Speechless . . . (a tanka)

 

 

 

the statue of David
stands so tall in the gallery,
I am speechless
in the Italian
I never learned

 

 

Published in Ekphrasis: The British Haiku Society Member’s Anthology, 2017

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The statue of David by Michelangelo is in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. It was sculpted between 1501 and 1504.

Willow branches (collaborative tankart)

FS6 Kendall & French

 

This piece of tankart appeared in Frameless Sky 6 as part of an ongoing competitive challenge. In the last issue, a photograph I submitted was selected by a poet to go with her poem. Since my photo was selected, I was then asked, in turn, to contribute a tanka or haiku for the next issue. I wrote this tanka as a prompt. There were some wonderful pictures submitted, and it was very hard to select just one. In the end, I kept returning to this lovely ink drawing of a willow.. Terri Hale French, a distinguished and accomplished haiku poet was the artist. Our combined effort appeared in the latest issue of Frameless Sky. It’s a real honor to have this collaborative piece of tanka art published. Many thanks to Christine L. Villa, poet and editor of Frameless Sky.

 

Published in Frameless Sky 6, Summer 2017

Mask Maker

Who are we really? We can present ourself to the world in many ways, and we do. It’s been quite a while since I posted a longer poem on my blog, so today I offer you a poem called “Mask Maker.” It was written to an ekphrastic prompt on Rattle a few months back, but it was not selected. The two winning poems were brilliant and should have been chosen.

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What’s great about writing to a good prompt is how an image can pull all sorts of ideas from us. The prompt was a picture of several sets of hands modeling in clay. I toyed with the idea for quite some time and discarded two other poems until I settled on the one that grew into this poem.

 

 

 

Mask Maker

 

Do you like this mask, the one I made

so carefully, molding it to the contours

of my face so it looks just like me?

 

I wear it day after day, occasionally

slipping it off and refashioning it a bit.

It changes as I change.

 

I was four when I made the first mask—

out of mud from the bare earth in the yard.

It blocked my fear, and hid my thoughts.

 

I was invisible to the world, hidden behind

this new cover. No one noticed when I wore it,

so I kept it on, and it protected me.

 

Once it nearly shattered during that long fall

down the stairs that he never spoke about.

Dazed, I woke up and checked the mask.

 

It was the one thing that hadn’t been hurt.

After that I knew I needed it to keep me safe,

to keep me quiet, to keep me out of the way.

 

When I closed my eyes, I could imagine it was

no longer a mask but just me, unseen by him.

It made me look like a normal girl, a good girl.

 

After many years and many masks, I became

quite good at molding a mask so flawlessly thin,

so delicate, transparent as a butterfly wing.

 

It was easy to slip on, and no one could tell

what was real and what was not, even up close.

It worked, and that’s all I ever wanted.

 

There is a small secret I learned from making

masks and wearing them day and night:

You must believe it’s you and not a mask.

 

It is you, but a different you, a you that won’t

cry out or tell secrets or even cringe too much

when unexpected blows come (and they do).

 

Close your eyes now. Imagine yourself this

way—in control and protected from the world,

safe from everything you fear, hidden far away

 

behind this lovely mask where you can watch

what’s going on, where you can be vigilant,

and where you are the real you only you can see.

 

 

 

 

Words grow muted . . . (a tanka)

 

 

 

 

words grow muted
and hearing diminished –
I begin to tiptoe
along the lonely curve
of inner silence

 

arp-sculpture

Title Unspecified, by Jean “Hans” Arp (French, b. German), 1950s

 

This tanka was published in The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing on September 13, 2016. The journal is edited by Lorette C. Luzajic as part of the Ekphrastic 20 Challenge.

 

To visit the site, please click on this link:  http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/a-tanka-by-mary-kendall

 

Sunday Morning

The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing, has published my poem, “Sunday Morning.”

Let me give you a brief “back story” on this poem. Many years ago, I stopped writing completely for around twenty-five years. Total silence in my life. I don’t know why it happened, but it did. After what can only be be termed a spiritual experience on a trip to the Fijordland in New Zealand, poetry somehow magically entered my life again. I can’t explain this. It just happened, and I know it happened for a reason. This poem was the first complete poem I wrote when my poetic “voice” returned, and it’s only been read by one other person until today. It’s taken me about fifteen years to gather courage to submit it anywhere. My deepest thanks to editor, Lorette C. Luzajic, for publishing this piece.

Here is the link to the journal: http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/april-21st-2016

 

Rijksmuseum out the window

Rijksmuseum, Out the Window (c) 2013 Mary Kendall

 

Sunday Morning

 

Hymns unsung, prayers unsaid,
I sat by the window and prayed
for forgiveness one more time;
one more time I begged.

 

Holding the cup of coffee in my hand,
I hoped the warmth would fill me
where your words had left me cold,
but I knew nothing could do that—
fire can burn for hours and be unfelt.

 

Hymns unsung, prayers unsaid,
I lay down on the empty bed, pulling
the blanket across my cheek, turning
from the window, from the sky
and the sun, praying for some rest.

 

 

 

Note: The window in the photo is not, of course, the window of the poem. I love taking pictures of windows when I travel, especially indside looking out. This photo was taken in June 2013 when my husband and I were in Amsterdam, visiting the beautiful Rijksmuseum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.