Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Year of the Fire Monkey, the Year of Burning Bright

What is the brightest light? What is that burning, burning, burning bright in the silence of the night?
Not the Fire Monkey, not yet ... For the start of the Chinese Zodiak Year we have to wait to February 8, 2016. Officially we are still in the year of the Goat, after the years of Horse, Snake, Dragon, Rabbit, and Tiger, the last one back in 2010.

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk, 2016

purple highlights
cutout the brilliance painted
on the black


The Tiger

William Blake

Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile His work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I find not-so-fearful symmetry in the burning melting golden leaves of the liquid amber tree, so similar to the maple, yet so different, with its colors from pale yellow, through orange, to scarlet, bronze and black purple.

Liquid Amber Quartet by Maja Trochimczyk

the tree stretches
his leafy fingers to the sun
begging for light

In contrast, the symmetry of the cactus is quite fearful, indeed.  Imagine falling on all those pricks and needles!  That would not have been as comfortable as it might look, the barrels of cactus resembling puffy pillows...

Velvet Cactus Pillows by Maja Trochimczyk, 2016

a noon illusion -
spheres of  the softest velvet 
in the field of cactus

Out of space cactus landscape - by Maja Trochimczyk 2016

call of the Wild West -
bewitched by the turquoise sky
gold of the cactus

Some cactus fields at the Huntington Garden look sinister, ominous, as underwater seabeds, or twisted masses of snakes. Snakes with thorns, and evil teeth, straight from a Halloween movie set...

Undersea Cactus Meadow - by Maja Trochimczyk 2016

sea anemones
with spiky hairdos on the rocks
of Gibraltar

Writhing Cactus Snakes by Maja Trochimczyk 2016

horror of horrors -
the twisted mass of nail-toothed limbs
engulfs me

The Agave as Mutant Rose by Maja Trochimczyk 2016

a grey mutant rose
the agave opens its steel spiked petals
to pierce the light 

The Agave as Crocodile - by Maja Trochimczyk

where are thou, 
my crocodile of sharp teeth
tears lying in wait? 

Cactus Flower Flames - by Maja Trochimczyk 2016

cactus flowers
stretch their scarlet tongues like flames 
licking the white light

But all horrors pass, and so does the cactus garden ... I walk through a meadow to one of the most astounding and majestic trees I have ever seen, an eucalyptus reaching high, high, high into the sky.  If I were a monkey, maybe I'd be able to climb up its smooth trunk. I can only look up from the ground, admire the multicolored bark.  Imported from Australia, it lives in a foreign landscape. 

Ancient Rainbow Tree Bark - by Maja Trochimczyk

tree bark canvas
records droughts and storms
of centuries


above cough drops
eucalyptus leaves stretch up 
to perfume the sky

A Tree Epiphany

                 ~for Kristin who found the whale

I want the solid serenity of trees
the sighs of their boughs in the wind
roots reaching to the core of the earth

an oak perhaps, or a grand plane tree
that majestic one in Descanso Gardens
a whale of the tree, floating on waves of air

or maybe that regal eucalyptus
with multicolored bark - a canvas for centuries
shedding memories of droughts and storms

or liquid amber, oh my liquid amber
melting gold and bronze at my feet
nourishing the roots, seeds, new leaves

Wait for the sleeping earth to awaken
the boughs sigh in the northern wind
the roots reach deeper, still deeper

I adore the trembling of birches in the breeze,
whispering: quiet, quiet, now listen – before
leaves fall, bare branches shiver in the snow

an apple tree, comely and fruitful
in an abandoned orchard by the crossroads
shyly offers gifts to all passers-by

I want the serenity of trees
to fill my heart with their sighs, with their
whispers, with their sleep 

(c) 2016 by Maja Trochimczyk


she said it's a whale
this grand plane tree with white bark
swimming in the air



with spotted whale's skin
half dove-grey, half steel, charcoal 
the plane tree stands tall 

I end the walk, admiring the symmetry of rose petals, and their burning flame in the afternoon sun.


symmetry of petals - 
an incandescent rose flame
mirrors the sun

What a delight it is, and so much hard work of "rosarians" had gone into crafting the perfect rose flame, a rainbow of yellows, tangerines, and fuchsias ... It is a living flame of love, as St. John of the Cross would say... 

I too have my perfect multicolor rose, mostly yellow, with touches of apricot and plum. The last survivor of the blight caused by weedkiller accidentally added to the soil...


gold petals unfold
the day fades into shadows - 
my last winter rose

I picked the photograph and wrote the haiku for this haiga to give it out as a gift at the annual Southern California Haiku Study Group post-New Year party at Debbie Kolodji's welcoming house. A rose filled with light, yet speaking of shadows seemed a perfect choice for the year of the Fire Monkey. No, I could not write about monkeys, not even Shakespeare's Monkeys...

As a vain and energetic "Fire Rooster" I have great hopes for the year of the Fire. I will end this tour of the Huntington with a selfie among fuchsia and violet flowers. May your year of the Fire Monkey flower with positive energy and creativity! 


Happy New Year 2016!