Sunday, September 11, 2016

somber ditty

when everyone
knew and could tell
just where they were? it's
no longer true
and slipping
you'll forget too
though the name is
carved in stone
the dead end up alone

Monday, September 7, 2015

Beta Test

ts eliot wuz my mom

the peach of
afternoon weather
barbecue --
a sweet tinge tangy
in the smoke --
of Thursday
closing time
the last gas before
Mojave hits

abbreviate past interesting
I accept it with sleeves well rolled
and tomorrow
I'll do the pants too
too literary to care
for fashion
the yellow edge

waxing lyrical and long
in the tooth
song for the rooted moon
sink of empty cups
a family complete
cards that can keep a charge
the shore bears it
a line of mounds I've made

in foul weather spitting
peach seeds into fog

Thursday, July 16, 2015

the wanderer

purple lycra
sleep shirt
goes creeping
in the night
one nipple
caught this morning
out right
side in torn up lace
the stretchy kind
my fingers find
it before you
tight and old
but what to do
fits just right
when I need
and freedom too

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bridal Veil

waterfall up
a slick and rocky path
I’m scared to take
to bring the babies
so high
but I know
I should let you

is it better to let go
I could almost follow
or grab you 
that nag that says
bad mother
pulls at my ear

I'm in a state: high
believing / disbelieving
that you'll show again
from that last bend
grass over granite

shots taken
everyone but me
that day I film
the water crashing making
high as my arms
can reach

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

a love's little scratching

written with Reka Jellema 

slip into this
wool sweater
our marriage
still warm
still green

our fingers tangle
with the sleeves
did you see
could it be
the cuffs unravel?

who can tell us
how to snip the yarn,
card the wool
hold our strands

we left our mothers
at the alter
we were cleaved
and we are making
home this bond

something so close
a love's little scratching
raising blood
day after day

missed signals
and blind eye
turned away
the cheek I hold
soft under my hand

this is the way weaving
into our blanket
the marriage only we
can understand

Reka Jellema's work can be found on her blog and at VerseWrights She writes on Twitter as @RekaJellema.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tanka Studies, part one

I started out on twitter writing haiku. I thought I knew what that was... I didn't. Luckily, I found myself in a perfect environment for learning how to write it correctly. Many people write haiku there, both accomplished masters of the form and talented poets who, like me, were trying to learn. Lots of good examples and pertinent questions. After about 3 or 4 years, I began to have a pretty good grasp on what I was doing.

During that time, I read and saw a lot of tanka, but I didn't get it. I couldn't find the flow in the five lines, I couldn't understand what they were meant to do.  Too long for a haiku, too short to tell much story, not fitting the rhythm I tried to give them when I read.  I left them alone for a long time.

When I wanted to move on from pure haiku composition, I read a little and got the idea that it was meant to be a haiku plus. A haiku-style image plus a personal observation. Something like:

6 o'clock train

doors bang shut
down the line
I see your ticket is
only one way

Maybe that's not a bad way to describe tanka, and maybe following that formula can produce some decent, qualified tanka poems. But it's not the way tanka feels to me. Not when I find one or make one that I really think is special.

So, what is tanka? I'm still working on it. I tag most of my poems #5lines, because I'm not sure I really get what tanka is.  Right now the big question for me is: Is tanka primarily a narrative or is it meant to evoke an experience? How much is showing vs. telling, and how do the parts fit together?

Obviously, I'm not an expert. I'm hoping to learn by doing, always reading and trying to pick up what I can. I have more thoughts to develop another day, but if any fellow poets have opinions to share, please leave a comment or let me know on twitter or facebook.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


in creosote smell
late winter sun

my hometown;  the beginning
soft over hard
on men and women
who have always eaten well, so
surprised at their reflections
twenty years too old

this is a place of small
valleys and wild flowers
they are always planting
more red grapes for wine
there is a power plant
just down the road

old songs on the radio I have
no answer for this yearning
to be what never was
some time ago
the answer is: the end
we all get there

it is four years since Fukushima
but there is nothing wrong 
in California
wild flowers 
blue yellow orange
and long grass

horses in the fields
the whole way home