This tanka was published in Hedgerow, a journal of small poems ~ #130, Winter 2020
we turn away
from all we just can’t face—
the glistening red
of a vulture’s head
emerges from a carcass
Out of decay comes art and beauty. Look what artist Georgia O’Keefe created from a skull found where she lived in New Mexico. All is part of nature and is nature.
Deer’s Skull with Pedernal by Georgia O’Keefe (c) 1936
Where I live in central North Carolina, we have plenty of black vultures and turkey vultures. They circle and gather in the sky when there is carrion to be had. I chose this topic for the tanka because it’s a scene I’ve seen more than once. Yes, it’s not a pretty sight. Vultures, especially when eating a dead animal or gathering in a group in a tree or abandoned house do give you shivers. Something in us seems to respond with at least a momentary revulsion. However, I’m a bird lover and I try to see how a specific species fits into the scheme of things. Vultures and crows do eat carrion, the flesh of dead animals, often of roadkill along our roads and streets. They perform a good service by eating their meal and cleaning the mess up. Imagine all those dead animals left to rot. So these birds help us as they go about their business (albeit unpleasant business to us). They are birds we should appreciate for their useful role in nature. They also offer us a wonderful metaphor.
My thanks to editor, Caroline Skanne for being the one editor who chose to publish this poem.
This poem is dedicated to my dear sister-in-law, Paulett Brylinski, who lost her beloved husband, Jimmy, in December 2017. Watching her learn to cope and live with grief has taught me so much about courage and love.
The North Carolina Haiku Society hosts an all-day meeting on the last Saturday of each April. This year marked the 40th year of these days called “Haiku Holiday.” Each of the past 40 years has been hosted by one wonderful poet and woman, Jean Earnhardt
on Bolin Brook Farm, an old farmstead that has been in her family for 12 generations. Can you imagine opening up your home and garden annually to a large group of poets? Jean does so graciously and with a welcoming, inclusive attitude. Thank you, Jean!
“In honor of the 40th anniversary of Haiku Holiday, we read 40 haiku by current and past members of the North Carolina Haiku Society. Crystal Simone-Smith selected the poems and published them as a broadside.” (Dave Russo, the NCHS website Editor)
The Broadside is so beautiful, and it’s an honor to be part of this. My two haiku are listed below. My thanks to Crystal for selecting this to be included.