Tanka No. 1: Lapis lazuli . . .

Three tanka published in the winter edition of Gusts, Contemporary Tanka, the journal of Tanka Canada. It’s always a huge thrill to be included in this special journal of tanka. I’ll offer them one at a time.

Gusts no. 32, Fall/Winter 2020

lapis lazuli, delft blue
and French ultramarine . . .
the blueness of blue
in these tired veins
just won’t let go




the slow hiss
and sudden pop
of a pinecone in fire—
admitting the mistake
is a first step




had you lived
we’d almost be twins,
two sisters
so close in time
we nearly touched




this urge
to turn and walk away



Mary Kendall (c) 2020

Kokako 32, 2020, a journal of the New Zealand Poetry Society
My thanks to the editors of Kokako for publishing all three poems.





Published in FROGPOND, Volume 43:1, Winter 2020:






day blurs into evening

into night . . .





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.


Woods Hole, MA – 3/30/14




All Tied Up



All Tied Up

All tied up neatly and compact
like so much of your life,
the detritus removed, just bits
& pieces, markers of your life.

A thin red string carefully tied,
a small artery of life, nothing wasted –
neither paper nor words, not
a sentence too much.

Once you were gone, we
searched, trying to find out who
you really were, your life story
unshared, no memories

or tears, no laughter at wild
faults that gather in the folds
of life lurching from drama
to drama and on to anecdote,

perhaps something true
retold and in each retelling,
the story stretched, becoming
richer, fragrant, unforgettable,

a story to listen to over and
over, anticipating the pauses,
watching your ease in building
the text up to a perfect climax

while we sat and held our breath
(even though we knew the end).
It didn’t matter—it didn’t matter
because they were your words,

your words carefully scrawled
in measured rows of indigo ink
tucked away in a small notebook
that never left your side,

while we (your listeners) waited
for something new to slip –
a clue to your other private story,
especially when your mood

shifted from a recognizable world
to a humming ether not understood,
but where we longed to follow
breathing in those tantalizing vapors.

Maybe we would be swept up
in our own story, someplace ready
to be shaped and formed into
the narrative of who we really are,

conjuring up a variety of characters
we wish we might be, a storyline
that could transform the ordinary
into something still undreamt. 

You were here once, but now
you are not, your secrets remain
a mystery, your demons and
your heroes vanished, too.


Haiku Holiday turns 40


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.


Haiku Holiday, NCHS, 2019

40 Years, 40 Haiku: A Broadside




more and more invisible

as I grow old



our country’s story

ever evolving

. . . fallen blossoms



Both haiku by Mary Kendall (c) 2019