Well, it's finally gotten cold here again. And now the heating system (including the backup heater) appears to be broken once more. So, maybe not the best way to end 2016! But the good news: it's supposed to warm up this weekend for a little while.
Reminder for Tanka Prose Writers: Haibun Today is currently accepting submissions for the March issue. To be considered for that issue, please submit your polished tanka prose pieces to me by January 15. See the guidelines on the website.
Thought I'd let readers of twigs&stones know I've taken on a new poetry job. Wish me luck! Effective December 1, I became the editor of the tanka prose section of Haibun Today, an online journal familiar to poets/writers in the haiku and tanka communities. Of course, that unfortunately means that the ever-so-talented and passionate Claire Everett has stepped down from her role as tanka prose editor, to pursue other endeavors. Jeffrey Woodward, founder and owner of HT, as well as a leading expert (or perhaps more accurately the premier expert) in the field of English-language tanka prose (not to mention haibun), also has stepped down. The contributions of Jeffrey and Claire have been immeasurable.
The Winter 2016 issue of Skylark, an English-language tanka journal edited by poet Claire Everett, is available for purchase. I'm happy to say that reviews and features editor Jenny Ward Angyal interviewed me for that issue. Several of my tanka, many of them previously posted here at twigs&stones, including "silhouettes," are featured. Check it out.
years, I couldn't remember its name—that tasteful little nightclub
tucked away from the bustle of shopping and restaurants. Intimate.
Nothing ostentatious, simple wooden tables. Dark but not too dark.
Safe but holding a measure of intrigue. Meant for people like me.
resident musician sang and played nearly nonstop, curled around his
guitar as if he were bound to it. (I rarely ever saw him stand up.)
The song selection: whatever was popular back then, mellow but not
too mellow. Notes and voice hinting of warm butterscotch.
unlikely friend of mine with exotic island looks once spoke of him
with an air of familiarity. "You know
him?" I asked, as if he were a god and I a mere mortal-girl.
she responded between characteristic long drags on her cigarette. Of
and I lived in different lanes.
forward: In time, the name of the place would come to me. Then, after
a computer search to learn about its fate, I would stumble across the
singer's name; another search would instantly yield current-day
photos of him. In mere minutes, I would learn that he had landed
himself on a list of registered sex offenders and, also, that he had
been deemed a man of God, though I had no way of knowing which label
had come first.
the trendy bars
young man would find me
hoping he wouldn't
tanka "among shadows" was previously published in Landfall:
Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka,
In my hand, a memento I consider purchasing from the little shop at the botanical gardens. "Do you know what flower this is?" I ask. The kindly man at the desk seems eager to help me. "Hmm, it appears to be a pink. Not all pinks are pink, you know; some are red, for instance," he offers. "And are you aware that the name pink comes from pinking shears—the serrated edges similar to the edges of the petals?"
say I am. Ever-the-novice gardener, I don't even realize at this
moment that I have variously colored clumps of pinks, which
I have only ever referred to as Dianthus, in front
of my own house.)
I putter around the shop a little longer. Then the man shows me a page in a thick reference book, enthusiastically pointing to an illustration that bears a resemblance to the petite flower on this souvenir. "Look!"Before I leave, back to my life far away from shaded trails and lush displays of flora,I remind myself that attentivenesslike this doesn't exist just anywhere.
I've always called it the dog bird, ever since we've lived at this house. Those nippy sounds that never seem to cease or vary in tone, the same long cry cycling over and over during spring-summer months. It's nothing like the melodic morning trill of the cardinal or the confident crow's caw. And it's loud, resonating clearly through double-paned windows. Why, I ask, must this bird haunt me—in that sacred space between dusk and the deepness of night when I wish to crawl into myself, to be left alone with my own thoughts and prayers, to give my rawest self free rein before I slip into sleep.
There has to be more than one of those creatures lurking out there, making all that racket; I know that. Then one night, something is different. This time, each churring cry is followed with a faint response from somewhere in the woods beyond. The exchange goes on the whole time while I remain awake in bed. But whether there are two of them or dozens of them, to my mind it's still the (one) dog bird.
I had given up long ago trying to identify this curious, strong-willed creature, much less ever coming face to face with it. But finally, just down the street, the answer awaits me.
says it's a chuck-will's-widow,
how finding a name for things
eases us through the hours
—Haibun Today, Vol. 10, Number 3, September 2016
After writing this piece, I stopped hearing the dog bird.
Recently, I received the surprising news of winning first place in the HTP Contest, a joint haibun and tanka prose competition administered by Clare MacQueen, editor/publisher extraordinaire of the innovative KYSO Flash online journal. To read my piece, "Approximations," as well as the other winning entries plus the semifinalist and publisher's choice entries, follow this link.
For commentaries by Matthew Paul, judge, follow this link.
Now it's hanging in my house. (Don't tell anyone, but my teacher helped me a little with the fine-tuning.) Finally, a year after moving our father out of his large old house, going through it with a fine-toothed comb, then spiffing it up and listing it, it looks like we are close to a sale, crossing fingers.
When we were young kids, why was it so exciting to spend the night with friends and cousins? And why was it such a thrill to stay up until at least midnight, whispering, and also, if we managed to pull it off, downing "midnight snacks"? Back when times were much simpler….
Signs litter my world. Yet how little sinks in, how little I know. Dozens on the drive to town or, for that matter, anywhere else. Street and road signs, neighborhood notices, highway markers. Instructions, information, warnings. Round, square, rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, diamond- and pennant-shaped, and more. White, green, blue, yellow, orange, red. Blinking lights. Overload.
Private Property–No Trespassing. Speed Limit (and how the limits change along the way). East, West. Right Curve, Left Curve. Pass With Care, Do Not Pass. Don't Litter. Loose Gravel, High Water. Drive Friendly. Adopt A Highway. Church. Cemetery. Dead End. No Shoulder Ahead. . . . Stop, Stop, Stop.
a sign I always see
when passing by
that small empty shack
at the end of the jetty ______________
—Contemporary Haibun Online, July 2016, vol 12, no. 2
Tanka Café, "Changing the World"), Fall 2015
to poet James Chessing for his insightful comments in the Tanka Café feature of the Winter
2016 issue of Ribbons, the Tanka Society of America journal.The above poem is mine. But congratulations to Joyce S. Greene for her winning Café poem, included below with her permission. FYI, for each issue
of Ribbons, members are invited to submit
tanka on a specific new theme. The winner from the previous issue
makes the selections.
futile to try to change the world I can't change myself all my vows to worry less and chuckle more, forgotten ~Joyce S. Greene —Ribbons (winner, Tanka Café, "Changing the World"), Fall 2015