Saturday, December 19, 2015

A gleam

a gleam
when she notices
the "Grandma" mug
now too heavy
for her to hold

Frameless Sky, Issue 3, fall 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015


after castle
on the banks
of this river … 
still a world of kings

GUSTS, Autumn 2015

Castle (on hill) where Richard the Lionheart
was held captive,  Durnstein, Austria

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The assortment

the assortment
of birthday cards
he gives me,
one from each side
of his personality

red lights, 4:2; Take Five, vol. 1 (2008)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Barely past dawn

barely past dawn,
the linoleum floor
shiny, speckless—
this hope that the surgeon
will be as meticulous

Skylark, 3:2, Winter 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The one time

the one time
my father saw his father

…….... from afar 
too hard to decipher
the character lines

—A Hundred Gourds, 4:4, September 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When you are gone

when you are gone
I eat on white melamine
same dishes
I’ve complained about before:
generic, expressionless

Simply Haiku, Autumn 2005, Vol 3, No. 3

My first tanka. I wrote it and several more over a couple of days and then somehow got all but one of them accepted for publication three days later. (I'd probably edit a few of them a little differently now, but…) After that, I was hooked! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Overcast skies

overcast skies,
blackbirds dotting power lines—
round and round
in my mind I roll
the same old worry beads

GUSTS, Fall 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

A jumbled heap

a jumbled heap 
of lantana clippings
left to dry—
line by crooked line
I untangle my words

—cattails, May 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015


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

A Hundred Gourds, 2:3, June 2013

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cloudless sky

cloudless sky—
I capture my shadow
in a photo,
placing hand on hip
to show some attitude

Atlas Poetica, 22, Summer 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tanka Prose

The Breezeway

rest home residents
sedate in their wheelchairs
… as I pass by,
that age-old feeling
of being the odd one out

When the weather is decent enough, patients (both short-term and long-term), as well as family members, caretakers, and miscellaneous workers on break, line both sides of the covered walkway leading to the main entrance of the facility. We often join them there. Swirls of air from the overhead fan graze our faces.

laundry's lost
as often as names
are forgotten …
today my mother
calls me her sister

A magnolia tree, its base wide and its spire reaching well above the rooftop of the adjacent building, usually captures her attention—and mine too. But right now, and for the past week or so, she appears to be particularly fascinated by a certain row of windows on the topmost story. With a voice that more than anything is gentle and hopeful, the one who decades ago carried me into the world advises, "Maybe you'll want to move here, on the third floor."

Within a few seconds, I hear the half-whisper of a woman seated across from me, as if she could read my mind. "It's the view," she offers. I simply nod. 


Pleased to tie for third place in the recent Mandy's Pages Where the Tanka Prose Grows 2015 challenge! 

Note: A slight edit made in the first tanka—"walk" replaced with "pass," the word I used in my original draft. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The one time

the one time
my father saw his father
       ... from afar
too hard to decipher
the character lines

A Hundred Gourds, 4:4, Sept. 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Announcement: Tanka Prose Contest Reminder

Tanka Society of America Tanka Prose Contest
A 15th-Anniversary Special Event 

Deadline: October 31

Fees: None

Prize: Free 2016 TSA membership to first-place winner

Submission Guidelines: See the website

Open to members and nonmembers alike. 

The entries have been streaming in: thanks!   JLD

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sawed-off moon

sawed-off moon
or remnant of cloud …

the alternatives
I veer off the road

GUSTS, Autumn 2013

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My mother

my mother
barely converses
……the tangle
of bougainvillea 
has spread to her mind

Ribbons, Winter 2014

My poor mother now, a fading blossom in need of special care.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Golden-winged; setting up

a small bird skims
the ocean,
dipping into the blue
for bits of sustenance

~ Southern Caribbean Sea

setting up
for a Sunday jazz brunch
in the park—
overhead, the notes
of wild parakeets

~ Ft Lauderdale, Florida
—both in Atlas Poetica, #22, Summer 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The tree man

the tree man
identifies our sapling . . .
an exotic word                             
amid these oaks and pines

Atlas Poetica, #22, Summer 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

More timid

more timid
about the cold water
in this lagoon
than mingling with stingrays,
velvet against my skin

Atlas Poetica, #22, Summer 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Announcement: taking a break

Time for another small break: I can't keep up with things right now. Life has gotten a little wild. So, see you a bit later on! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What's ours; a new rock

what's ours
isn't really ours …
we stare at plans
for a bullet train
through the neighborhood

a new rock, 
plastiglomerate *
litters the shore—
will the words I leave behind
also survive the seas?

* melted plastic trash mixed with beach sediment and debris
both of these—red lights, June 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

Announcement: Tanka Society of America Events

Tanka poets, please be reminded of the 2015 TSA members' anthology and other upcoming events and deadlines. For details, click on the website links below or refer to the spring/summer issue of Ribbons.

Fall Ribbons, including Tanka CaféAugust 31 (deadline).

TSA 2015 Members' Anthology—September 1–30. Send 5 to 10 unpublished tanka to our editor, Claire Everett. All current-year TSA members are eligible to participate. (Please consider joining or renewing your membership if you haven't done so.) We hope you can join us on the pages of this year's anthology. 

Tanka Sunday 2015 (free)—October 18, Desmond Hotel, Albany, NY. 

Tanka Prose Contest (free)—October 1–31. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Crayon-thick lines

crayon-thick lines
of orange and blue—
her image of me
far more vivid
than I really am

Ribbons, "Tanka Cafe," Fall 2013

Drawing by my niece Abby, circa 2010. That's me beside the tent
that I live in. I can't remember if the tent was on fire or not.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Announcement: 2015 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest Results

Please see the Tanka Society of America website for a list of the winning poems from the 2015 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest! The winners were selected by judges Carole MacRury and Laura Maffei from a pool of 499 entries. Congratulations to these poets:

First Place: Ken Slaughter 

Second Place: José Angel Araguz 

Third Place: Susan Burch 

Honorable Mentions: Dawn Manning, David Terelinck, James Chessing, and Ken Slaughter (2).

The complete report with the judges' comments will be published in the fall 2015 issue of Ribbons as well as later on the website.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shards of rainbow

shards of rainbow
spattered across the floor. . .
this pause
in my afternoon
to study the hues

Simply HaikuSpring 2008, vol 6 no 1

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One sultry day

one sultry day
sinks into the next ...
a mud dauber
intent on mating
with its reflection

A Hundred Gourds, 3:4, September 2014

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Miles of rivers

miles of rivers
and mountains between us—
in no time
word of his cancer
spreads across the country

American Tanka, issue 25, June 2015

We've heard that it's returned.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The future

the future
soon becomes the past—
who knows
how many years
Big Brother's been watching

Ribbons, Tanka Café ("novels" theme), spring/summer 2015, vol. 11, no. 2

The novel I'm referencing is of course Orwell's 1984.

Monday, July 13, 2015


at the top of the stairs—
step by step
I teach myself
to shed this sadness

Ribbons, Tanka Café ("shadows" theme), winter 2015, vol. 11, no. 1

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Announcement: Special Event Tanka Prose Contest (October)

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce a tanka prose contest that will take place this fall. This fifteenth-anniversary special event is open to members and nonmembers alike. There is no entry fee, and the first-place winner will receive a 2016 TSA membership. Please see the submission guidelines at the TSA website for details. The guidelines also are included in the spring/summer issue of Ribbons, the TSA journal.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gabcikovo lock

Gabcikovo lock
filling and emptying—
how many 
more feet must we fall
before the doors open?

Atlas Poetica, 20, January 2015

Nov. 2013, on Danube Canal
between Slovakia and Hungary

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sea legs

sea legs
on a land body—
the waves
rock-rocking me to sleep
in this vessel's womb

Eucalypt, 18, summer 2015

Leaving Boston, May 2014

Friday, June 26, 2015

Silence; by my knee

follows me around
at my heels
in midday sun
a field of white stars

Moonbathing, 12, June 2015

by my knee
a soft thud and rustle—
I pause
to take another look
at an ugly brown bug

Skylark, 3:1, Summer 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015


a garden statue ...
my slight pause
before I accept
the chip in her angel wing

Skylark, 3:1, Summer 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I once wanted

I once wanted
crystal and bone china …
now, a new broom
with long, stiff bristles
for whisking up debris

—A Hundred Gourds, 4:3, June 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

How I bristled

how I bristled
at ruffles, bows, and hats,
my baggy play dress
made of pillow ticking

Skylark, 3:1, Spring/Summer 2015

For years, my grandmother loved to see me in hats and bows—and hats with bows. That may have been okay for my dolls. But it wasn't for me, though in my humble opinion I did at least try to cooperate.

My play dress looked like an old-fashioned striped pillowcase. I still remember one of the teenage boys next door rolling down his bedroom window and teasing me about it (in a good-natured way).

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Clouds of smoke

clouds of smoke
from a too-hot skillet –
my thoughts 
swirl with the uncertainty
of what's to come

A Hundred Gourds, 4:3, June 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Announcement: 2015 TSA Members' Anthology

The Tanka Society of America (TSA) is pleased to announce the publication of a members’ anthology in the fall of 2015. This year’s anthology will be edited by Claire Everett, a widely known tanka poet and editor of Skylark Tanka Journal. David Rice, TSA’s Ribbons editor, will do the design and production. We’re very excited about this anthology, which will complete a year of events celebrating TSA’s fifteenth anniversary.

– Margaret Chula, TSA president and anthology liaison

See the TSA website for more information. 
If you’re not a current member, please join or renew soon so you'll be eligible to participate.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Downy puffs

The first weekend in June, two years ago—My niece and her band of friends float from party to party. Once the ceremonies and celebrations are over, I discover in my Facebook news feed a picture that says it all: a long line of them captured in mid-leap, mortarboards flung into the stratosphere.

downy puffs
of cottonwood seed
in flight
a flock of new graduates
looking for somewhere to land

GUSTS, No. 21, Spring/Summer 2015

I'm glad I was able to fly to Illinois to attend the festivities. Everywhere I looked, it seemed, there were indeed fluffy cottonwood seeds.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I pop in

I pop in
at my school reunion
the familiar face
of the mean girl

Atlas Poetica, 20, January 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015


in succulent leaves, 
a sign: 
Don’t water the plant 
It needs a dry spell 

office building, Magnolia, Texas, USA
Atlas Poetica, 20, January 2015

No dry spells here. It seems the rains just don't want to cease; we're way above average monthly rainfall totals. Our wet-weather creek at the back has probably run over. And to think that for two or three years earlier in this decade we were in "exceptional drought" mode!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Announcement: June tanka contests

Poets, submit your fine English-language tanka to these two annual contests. The deadlines for each are June 30. Refer to the websites for submission details as well as contest results from previous years.