Cloud watching (a haiga)

cloud watching haiga 2

 

Published in Prune Juice, A Journal of Senryu, Kyoka,
Haibun and Haiga, Issue 22, July 2017

Into the Wind (a tanka sequence)

castlerigg-stone-circle-2011-april-065

Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick, Cumbria, UK

 

This tanka sequence was recently published in Ribbons (Journal of the Tanka Society of America), Fall/Winter 2016, Volume 12, Number 3:

 

 

Into the Wind

 

 

the sparrow hawk
swoops down in silence …
shiver of surprise
seeing death come
so quickly

 

 

from a distance
the boulders look small
. . . there were times
when you seemed
almost harmless

 

 

mountain colors
shift as rapidly
as the wild weather
deep shadows
of unexpected fear

 

 

on a barren plain
the stones are silent
… why did I surrender
when faced
with rage?

 

 

a lone pillar
stands so tall
. . . facing into the wind
I finally learn
about resistance

 

 

out of nowhere
two young kestrels
soar above . . .
my voice
can now be heard

 

 

 Mary Kendall,  (c) 2016

 

 

wallpapersxl-circel-castlerigg-stone-circle-270319-1920x1080

Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick in Cumbria, UK

You departed…

One of the finest journals around for Japanese short form poetry has been A Hundred Gourds. The editors announced several months ago that the June issue would be the last issue. This is a great loss, but there is an amazing amount of work editors do to make a journal of this caliber work so well.  The tanka editor, Susan Constable, is one of the finest poets around, and her skill and advice as an editor is special. I know I have learned a great deal from her through our correspondence this past year. My thanks go to all the excellent editors of this journal. I am fortunate to have two tanka selected for this final issue of A Hundred Gourds. I will be posting them separately, one today and one tomorrow.

 

2-A Hundred Gourds 2 June 2016

A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016

Drifting Along…

glowworms 2

Today I feel a deep pride and happiness that a poem that has taken 15 years to complete has been published in one of my favorite poetry journals–The Whirlwind Review. This journal has a focus poetry following a spiritual path, and the current issue has a theme of journeying. That made it a perfect place to submit this poem, Drifting Along. My deepest thanks goes to editor, Jill Jepson, herself a writer I greatly admire.

New Zealand is a land far away from my own, but it is a spiritual homeland of sorts. After visiting there in July 2000, a twenty-five year silence in my writing of poetry ended after a spiritual experience I had on South Island. The beauty of the country and the kindness and friendliness of the people made this a trip I will never forget.

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The link to the poem:  http://www.writingthewhirlwind.net/Kendall.html

Audio:  If you care to listen to me read this poem (and I hope you will–this is one of my most favorite poems), click on the link below. Give it a few seconds to load.

.glowworms 1

Drifting Along

.                            Visiting Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

There are moments when I wonder if one day
I will drift too far, too deep into my mind,
a world where fragmented thoughts,
memories and feelings might be lost forever.

The last trip.
A one-way ticket.

Traveling halfway around the world, we are
in New Zealand, the land of Aotearoa,
‘the land of the long white cloud.’ Driving
south, we arrive in the Maori heartland.

From Rotorua with its dizzying sulfuric scent,
we hike past brilliant springs, steaming lakes
and hot, bubbling mud pools where it seems
as if the underworld might hover just below
the surface of this ancient thermal valley.

One morning we go to see Pōhutu Geyser.
After a while, I wander from the path only to be
unexpectedly splashed by a small spurt of water
that was invisible until I came too close.

The Maori guide tells me that I’ve been blessed
by the spirits. Brushing off the still warm spray
of water, I hope she is right. I want to believe.

Driving through this world of rolling green
volcanic hills, we finally reach the Waitomo Caves.
As we wait for our boat, I feel a pulse in the land—
I know we are standing on sacred ground.

With our inner clocks all timed out, we begin
the dark journey into the heart of the cavern
Skimming silently through the still waters,
the young boatman leads us far into the blackness
of a cave that tunnels in so far, we lose all light
and sense of where we are. Our eyes now adjust
to this obsidian underworld, and it seems that
we have begun to cross into unending nighttime.

Everyone in the boat is silent. To be this close
to the infinite expanse of darkness,
to transcend time and self—this is a place
for stillness…and so it is.

With only the lapping of water against the boards,
the boat slips along. Although we came here
knowing what was hidden in this hollow, no one
is prepared for the full beauty of what is there.

I look up and see endless strings of glowworms—
glowworms hanging so high up, they become
numberless strands of summer stars—pale green fires
in these underground heavens whose ghostly translucence
leaves me feeling as if I am asleep somewhere,
not wanting to wake up from this ethereal place
in which I float between two worlds.

The boat glides quietly in the gentle sway of water,
and it is then that I begin to fear we have drifted too far.

I can remember no way back.

No signposts.
No markers.
No trail of crumbs.

glowworms 3 glowworms-at-waitomo map of NZ

My thanks to the New Zealand Tourist Bureau for the magnificent pictures shown above.

Summer’s End

Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

                                                Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

Today’s poem is a slight detour down the road that leads to summer’s end. I’ve chosen to present an acrostic poem, a form I always enjoyed using when writing with children during my years of teaching. Acrostic poems are delightful and often funny, but as shown here, they can be serious and even tender.

You can hear me read the poem if you click on the link below and patiently wait a few seconds for the recording to begin.

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Summer’s End

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Sunflowers bloom tirelessly all summer long

Unwavering in their deep devotion to the sun

Multiplying day by day, the fields grow yellow

Making everyone stop to look

Elegant with their tall, swaying stalks

Regretting nothing, they give themselves to this season

Surrendering ripe seeds to the redbirds and finches that gather round

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Photo by Betty Risotto, (c) 2015

Photo by Betty Rizotti, (c) 2015

.

Even summer must come to a close

No one is ever spared the final moment

Depleted of seed, sunflowers begin to bow their heads in sleep

Photo by Jan Monson, (c) 2015

     Photo by Jan Monson, (c) 2015

Photo by Gary Birchford

Photo by Gary Birchford, (c) 2015

Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

Several photographers are responsible for the beautiful sunflower photographs in this blog. The two with the goldfinches are shared by Betty Rizzoti (middle right photo) and Jan Monson (middle left photo). Many thanks to each of them for these great captures. All the rest of the photographs are by Gary Birchford whose photographs, when posted on FaceBook last month, inspired this poem as a goodbye to summer. Thank you Gary for your ever generous heart in allowing me to use these pictures.
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Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

One final note: Gary Brichford took this set of sunflower pictures from an interesting source. They were on the side of a major highway in central North Carolina as part of a government project. Please see the picture below for details. Isn’t it great to know that our Department of Transportation is involved in Pollinator Habitats. What better place could they find. Imagine how many people drive past and smile at the ever beautiful sunflowers.

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Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

                             Photo by Gary Brichford, (c) 2015

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Tanka on a May Morning

In the past five months I have been studying my much beloved tanka, haiku and small poems in order to become a better writer. Writers–and poets–need to keep growing as they go.  As part of my interest in these lovely small poem forms, I have joined a number of exception online groups of poets who post their own writing. On several of the sites, “prompts” are given and sometimes a picture is given. People respond as they wish or not. Often comments are given. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to get a “like” or even a comment by one of these poets who are so gifted and accomplished tanka and/or haiku poets, but even without the ‘likes,’ it feels wonderful to be a little more confident about sharing poems publicly. This morning, I’m posting several tanka I wrote this week to specific prompts.

~

1    [prompt: celebration of color]

Photograph (c) Kristin Sanderson

Photograph (c) Kristin Sanderson

 

scribbles

of scarlet red

in the shrubs—

two cardinals

take flight

~

  1.  [prompt: full moonrise, unforgettable moon]

 

Photography (c) by Cab Treadway

Photography (c) by Cab Treadway

cloud masquerade

tonight—

the moon is hidden

from your

wanton gaze

 

~

 

3    [prompt: how you share your journey]

old cobblestones

so hard to cross—

without speaking

I take your arm

and we walk on

old cobblestones in cornwall

 

~

4    [prompt: flutes..music…]

plum-tree-picture

sweet song

hidden in the plum tree–

a nightengale

gives itself

away

nightingale1

~

In Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Chairs in Luxembourg Gardens, Paris by Mary Kendall

Chairs in Luxembourg Gardens, Paris by Mary Kendall

In Luxembourg Gardens, Paris     

A stairwell of shadows invites us to sit.
Empty chairs bask in the late spring sun,

Waiting for readers who choose to sit,
slipping into the borrowed lives of books.

Waiting for lovers to pull two chairs aside,
stealing time away from the world.

Waiting for an old man with a limping dog,
passing time away from his silent rooms.

Waiting for the widow who longs for the sun,
savoring the warmth like a delicate embrace.

Waiting for the disheveled girl who waits,
sipping a café crème with a guarded look.

Waiting for a businessman to eat his lunch,
savoring silence, no rumble of demands.

Waiting for the grandpère missing his children,
wondering what it is they do continents away.

Waiting for weary tourists who sit and rest,
whispering in languages you don’t speak.

Waiting for a tumble of clouds to sweep the sky
just as this sweet day slips into the waiting night.

Time passes.
People pass.
Memories pass.

Another day will come.