The Gleaners

The Gleaners

This beautiful photo was taken by a friend, Patti Hardee Donnelly. Patti is a Middle School Language Arts Teacher at the same school I retired from. Each grade level does regular community service, and the activities are varied. Last month, Patti took her Middle School Advisory to spend an afternoon of gleaning sweet potato fields. As they were working through the fields, Patti took this photograph. She very kindly let me ‘borrow’ it for this haiga.

The concept of gleaning is an ancient one. So long as people have planted fields of crops, others have followed in their wake to glean whatever food might be left behind. It doesn’t matter if the vegetables are picture perfect, so much as they provide food for those who are without. Taking a group of middle class students who are in no danger of starving is a very purposeful way of both doing community service and providing a life lesson to the students. The gleaned sweet potatoes do end up on dinner tables of people who are happy to have healthy, fresh produce. The students who do the gleaning, perhaps for the first and last time of their lives, surely learn a lot about the facts of poverty and hunger. They learn a lesson in simple compassion. How often do most of us come face to face with the pain of hunger? The answer for the majority of Americans is ‘rarely.’

Here in the United States, we have just celebrated Thanksgiving, a time in which we feast and share our meal with those we love. Soon our thoughts will move on to Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, winter solstice, New Year’s and a whole period of seasonal gift giving, sharing food and good spirit. Let’s stop for just a minute and think about all we are fortunate to have–we who go to bed in a comfortable place after having had adequate meals. For December, I’m going to spend some time thinking about the concept of gleaning, both the physical and metaphorical. Having borrowed Patti’s beautiful photo and ‘gleaned’ it for my haiga, I hope I can find other ways to give back to the world.

Thank you, Patti Hardee Donnelly, for allowing me to use this picture, but thank you also for teaching your students about the importance of compassion and service to others. I will always celebrate and salute teachers like you who make a real difference in so many lives.

 

the gleaners

Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)
Gleaners, also called, The Gleaners
1857
Oil on canvas
H. 83.5; W. 110 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Jean Schormans

 

 

Kamakura Beach 1333: Artist’s choice in Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge

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I am both speechless and honored by the selection of my poem, “Kamakura Beach, 1333” as the artist’s choice of the October ekphrastic challenge by Rattle, one of the finest contemporary poetry journals. The artist/photographer is Ana Prundaru. My thanks go to Ana for selecting my poem for this challenge. I am deeply touched by her very thoughtful and generous comments.

 

Artist's Comments.jpg

To read the poem or listen to the audio on Rattle, here is the link:

http://www.rattle.com/poetry/kamakura-beach-1333-by-mary-kendall/

Note: there is an audio of me reading the poem on the Rattle page but I’ll include it here as well:

~

Kamakura Beach, 1333                                          

 

The sea washed scarlet that night.

The tide rushed in—swelling and breaking—washing
all traces out to sea on the waves of Kamakura Beach.

You know nothing of this, you who long for adventure
and pleasure—youth who search desperately for meaning
in lives that are too rich, too busy, and still so poor.

Your small boats arrive in early evening, the carmine sunset
at your back, and you quickly gather driftwood, tinder, and
fallen black pine branches to burn. You light the fire.

A trail of smoke begins funneling up to the starry sky.
The fire burns hot and one by one, you feed it twigs, boughs,
pine cones bursting into streams of sparks and wild flames.

And in your wanton rambling, one girl grows silent—she alone
hears the hallowed chanting, the cries of battle, the shrieks
of arrows piercing skulls, the stench of life exiting too abruptly.

She wanders over shallow rocks, her hand touching stone,
knowing the pain hidden in the silence of eight hundred years.
The rest of you are unaware…you laugh too loudly, move

too fast, not noticing the shifting colors of the setting sun.
Listen and you will hear the shogun cries of warriors and farmers
that once shook the sacred sands of Kamakura Beach.

Can you smell the fierce fires, the burning buildings,
the blazing rafters crashing and lighting the darkening sky?
Can you hear the screams of those buried here long ago?

Time slipped by like swifts at dusk darting in the fading sky.
The fire raged on and on, and lives were ravished in a
single breath. It was our fate to die on Kamakura Beach.

With Samurai mind and clean, sharp blows, the sacred sword
was swift. One by one, we died…each of us choosing honor,
this bleak beach now strewn with bones, bodies and blood.

You who come to visit—feel the cool churning lapis blue water,
and see the late sun boldly brush red on sand, water and waves.
Remember us—we who lie buried on Kamakura Beach.

Let your fires roar, let them spark in comets to the stars.
Under the dark night skies long written in indigo and ink,
we will walk together here on Kamakura Beach.

Morning tide will come—swelling and breaking—washing
your presence out to sea— remembering our final night,
a night of fire and blood, bone and bodies on Kamakura Beach.

The sea washed scarlet that night.

 

~

Here is the broadside link:

http://www.rattle.com/ekphrasis/EAOct2015.pdf

Rattle also posted a download of a broadside that includes poem and picture side by side. It is so beautifully done with the shadows of the boat creating a subtle image under the poem. Very appropriate to this particular poem, I think.

 

The Gleam in His Lusty Eye

 

Woods Hole, MA - 3/30/14

 

From the window

I watch the cardinal

shuck a sunflower seed,

and, beak to beak,

like a passionate kiss,

he passes it to her,

his paler partner.

I imagine then

that I see the gleam

in his lusty eye.

 

 

sunflower seeds

Note on Photograph: I can find no other attribution for this photograph other than it was taken in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 2014. It has appeared in a number of online birding sites. My thanks to the anonymous (but talented) photographer for capturing this tender moment.

Swallows: Three Haiku

Today, on Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing,  as part of their 20 poem challenge, I have three haiku to go with a gorgeous picture of swallows.

To read the poems and see the art in the original publication, please click on this link:

http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/swallows-by-mary-kendall

The artwork is  “Swallows” by Benjamin Chee Chee

Ekphrastic 2 Swallows

 

(1)

frail beauty—

scissoring the sky

on indigo wings

 

(2)

 

hope . . . soaring on wingless winds

 

(3)

 

taking leave—

gathering courage

as you fly

 

pocket_watch_buried_in_the_shallow_beach_AFR-IJ-14804

 

My thanks to editor, Lorette C. Luzajic, for including these haiku.

 

My Mother’s Voice…a poem of loss

Today, my favorite haiga was published in a favorite journal, Gnarled Oak. It is a lovely home for this haiga. Here it is along with the link to Gnarled Oak (check out all the great poetry in this journal). The editor, James Brush, releases one poem a day, a custom I love. It’s always a joy to see what each day holds. My thanks goes to James for accepting this piece.

http://gnarledoak.org/issue-5/my-mothers-voice/

 

My Mother's Voice haiga

 

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beautiful border for blog

 

This haiga was originally posted on this blog on June 14, 2015.

Love Poems: After Forty Years (more tanka this week and a haiga, too)

In my last posting, I mentioned that this was a week of poems being published. Last time it was two tanka in Ribbons, this time it is two other tanka…and one haiga in a very beautiful and favorite journal of mine: hedgerow: a journal of small poems. Editor Caroline Skanne produces this publication weekly (it goes out on Friday afternoon, a highlight of the week for so many of us). This issue is #55. I’ll provide a link to the journal at the end of this posting so you can go and read all the other wonderful poems and visit mine. I’m so proud to be included with so many excellent poets.

My two tanka here are love poems. My husband and I were married in 1978, but we’ve been together for forty years. Where does the time go?

After Forty Years

you take my hand
when we walk together…
the last leaves
nearly
gone

.

a single glance
from your grey eyes
shifts
my world—
the earthquake of you

.

The haiga published in hedgerow #55 originally appeared in this blog. I am thrilled to have it officially published in an edited journal of this caliber.  Here it is.

Meditation Haiga (glass table)

I hope you all enjoy these poems. If you have a favorite, let me know.

When you have time, please visit the journal these were published in:

hedgerow #55, posted on November 13, 2015:  https://hedgerowpoems.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/55/

red pen2

A Windfall of Tanka

This has been a lovely month for me in the poetry world with a bunch of things published. I’ll do this in several postings so viewing is easier. Early this week I had two tanka published in the Fall 2015 issue of Ribbons, the official publication of the Tanka Society of America. It is such an honor to have work appear in this journal. Two wonderful editors offer a wonderful chance for me to learn and grow as a tanka poet.

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p. 30 (regular part of Ribbons):

sometimes
it begins with a slight fissure
hidden inside…
still I wonder
why it had to end

Time-Can-Wait

p. 21 (in the Tanka Cafe)

fresh water
cleansing, nourishing–
letting the earth
grow green
once more

freshwater