Daily haiku / senryu : Exceptional


Loretto Chapel

Exceptional stairs
not a nail, nor a screw here
obscure carpenter

senryu & photo by M. Nakazato LaFreniere

Back in 1878, the Loretto Chapel was completed in Santa Fe despite the passing of the architect, Antoine Mouly.  Problem was there was no way to reach the loft where the choir was supposed to sing.

The nuns turned down several proposals to solve the problem.  While many places used a ladder, they did not want to do so in their habits.  The chapel was small so a staircase was deemed unpractical, filling up the space.

The legend goes after the nuns prayed for nine days, a mysterious carpenter showed up and said he could build a beautiful staircase to fit.  He built a lovely helix staircase without using nails, screws or glue.  It is very steep so a railing was added several years later.

While the story goes, the carpenter disappeared when he was done, historian Mary J. Straw Cook digging through records for seven years found that a carpenter, Rochas, from the mysterious French society of highly skilled Campagnons, did the work.  These craftsmen and artisans date back to the Middle Ages and still carry on their traditions in 49 countries, across five continents today.

Rochas used a square, a saw, a few other tools and warm water. He did the work alone — and think about this, no electricity so everything was done by hand. Rochas came to Santa Fe, bringing spruce wood from France, specifically to create the staircase.  The Campagnons travel throughout France and are required by their society to change work locations every six months to a year. Rochas died of a shot to his chest and never returned to France.

It was not until the 1990s with modern understanding of physics that they could finally explain scientifically how the staircase stands.  No matter the explanation, it is an amazing staircase.


Legend of the Miraculous Loretto Chapel Staircase by Les Hewitt, Historic Mysteries, January 7, 2017

Mysterious Staircase at Loretto Chapel, Snopes, viewed on October 11, 2017

Ask the Builder: The Loretto Chapel staircase by Tim Carter, Washington Post, January 16, 2010

Compagnons du Tour de France, Wikipedia, viewed on October 11, 2017

Daily Prompts
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7 thoughts on “Daily haiku / senryu : Exceptional”

  1. There are amazing things to be seen and a few unexplained.
    There was a chef on TV a long while ago – He mentioned his family had a castle, but the spiral staircases were built to the advantage of the family… they were left handed. The advantage went to the left handed when in a sword battle.

    Sinister is not always evil… just to the ‘left’.

    Thanks for stopping by – Petal Memories is on my daily site. I change forms there. Sometimes haiku. I try to stick with a theme of a form for a month at a time.

    Cheers, Jules


    1. That sword comment made me remember that in samurai Japan they would pass on the left side of each other when walking so as not to accidentally bump each other swords. Bumping was an insult so would have to be met with a swordfight. Which led to driving on the left side of the street.

      it’s cool about the castle staircase. I never thought about staircases being left or right handed before.

      I pretty much cling to senryu/haiku/tanka — otherwise I go on and on and on like i do in the occasional essay. However Poetry in Form on Medium is having a nonet challenge. Have you ever tried that? It’s a mathematical poetic form.


      1. Math and I are on …humm limited speaking terms. I may have done a few nonets. Counting syllables isn’t a problem – but meter is.

        I enjoyed your informative essay. I wonder why in the US we changed the side of the street we drive on… (the right side).

        I suppose a regular stair case has no left right reference, but a spiral one would.
        We learn something new everyday. Sometimes we are lucky and learn two new things 😉

        I have about half a dozen prompt sites I follow regularly. I’m not sure if I could take on another. I don’t even do all of the MLMM ones anymore – Just the ones I like and then sometimes I mash up the prompts as well. Once I think I mashed up 5 or 6 prompts in one post.

        Cheers, Jules


        1. uh oh, there’s meter in a nonet! oops! laughing

          i’ve been doing Daily Post Daily Prompts for a couple months but have only discovered others like last week. Smell the Coffee did a post listing a few prompts and that got me started. It’s a whole new world out there. It’s interesting to me that with some challenges you get likes back and with some you get comments back and some of course you get nothing, lol. I hadn’t realized that each challenge has it’s own “norms”. I like reading (or viewing in case of the art/photo ones) then in any case. I especially like haiku challenges as I can read quite a few in a short time period. and the well-done ones is like coffee for my brain — perks it up. I didn’t realize there was so much short short fiction until this week, reading challenges.


          1. Did you see the short fiction contest or challenge – the link is after this piece… which is sort of a blend of two forms:
            Natal Days

            In November Carrot Ranch will go back to weekly 99 word flash fiction prompts.

            I personally don’t have likes on my sites. But I can get likes in the notifications.

            As for feedback that is always sporadic. I’m a tad behind on return visits. I can’t follow everyone, but I try and get back to the closest date of the visitor to the post they visited if they didn’t do the same prompt.

            I try to keep my fiction to a typed page in size 11 Arial font. That is unless there is a word count restriction 😉


            1. Twitterflash? I hadn’t seen it before. I haven’t signed up for Twitter yet. hmmm. I signed up for Instagram and then found out I can’t get anything up because it’s all via cellphone (looks at the tiny keypad doubtfully). Medium has Instagram serials you can do. Started my blog in July, Then FB, then Pinterest in August. it’s October now. I guess I’m due to start Twitter, lol. I am floored at how many social networks there are out there and each of them have their own rules. Twitter fiction? That must mean there are already Twitter poems. I like the idea of a 99-word story. I write little scenes to go with my second life pics occasionally. It would be cool to do that more often.

              I just discovered haibun last monday (Monday Haibun). I love it! I have a sneaking suspicion I am going to start sneaking out on Senryu because I don’t think I can keep away from Haibun.


              1. I do not do FB, Pinterest, Twitter, or instagram. But I like the 9 word by 11 line form. I’ve put up several of my stories in the comments here at Carrot Ranch:

                There are two parts, the contest for money and the Challenge just for fun (in the comments.). I haven’t posted any of them anywhere else yet. Once that contest/challenge is over I might post one singe fiction post with all 11 challenge entries.

                I’m glad you like the haibun. You can use any form of prose, or even just paragraphs. And you can even include more than one haiku.

                The twitter fiction is called Twitturature or something like that. I’m not sure what other poetic forms they do, since I don’t go there.

                It is certainly a wonderful adventure to explore other poetic forms. 🙂

                Cheers and happy haibun-ing 🙂


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