October, 2013

A Journal for Linking Poets  



Patricia Prime
Rodney Williams
Andre Surridge
Jo McInerney

Rodney Williams
Patricia Prim

Patricia Prime
Rodney Williams

Patricia Prime
Rodney Williams

Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Lavana Kray

White Lies by Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu & Lavana Kray

Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Lavana Kray

Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Cristian Mocanu

Haiga Diptychon Wolfgang und Anne-Dore Beutke

Fokkina McDonnell (fm)
Max Verhart (mv)
Mark Ritchie (mr)

Sleepwalking Wolfgang und Anne-Dore Beutke

Frank Williams
Doreen King

Blaze by Maire Morrissey-Cummins

John,Han, Silva and Din

Jane Reichhold
B. Rye Steiner

Anne Benjamin
Jan Foster
Marilyn Humbert
Keitha Keyes

Windows by Beate Conrad

Jane Reichhold
Jann Wirtz

Jane Reichhold
Terri French

Blackbird's Song by Ramona Linke

Pete Brady
Jane Reichhold

Leafy Way by Ramona Linke

Lady Ise
Jane Reichhold




Patricia Prime
Rodney Williams
Andre Surridge
Jo McInerney

cold moon ~
the zigzag path
down from the hill                     pp

in mid-morning sun
frost still sparkles                      rw

out for lunch
she wears the diamond ring
that was her mother’s                as

dancing their two-step
in twilit shallows                        jm

how does he see Orion
she teases
as huntsman or saucepan?         rw

into the view-finder
Mt Ruapehu in spring                pp

dark-winged moths
still gather where once
the people feasted                     jm

in a pink bucket
leftovers for the pigs                  as

with the heat
of the garden centre
roses unfold                              pp

on the foreshore a child cries
at the ice-cream van                  rw

across the patio
the skittering of golden
robinia leaves                            as

orb weaver spiderlings
float on the dusk                       jm


Rodney Williams
Patricia Prime

barely a word
over breakfast together
fresh snow in the alps

it’s never too quiet
why even on the slopes
keas’ raucous cries
turn the ski fields
into their playground

telephone tears . . .
down the cleft in the range
a glacier

overhead branches ~
through the camera’s lens
silence of the river



Patricia Prime
Rodney Williams

sleepless heat
lifting the bedroom curtain
a slight breeze

first task
on New Year’s morning ~
he straps
to his bicep
a blood-pressure monitor

at a viewpoint
along the bike trail
a stranger’s story

locusts whirr
on a full day's ride


Patricia Prime
Rodney Williams

the Chinese busker
chooses a bamboo flute
from his suitcase . . .
plays to a gathering crowd
an ancient lilting tune

school band ~
among the trombones
a new boy
looking sideways
one note behind

on the CD player
a recording of Bach suites
played on the viola . . .
a gale-force wind batters
trees outside the window

rough mining town
in the western desert –
flexing fine fingers
a tall young geologist
practices his oboe

which song plays for me
when I’m missing home?
in the cathedral
I listen to the choir
with tears in my eyes

my love as a girl
pictured front-page as a pianist
her cat on the ivories
the yellowed headline reading
kitten at the keyboard

you clasped your guitar
burnished with use
strumming chords . . .
my memories of years ago
stay locked away in my heart

the swing
of a bass-line
pulsing . . .
that ecstasy
of saxophone




Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Lavana Kray

smoldering sunset
over empty nests—
letters on my table       

a couple hand in hand
along the acacias street  

left right left right
the front gate creaking...
no one but the wind      

the hollow
in a dandelion globe
and it rains                  

curtains spread around
wild mint scent             

floor mirror
I wipe away the trace
of my topcoat   


White Lies by Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu & Lavana Kray



Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Lavana Kray

swallows on the wire
grandpa paints green
the front gate                   

a sleepy dog afraid
of falling walnuts               

boiled corn
the old salt cellar
cracked in its middle       

quiet siesta
a mouse carries grains
under the floor           

facing the wind
two umbrellas on the bridge     

collapsed dam—
birds tracking
their flooded nests   



Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Cristian Mocanu

hot midday–
the bow on my hat

cleaning up the stadium
team bandannas left behind 

the street vendor's
discolored shirt –
sour-sweet ice cream 

long climb ahead
the pilgrims take turns drinking
from the blessed stream

beyond the small iron cross
only purple thistles

from the floral clock
a kingfisher flies away
into the sunset


Haiga-Diptychon by Anne-Dore and Wolfgang Beutke





Fokkina McDonnell (fm)
Max Verhart (mv)
Mark Ritchie (mr)

gentle spring rain ...
enough to wet a small shell
on a little beach
                                     Buson (fm)

thrown away the bunch
of freshly picked coltsfoot

she skips
all the way home
the smell of pancakes

the dentist
now offers Botox

reflection –
the man in the moon
all wrinkled

on puddled tarmac
as October gales build

in the attic
he helps his grandson
solder the wings

who’s that guy
in granny’s locket

beyond joy or pain
dusty rose petals
the scent now cold                    (mr)

the caretaker sweeps up
after the party         (fm)

bicycle ride –
the stole slips from her shoulders
onto the street        (mv)

the bag lady admires
her prize in a shop window        (mr)

in the summer sales
large white charger plates
and picnic hampers        (fm)

licking an ice cream cone
the moon-faced fellow      (mv)

traveller by train
over half his working life
commuted           (mr)

heading back
unsmiling football fans           (fm)

mother’s day
a skinhead cuts
willow catkins          (mv)

by the canal tow-path
shrouded narrow boats moored up      (mr)

BBC camera man
talking quietly
about kingfisher nests    (fm)

her automatic hand finds
the chocolate box empty           (mv)

under the cushion
fingers close on hard metal
someone at the door        (mr)

a friend’s son has done
his sponsored mud-run       (fm)

my dead sister’s brother…
the puddles crack
under my steps        (mv)

bitter frost again today
the milk bottle tops pecked through        (mr)

the piano tuner
lifts some keys –
finds moth-eaten green felt        (fm)

falling apart at the folds
dad’s letters to mum        (mv)

dmpd by txt
her grief escapes
in long vowels       (mr)

lined up in orange overalls –
tandem skydive          (fm)

slightly louder than the wind
blue moon                    (mv)

taking the downward track
through drifted leaves          (mr)

cutting back ivy
stung by pyracantha
rich in berries        (fm)

delicate needle work
a tiny drop of blood           (mv)

keyhole surgery
they say they think
they got all of it                 (mr)

a crumpled sick-note
straight into the bin   (fm)

Keukenhof* opens –
lines of visitors
trampling blossoms             (mv)

as sunlight turns to shade
one by one umbrellas sprout                                     (mr)


The Keukenhof, situated near Lisse, Netherlands, is the world's
largest flower garden. It opens when the first bulbs are
flowering and trees are blossoming to attract huge numbers of

Sleepwalking Wolfgang und Anne-Dore Beutke

Frank Williams
Doreen King

emerging bit by bit...
a herd of white sheep
from the freezing mist

down on the wind farm
blades like snowflakes

during evensong
a whooshing sound
somewhere out there

from morning to night
I keep mum for their sake

hanging above the hill
a huge bright moon
turns the village grey

ruminants in the yard
chew on tough November green

they start pruning
the hedge that fades away
into the horizon

we are student lovers
in a ‘cotton wool’ world

after your passing
bitter-sweet memories
are all that’s left

still finding pieces
of my china tiger


sultry night of stars
and not looking
I add salt to my cocoa

settling by moonlight
a flock of sandpipers

moving house
we took our best

family & friends look on
during the christening

orange road cones
to save a spot in the sun
for the dustcart

blasts of colour radiate
from the abstract painting


at the battle’s start
a volley of cannon fire
deafens the valley

a long swathe of buds
end at the wheelie bin

behind the greenhouse
apple blossom scent
fills the evening air

he unlocks the gates
for a swelling river

Composed via snail-mail
Started: 16 January 2013
Finished: 16 May 2013


Blaze by Maire Morrissey-Cummins



The photographs were taken on the 2 nd of October during an exceptional sunsetfrom my balcony. Sunrise came later.  From October on John, Han, Silva and Din wrote haiku or tanka  for each photograph.

wolken lekken licht                                                     clouds are leaking light
lonkend naar de zwarte kim                                     gazing to the black horizon
wapperende was                                                          laundry flutters

wolken zijn diepzwart                                                 the clouds are deep black
de einder vol avondrood                                            the distance full of glow
glanst des te sterker                                                    strongly glittering

golvend wolkenbed                                                     waving bed of clouds
spoelt aan als vloed op aarde                                   washes ashore on earth
speels doorlatend                                                        playful, transparent                                                    

nachtwolken vluchten                                                nightclouds fly
voor een gouden dageraad                                      for a golden daybreak
aan de verre kim                                                           at the farest line
zo wil ik je denken                                                       thus I think of you
in lichtsferen opgegaan                                             merged in spheres of light
December 2012



Jane Reichhold
B. Rye Steiner

school’s out
the solstice comes
in a storm 

hot pink and yellow wrappings
new insulation on frozen pipes  

one more job
of being perfect
guests coming  

bright star on top of the tree
voted most likely to fall

end of the world
the moon rises full
of itself

before Halloween is over
Christmas shelves are brimming

beets uprooted
dark red stain on cellar floor
tastes of the savior

I love my friends but
religious cards chill

no longer hoping
last year's warm, fuzzy stockings
are worn, not hung

a gift of angel earrings
from someone I don’t know

white lace wings
all the trees today
rime frosted

stiff and creaking
the pop in the bum knee

sledding down
the road through the pines
full moonlight

to my dance routine
I’ve added the cane

two thousand thirteen
New year's party doesn't know
last week we all died
this heaven on earth stuff
we bend to pull up our socks

green thumbs poke fun
at the frozen window pane
forced bulbs

at sunset the light lingers
the length of cock crow

evening glow
the hope for spring
gladdens the heart

hot pink spire pokes the sky
still Castle Tower is frozen

is it time
to take down the tree?
pine-needle carpet

the poodle must think
she is walking outdoors

to my la-dee-da visitor
puppy puddle

endless faucet dripping through
ten more nights below zero

my new love
arrives by chocolate truck
a space heater

the cat doesn't come home
now he's even more annoying

only he can fix
the internet connection
missing teenager

dungeons and dragons online
e- wizards in the making

turning on the game board
the moon

a trick of the eye and time
her horoscope tells lies

lost zodiac sign
the serpent bearer joins
head to tail

this circle of emotions
am I the girl or woman?

trading off
dainty white lace gloves
for a black whip

ready for some wildness
a walk across sea meadows

golden beards
the tongue slips between
blue iris petals

in a spin the earth tilts
warmth returns inside and out

Started:  December 21, 2012
Finished: January 12, 2013




Anne Benjamin
Jan Foster
Marilyn Humbert
Keitha Keyes


rippling twilight's veil
Venus rises —
the night sky ablaze


Mimosa Tree
Although Chennai’s summer has passed, as I walk along the street towards Janaki’s house, a haze shimmers above the bitumen. At the edge of the road, my sandals scuff up dust that settles back onto my feet. I shake away the grit and move with purpose, anticipating the pleasure of an afternoon in conversation with a friend — the talk of women who have shared important moments together. The years of my absence fall away in the rush of what I want to share with her. Outside her house, I pass into the shadow of a large tree.  From under its green lace umbrella, the sky is a cooler blue and the pavement below is patterned with tiny golden leaves.

the shade
of a friend’s mimosa tree
drifts of gold

Some people like their lawns tidy — mowed, edged and leafless. Our neighbours do. But the trees in our backyard ignore fences, sharing their colourful bounty with all around.

a gecko steps
on the crackling carpet


Pay Day
Today I am wearing my sensible shoes. They are black, low heeled and have a closed in toe. Perfect for walking, easy on my legs when standing in a queue. I sit quietly on the bench near the shopping centre interchange watching the passing parade of people and composing my list. One for grocery items and another secret list of possibilities for my treat: a book, some handmade chocolates, new red jumper or purple socks. Eager, I hit the shops and explore.

the mall
a feast of treats and treasure
coins jingle


Cold Hard Cash
I always feel uncomfortable in this part of the city. Adult bookshops, dark bars and homeless huddles. A neon sign lures me closer, like a moth to a flame. Should I look in the window or keep on walking? Surely it won’t still be there after so long?

my engagement ring
in the pawn shop window

Treasure in Heaven
On the beach at Brampton Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, I sit watching the sky lighten with the dawn. I have retreated here to nurse my grief at the loss of my daughter in a car accident, to this place where I can be alone and try to sort out the way ahead, a future without her. As the sunrise draws near, the sky is a palette of shifting colours, the glorious hues of gemstones, and I find my spirits lifting at the beauty spread out there. The Bible says the walls of the Heavenly City are made of gemstones and I am filled with a sense of peace, of the love we shared. For the first time in the year since her death, I begin to see an easing of the pain of loss and I am comforted.

on display
the colours of precious stones
across the dawn

Rain pelts down turning the fine dust along cow tracks to sticky mud. The flat earth is soon saturated and water pools, becomes a lake across the bare paddocks. The trickling creek at the farm’s north boundary turns into an unwieldy river that swallows everything in its path: animals, trees, houses, people. The water rises fast, too fast to save the stock caught between the channel and the barbed wire fence. I see my younger self bundled on the back of dad’s big blue Fordson-Major tractor, fingers muddy and frozen, holding on to his jacket as we forge towards higher ground. But dad knows that out of this destruction comes joy too: as the water recedes a new layer of silt will be laid down, fresh and fertile for growing crops, and pastures for hay, feed for stock. Dams for stock and water tanks for the house will be full. My father smiles and points to the rainbow signaling the end of the rains.

a rainbow arcs
hands touch

It was a trivial thing. Something I said and then his reply. We sit wordlessly, each wanting, if not quite a "sorry", at least a way back. He is leaving soon and he knows I will not let him go this way.

I brush the silk of his shirt
and words become pointless

Snow Weight
I am travelling through the Canadian Rockies. It is winter and there are only a few of us in this part of the train. Within the warm capsule of the carriage it is companionable. We chat over meals or wander about when the train makes a longer stop. In between, there is the whole day, filled with quiet and space. I am free, simply to marvel at what I see. When the train is delayed and the journey extended into a fourth day, I am delighted. Without the landscape’s costume of summer greens, the many colours of snow and fog and ice are revealed. Laptop before me, I watch through the train windows trying to capture the white wilderness in words. There is constant change in the scenes I pass and also stillness.

young pines heavy with snow
arch towards the earth

I walk between the monoliths with my father and brother. I clutch a small bunch of winter jasmine which I lay on the mound to remember my mother. It is the shortest day of the year. The frost covered stones glint in the weak sun. The scene shifts to the longest day of the year. I am at the great circle of stones. Wearing white, I watch the sun rise in the northeast between the heel stones, the great portal. I bow my head and give thanks.

from ancient days
the standing stones

Unwelcome Visitor
Exploring the Great Ocean Road which hugs Australia’s southern coastline, I park the car and walk to the viewing platform overlooking the water. Before me lies the Great Southern Ocean, that nemesis of round-the-world sailors. I watch as it hurls itself relentlessly at the fragile limestone walls of the cliff face. No developer will ever build here, the ground is too fragile. The weather is icy, with rain threatening and I have the place to myself. The bronze plaque on a sandstone pillar informs me this area was once home to a long-vanished aboriginal tribe. In the lonely voice of the wind, I begin to hear other silent voices and sense the presence of past souls pressing in around me. I shiver, wrap my scarf closer and leave them to their place, glad to resume my journey.

no place for this traveller
to find rest

A Gift
It is my fortieth birthday. We are up early for the long sail back to Sydney from Lake Macquarie. First we have to navigate the narrow Swansea Channel to get to the ocean. As our small engine labours against the tide we run aground on a sandbar. I panic. Of course logic should tell me that if we are aground, we are in no danger of drowning. But I scream that it’s not fair to drown on my birthday. And that it’s all my husband’s fault. Fortunately we soon float off the sandbar. Our boat and our marriage are saved. We put up the sails and turn off the engine. As we settle into the rhythm of the ocean I stare at the water ahead. Suddenly there are hundreds and hundreds of dolphins. Leaping, flying, diving, weaving in and out of the wake of the bow.

just for my birthday
a ballet of dolphins

Mother’s Moment of Madness
Point your toes, feet light as the breeze, arms gracefully as swans, not crows flapping on the fence, Marilyn. My mother, not wanting me to miss out, thinks it’s nice for me to learn dancing. Every second Saturday the instructor conducts group lessons at the local memorial hall. My friends and I spend a couple of hours learning to be elegant with flowing willowy moves. I can see the look of misery on my partner’s face. It appears I have no rhythm, don’t know which is my right foot and have no stage presence whatsoever.

couples move in unison
I am left flat-footed

A New Start
I like the idea of finding a new partner on the internet. No need to go to pubs or parties. Just stay home and browse, at any time of the day or night. A smorgasbord of men right there on my computer screen. Sifting and sifting. Now I’m ready to find out more about one particular guy. But he asks more questions than he answers.

in this game of love
now it’s your turn

Lunar Cycles
I arrive in India one day after the birthday of the local state Premier. This is her third term as Chief Minister and her popularity waxes and wanes with the political tides. There is no escaping the large moon face slashed with crimson lips smiling upon her people. She looms over me from massive plywood cut-outs all over the city. I recall a family visit to India twenty years ago. Her Party’s light was in the ascendancy then too. My daughter, just six, blessed and burdened with imagination, was frightened by the ubiquitous garish giants.

behind the screen
a paper cut-out

The wind is blowing in from the ocean and the air is so clear it almost sings. To the west, the Evening Star beams alarmingly bright. Behind her stands Jupiter, only marginally less brilliant, two cosmic neighbours who seem intent on making their presence felt. But to the east hangs that looming pearlescent presence, whose elliptical path has brought it closer than ever before, according to the experts in such matters. As I stare back at it, I can easily trace the outlines of those darker valleys on its surface. Under the steady gaze of these galactic eyes, I hurry into the car park at the church. Perhaps inside, under God’s all-seeing eye, I’ll feel a little safer.

before such vastness
of my mortality

the silent silver menace
of the stars


in the monochrome
of my first northern winter —
buds on the magnolia


in your embrace
at last the ice is melting


Windows by Beate Conrad


Jane Reichhold
Jann Wirtz

dawn’s gray light
only the bird songs
add colors

So cold these early summer mornings, before the sky turns blue above the hill.
Trays of seeds safe under glass, and the cat still sleeps indoors at night. . .

a moth-winged buzzard
slips across the wind

Uncurling from the earth, the tree the carpenter spent two days trying to destroy is sending up fat green shoots. Since he made the steps too short on that end of the porch, I think the little bush will be perfect to fill in the hole. Now how to word a letter to a friend whose cancer has returned.

school’s out
a sigh of happiness
warms the sun

Two hours up the motorway tonight, for a couple of days of Granny duties.
One at school, and one quite small, it's like juggling.  Play Dough, sticker books and colouring in, chasing our shadows in the park, and me at 70, getting stuck at the bottom of the slide. . .

for two days each month
I am three years old again.

A bi-lingual family on two continents. A sentence begins in English und endet auf Deutsch. When we are together even errors are funny and there is lot to be said by body language and plain old smiles. Rarely do we need a dictionary.

a man in the moon
or a hunter goddess
which shall it be

Poznan. At one corner of the cathedral square, a John Paul statue, bronze robes billowing, his arms outstretched to bless. . .

we bow our heads
into the wind

  Shorter days, a cooling sun, the children’s scarves and gloves on the hall shelf again.
Not long before the first flurry of snow and the smoke from a hundred coal fires taint the air.

for tea today
sour cucumber soup with dill
and sweet pirogue


She seduces me with homemade goodies. Last week it was Dump Cake. In spite of the name, it is delicious and so easy to make. Grease a dish, add any combination of fruit – fresh or canned. My friend used drained crushed pineapple and cherry pie filling but the local bakery uses only fresh fruit. Over this you sprinkle one yellow cake mix – straight from the package - and dot with 2 sticks of butter or margarine. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees or until the top is lightly browned.

how easy to love a woman
who knows your weaknesses

It's all about healthy living and the heart here. Carbohydrates and sugars are the devils own foods, we oldies eat potatoes and chocolate in secret. Our young, lean in their early forties, seem to live on hard boiled eggs, bananas and turkey, and run miles after a day's work.We just smile and carry on digging the garden and chopping logs. . .we've heard it all before.

on rainy days
we go in the greenhouse
and sing to the seeds

If love is the greatest good, why is it so hard for me to love myself? Even on the brightest, most delightful days, surrounded by every comfort, I will pick at my self-esteem like a scab on my forehead. I gnaw on my heart asking why I am not a better person. I bang on the back of my knees with rods demanding why I am scared to do this? too lazy to do that. I pull on my hair asking why do I let people do that to me.

the sun continues to shine
even bugs remember to grow

 A cathartic fifteen mile walk, first in sunshine, and then in driving West Country rain.
Four of us walk regularly, a retired Art teacher, an Art Historian, a Marine Biologist, and me. We stride along an old railway line which has been converted into a nature trail. Bluebells everywhere and birdsong, the acid greens of new leaves above us, and sharp yellow of field buttercups on either side. After the first five miles we settle to an easy rhythm, and conversation deepens. i must  be careful. . . they despise Margaret Thatcher and the monarchy. I have always admired the Queen (not necessarily the institution of  monarchy, I have to make clear), as for Thatcher, well she had her good points. It seems intellectually unfashionable to respect either of them, and I start to examine my beliefs, wondering if I am less intelligent than them. Eventually I reach a state of gloom and inferiority and wish I could go home. We miss, by ten minutes, the bus back to our starting point, and decide to walk, as the next one is not for another five hours .As the conversation shifts to safer themes I slowly begin to feel happier,  the rain soaks through our waterproofs as we laugh our way back to the car.

cold rain
chasing the mind's cloud
from the sun's bright face

Lying on a shelf in the post office is a tiny flash drive that I hope contains my next book. I had had so much trouble managing the headers and the page numbers, for the first time in my life I had to ask for help with typesetting. It has been 5 months of frustration. The latest problem was that her disks could not be read by my machine. A week ago she sent a flash drive with the book and that I could open. However she had ‘forgotten’ to put in the headers. I felt a dictionary had to have headers. The dear person she is, gladly agreed to go back in the book to add them. In the meantime I have been proofing the haiku so that now I have a fat sheaf of paper with the pages that need correction. I have tried to clear off my desk so I can sink into work to get the book off to the printer for a proof as soon as I can; yet here I sit waiting.

loosing control of my life
dependent as a baby

I am like a creature obsessed! A short course in bookbinding has opened a whole new world of creative possibility. At present, tiny books, less than 2 inches square, with painted hard covers, are the favourite. It doesn’t help that I sat on my reading glasses, so straight edges appear curved.... the books become smaller as I scalpel off the edges to even things up

working late
under the lamp's glare
an ice-ringed moon

I have this cat, you see. His name is Bu Kitty. He is out of a champion line of Bengals but was the runt of the litter and not big enough, for breeding so I was able to buy him for $600. He is beautiful, with the gold glitter coat and fantastic markings. In addition, he is smart as all these crossbreds are. It is like living with a very bright two-year old. There is no cupboard or drawer he cannot open, even the ones I have taped shut, and he has and will toss everything out on the floor if he is in a bad mood. Recently he found a new way to get back at me for shutting my door when he howls and I want to think. He got into a storage cupboard and peed on the clothes and boxes. I did not notice it until he had evidently emptied his bladder there repeatedly. Now he is sitting on the bare shelf where his indoor privy was – and howls.

reading my horoscope again
“today everyone is cranky”

 We have to lock the shed. The contents, sharp knives, nails, a bag of lime, the chain saw... could be lethal in the hands of a grandchild. The same grandchild who 'investigated' my lovely vase, bought for me on my fifth birthday, which looked like a pitcher plant.Now, when they come to stay, my remaining two treasures,  a green jug shaped like a fish, and a turquoise Raku plate, are put out of sight.

old photo album
black and white memories
fading away


Have you met Giselle Maya? A poet, artist, and gardener, she lives in southern France. Because of her need to garden, only in winter does she make books. It is as if the colder the weather gets, the more she is squeezed to make a book out of the poems of summer. Or perhaps it’s a harvest instinct. She prints the text on lovely papers and then uses covers of hand-made papers which she ties down with linen thread. The artist in her wants big pages so that the collection of her work towers alone on the top shelf.

machine-age women don’t give up
brightening winter with their hands

Purple iris by the steps, against a cobalt sky. . .germination of a hundred late-sewn seeds, tiny prayerful hands that pierce the soil to follow the travelling sun. My fingers rough from the garden, spoiled for finer work until winter comes - the cycle of things.

oak-warden jay
rasping call and blue flash
through the misted woods

 The green warblers have taken the birdhouse again. It was so late we feared that no one wanted to move into the house on our porch. We had noticed the swallows checking it out, talking to the real estate agent – the cat, and scoping out the neighborhood. It was hard not to feel some rejection as pair after pair turned tail to go for the ocean view from the cliff. Finally the other day I saw a warbler fly by the window with a long stalk of dried grass. Under the box were several rejected straws on the ground. Now all is quiet so we have great hopes.

the weight of my moods
on the back of a bird

Aya wrote a week ago asking for a tanka sequence for The Tanka Journal. I was so touched that she wanted something from me that the words seemed to flow through the window opened just enough to get the smell of the newly cut lawn. Perhaps I should have written about the beauty of the day, the warm wind from the pines, but I could not. The lines that formed wanted to work with a change in voice, a technique that not many writers use. I have been thinking recently about why writers write. Why we sit down day after day to bend our minds to words instead of lying in the weeds watching clouds sail by.

river and sky
sliding into each other
hills and trees


Inspiration only comes in the woods.I have to sit perfectly still, leaning against the great oak, until there is no I, no me. . . then the words. . .They arrive on a bird's wing, or rise with the river's tintinnabulation, or filter through the leaves with sunlight.

wind five- folded
in silence comes the verse

What a gift life is. Life has flowed from one being to another – usually without the notice of any one on earth. Without doing anything other than being, air enters the baby’s lungs and it changes from an animal hooked to another of the species to an independent, still very dependent person. It is always amazing to me that a baby is born, naked and unable to go out to get food or clothes, and yet someone, if not the mother, will provide clothes, food and cuddling. All our lives gifts come to us daily in food, health, companionship and even in poems.

the invisible heart
of stone and wood
a home

Our only neighbours live in the cottage at the end of our field. The are both in their mid eighties and suffer various kinds of ill-health, she confined to a chair or bed following several strokes, he with angina and glaucoma. They welcome a visit for a chat and the opportunity to make a fuss of my dogs. Some days he waits in his garden by the fence, adjusting his teeth and looking me up and down....

my pensioner’s figure
brings a gleam to his eye

It has been said that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end you get, the faster it goes. I think of this every time I look out the window and see the red hot pokers already blooming in the yard. Normally these torch lilies, from Africa, bloom in July, turning our humming birds into sugar-jagged warrior maniacs. This year, due to the lack of rain and wealth of sunny days, the bushes have been sending up just a bloom or two since April. So is it spring or is it summer at my house? Or as I slow down do the seasons approach faster?

turning up the heat
the heart longs for July
those warm days

We are a class of seven year olds at Our Lady's Convent School. One August day, in sultry heat, we sweat over long division, which I can't understand. I am hauled up to the front by Mother Mary Bernard as an example of backwardness, and sent to the punishment room, where prints from Hieronymus Bosch line the walls. Dismembered bodies and demons poking people with glowing pitchforks.. a reminder of what awaits the less able mathematician.

claustrophobia with
dead flies in the window


I worked on his letter for several days. Checking my grammar, hiding my gaps in memory and just trying to be interesting. A former classmate had found out one of our teachers, now nearly 90, was in a nursing home so she sent me an address where I could contact him. Days went by. I kept hoping that he was pleased with my effort or that I had brightened his day when he read it. Months later I get an email from his daughter saying he had died already last year. So he never got to read my love letter thanking him for the many memories. But! his daughter continued to write to me so that we have become real pen pals.

black squiggles
the alphabet of love
on paper

 I still track him in dreams, the father I hardly knew. In this strange, dim world he lives just out of sight, just beyond reach. Strangers give me detailed directions, but whenever a dead end is reached, another, completely different route is explained.
Now the same age as that when he died, I feel an affection for him which I didn’t when young. if only he could be found, how we would hug,  and talk and laugh!
But over the years there has been progress. A week ago, I was nearer to finding him than ever before, missing him by just a few hours.

the voices are clearer
closer to home

 Have you ever thought the world would have been better if you had never been born?
When you think about the cost in food and clothing and education that was given to you; would it have been better used by someone else? Hardly a day goes by that I do not ponder this. I even consider whether what it costs to clothe and house me is a good deal.
Am I worth it? Does the work I can do really earn me a place in this life? Would it be cheaper for everyone if I were not here.

before I was born
naked in a warm river
no one saw anything

That first time in the Nepal Himalaya changed her life. Entering middle age, the children grown, what use was she now? A part-time job, a large house, enough of everything she didn’t want anyway...was this the top of the slide into dotage? The trip put a full stop to the sentence. The poor, the have-nots, we have those too, but not like this. She began to collect them, the sickly ones, the homeless, the unschooled children. Her friends were called upon to sponsor, and she badgered small charities for donations, she made jewellery from lapis and turquoise, carnelian and pearl beads bought in Kathmandu, and sold them in galleries and craft fairs back home. Thirteen years on, she sees the farmer working his own land, the man with donor kidneys playing cricket with his son, and all the other children schooled and healthy, ready for work.

a rain of blessings
makes the desert bloom

A beader! Another woman who beads! Who would have thought we would meet here under the light of a paper moon? I am so thrilled to meet you! Thank you for telling me your story. It lifts my heart and tells me if I had made jewelry with your purpose, I would still be doing it. Instead my love of placing one bead next to another has slid into pure pleasure. I have given up making jewelry – I almost never wear it myself – only to add sparkle to small stuffed animals.

a round moon
lining up with Venus and Mars
I dream of beads

Making a special card for my husband's seventieth birthday.. an accordion-bound booklet, the boards covered with Chiyogami decorated with fireworks. Ordering online, I look through the other samples, tempted into buying a second sheet, with flying cranes and clouds.

these few blank pages
left to write on

The sky is full of rain today. A skein of wild geese passed over the house this morning, soft bell voices fading up the valley. We have decided to sell up and move to a smaller place, with less land and a warmer house. One last great adventure.
New houses here are generally built on the edge of towns in large numbers, which is not for us, having been here so long, by the woods and the river, away from other people.
Husband favours a largish place, I liked the idea of a tumbledown cottage, thinking that we could manage to keep anything small warm. . . and then someone suggested that we buy a plot of land and build a kit-house. . . maybe one of those Swedish A-frames. we are in a frenzy of excitement, what a great idea!!!!!

making plans
we wind back the clock
twenty five years

He was a doctor and his wife was his office nurse. They went to the same church we did so we became friends. They had three children and so did we. One summer they invited us up to spend a weekend at the cabin they had rented on Hamilton Lake in the Sierras. In spite of being bone-tired from the trip, and the tending to three children under three years old, I could not rest. When I had walked into their fantastic A-frame cabin – as big as a house with two stories – it took my breath away. I was torn between letting my spirit soar up into the heights of the sloping ceiling and trying to get a meal and be a guest. Only when the kids were asleep could I that wild free part of my being into those spaces.

dawn light remakes the world
the first day of my tomorrows

 Searching for evidence of Green Man images in Exeter cathedral. . . The huge columns and fan vaulted ceiling, I was told, represent the wild forest, remnants of the old religion. There is one altar, with crucifix. There are several side chapels, with crosses, but high above, mostly out of sight, there are twenty four green men. Some are gilded, golden oak branches sprout from their nostrils and mouths, their heads garlanded with leaves and acorns. These are not loving gods, but fierce pagan forces, watchful, malevolent.
Back home, walking in the woods, i see them everywhere now, in the bark of old trees, in dapples between windblown leaves.

the ring of iron
and sparks from Weyland’s anvil
carried on the wind

Their wedding, which they called a Hand-fastening, was held in a magic grove of old redwood trees. Anne and Niven were magnificent as Lord and Lady of the Wood in outfits surely made by elves and fairies. Suddenly my matron of honor dress did not seem as outlandish as it had when I wiggled into it at home. Now there was a reason it had twigs and small branches sewn to it. Okay. Adjusting, adjusting. These young people do have other ideas. Okay. I am a hip old grandma.  Okay. Then I saw the Best Man in a dress even more magnificent than mine.

who calls the spring growing
who lights the green fuses

In verse thirty-four, you wrote 'The Best Man in a dress’. . . How my mind leaps to gay weddings, much in the news now, or even Grayson Perry, our famous English-transvestite-Ceramicist! But this is verse thirty-five, and i should settle on a branch sedately in a cloud of pink and white...

garlanded with blossom
their fixed smiles
beneath the cherry tree


 Father’s Day, in the USA. The day is bright with sun and wind. The bearded heads of tall grass are so heavy that they sway like long-necked animals searching the ground for some enemy. Maybe the fox we have heard barking in the bushes just before we go to bed. Perhaps it was he who robbed the quail’s nest. Mama and Poppa came out the other evening to feed with only one chick left from their brood. It is touching to see how careful they both are. The male stands on the outdoor table to make sure the world is safe for the surviving baby.

celebrations yes! but the rub
comes in the day to night beings


Started  May 19, 2013
Finished: June 16, 2013


Jane Reichhold
Terri French

spring clouds
sailing into a new venture

The first day of Spring. Tiny pellets of hail fall from the sky beating the heads of daffodils which again this year have arrived too soon. After the storm I go outside and prop them up, forming a circular hedge of stones around the base of their weakened stems. The earth is wet with the last of winter. A crocus nose pokes through the softened soil.

an old Farmer's Almanac
on the back of the commode

 Finding an old and forgotten book is such a gift for that day. A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a book I was sure I still had in order to share it with a friend. In the search a decrepit haiku picture album fell off the shelf and scattered photos across the floor – a riverbed of memories. Yesterday the book was published as Naked Rock.* 

newest entry
in the old journal

 The first time someone asked me to autograph my book of haiku, I was taken aback. Should I write something clever or profound? Maybe I should quote another writer or say something inspirational. I worried about my penmanship, spelling, grammar and punctuation. In the end I simply signed my name and wrote "Enjoy!" 

an open heart
to dot her i's

 Resting by the roadside during a walk, my mind centered on one blade of new spring grass. As I stared in wonderment the grass began to speak. “Have you noticed it is spring? Have you actually seen the glory of this time of year?” “I’m trying.” I mumbled.  “Well, take a good look at me and think how quickly I will fade.” “And I.” I replied. “All that remains . . .” 

above the earth
growing and dying
the moon

 A small compost bin sits on the kitchen counter next to the sink. In it lies a strata of coffee grounds, banana peels, egg shells and greens that have begun to grow limy.  When the bin is full it is carried outside and dumped into a larger compost pile. This mix will feed the garden which will feed us, with the scraps again joining the morning’s coffee grounds. 

tilling the soil
one worm--oops two

 “There’s always a pile-up at the bananas,” says an elderly lady. “Why can you never find the perfect banana?” she continues, “They’re either too small, too big, too green, or too ripe.”  She sighs and pulls two bananas off one bunch and three from another, places them in her cart and heads toward the tomatoes. “There’s always a pile-up at the tomatoes,” she says to the woman next to her. 

shopping for one
the tear-drop shape
of a hubbard squash

 Left alone. Right in the middle of the job. The carpenter says he has a job in Palm Springs, but I do not believe him. I keep asking myself, What went wrong? I thought this was the perfect work for him, but just as it is getting good – he splits. Men! I can call them, but they do not stay. In the meantime on my porch. . .

party decorations flutter
only the wind arrives on time

 He was supposed to be a December baby, with a due date just before Christmas.  He was born a week before Thanksgiving. My oldest son has never been one to do what was expected of him.  He not only walks to the beat of a different drummer, he bangs his own drum. 

a mother’s applause 
for all the wrong notes

Three new teachers. Three times it began with middle C. For years the only way I could read music was to hold one finger under each note. It was dyslexia that wove the staffs into solid bars. Then it was discovered that I had no sense of rhythm. Finally my mother sold my piano. 

cold winter fog in the valley
all the hurts of childhood

 A medium sized white dog of indiscriminate breed lay at her feet, next to an intricately carved cane.  The handle of the cane was an eagle, perched with its head cocked. Her fingers, like feathers, lightly brushed over the pages of the book in her lap.  I watched as she skimmed over the same page a second, then third time. Finally, she put the book down and closed her eyes. The dog began to snore. 

flight delay
a flock of seagulls
cleared from the runway

 Eighteen in one year. Only the other day Jack called to say his Mother had died in October. She had been in a nursing home the last eight years for Alzheimer’s so in some ways Elaine had died for me a long time ago. However, to think now that I am on this earth, and she is not, makes me feel very alone. Maybe it is the culmination of so many friends and relatives leaving the planet, and me, in just twelve months. I feel unable to mourn anymore. 

wishing to talk to her again
wind chimes in the silence

 It was the summer of her 13th year.  The phrase “family vacation” filled her will dread.  Another long car ride with her grumpy directionally challenged father. Her mother’s off key singing of Aaron Neville tunes.  A little brother whose grimy fingers crossed imaginary lines. That summer, beach breezes teased and tickled the new bumps and curves of her body.  The scent of sweat and coconut on the salt air suggested romance that—at least for this year—would remain a dog-eared page in a paperback she hid beneath her blanket.

“pinky promise” —
 sandcastle moats
full of moonlight

The idea is winning a few opponents for me, but I maintain that the best fiction being written today comes from the much maligned romance writers – most of whom are women. The competition among them is so fierce that they have forced themselves to stretch and grow as writers and thinkers beyond the formulaic efforts of their forebears. Because they are women, their focus is on relationships while they control the murder and mayhem with genuine comic episodes. Thanks to the popularity of the Harry Potter stories magic is comfortable with steamy explicit sex scenes. And for the grumbler who says, all the romance stories end up the same, I say, “and every crime story has a murder.”

a dream with endless barking
how to kill the neighbor’s dog

 They sit there watching me as I dig the hole for her grave. Their tails are not wagging. My golden retriever and black lab mix are outdoor dogs and were not all that close to the poodle, their indoor “sibling.” I read a study that suggested dogs behave much like children when confronted with the strong emotions of familiar people. It was evident to me that they were sharing in my distress. Sweat mixed with tears as I gently lifted the box and placed it into the grave. After covering it with the last shovel-full of dirt, I went in, took a Xanax, and went to bed. I could hear their whimpering outside my window.

the preacher who said
dogs have no souls

 From the pulpit on Easter Sunday came the now familiar sermon of resurrection. Ah, yes! to live again – that is the goal. But many minds were already on the roast in the oven at home. Across the community the women had done their best to add only a little salt and lots of pepper to the leg of lamb, remembering to put in the meat thermometer, placing the cut in the roasting pan in the 325 degree heat and setting the timer. Success was coming home, dressed to the nines and hungry, to the delicious smell that wafted out as the door was opened. In a pen a mother sheep lifted her head and sniffed.

vegetarians watch the cat
eating a still-warm bird

 It was the era when John Travolta traded his white suit for cowboy boots.  My friends and I were bookish types, pseudo hippie-nerds, who shunned meat and studied metaphysics. During spring break we decided to hop a train in Windsor, Ontario and ride it to Toronto for a weekend of “wild revelry.”  So why was I the one sitting at the table minding the purses and nursing my Sloe Gin Fizz while they danced their still pert behinds off?  A young man with thick glasses and a creepy grin sat down next to me. I could feel my self-esteem melting faster than the ice in my drink.  He smiled and leaned in closer. “You really shouldn’t cross your legs,” he said, “It causes varicose veins.”

senior dance
the smell of gardenia
from old wall flowers

voice of my inner critic: Idiot! You stupid nincompoop! What a yuppie scum dweeb you are! That’s what you get for misjudging others. A whole morning wasted and a good idea gone forever. All lost because of you. Maybe in the future you will learn to read more carefully and with a more generous heart. Try not to be so eager to find faults in others and maybe there will not be so many in YOU!

a trumpet shaped loudspeaker
rage of the small still voice within

 I asked her for a letter of recommendation only because she is the one logical person to do it. She turned me down. Said she was too busy at the moment with guests coming, taxes to do, monthly reports for the gallery to compile and send. Then comes the kicker! Her doctor son works at a competing hospital. How was I to know that? “But for the children,” I plead,” think of the children.” 

the incense unrolls
its hidden self

Not long after the divorce he had started referring to her by her first name, if at all. It hurt. When she was a child she’d have been smacked in the mouth for calling her parents by their first names. But she didn’t smack him. He was hurting too and this was his way of showing it. She knew one day he’d slip, call her “mom” or maybe “mother,” and then, slowly, she would find her way back into his heart.

first words
he gloats over gibberish

Congratulations! I just heard you are to be the new editor of a magazine What a marvelous opportunity for you to really make a difference. With you, and your intelligence, you are in the position to end a forty year old web of misunderstanding. What a joy it would be if you can take the bull by the horns to make the changes necessary! You now have that power.

what a difference a word can make
            in naming this and that

 My baby sister just turned fifty.  I called her to wish her happy birthday, console her, tell her fifty was the “new thirty,” etc.  We wound up talking about our bathroom habits.

all the things that get harder with age


 Compiling the new anthology gives new meaning to the word come ,but more accurately to pile. As the paper and the print-outs mountain up on my desk I feel I am creating new geography – one that already contains a monster. No matter how many of my hours I feed it, there are still spots demanding attention. Talk about cleaning up messes! It sometimes seems that my own feeding the monster, makes more crap that I have to correct and retype.

because of ice
a young man takes my arm
and my heart

Winters in Alabama are much different than the ones I experienced growing in Michigan.  When I tell people down here I’m from Michigan, the first thing they ask is “Don’t y’all get a lot of snow?” I don’t miss the snow. I’d have to say I’m more of a snow bird than a snow bunny. I only miss the white stuff at Christmas. We had a yard-sized light-up manger scene when I was a kid.  Sometimes there were four-foot drifts up the sides of the plywood stable. Christmas hardly seems worth celebrating without a baby Jesus swaddled in snow.

first snow
a peppermint melting on my tongue

There were lots of boys in our church but for me they seemed too much like family to actually date. Besides, by the time I was in high school I was very interested in exploring other religions. Or maybe that was only my excuse. The Mennonite church seemed to bristling with attractive guys. With or without an actual plan I fell in and out of love with the complete roster. It was a small town. I married one.

the sweetness
of trolling for boys
her smile

 It’s a little embarrassing telling people you’ve been married three times.  I don’t tell most people. The first one shouldn’t count anyway. I was young and stupid—marriages shouldn’t count when you’re young and stupid. He was clingy and possessive and suffocating. The second one was very confident and not the least bit jealous. He gave me plenty of space. At first that felt a lot like freedom, after eighteen years it felt a lot like loneliness. I fell hard and fast for the third one. And even though my hair is now gray, I feel a bit like Goldilocks, having found that bowl of just right porridge. I’m just glad I don’t have to kiss anymore frogs.

bedtime stories—
all the pages mama skipped

Being the best parents they could imagine, mine would not allow me to read any fairy tales. In a Christmas gift exchange at school I was given a children’s version of the Grimm brothers’ stories. I read all night under the covers with a flashlight dazzled by a forbidden world richer than any dream. The next day when I came home from ice skating (and being Cinderella at the ball), my lovely new book had disappeared. In its place was The Upper Room – a devotional pamphlet.

rolled into
my first cigarette
corn silk

 Grandma's attic smelled of old newspapers and moth balls.  It was musty and dusty and hot—a perfect hideout. The stairs were steep and I knocked my head on the slanted ceiling's rafters. Plunked down on the twin bed inhabiting one corner I'd fritter away the afternoon thumbing through copies of my uncle's old MAD magazines. But, one afternoon, when Alfred E. Newman's charm wore off, I rummaged through a chest at the foot of the bed. Underneath some hand-embroidered doilies, I uncovered a small,  book with a broken strap and lock. On the inside cover was written, "Ida Mae Jacob," in loopy cursive. It was my grandmother's diary!

smelling of cedar
her full dance card

 “If we could blow up the moon we would not have to be bothered by tides.” This one sentence in a Tom Robbins book has given me endless pleasure in thinking about how different our world and our nights would be without a moon. How would lovers behave on moonless nights? Would there be less unplanned pregnancies? Would cities increase artificial lighting? What would that cost? And who would get to watch the moon being blown to bits? Would the fireworks of all fireworks be in our night or that of someone else?

our hands
on shaking knees

 She frowns at her knees while in downward dog. Skin-folds over the tops of her bony knobs smile back.  Or perhaps her knees are laughing at the effect gravity is having on her face.

autumn equinox
tree asanas swaying

He weighs his words before speaking.  Should he say want she wants to hear? Does he know what she wants to hear? Does she? And if he does tell her, how will his words be interpreted? How will she, in turn, respond? How will he know she’s not just saying what she thinks he wants to hear?

two ducks
at the water’s surface
one dips one dabbles

 How to tell my daughter I ruined her ipod. She loaned it to me to listen to some of her audible books. They were great! I loved getting a collection of Tom Robbin’s articles and even some of his haiku. Even a book I would never buy about Worm – the first of the digital wars was fascinating. I was deep into terms and speech that was totally foreign to me when I thought I should recharge the battery again. Bing! Every thing is gone. Do I need to buy her a new one? Should I get one for myself? This time I will get the manual.

sun sparkles on the screen
I’m not as smart as I thought

My husband recently received a text message from a stranger asking him to have make “whoopie” in his truck.  “I don’t have a truck,” my husband replied, “but. . .who is this?”  “THE MAN,” he responded.  “Who do you think you are talking with?” he typed back. “I looking for lady who has sex for money,” answered the salacious stranger.  “Sorry, dude, you are barking up the wrong tree,” answered hubby.  “Sorry, man, my bad.”

date night
the bowerbird adds some
bling to his nest

For two days the carpenter who was repairing our front deck after a storm, tried to kill the wild lilac bush by the steps. He cut all the stumps as low as the saw would allow, he poured $50 worth of weed-killer on the roots, pounded copper nails in any wood he could reach and dumped other green gunk from his truck on it. Today I was out enjoying the gorgeous May morning and what should before my wandering eyes appear? Masses of shoots from the mangled roots. I think I will enjoy a small lilac bush right there.

giving in to the power of nature
another brownie from the fridge

 There are ants in the pantry. Tiny little ants in search of sugar. Grandma called them piss ants. It certainly pisses me off that they had taken it upon themselves “go Krogering” on my shelves. Everyone has their natural remedy suggestions—cloves, cinnamon sticks, vinegar.  None of them work. Finally, I call the bug-man. What would Issa say?

early May
peony blooms in need
of a suckle

The only color in the first gray light of dawn was birdsong. One there. Another from the cedar tree. Unable to sleep I let my soul fly out the window to enter the slender notes. As I turned from the sound of one bird and then to another I began to do a spinning dance. The faster I moved, while not moving my body, the more the songs wove together, wound together, wrapped me in joy, blessings, the aliveness of the day yet to be.

even old folks have needs. . .
finding a nest to call home

Date started:  March 7, 2013
Date finished: May 16, 2013


Blackbird's Song by Ramona Linke


Pete Brady
Jane Reichhold

winter rain;
a stray cat huddled
under the porch

This is a minor rewrite of a haiku written earlier this year. The original kigo was "autumn rain", and conveyed the grey depressing mood I often feel in the autumn. By changing the season to winter, the grey mood was deepened. Why the image of a cat? Since childhood, I often feel alone—even when surrounded by my large and loving family. The image of a homeless animal, preferably a cat because they are supposedly independent and very self-sufficient seemed appropriate to reinforce the mood of depression.


slat-thin ribs move
too cold to meow

I used 'slat-thin' to relate the cat and the boards of the porch. I have seen abandoned cats too weak to cry even though they open their mouths. Because this is the beginning, I want to elaborate on Pete's verse by sticking very close to his subject.

the snow falling harder
the silence

While Jane's link further describes a hungry cat, this link brings back winter and the overpowering silence of a snowfall, not to mention the implacability of nature.  Whether the cat is starving or well-fed, the snow and its silence persist.

closing an out-of-print book
experience just as fragile

We had had three winter verses and I felt it was time to move away, yet I did not want to destroy the feeling of sadness and the fragility of life and experience. This event could happen in any season, yet its sadness places the link (in emotion) close to winter.

the waning moon;
on the old chestnut
one last leaf

The preceding link surprised me completely. This was a moon link so I had to stretch my mind to somehow tie the moon and book-learning and living all together.  Once the moon and its traditional association with autumn were clear, the image of a tree shedding leaves seemed natural and made a good complement to the fragility in Jane's link.  The word play of "old chestnut" and "leaf" from a book or tree was unintentional.

leaving their packs behind
climbers assault the summit

Okay, end of page one, and time to shrug off the heavy sadness and depressed mood of this poem. By starting the link with 'leaving their packs behind' I wanted the reader to be able to leave behind the sadness and with the same resolution and exhilaration that mountain climbers carry to the summit, the reader would be encouraged to turn the page and go on with us.

breathing deeply
air all around me
me all around air

This was a recalled experience from climbing to a small peak in Zion National Park. It seemed only the air was there, the air I was so desperately sucking into my lungs and no matter how much I needed, there was more. In fact that was all there was and it was all I needed. I felt very small there, but completely cared for and a certain oneness.

during our embrace
an unexpected chill

The air around us and within us. A deceptively obvious thought, which, for my analytical mind, posed a problem. Since it was to be a love verse, I was doubly stymied.  Fortunately, my unconscious came to the rescue with the idea of an embrace. Being surrounded by the ubiquitous air or the arms of one's lover was a bit of a stretch but, when the idea of a sudden chill was added, it felt right.

weather report
rain on the radio
sitting in sunshine

I was leery of being pulled into another "downer" by responding with a love gone wrong link, so I moved the chill to the weather forecast and tried to keep the sun shining. The link was (admittedly) pulled from my sleeve, having been written several years ago from an actual experience.

on the porch
two empty rocking chairs

Jane's link brought summer to mind, and, with it, a flashback to my childhood just after World War II —I am 53—when I would sit on the side porch in the late afternoon or evening. Often, I listened from my corner as the grown-ups talked while they rocked gently to and fro. I recall wondering what it was like to be grown up and be deeply concerned about politics and the weather. But that is all in the past, alive now only in my memories.  Hence, the two vacant rocking chairs to convey the past and the departure/death of the two grown-ups.

the tide ebbs
fishermen appear
out of nowhere

This link was a conscious effort to show something positive arising out of emptiness. My hope was that the rockers were empty because the old guys had gone fishing. The lines came from a stay in a hotel in Holland that bordered dunes and overlooked a long beach. I had the feeling (from their stance and timelessness) that as the water receded one could finally see the fishermen who had been there all the time. Much the same way rocks appear at low tide.

the soft sound
of the distant surf

The key to Jane's link was its feeling of tranquility. After much brainstorming during which my left brain tried unsuccessfully to construct various storylines, the above fragment popped into my mind. The serendipitous sibilance of its "s" sounds made a further complement to the scene.

shaking the moon
two aunts talking with glasses
of iced tea

The rebel in me wanted to say the surf is not a soft sound. The house I live in is about 30 feet from the cliff that drops to the shore so for me, the surf is neither distant nor soft. Thus, I wanted to bring a sound up close and though it is a tiny sound it can sound large. Because I had the moon I wanted to bring it up closer too, and I got the idea of having it in a glass with a drink. At first I had people rocking on the porch! By cleaning up duplicates afterwards, I had to get rid of both of those aspects and substituted my two talkative aunts (whom I love) who talk with their hands and whatever is in them.

into the evening calm,
cricket song

Jane's link continued the tranquil mood and the moon provided an excellent hook. This was to be a summer link. For me, summer evenings have always symbolized a time of great calmness. The most appropriate way to depict that peacefulness was through crickets chirping. The hardest part was how to say it simply. But as often happens, my right brain offered the most straightforward solution.

sharing a hug
the tea kettle boils
and boils and boils

Do you see what is happening between Pete and I? He tries to settle the scene down, and the more he does it the more I try to introduce something to jar the tranquillity. I think this 'scene' is one I wish would happen more than something that happens. I sometimes feel I am too eager to be responsible, to do what needs doing instead of staying with the hug.

the same old words
but with more feeling

The repetition of "boils and boils and boils" posed a special problem. After much fretting and fuming, it became obvious that another approach was necessary.  So I focused on "sharing a hug". This straightforward image needed only a few sincere words by the two persons hugging. Even though they have been repeated to the point of tedium, the same old words are still true.

say it with flowers
he rose in her tulips
as bachelor buttons

At the time we were writing this renga, I was experiencing terrible headaches which were being treated with massive doses of ergot. So I do not know where the idea for these lines came from or really who wrote them. Marvelous puns and wordplay as foreplay; something I feel renga needs more of.

on the breeze
the stink of fertilizer

The "fertilizer" is not a comment on the spring flower link. Much as I loved its spirit of word play, I knew I could never match it. So I turned in another direction. The one idea with a common link to flowers and spring was "fertilizer.”


wind chimes
gently swinging ... but
not touching

The breeze in the previous link dominated my reply. It seemed sufficiently gentle to offset the harshness of the fertilizer's pungent odour. The leap to wind chimes was natural. They have fascinated me since they first made their appearance in my hometown some 40 plus years ago. The little glass panels catching the light, their soft tinkling when set in motion, that and more intrigued me as a child.  But more intriguing now are those occasions when the breeze is scarcely strong enough to move the little panels.


        small cracking noises
        eggshells lose their roundness                   

It is interesting that Pete writes he visualized those first wind chimes with the glass pieces because, though the metal chimes are all around me, it was the glass ones I thought about. My memory of them, however, was how easily they were broken or perhaps a repressed memory of breaking them. And if Pete was going to have the chimes quietly hanging there, I as going to shake things up by breaking them. But all breaking is not destructive or an indication of lossI got baby chicks out of the deal.


the overcast thickens
the shape of the sun
clearly seen

The key word in the previous link was "roundness.” Just as the egg shells lost their shape, the sun's roundness can best be seen when the cloud cover thickens. It also provided a contrast between the loss of form allowing new life to emerge and the diminishing of the sun's life giving light.

on the white glazed plate
golden brown fried chickens

One of the lines from William Everson's poems about the San Joaquin Valley, where winter fogs last up to six weeks without letup (it seems) was something about "the pale plate of the sun in the sky".  He was the first poet who wrote about the environment I was living in, the first poet I had read who was living in the area, and actually wrote of the simple things he saw. To the 'pale plate' of the sun I wanted to add color and goodness.
Though I was constantly pulling against Pete's lines, I was very much pulled along by my admiration for what he was writing. Here again it surfaces with my rhyme of chickens and thickens. I tried to change them to trout but it never felt right.

early march dawn
the first long lines of geese
heading home

A winter link was called for.  But after so much snow and cold and rain in the beginning of the renga, it seemed best to focus on another aspect of the season.  Here in southern Quebec, in early or mid March, we often hear flocks of Canada geese honking loudly as they fly north. It is one of the first signs of hope on late winter days when, despite the storms and bone-chilling cold, the geese head back home.


many letters full of plans
coming together holidays

Taking 'heading home' as my connection I wanted to move from animals back to humans. When our families get together, it seems we have more communication putting the event together. When we are together, so much is happening that it expands the closeness we felt while planning.

on the answering machine
her angry voice
"where were you?"

Everything is neatly planned and hopes are running high. However, something can and did go wrong. Even in otherwise excellent marriages. For example, my wife and I know each other's thought processes so well, we must specify precisely when and where we are to meet. Otherwise, when one of us is late, each of us tries to think like we think the other one is thinking . . . the resulting mental confusion is impossible to untangle.
Jane's link offered a perfect lead-in to such a misunderstanding.

looking in the mirror
I find no one there

"Where were you?" Where am I? And what is happening? Pete, who has been so calm and quiet in the renga, suddenly tosses in this surprise! angry voice. He had me scared and I really did not know where to go with renga from here. So I disappeared.

the fog not thick enough
to cover the sound of
the car leaving

This is another love verse.  Here absence and parting are the connections. Jane sees nothing in the mirror and the fog hides a car which is leaving. In both cases, someone or something invisible is present.  The fog which could also be seen as a shroud added a further level of blankness.

humans inventing God
in their own image

This is one long leap, I admit. This link comes much more from what I was thinking about on the day it was my turn than as an effort to link to Pete's verse. Perhaps, at a deeper level, I was very angry with how much I have had to "unlearn" in this life that my parents taught me I had to know. With my thought I was having to leave behind so much I had always prided myself on doing and thinking and believing.

high overhead
the gibbous moon waning
into nothing

This was a particularly hard link to develop.  While all the other links offered a relatively easy handle with their clear cut images, this one seemed most vague. This was to be an autumn moon link. Ultimately, the only way to answer the previous link was to focus on the idea of God and to use the prosaic image of distance through height. The moon image allowed for this and the judgment of its decline to insignificance was an example of putting human attributes on an inanimate object.

first frost on the pail
melted by the milk

Something disappearing. Something white. Something almost winter. There it wasfrost, milk and the real memory of my Grandpa bundling me up so I could go out with him to milk. Seeing him lift the frost rimmed pail from the dairy room drain board, walking bent the way I now walk, over to the cow wearing the metal hobbles. How he leaned into the cow's side as he spoke to her and the rattle of the first warm stream of milk hitting the bottom of the bucket.

mountain evening
in a huckleberry sky
the smell of pie

If you have ever picked huckleberries, you know the purplish blue color your hands, the enamel pan, the wooden spoon all acquire. The same color the sky turns as the last light leaves it. After cooking down the berries for juice, I would add the leftover berries to apples for a pie. Huckleberries are ripe in August so I would just be finishing the whole job at dark.

an armload of apples
dappled with raindrops

Huckleberry sky was a new term, but the thought of pie cooling on the kitchen table and its aroma filling every part of the house was too strong to ignore. It seemed only natural to carry an armload of apples for perhaps another pie?

Indian ponies
moving the sunshine
up the hill

Dappled was the link for me. From my window I look up a sea meadow where five (six since last month) pinto ponies graze. When the sun shines on them the white spots seem almost golden.

the trail of hoof-prints broken
by the spring run-off

Horses running and the winter snows melting and running off. Motion in both links. Spring is to be the theme of this link. The force of the water cuts across the ponies' traces and removes them so effortlessly, just by being itself. Despite the ponies' youth, the snows of last winter, a season often associated with death or old age, gain new force with the warmth of spring, a season usually associated with new life or rebirth.

home-grown lettuce
the taste of well water
fresh and green

It is somewhat of a wonder how our well water, which has a lot of minerals in it, can go into the lettuce and taste so good. In the spring we have lots of water (spring run-off) and are able to water lettuce. Later the garden goes dry and we have to wait for spring again for the goodness of homegrown veggies.

perched on the old pump handle,
the first sparrow

A spring verse to end the renga. One of my favourite paintings by Robert Bateman features a bluebird perched on the handle of an old fashioned pump. The handle's wood is grey with age and much use. I have always enjoyed the contrast between the small apparently young bird and the old pump handle. The painting so fascinated me that I keep a copy of it on my office wall.


Started: Mar. 5, 1996
Finished: April 5, 1996

Leafy Way by Ramona Linke

Lady Ise
Jane Reichhold

so lightly forsaken
the spring mist rising
wild geese depart

carried by the wind
her wide skirts billow

hidden immortal
whose garment has no break
nor seam if you go

on feathered spindrift
waves an invisible wing

even the moon's face
embroidered on my sleeve
is wet with tears

two snakes twined together
the belt you tied around me

jealousy locked
by a brushwood gate
vine tendrils

hanging from the branches
a green willow tree

river words
the story told
in each leaf

the sleeve
I pressed to it floats
back foam-spotted

sunset on a wall
through uneven stones

my name is flicked about
like dust

without shadow on bright days
the well-known hand

if it is you
there in the light boat
on the pond

ripple wraith taking
the shape of a lost son

has he
learned to live in a flowerless

trees with bare limbs
a heart still chases dragonflies

now nothing
remains that compares
to me

each day more clearly
my mirror reflects a face
I'm ashamed to show

blood-stained sheets
you wanted a virgin

our bed
a ravaged sea were I
to smooth it

where oysters grow best
a tempest rages

afraid the pillow
would  say I know we slept
without it

nights on the cabin floor
covered with moonlight

Imperial news
comes to me in the voices
of streams and mountains

worshipping  the goddess earth
now a pregnant woman

in the fifth month
oh little bird what if
your voice is hoarse?

screams and banged drums
to exorcise evil spirits

I long to beg you
do not linger with us
in this place

a circle
stones eight points of
crystal fire

their desires for this
women parted by law

even in my dreams
I must no longer
meet you

artic snowfields
blow across  sky-blue waters
white caps

it is now
I long to hear you
before summer begins

pale rain
ends a happy time
petals fall

writing letters when
I have sad thoughts

Written: June 14, 1990
Lady Ise's links are composed from her tanka in the Japanese Imperial Anthology Kokinshu in 959.


na staroj kuæi
poklekla vrata

Branka Vojinoviæ Montenegrin


on an old house
a given up door
translator Djurdja Vukelic Rozic















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