I’ve had the good fortune to have three of my tanka published in the latest issue of GUSTS, NO. 23, Contemporary Tanka, Spring/Summer 2016 (Tanka Canada). This is the first time my work has appeared in this beautiful poetry journal, and I’m most grateful to the editor, Kozue Uzawa.
I’ve decided to post each tanka separately here on my blog.
My very first tanka sequence was published in RIBBONS: Journal of the American Tanka Society, Winter 2016: Volume 12, Number 1. My thanks to editor, David Rice, for suggesting to me that these three tanka would work best in a sequence.
Now that it is early autumn, we tend to stay inside more and even read more (at least that’s my experience). Someone recently asked me if I would do the audio recording for some of my mythology poems on this blog. I had done one already, so it does seem natural to now do the others. I hope you like them. My style of reading isn’t dramatic, and I do try hard to avoid “poet voice,” something I dislike very much. Hopefully my readings are pretty natural, maybe too natural for those who do like more drama. I guess it’s all a matter of taste.
By clicking on each link, you will be directed to the original posting for the poem but with the audio now included. I hope you like them.
It’s time to try something new on my blog now that I’ve reached the one year anniversary. I’m adding an audio version of this poem, “My Attic is Full.”
This week’s poem was written in 2011 for a friend I worked/taught with, Jean Sotelo Coene. Somehow we got to talking about cleaning attics and about all the treasures hidden up there and how hard it was to part with things. Jean mentioned her grandmother’s handbag and all the stories it held and that was it…a tiny seed of a poem was planted. I don’t know how those things come to be while others never take hold. I wrote the poem and gave it to Jean as a little present. I love to gift poems to just one person. For that reason, no one has read the poem except for each of us.
Today I was going through some lovely photos from a trip to Cornwall in 2013. [See Bedford Square +2, my travel blog for the whole story of that visit if interested.] We had visited a small manor house, Lanhydrock. [http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock/] Part of our wanderings allowed access to the attic. Of course it was beautifully staged as were all the rooms in the house, but seeing these pictures this morning was too hard to resist. I worked on the poem today, changing words here and there, adding in a whole stanza and then deleting it. In the end, I liked the first version best. Only a few words are different from the one I handed to Jean.
This poem is dedicated to the memories of all grandmothers who gave us so many wonderful stories to listen to, to dream about, and to share.
To hear the audio, simply click below. I am not much of a professional reader so please bear with me.
My Attic is Full
The attic needs cleaning. It seems so simple, but it isn’t easy to throw old things away. There is always the worry we might forget those we loved, the ones crossed over.
Old boxes hold memories and clothing. Do you hear the stories held in the silence? A flowery print dress of soft lawn cotton holds the story of when it was freshly laundered and worn in the days of the mid-summer sun.
An old leather purse might tell you where she went and what she wore. Inside, a handkerchief delicately edged in tatted lace is tucked away.
How often she must have clutched it in her hand to wipe away tears or sneezes, stifle laughter or mop her brow. Even now the linen is redolent of old damask roses from the flower garden.
Beyond the piled boxes of her belongings are clothes from her husband so long mourned. She kept them up here all those years, the only way to keep him near.
Don’t you wonder how often she came up into this dark attic, pulled the light string, unfolded a crisp white shirt and held it to her nose, eyes tightly closed longing for the scent that had faded from his pillow?
This week the news was filled with the grand and rare beauty of the appearance of a Blood Moon eclipse and the absolute horror and non-sensical murder of Christian students in Kenya by Islamic fanatics. When, oh, when will the world stop hating?
“Early Thursday five shooters from the Somali-based al-Shabaab terrorist organization swept through a university in the Kenyan town of Garissa, shooting Christian students. They knew who to kill because they ordered students to recite an Islamic prayer. Those who could were spared. Those who could not were shot dead, about 147 so far. Police killed four of the terrorists and captured the fifth.” (from the Wall Street Journal)
Note: This beautiful photograph of the Blood Moon is not mine. I found it through a google search, but it’s exact origin is unknown. I thank the photographer whoever he or she is for creating such a beautiful capture of this event.
Grief, by Iosatel, The Obvious and Hidden blog, (c) 2014
only the bereaved know they needn’t speak in whispers,
grief is never completely silenced
rush of water a broken branch drifts by what will be left?
Unending days of darkness that never let you forget.
Saturated, as if the clouds had wrung themselves out all at once, watching what would then ensue
sitting at the window watching the rain despondent days of unexhausted sadness trying to let go
forgetting you was never an option
grief exhausts but holds on, rain continues to fall
thirty-five years and still I mourn you, sometimes waking and imagining you there
darkness deepens into the black of night
lightning signals thunder cracks,
but it is the loss of you who took your life that makes me ask why it had to be
My Note of Thanks to the photographer, Iosatel, for his beautiful picture, Grief, which was first posted on his blog, The Obvious and the Hidden on 4/11/14. This photograph is copyrighted (c) 2014 by the artist himself.