Friday, December 30, 2016

A rustic broom

a rustic broom
scenting our hearth and home
with cinnamon …
less sweet, the year's debris
I ought to sweep away

Mariposa, spring/summer 2016

H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R

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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Announcement: Haibun Today Submissions

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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A stream of warmth

a stream of warmth
from this vent in the floor ...
the people
from all my winters
who still hold onto me
GUSTS, 24, Fall 2016 

Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings
from my small corner to yours!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The clink

the clink
as I drop each pine cone
into the bucket—
keeping the pretty ones,
isn't that the way it is

Ripples in the Sand, 2017 TSA Members' Anthology

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tanka Pair


curling up
on this old mattress
bony knee
on top of bony knee
I search for softness

this quilted cover
of clouds    
…..patches of darkness
threaded with light

Skylark, Winter 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

As a child

as a child
I dreamed of writing books …
my feet small
in these sidewalk prints
cast by Thomas Wolfe

Frameless Sky, issue 3

Asheville, North Carolina

Friday, December 2, 2016

Announcement: Haibun Today Changes

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.

See the new issue of HT here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Announcement: Skylark and "Sculpting a Face"

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.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Columns of smoke

columns of smoke
rising from a distant field    
……..the signals
I fail to decipher
on the clearest of days

Frameless Sky, issue 3

And for those who celebrate this holiday in the U.S.:

H A P P Y  T H A N K S G I V I N G !

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tanka Prose

The Singer

For 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.

The 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.

An 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. "Sure," she responded between characteristic long drags on her cigarette. Of course, she and I lived in different lanes.

Fast 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.

among shadows
at the trendy bars
I'd sit hoping
some young man would find me
yet hoping he wouldn't


The tanka "among shadows" was previously published in Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka, 2007.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ragweed grains

ragweed grains
carried on autumn wind ...
not all things
that arrive at my door
do I welcome with grace

Eucalypt, 20, May 2006

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

These old dishes

these old dishes 
crazed with spidery veins— 
the "good china" 
saved for special occasions 
few and far between 

A Hundred Gourds, 5:2, March 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

The thin ring

the thin ring
she won't let anyone
remove …
even though she's long past
recalling its history

—American Tanka, August 2016: Issue 27

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Holes; I smooth

in the ceiling and floor—
my father
still clings to the walls
of the family house

Ribbons, Fall 2015

I smooth
soothing gel on his skin
…...the rash
of old-age uncertainty
more difficult to quell

Ribbons, Spring/Summer 2016

The sale of the house is scheduled to conclude next week!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Tanka Prose

Genus Dianthus

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?"  

(Can't 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 attentiveness like this doesn't exist just anywhere.

by a local artist
a dish so small
it holds nothing
but a memory

Haibun Today Vol. 10, Number 3, September 2016


The location: Asheville Botanical Gardens.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tanka Prose

In evening's hollow

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.

my neighbor
says it's a chuck-will's-widow,
that nightjar—
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. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A cardinal

a cardinal
darts in and out of the woods ...
my mad dash
to learn about life
before it's time to die

red lights ("meditation"), June 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Announcement: KYSO Flash HTP Contest Results

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.

Many thanks to Clare and Matthew!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The still life

the still life
I painted at sixteen
...  all this time
hanging in my parents’ house,
soaking up their hues

Atlas Poetica, 22, summer 2015

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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer nights

summer nights
of sleepovers
and secrets ...
only the moon
stayed up as late

Ribbons, Tanka Cafe (theme: spring/summer), spring/summer 2016

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….

Monday, August 22, 2016

Touring homes

touring homes 
under construction— 
the freedom 
to step right inside
our neighbors' closets

Atlas Poetica, 18, Summer 2014

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer sun

summer sun
our minds bare and aligned
we discuss
both the pain of change
and the need for it

Eucalypt, 19 (fall 2015)

Monday, August 8, 2016

I'll miss you

I'll miss you,
her thin hand interlocked 
with mine …
scars from childhood
begin to soften 

red lights, June 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Tanka Prose

Everywhere I look

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Again the crows

again the crows
after the winds blow through
familiar to us
on wings of daylight

Skylark, 4:1, Summer 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

How light; futile to try

how light
can resculpt a face
if for one day
I could be everyone
I've been loath to like
Ribbons (runner-up, Tanka Café, "Changing the World"), Fall 2015

Thanks 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