discover what makes Theater so wonderful

A Play –  by Michael Tracy Smith    c 2014
                                                                                                                   I-1

At rise: A bare stage.  A ladder and two chairs are against the back wall. Most of the actors have been seated along with the audience.  Three loud knocks are heard. The house lights dim.  After a moment, the actor playing “Y” enters from the back of the house. He climbs the stairs to the stage, as the stage lights fade up. He crosses to center-stage and addresses the audience:

“Y” (Actor #1)
Good Evening. I am the right Reverend “Y”, Minister of Structure and Director of Public Information. Welcome to our protest. Tonight, we, the members of the Militant Show Biz Reactionaries Council have liberated this empty Theater, rescuing it from the darkness of theatrical oblivion in order to serve the purpose of enlightening you, the masses, to the merits of our coming Dramatic Revolution.  Allow me to introduce the leaders of the alliance who have chosen to join in our struggle tonight. From the Avenging Thespians; (Fill-in the real name of the actor playing the part).  I’m sure you all remember their delightful effigy-hanging of John Simon outside the Vivian Beaumont last month. (Aside to Actor) Caught you on “Hard Copy”. (“Y” gives him the OK sign.) Those of you familiar with Stage Nation, know that it is a group that belongs on any political activist’s must-support list. Representing them tonight is (Fill-in the real name of the actress playing the part). And direct from the civil disobedience trial of the Neo-dramatic Theatrical Supremacy Group comes (Again, fill-in the real name of the actor playing the part) These dedicated theater-fighters, along with other card-carrying members of the Militant Show Biz Reactionaries Council will present the series of protest speeches, tableaus and dramatic re-creations that you are about to witness.  We were expecting the entire membership of SAMS, the Straight Actors in Musicals Society to show up tonight, but both of them phoned in sick … First, let me say that we’re pleased that so many of you have decided to stay. My compliments to the many volunteers who have been busy out in the streets way-laying tour buses and diverting them to this venue. They do so, because they feel, as we all do, that our message is important. And that these are desperate times, my friends, so therefore, … y’know … measures were called for. Blah, Blah, Blah.  The problem is, as most of you have probably realized, that Theater is no longer our society’s pre-eminent avenue of artistic expression. In ancient Greece, people used to go to the theater and by relating directly to the characters being portrayed on-stage, actually experienced a physically cathartic release of all their pent-up emotions. Theatre was an integral part of their lives. Today, we watch people dressed up like trains, sing and dance on roller skates or singing candles that drip real wax! … And though we all pretend otherwise, the truth that nobody wants to admit, is that Theater has lost its relevance. Let me bottom-line it for you. In fifty years or less, if we keep going the way we’ve been, Theater as we have known it, will be dead. D-E-A-D … Hell, Even “Cats” has closed. This time it looks like the “Fabulous Invalid” really IS going to buy the farm.  And playing the role of Dr. Kevorkian to Theater’s “Camille”, will be our infomercially brainwashed, superficially oriented, seen it all, been there, done that and am completely one hundred percent bored and clinically depressed by it, Mass Culture … Hell, even WE wouldn’t be here if we weren’t so damned stubborn … and aren’t computer saavy enough to get internet jobs. But I digress. Y’know, its a fact that a Theatrical degree is second only to a philosophy degree in it’s inability to qualify you for a job outside your chosen profession or even IN your chosen profession for that matter. So, maybe now you’ll begin to understand the mess we’re in.


                                                                                                                      I-2
Actor #3
Well maybe we should just give up then! Admit it’s over. Acknowledge that Theater has lost the battle to movies and television and the internet. The hand-writing’s on the wall, and just ’cause it’s misspelled, doesn’t mean that anything is going to change. Maybe it’s not too late to go back and get that teaching certificate my mother begged me to get.

“Y” (Actor #1) (slaps Actor#3 across the face)
See what I mean? This is an example of the depths to which some dedicated Theater professionals have sunk. My friend here is depressed because while we live in an age where Entertainment is the dominate pre-occupation on the planet, thanks to the overwhelming glut of amusement options, the theater no longer seems capable of moving us to tears with dramatic revelations. Thanks to the aforementioned movies, cable TV and videotapes, we have all seen and read every dramatic twist in the book. Every plot device and surprise ending has been viewed and analyzed to death by each and every one of us. Case in point; How many of you have seen “Back To The Future” MORE than ten times? Come on, you know you have … Another reason Theater is dying may be that we get our fix of human insight every day on Rikki Lake and Jerry Springer. I mean, cripes, this may be the first time in recorded history that this many people are willing to expose their inner-most psychological problems to millions of complete strangers in exchange for some Samsonite luggage and a carton of Turtle Wax. After all, who needs to experience a theatrical catharsis when next week you’re booked on the Sally Jesse Raphael show to reveal your insatiable desire for a paraplegic Eskimo transsexual? (Tearfully) “It just breaks my heart to see Nanooka trying so hard to put on her mascara. And she keeps dropping her harpoon!”  And if that’s not enough to nail down the lid on Theater’s coffin, add the fact that the main interest of most Broadway Producers today is actually Real Estate; ergo, not knowing anything about ART, they just go on producing the works of the same old handful of artistically stunted playwrights who’ve been recycling the same liberal, humanistic pseudo-psychology ad infinitum and hiring thousands of part-time waiters who are really only looking to get into movies and television anyway, and you get a glimpse of Theater’s inevitable demise. Oh sure, small pockets of theatrical resistance will spring up, but so what? Who cares anymore? And, I dare say that unless you are an ethnic or sexual minority, your favorite play of all time was probably NOT written in the last thirty years. Am I right? Of course I am. Why? Well, to begin with, we had a little thing called a Cultural Revolution 40 years ago, where we turned over all creative cutting edges to teenagers! It was a decade I like to call, “The reject authority, be uninhibited by throwing off the shackles of supposedly worn-out theatrical conventions, while staging so-called happenings in which nothing of consequence actually happens, and promote “irony” as a substitute for emotional revelation” decade. The freedom to experiment that the sixties fostered has given rise to the wrong-headed notion that structure and form are completely unnecessary.

I-3

Actor #1
Well, just between you and me, I believe we’ve been wandering in the theatrical desert of formless dialogue for WAY too long. We must take action to change things. And we must take it NOW!

(Actor #2 stands up, pulls out a gun and shoots “Y”, killing him.)

(After a pause)

Actor #3
Hey! That’s a little drastic, don’t you think?

Actor #2
It’s the only way to stop a diatribe. His ranting was beginning to depress me.

Actor #3
He WAS a little intense.

Actor #2
What a gloom and doom guy. I hate that.

Actor #3
But don’t you sort of … agree with what he said? I mean, I don’t … entirely. I mean, Theater isn’t dying, it’s just very, very, very … ill.  I mean there’ll always be Sondheim, Right?

Actor #4
I think what the man was trying to say was that we’ve all watched so much television that we confuse sit-com bandiage with real-life emotions. And that’s true. I work with this theater group downtown and when I meet a young playwright, I know I’m in for a long night if the first thing they say to me is: “I love writing dialogue. It’s what I do best.” Man, that’s like an express ticket to Self-indulgent-Ville.

Actor #2
Then again, In the land of the mediocre, the guy who can write dialogue is King.

Actor #4
Well, aren’t we the arrogant snobs. I guess we all checked our Pulitzers and Tonys at the door.

Actor #3
I was up for an Obie once …

Actor #4
Before or after Reagan was president?

I-4
Actor #2
Stop it. We’re getting distracted.

Actor #4
Oh, really? Then, what’s the point?

Actor #2
Theater has gotten boring. THAT’S the point. It hasn’t kept up with the times. It doesn’t relate to the younger crowd anymore.

Actor #5
Oh, so you’re in a Theater-get-it’s-groove-back situation, right? I’m hip. Maybe I can help. I used to work for the Public Theater as a kind of liaison to Gen X. I can assist you in translating your remarks so that you can better appeal to that more desirably hip youth market.

Actor #4 (sarcasm)
Great.

Actor #5
No, no … I‘m down with that.

Actor #4
What?

Actor #5
No, Say What?!

Actor #4
What!!

Actor #5
No, Say What?!

Actor #4
I DID say What!!  Forget it.  What are we going to do now?

Actor #2
I think we should try pleading our case with these spectators for the necessity of theater.

Actor #3
How do we do that?

Actor #2
I have no idea.

Actor #6
Excuse me. Excuse me. I represent the Society for Literate, Uplifting Theater.

Actor #4
Oh, you’re a S.L.U.T. … person …

Actor#5
You go, girl!

                                                                                                                       I-5

Actor #6
Thank you. I’d like to ask you all a question.

Actor #4
Ask away.

Actor #5
No, no, not hip enough. You’ve got to tell her to “bring in da noise, bring in the interrogative statement”.

(Actor #4 takes gun from Actor #2 and kills Actor#5)

Actor #4
I’m sorry, what was your question?

Actor #6
My question is, just what do you intend to DO to bring the theater back to life? And for that matter, what about him? (Referring to Actor #5)

Actor #4
Hmmm, good question … I don’t know … drag him offstage, we’ll deal with him later.  As for theater, maybe it’s too late … Maybe that dog’s too tired to chase the mailman.

Actor #6
That’s a Cop-out.

Actor #4
Or maybe … Our arms’ too short to tie up God’s loose ends.

Actor #6
Well, it seems to me that you guys sure talk alot, but I don’t see you doing anything. You bemoan the lack of action in today’s theater; well, where’s your own action? How can you let something you love die without a fight? Come on, DO something to take theater off that respirator. I mean, I can’t believe that you would really allow something you’ve not only passively enjoyed, but actively devoted your whole life to, to just wither away into amusement park spectacle?

Actor #2
Well, umm … no, but … I .. well … umm … don’t know umm … What can we do about it?

Actor #6
What makes theater different from any other entertainment form?

Actor #2
The ticket prices?

I-6
Actor #6
What else?  … How about the fact that it happens in linear time, with real human beings performing before a live audience. Here, Now, Live and in person.

Actor #2
Okay…

Actor #6
Well, why not, for once, do the most obvious thing. Show this audience, the one sitting right here, right now, how a play is built. Take the next how-ever many minutes, and showcase the unique aspects of theater and make a case for keeping theater alive. Build a play right in front of their eyes. Y’see, the idea would be: you recruit these people into a small army of theater-lovers, then have them go forth and spread the word to men and women, young and old alike … in every village and town, in the hemisphere. Do that, and you could teach a whole generation that this damned thing called the Theater does not deserve to die. Now isn’t that the most noble cause you can think of?

Actor #2
Excuse me … were you ever in Les Miz?

Actor #4
Wait a minute. You want us to recruit this audience by …

Actor #6
By laying it out in front of them. By creating a play right here, right now.

Actor #4
Like that’s easy …

Actor #2
We’ll need to collaborate. All of us.

Actor #3
Where do we begin?

Actor #2
How about … with the facts. Ladies and Gentlemen, the structure of a good play is always based on Action. The proof of this is the fact that the word Drama comes from the Greek word, “Dran”, meaning “to do”.

Actor #1 (He’s not dead after all)
For example, Play structure can be likened to the firing of a gun. First you …
Actor #3
HEY! Just a second … Do you mean to say that his (referring to Actor #2) killing you was just a visual demonstration of play structure?

I-7
Actor #1
Absolutely. (To Actor #2:) Thank you very much.

Actor #2
Glad I could help.

Actor #3 (Referring to Actor #5)
What about …?

Actor # 4 (checking)
Nope. Still dead.

Actor #1
You see, the way it works is, first you cock the gun, which, in a play, is similar to setting up the situation. Then you pull the trigger, or, in other words, set the plot in motion, which sets the bullet flying, and which raises a question …, will you hit or miss what you are aiming at …, and then, after the bullet completes it’s trajectory, you have an answer, followed by the consequences or, in other words, the resolution of the plot.

Actor #3
I see. So, now what?

Actor #1
First, the disclaimer: Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight there will be no falling chandeliers, no helicopters, no hydraulic staircases or giant giraffe puppets. In other words; You will be on your own. You will need to employ your own heart, your own mind and your own imagination to assess what is playing out in front of you. Do NOT panic. We know most of you are unfamiliar with this archaic form of entertainment, but we all trust that despite the lack of spectacle, you will be able to create the success of the evening for yourself. Believe me, the last thing we want is for hordes of you to end up whining outside the Stage Door after the show. Forcing us to verbally respond by screaming, “So, what do you want from me, a play?”  That said, if we’re really going to create a play, we must go back to the beginning … and pray … for the roots of theater are in religious ritual.  (To the Audience:) Welcome. And Rejoice. For you are in a temple of spiritual communion. Where common beings beneath the skin can gather strength. And shed the empathic horrors that they carry in their hearts in order to more easily get through their lives. Where cathartic upheavals of emotion can take place at any moment. Where the human soul is revealed. And a broken spirit can be mended. And a plea for justice heard. Where Despair cries out as tragedies unfold and our foibles and failings are held up for amusement and we feel ourselves laughing, crying, screaming in anger and gnashing our teeth in frustration. We sit here in worship of our common humanity and grovel before our God as we live and feel through our emotional surrogates, and in so doing, restore our own well-being.
Actor #7
Wait a minute. That is completely unconstitutional.

Actor #1
What?? Who are you?

I-8
Actor #7
I represent the ABT. The Arizona Bible Theater. And I’m telling you that that sort of pagan ceremony violates … I don’t know … some kind of law … It’s completely Un-American.

Actor #1
Un-American?  Why listen here you little …

(They are interrupted by the entrance of J. Jameson Sherbert, the owner of the theater in which the show is taking place.)

Sherbert (Entering)
HEY! What are you anarchists doing in MY theater?

Actor #1
YOUR theater? Sorry pal, this is the People’s Theater now.

Sherbert
The People’s name is not on the Title Deed. Mine is.

Actor #1
Who the hell do you think you are?

Sherbert
J. Jameson Sherbert.  I was on my way to Sardi’s when I saw the lights on. This theater is supposed to be dark.

( To be continued? )

****

I think I may take next week off, so this heap of haikus may have to last for two weeks … unless I get inspired while spending some time with my sister in New Jersey. 

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

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One Response to An Already Thankful Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon

  1. trkingmomoe says:

    I am thankful today too. Some kind person bought me a turkey now I have to find a place for it in the freezer for a couple of days. I hope you have a nice Holiday also.

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