Monday, September 30, 2013

Early art

Art in Kindergarten
should have been a joyful time,
the rounded tops
of so many crayons
sailing smoothly across
clean sheets of paper.
But I was scolded by the teacher,
as old as my grandmothers,
who labeled me predictable.

Once again I composed
my drawing—little-girlchild
beside a small square house,
delivering her bouquet
to the person lying ill inside.

Then the public rebuke,
"What you do is always the same.
But look at this picture"
(by the new girl in class):

Someone flat on a table,
globs of blood dropping.
And the elaborate tale
to accompany it—
an accident with a saw.
This, the bar that had to be met.

And so I learned I must have stories
of gore and pain and hope
and raw, rugged flesh
and began to draw my life
in varied themes, with colors
befitting a wounded soul.

ken*again, Fall 2013

My first longer "free-verse" poem in several years—currently appearing in the online e-zine ken*again. I think I'd like to write more such poems in the not-too-distant future, while not abandoning tanka, my "true love."

P.S. The "new girl in class" became my best friend in first and second grade.

This marks an end to my 2013 "Back to School" theme. Thanks for following along!

Sharing with Poets United, Oct. 6, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just taking a break. Things were looking a little dull here—no photos for a long while. Shhhh.... Don't tell anyone that I've posted a picture of my niece's park soccer team. Abigail is in the center of the row. I think I might have found soccer fun, had such an activity been available to little kids back then. My brother and I played it in the back yard when we were older, but that was about it. 

I'll post another poem soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Playing scales

playing scales
day after day
the ritual
of her reprimand
with every wrong note

Presence, #48, June 2013

Not necessarily "Back to School," but I figured it might be close enough.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Music Room (tanka prose)

It was her punishment for chatting after "lights out." Marched out of the bedroom by Mrs. M., one of the watchful house staff members responsible for the boarding students' care, she knew full well where she'd be taken. There, she'd spend time alone, in pitch blackness, to contemplate her transgression. 

how she'd hide 
from Bach and Mozart—
their busts 
on the piano
their ghosts in the dark 

~ Girls school, Surrey, England

Atlas Poetica, No. 14, Spring 2013 

Note: For those who missed my other school-related tanka prose, posted earlier, here's a link: Ad Vitam Paramus.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Whistling Dixie

whistling Dixie
in a land of cotton—
songs we learned
in grammar school
when all we knew was white

—A Hundred Gourds, March 2013

I set out to write a post here about the evolution of the above tanka. But after a sentence or two, it appeared my words might be giving birth to a tanka prose piece instead. So, I'll keep working on that and see where it takes me. 

Can any of your relate to my poem, I wonder? Naive, strange times; though, really, all times may be strange, especially when looking back on them. I still have vague recollections of being on a stage, preparing for some sort of elementary school pageant during which we surely sang the "Dixie" song (also named "I Wish I Was in Dixie," etc.), no doubt with gusto and lack of understanding. The song has a complex history, certain details disputable, including authorship and intention; there have been many variations of its lyrics. Through my reading, I've learned of Dixie's immense popularity in both the South and the North; it was a favorite of President Lincoln's. A catchy tune, but I think I can leave it in the past. The possible origins of the nickname "Dixie" (with respect to region) also are worth reading about.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Little labels

little labels
sewn inside school clothes,
my name
embroidered on them
as if I might get lost

—A Hundred Gourds, June 2013

Well, I was planning to include a photo of the actual labels, my name on them in green, but unfortunately I can't locate the particular box they're hiding inside. Coming across them a couple of years ago, though, served as inspiration for this tanka.

Friday, September 6, 2013


For the rest of this month at twigs&stones, there will be a "Back to School" theme. The first one:

we made of ourselves
in grade school ...
how many know me
only by my profile

—A Hundred Gourds, June 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

My ear

my ear
crackling and aching—
the weight
of all those words
I didn't need to hear

—Ribbons, Winter 2012, Vol. 8, Issue 3

For those in the U.S., Happy Labor Day (though this poem, of course, has nothing to do with Labor Day)!