Changing Notes (a Tanka Sequence)


My thanks to my friend, poet and editor, Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy for writing this tanka sequence, “Changing Notes,” with me. It was published in Kokako 29, a journal of the Poetry Society of New Zealand.


 Changing Notes

A Responsive Tanka Sequence


Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy (UK) and Mary Kendall (USA)


glass bangles
tinkling with laughter 
rice grains
strewn on the newlyweds
seeding a new dream



such longing
month after month
turning to years
suddenly the emptiness



the curve of his hand
cups the moon 
the one butterfly
aflutter in my belly



the fragile pulse
of his fontanelle
and those half smiles
in his milky dreams



rocking horse
hither and thither 
the long curls
of sun-kissed memories
braided into birdsong 



one day his son will chatter
in a different tongue
raven locks
eased into smoothness
. . . a new chosen land



Billowing fog (a few haiku & tanka)



Two haiku and one tanka in Kokako 29, 2018, a journal of the New Zealand Poetry Society:



where the house
once stood
only cherry blossoms 




billowing fog
the burden of keeping
your secret




rosé bottle
the forgiving vagueness
of frosted glass
the morning





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no attribution for this lovely picture I found online




One frame at a time (tanka sequence)




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Photo: aperture art blur/Pixabay


My thanks to my friend and fellow poet, Iliyana Stoyanova
for writing this tanka sequence with me. 



Blithe Spirit, the Journal of the British Haiku Society, August 2018




A Tanka Sequence

by Mary Kendall (USA) and Iliyana Stoyanova (UK)


camera in hand
you tame the world
click by click …
living your life
one frame at a time


the old album
asleep in dust
for all these years
the last two pages
stuck together


so alike
everyone said
we could be twins
but then one day
a letter arrived


through the open windows
spring wind…
by the ballerina box
my old ribbons tangled
like childhood memories 


in my hands now
a forty-year-old picture
of an unknown aunt
a tiny birthmark
same as my own




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Photo from


My hand in yours . . . (two tanka)


July Issue 2018


how softly
the light shifts
from day to dusk,
the familiar comfort
of my hand in yours 




all morning long
the praying mantis
clings to a window screen—
my fingers less nimble                       
with each passing year



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Praying Mantis and the Moon by Watanabe Seitei





Wild apple (some senryu)

Three senryu and one haiga appeared in Prune Juice, Journal of Senryu, Kyoka, Haibun & Haiga, Issue 25, July 2018.


wild apple–
one bite is all
it took


a thin coat of dust
on his burial urn


cloud cover–
darkness brewing
in daddy’s words



the sudden diagnosis haiga


My thanks to editor, Steve Hodge.


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Cover Art: Happy Monk by Jerry Dreesen


Time to . . . catch up



My blog is now four years and two months old. A long time actually, but a short time in my lifespan of seventy-one years. The past four years of writing poetry have been some of the most happy and satisfying times of my life. I’ve become an active part in a small community of writers–people like me who, for all kinds of reasons–simply find expression in verse to be an important part of who they are.


I named this blog, “A Poet in Time” because I realized I was just another small cog in the wheel that is written expression and that is humanity. We exist for a brief time on this world, and each of our lives is unique. Every one of us is completely different from all others that have lived or will live. There is such magic in that idea. 


After blogging here for fifty months, I wonder how this blog will evolve. It began as a way for me to push myself into writing something each week. It then became a venue to share poems that were published. I continued to write free verse poetry, but the past two years have seen a switch to the writing of Japanese short-form poems such as haiku, senryu and tanka. I’ve also fallen in love with creating haiga and tankart, both of which have pushed me into working with visual images and linking them with poems, letting picture and words complete one another in a unique way. 


The poetry community in the Japanese short-form poems world is a welcoming one. I’ve made friends with and received incredible guidance and mentoring from other writers. Some of those friends I have never met since they live on the other side of the world. Others I have met here in the states and in the UK. I consider all of these friendships to be a blessing and a gift. People make such connections and on occasion these become collaborators in writing. I love writing with other poets. Collaborative or responsive writing is an exercise in trust and openness. Two minds create one piece. Two poets enter into it, not knowing what the end product will be, but the process is the best part (for me, at least). Giving and sharing ideas–taking someone’s verse and linking to it and writing a response that works with the whole thing–well, it’s an experience that is unlike other writing experiences, even regular poetry workshops.


I was invited to give a talk on Collaborative Writing in April, 2018 at “Haiku Holiday,” a full day devoted to haiku related writing. This is an annual event of the North Carolina Haiku Society (of which I am an active member). It was an honor to do this, and I shared my experiences, most of which were in responsive tanka writing. The two forms are related. Tanka has been written for over 1300 years. Later, Renga with its Hokku came into being in the 14th century, and in the 16th century, Haiku evolved from the Hokku verse of renga. It was a long and fascinating evolution. If you are interested in the history of these forms, I recommend an article written by Tanka Poet and editor,Amelia Fielden:  



In the Japanese courts, people wrote tanka responsively, and it was also a simple communication between lovers. Collaborative writing has a long, long history that continues today.


My sister recently asked me if I ever write “long” poems any more, and I had to pause and think. I’ve been working so hard at trying to write passable short form poems that my practice in longer (aka free verse) poetry has dwindled down to very little.


Perhaps a goal for my fifth year of blogging will be to find a balance between short and longer poems. Who knows? Maybe something else will happen. That’s the fun of writing–it evolves as we evolve and grow.


I’ll be posting a bunch of poems that have been published in recent months–I fell behind because real life called (as it does now and then). 


For those of you who have followed my blog over the past four years, thank you. I hope you will continue to do so.


With all best wishes,


Note: The article I refer to is About Tanka and Its History by Amelia Fielden. It appeared in Tanka Online.

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Photograph (c) Kristin Sanderson