faded numbers tattooed on your arm I slip back in silence
Published in Presence 58 July 2017
Back story on this tanka. In 1972 I visited friends in Israel. As a tourist, I was eager to see the historical sites, one of which was Masada, site of a group suicide where a Jewish community was surrounded by Roman soldiers. The Jews chose suicide rather than be taken as captives. As I stood high up on the hilly site with other visitors, it was very, very quiet. It was after all a sacred place. An older man stood next to me, and I happened to glance at him also looking out at where the soldiers would have been waiting, hoping to starve out the isolated Jewish community. I noticed on his arm, faded numbers–numbers, of course, indicating he’d been captive in a Concentration Camp. The poignancy of him being there has stayed with me for over forty years. Never again, please Lord, shall we do such things to our fellow men.
Both pictures are from travel sites to and in Israel. Masada is located in the Judean desert, very close to the Dead Sea. Visiting these sites is like stepping back two thousand years. I am so grateful for having had this opportunity to visit.
Last year I posted a request in a Face Book haiku/tanka writing group asking if anyone had a photo of Lily of the Valley that they were willing to share and allow me to use for a piece of tankart I was working on. A very quick response from the poet/photographer Maya Lyubenova gave me the perfect picture. I never really knew Maya. We’d never met, and we chatted only a few times on FaceBook in poetry groups and on Face Book Messenger. I was certainly a real fan of hers. Bulgarian by birth, Maya could compose gorgeous haiku in English. She could also pair her poems with her equally exquisite photographs to create haiga — visual poetry of the highest quality. I was touched by her generosity in allowing me to use the photo she had sent.
Only recently did I learn that Maya Lyubenova had passed away on December 30, 2016. Like so many, I mourn her loss as a person and as a poet and artist. I wish I had known her better, but I cannot change that. Her work still remains for us to look at, to study, to learn from and to be dazzled by … that will not end.
I’d like to dedicate my piece of tankart to Maya Lyubenova — our single connected piece of art. Thank you, Maya, for bringing so much beauty into this world. May you rest in peace.
I’ve had two haiku and one haiga included in the newest edition of Wild Plum, a haiku journal, 3:1 Spring & Summer 2017.
unforgettable— the taste of zinfandel on your lips
forgiveness the new year’s moon lights the way
March brings lots of wonderful poetry journals. Another favorite of mine is Wild Plum, a haiku journal, 3:1 Spring & Summer 2017. The journal is edited by Gabriel Sawicki. This journal is based in Poland, and it has a very international group of readers and contributors. The haiga editor is Maria Tomczak. I hope you will go to their journal directly and read it in full. It’s a very beautiful journal (lovely cover art by Azi Kuder. I’ve added a link at the bottom of this posting.
Here’s a link to the complete version of this lovely haiku journal:
It is very exciting to be part of a collection of poems and art by so many women I admire. Thanks to editor (and poet), Caroline Skanne, I have a haiku and three tanka included. The title and theme of “wild voices” was given to us to interpret in any way we chose. I urge those of you who love poetry to purchase a copy of this anthology for yourself and/or for a gift.
Wild Voices, An Anthology of Short Poetry & Art by Women edited by Caroline Skanne, February 2017