Black swan . . . (haiku)


cattails, October 2018 Issue

The Official Journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society




black swan    

the beauty

in difference






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Credit:Bournemouth News / Rex Features




I urge all of you to read the full issue of cattails, which you can download as a pdf here:


Rain patter . . .(3 tanka)


Three tanka published in one my very favorite journals.



GUSTS No. 28, Contemporary Tanka
(fall/winter 2018)



pounding rains

& the peonies are lost –

how did I miss

your pallor, your reticence

that last day?



turning from pale gold

to dusky violet

our last embrace

so certain

so final



rain patter

on windows –

just when it seems

the darkness is over

it all begins again




Wild apple (some senryu)

Three senryu and one haiga appeared in Prune Juice, Journal of Senryu, Kyoka, Haibun & Haiga, Issue 25, July 2018.


wild apple–
one bite is all
it took


a thin coat of dust
on his burial urn


cloud cover–
darkness brewing
in daddy’s words



the sudden diagnosis haiga


My thanks to editor, Steve Hodge.


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Cover Art: Happy Monk by Jerry Dreesen


Paper and dolls…(tanka)


Two tanka of mine appeared in the last issue of Ribbons, the journal of the Tanka Society of America.


Ribbons, Fall 2017: Volume 13, Number 3


still collecting dolls
into her old age
a special name for each –
and one story
she refused to tell


Tanka Café, Fall 2017: theme was “paper”


a book propped
by the pillow on my knees,
page after page
I ease into someone
else’s life



The first line of ‘us’


Gusts, Contemporary Tanka, one of my favorite print journals, arrived here in London this week. Edited by Kozue Uzawa, the journal is a publication of Tanka Canada. The tanka are placed on the page under a category heading such as “life,” “scent,” “moon,” or “relationships.” Many of my favorite tanka poets appear in this journal, and of course it’s always great to discover new poets or poets whose work I don’t know. The overall quality and standard is very high, and this makes for excellent reading and rereading.  I’m pleased to say that three of my tanka appear in Gusts, no. 25, Contemporary Tanka, Spring/Summer 2017. I hope you enjoy reading them.






watching clouds                                                       
begin to drift
from your soft sable brushes –
you make the sky bluer
than blue, not grey


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the shivery silk                                                       
of your words
slips around me –
the first line of us
now written


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all that time waiting                                                  
to hear from you
I ascend the stairway
of a deserted station,
pale Freesias in hand



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These three tanka were written by Mary Kendall, (c) 2017,
Gusts, no. 25, Contemporary Tanka, Spring/Summer 2017

A flurry of poems…

The fall issue of cattails is out at last. Due to a big switch around of editors, the September issue was delayed and is now published in December. What a big issue it is, full of so many poems to read. Many of my favorite poets are in this issue and there are some who are new to me still to be discovered.



I have two haiku included in this issue:



first blossoms –
I tell myself this year
will be different




daybreak …
the birds wake us
song by song



and a few senryu:



long yawns …
breathing in
his boredom




zafu zabuton zazen       zzzzz




plus one tanka:




long ago I heard
the sound of wuthering wind
blowing through the night –
a bleakness so forlorn,
a loneliness bereft of words   



My thanks to all the editors of cattails for their hard work. I cannot begin to imagine the number of hours it takes to put together something this substantial.





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.

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.