Karen Paul Holmes
I came early to poetry and yet late—from age 12, I wrote in notebooks and didn’t show anyone except a few teachers here and there. About six years ago, a whole community of poets opened up when I attended a workshop in the Blue Ridge Mountains and joined a critique group. I became an open mic junkie and started hosting a monthly reading series with open mic. I love to write and have been a freelance business writer in Atlanta for years. Connecting with poetry communities helped me improve my work and gave me the courage to submit it. I have a full-length collection, Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press, 2014) and my poems appear in many journals and anthologies including Poetry East, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems (Negative Capability Press, 2015). www.facebook.com/karenholmespoetry
The Economy of Japanese Flower Arranging
in early March
the thin, red branch of Japanese maple
adds an asymmetrical line to my ikebana.
three Shasta daisies,
a fluff of pine create balance.
two weeks later, maple buds form.
I pluck out the limp flowers,
keep the branch firmly in the kenzan,
add fresh water to the low-sided suiban.
spring-green mini leaves, here, there:
seven-point stars dance along the stem.
amid days of drought in the land
and wealth running downhill,
I find it pays to cultivate tiny miracles.
With just a cup of water spent,
peridots bloom on a barren bough.
-First published in Midwest Quarterly
Come with gentle spirit, peaceful mind.
Pick three flowers that wink at you,
three leafy stems as suitable partners,
a tall container for their home.
Create a graceful triangle of green
with the partners, shushi, trimmed like so:
Tallest stem is heaven, shin, two times the vase’s height.
The next, three quarters of shin, is man, soe.
The last, one quarter shorter, earth, tai.
all cut slighter than their
leafy husbands, form another triangle.
The most beautiful bloom faces the sun;
you are the sun.
Each plant should enhance the others,
none sharing the same plane.
Let nature show the way;
follow rules but stretch them.
Leave enough space for butterfly wings.
If shape and line fail to harmonize in half an hour,
you’ve worked too hard and thought too much,
like a woman who dates a man
for three years but can’t decide on marriage.
Better to withdraw the pieces carefully.
First published in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review
©2016 Karen Paul Holmes