Moral Monday (a tanka)

 

This tanka was published in Skylark, a Tanka Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2, Winter 2017:

 

The following tanka is dedicated to the courageous people who participated in the “Moral Mondays” in my home state of North Carolina. They risked arrest for gathering at the State Legislature to protest unfair and discriminatory legislation being passed. These protests were non-violent and led by the Reverend William J. Barber.

 

Moral Monday –
arm and arm linked
you choose to step
into the darkness
to find the light

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Picking up a feather . . . (a tanka)

 

 

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-04-04-am

 

 

~

Arrowheads rise…

It is always an honor to have a tanka published in , the Journal of the Tanka Society of America. My thanks to editor David Rice for selecting this poem.

 

arrowheads
rise to the surface
in a newly plowed field …
old memories
can be unexpected, too

 

 

Published:

Ribbons (Journal of the Tanka Society of America), Spring/Summer 2016, Volume 12, Number 2 (page 37)

 

 

1-arrowhead 1

 

Two new senryu

These two senryu were published in the May 2016 edition of cattails, collected works of the United Haiku and Tanka Society.

 

1-Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 12.27.03 AM

 

 

2-Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 12.26.39 AM

 

squirrel 2

This inner fire …

My second tanka published this week in A Hundred Gourds:

 

1-1-A Hundred Gourds June 2016

 

A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016

 

 

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