small songs I sing
to join
my voice to other voices
hidden in the grass

Friday, April 18, 2014

[the weeping cherry . . .]

                    the weeping cherry
                    blooms in spring sleet—
                    with cold hands
                    I take a cutting,
                    root it in my veins

                              ~Moonbathing 8, summer 2013 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flight Feathers

David Rice, Editor of Ribbons, the journal of the American Tanka Society, asked readers to send him their thoughts on how they write tanka.  "Flight Feathers" is my response:

It begins with a flicker of wings across the landscape, inner or outer—the translucent wing of  memory, the distant drumming of a thought, a blind sparrow.  I have to be paying attention or I will miss it altogether.  If the impulse arises from within, I search the outer landscape for images to give it voice. If it comes from without, I muse on why this moment caught my eye . . . where does it connect to my inner landscape? 

the cry
of a kingfisher—
I seize
from the blue lake of morning
this nameless bounty

 Sometimes words arrive like mayflies in the slipstream, but that is rare. More often, I need to free-write in prose just to discover what I mean. Then it takes days of tinkering for the poem to find its shape. I search for clarity and simplicity, metaphor and dreaming room, shapeliness and music. Walking or driving—especially if I am alone—may set the words flowing. The poem simmers in the back of my mind while I peel potatoes or wash dishes. I grab the grocery list and scribble five lines down.  No, it doesn’t work. I throw the whole thing out and go to bed grumpy, only to wake long before dawn . . .  

a baby not my own
in a dream
she signs to me
the words of a poem

Finally I push the fledgling tanka out of the nest for the kind and critical scrutiny of friends, without whom far fewer of my poems would ever find their wings. 

a gathering
of swallows’ voices
on the wire . . .
how five lines bind
friends who’ve never met

                      ~Ribbons 10:1, Winter 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

[a magnolia . . .]

a magnolia
with my aunt’s name—
how like her,
these tongues of petals
speaking out against the frost

          ~Atlas Poetica 15, July 2013

Friday, March 28, 2014

[out of blue air . . . ]

out of blue air
the trilling of toads—
the space
under my breastbone
fills with light

~Ribbons 9:1, spring/summer 2013

Friday, March 21, 2014


wild asters 
like a field of stars
over the prison-farm fence
I slip out of myself

     ~red lights 10:1, Jan. 2014 

at the end
of my quest
for truth—
a winged seed
stuck to my boot sole 

     ~Ribbons 10:1, Winter 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014


dreams of flying—
an arc of limbs
in a leaf-green wind
the compass of my life

high in the arms
of a sugar maple
with my book
and a golden apple. . .
sap rising in my veins

in forests
and libraries
the whispers
of myriad leaves
gathering light

I follow
a will-o’-the-wisp
from tree to tree—
the thing with feathers
singing down my bones

      ~cattails 1:1, Jan. 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

E-mail subscription problems

Apparently my Feedburner email subscriptions are no longer working, so if you subscribe to this blog via email you probably have not received any notifications recently.  This seems to be a problem common to many blogs, but I have not been able to find out how to fix it.  However, I can suggest a possible work-around.   Go to www.feedspot.com , create an account if you don't have one, and enter the URLs for sites you want to follow.  They will send you an email notification of new posts.