04 Apr

Following are my Iowa and Maryland tanka from the Landfall anthology. (MET Press, 2007)


fading whistles
and clatter
crossing lights blink off
Iowa at 2 AM
is the dark side of the moon

heading home
for a funeral of sorts
riding the rails
across a golden prairie
windblown and empty

old stand
of paper birch
shading the south side
of a paint-peeling barn
fluttering in the wind

yet chilled to the bone
I go out for morning chores
a breeze rises with the sun—
the old windmill
screeches into motion


August noon
our barn is blinding red
in from the county road
floats a summer scent
hot tar and mown lilies

cooling off
in the mulberries’ shade
I survey my work—
the lawn, shorn like a recruit
except where the shrew’s nest lies

in the cowshed
barn cats dance for their milk
even the runts . . .
the sky goes mauve
and the air grows fragrant

I am still here
working my sliver of earth—
the oath I swore,
barefoot on the river stones,
to whispering cottonwoods

Maryland summer
life inside the emerald
sun-glare or moon-glow,
jewel tones or mint pastels,
the green is endless . . . endless

more than folk wisdom:
‘every bride is beautiful’
ah! her rolling curves
arrayed in snowy blossoms—
these fragrant apple orchards


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Posted by on April 4, 2016 in Tanka


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