Fragrance of old books… (tanka)

Click on the link below if you care to hear me read this tanka:

 

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My thanks to editor, Marilyn Hazelton, for publishing this tanka in Red Lights, one of the best tanka journals around.

Walking Away

Where do poems come from? Anyone who writes poetry asks that question and has that question asked of them by others who wonder how a poem comes to be. There are many articles and books on the subject, but still there is no single answer. Every poet writes differently and often in a lifetime writing patterns and habits might change, too.

To show you how oddly this can happen, I’ve decided to post a poem that appeared in my chapbook, Erasing the Doubt (published 2015 by Finishing Line Press). “Walking Away” is  a poem that has its own style, its own cadence and its own meaning. If I were to read this somewhere, I think I’d say it feels very much like an old fashioned poem, as if it echoes a voice from long ago. How did that happen? There is an unusual story behind this poem and how it came to be. It came to me as a whole poem when I was up late writing and suddenly became very, very tired. It appeared almost dreamlike to me. I typed it up quickly, read it once and went to bed. When I read it the next day, it didn’t feel or sound like me, but obviously I had written it. Strange indeed. This experience happened only once in my life.Was another poet speaking through me? Or was this merely a side freed from regular consciousness because of fatigue?

I’d love to hear your comments on this poem and what it means to you when you read it. Feel free to leave a message

I’ve recorded this poem if you care to listen as well as read. Just click on this link:

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Walking Away

 

When you go, where do you wander?
When you leave me, do you look back?
I sit here, book in hand, not reading.

           The wind blows fiercely through now.

 

They asked how long you had been silent,
And I answered with a lie, which
Was not the truth but might have been.

          The wind blows silently through now.

 

Did you hear me whispering to you?
Did you hear what I had to say? Or did
I turn away and only mouth the words?

          The wind blows piercingly through now.

 

Where do you go when you wander?
Tell me what you see. When you look
At me, I feel you walking away.

          Lamenting the darkness, the wind blows softly now.

 

 

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“Walking Away” was published in Erasing the Doubt by Mary Kendall (c) 2015, Finishing Line Press.

 

 

 

 

Sleepy French Canals…

And now my last tanka to appear in Frameless Sky 4 (Summer 2016), edited by Christine L. Villa.  The beautiful photograph paired with this poem is by Irena Iris Szewczyk

To hear me read this tanka, simply click on the link below:

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Notes:

My warmest thanks to Chrissi, for publishing this and my other pieces in Frameless Sky 4
and to Irena, for creating such a lovely picture and allowing my tanka to join it.

Compassion (a poem about depression)

Depression is not very pretty. Nor is it very kind. It has many faces, and it comes and goes as it pleases. It can affect almost anyone. If you are someone who has struggled with depression, you know it never goes away completely but hides, waiting for the right moment to reappear. It isn’t something to be lightly dismissed in yourself or in others who suffer from it. Who hasn’t seen the devastating effect it can have on a vulnerable person? I’ve struggled with it, and I’ve certainly known many others who were also affected by it.

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Watching someone you love battle depression is never easy. It isn’t easily “fixed,” even in this age of modern medicine. Therapy and medicines are there, and for some people they help so much, but for others, less so. Compassion, patience, unconditional love and presence are the lifelines we can offer…to someone else and to ourselves.

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To listen to me read this poem, please click on the link below. It will take a minute to begin.

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Compassion

 

Taking on your pain was something
I tried to do, like slipping on your
jacket, pushing an arm in and then
another, pulling it tight around myself,
hoping that by feeling what you do,
it would diminish your pain.

 

No matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t a fit.
Your depression fell around me in loose
folds, the sadness sagging around my heart.
Besides, it would leave you cold, open
to the fickle winds that blew your way.

 

 

Compassion was first published in Erasing the Doubt by Mary Kendall
(Finishing Line Press © 2015)

 

 

 

Another Love Poem…

 

 

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Photograph (c) 2010 by Patti Chronert

 

Another Love Poem…

If you’d like to hear me read this poem, please click on the link below. Wait a few seconds for it to load. I hope you enjoy both listening and reading this love poem.

 

 Another Love Poem…

~ To my husband and partner of forty years ~

 

We walked along in the Tuileries
alone among the chestnut trees,

morning sky of crisp pale gold
so many paths we have strolled,

and still we wander, just us two,
my heart never very far from you.

We stop to sit and watch the birds
green park chairs, unspoken words,

plain sparrows chirp, so unadorned
no beauty lost, no beauty mourned.

Simple thoughts are often most true—
no man was ever loved more than you.

 

 

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Heart Stone by Mary Kendall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty in Broken Pieces

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New Note as of March 11, 2016: This poem has just been published on a favorite online journal called Ekphrastic: Writing and Art on Art and Writing. A link to the journal:  http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/beauty-in-broken-pieces-by-mary-kendall

~ ~ ~

Readers of this blog don’t always notice its subtitle: One Poet’s Practice. I like to practice. I like to experiment. All poets do. Without stretching the mind, you fall into the pattern of repetition. Each poem starts sounding like the last or the next.

I have been writing a lot in short form poetry–haiku, haiga, tanka, and other small poems. Today, in an effort to go in a completely different direction, I offer you a very long, rambling poem–quite unlike me, I know. It is called “Beauty in Broken Pieces,” inspired by a lovely photograph taken in Dublin, Ireland by India Leigh Lassiter, herself a talented writer as well as photographer. Thank you, India, for allowing me to use your picture as a starting point for this poem.

 

To hear me read this poem, please click on the link below (give it a minute to load):

 

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Blue Spiral, Dublin, Ireland (c) 2015 photograph by India Leigh Lassiter

 

Beauty in Broken Pieces…

 

 

Perhaps it was once a deep blue vase,
holding seven pale pink peonies
freshly cut one May morning…

the silence shattered
suddenly when
she lost her balance,

grabbed
the oval table

and together
crashed down,

one in splintered pieces,
the other dazed
watching the water
slowly spread
under the petals.

Or perhaps…

it was packed away in a doctor’s study,
an old cabinet filled with bottles…
cobalt blue bottles with faded labels,
the dark blue hinting of hidden secrets,
dangers that lay in long-dried residue
of those bottles that were shattered
and thrown upon a fire
that raged for hours,
flaring up in vivid hues
of acid green
and mustard yellow,
tipped with amber,
azure and moon,
the air once heavy
with poison
and dreams.

Or…maybe

there was no story.

Do you believe the whole really is bigger
than the sum of its parts?
And please, don’t let’s forget
there is always
perspective.

Large things are large,
but small things
are also large
if seen
close
up.

 

It is lovely, this small mosaic
made of glass in shades of blue,

blue so dark,
it might still hold the sound
of the ocean from the sand
that washed up and back
over and over

dancing on the ocean floor

before it became
the glass
we see…

for what is glass
but sand
and fire,

beach
and
star?

even
a simple
spiral
mosaic
in shades
of blue, pearl and silver
might hold the deep bass song
of the darkling ocean,
the glimmering
whispers
of clouds
above,

patterns spiraling through nature
like our thoughts about beauty,
reality or memory’s truth

Fibonacci gave it his name,
the Greeks gave it meaning
with their golden ratio…
it exists everywhere
… a simple nautilus shell,
the sunflower’s seed head
that turns to the sun,
and following its cue, the pinecone,
the hurricane, even the galaxy, the cosmos

and here with this Irish glass spiral
we come full circle of woman
with camera, snapping
a photo, capturing
the balance of
silvery bits
and pearl
to blue
done
just
so
.

 

 

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goniatite-fossil

 

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.

 

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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.