Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I scavenge

I scavenge
perfect pine cones
from downed trees,
unsure if my pail
holds joy or sorrow

—GUSTS #16, Fall/Winter 2012

Update (Spring 2013): I noticed that the above tanka is now in the list of favorites at the GUSTS website. A designated poet or two choose three to four of their favorite poems from the latest issue for inclusion in the list.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shortened days

shortened days—
scooping out seeds
from butternut squash,
allowing the orange ripeness
to permeate

Ribbons Tanka Cafe ("leafless autumn" theme), Winter 2006
In retrospect, I suppose I didn't need to say "orange." But it was sooo orange. ;)

photo copyright of Robert Curtis

Those in the USA:  H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G !

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Vultures

Only a yard or two and a barrier
of extra-strength window glass
separated me from them
as I managed the obligatory
post-surgery stretch down the hall—
the diseased organ ripped
from my body just hours before.

They were two elderly men
on a low corner of hospital roof,
hunched beneath overcast sky,
taking a smoke between courses.

We revile them. Winged warlocks,
we call them, these other-world scavengers.

Yet we revere them. They sense
the nearness of death long before
     the white coats do.

Tryst, issue X-XI, 2004  

Not the right thing to see after surgery? It wasn't the painkillers, really.

Just got back home after a short stay in the city, where I had a somewhat-dreaded medical procedure involving anesthesia. I typically try to stay away from medical establishments, however.

Monday, November 12, 2012


my thoughts of crawling
under our bed,
you deep in a dream world
I sometimes envy

Haiku News, wk Oct. 15, 2012

There's a sense of relief when we reach the end of the Atlantic hurricane season each year, which officially is November 30, though here in the Gulf region we usually feel "safe" by the end of September. The 2012 season was quiet for us but of course not for the northeast with freaky, destructive superstorm Sandy. I can't help but think of the New Jersey township where I briefly lived as a kid (and the favorite place I've ever lived); it was among the many areas that experienced significant damage.

In the poem above, I'm remembering Hurricane Ike from a few years ago (also see "nonstop footage"). I was very close to taking shelter under that bed, halfway convinced the big windows were going to shatter at any moment (they didn't, although we did get a bit of other damage).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Each year, for you

each year, for you
a box of birthday chocolates . . .
what's yours is mine?
how neatly I slice in two
the pieces for you to share

Modern English Tanka, Fall 2006; Fire Pearls, 2006 

Unfortunately, this tradition may fall by the wayside. Can't find See's Assorted Dark Chocolates just anywhere.

P.S. Some of my early tanka were pretty long.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We may not be as unique as we think

The big sigh when we compose something we're convinced must be totally unique, only to stumble across its already-published cousin a while later. Or vice versa: after we've published our special poem, another one from someone else follows with a hauntingly similar treatment. Possibly the "original" imagery is very similar or the particular message or concept or sometimes a few key words—or some combination of those things. The shorter the poem—such as in the case of tanka and, even more so, haiku—the greater the inevitability that sort of thing is going to happen.

Perhaps we should enjoy the synchronicity. Perhaps we also should find solace when we know we're writing who we are, infusing ourselves and our experiences as deeply as possible into our words, delivering our own takes on what has "already been written," even if we may be unaware at the time that it has.

Margaret Dornaus sums up this situation well in a post, "Revisiting déjà-ku . . .," at her Haiku-doodle blog. So I won't say anything more here and will let you read her beautiful words.