Wake Up and Smell the Poetry – tanka

This is my second post about the event last Saturday in Hopkinton, called Wake Up and Smell the Poetry. Here are the tanka that I read at that event:


a backpack
with my life story inside
the truth
I twist and bend
just to get it in

~Atlas Poetica 17


studying smart phones
in the elevator
I break the silence
with a fart

~Atlas Poetica 17


never too old
to start something new
I have begun
drooling on my pillow

~Prune Juice 8


that barren tree
he wanted to chop down
not long
after he left her
blossoms on every branch

~Gusts 22


already late
I take the wrong exit
and my grandson laughs –
he hasn’t yet learned
how to panic

~Atlas Poetica 17


a frozen banana
falls to the floor
with a thud
only in my dreams
could I get so hard

~Prune Juice 8


on the wall
sharing my shower
a spider –
let’s pretend, my friend
we never saw each other

 ~Gusts 16


dark clouds
yet in the distance
a soft glow
comes over the trees –
there, the sun must be shining

~Red Lights 13.1


she sprawls out
over my lap
and purrs
only an animal
and yet . . .

~Atlas Poetica 22


Gentle waves
Rocking the boats
Another storm
My mind predicted
Never happens

~2014 TSA Contest Honorable Mention


Lying in bed
No strength
to lift this day
A stack of what-ifs
Sitting on my chest

 ~Ribbons 8.3

a tree trunk
lost in the shadow
of its branches…
another yes
when I meant to say no

~2015 Sanford Goldstein TSA International Contest Winner


on a shelf
in her dining room
the red truck
her father bought
hoping for a boy

~A Hundred Gourds 2.1


sunlight slips
through a tangle of trees
after the layoff
not knowing where to go
I take one step

~2015 Sanford Goldstein International Contest Honorable Mention


my penny
sinks to the bottom
of a well
all the wishes
I never made

 ~A Hundred Gourds 5.2


A mountain
wrapped in purple haze
if only
I could go back
and misspend my youth

~2012 TSA International Contest Second Prize


scent of rain
rising from the pavement
after a storm
the few things
I still believe

 ~Sonic Boom Anniversary Issue


roots so deep
I can’t pull them out
this life
that doesn’t know
it’s only a weed

 ~Red Lights 11.2


the cries of wild geese
then silence
by the time I look up
they’ve all flown away

~Gusts 24



Wake Up and Smell the Poetry

On Saturday, Feb 18, I was the feature poet at a venue called Wake Up and Smell the Poetry. I showed  a video (below) and read some poems.

Here is a link to the video. It’s best to watch it in full screen mode:

Between the Words

And…the poems:

Haiku by Basho and Issa:


the temple bell stops
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers


don’t swat that fly!
see how he prays
with his hands, with his feet!

my old village lies
far beyond what we can see
but there the lark is singing

in this world
we walk on the roof of hell
gazing at flowers

the world of dew
is the world of dew
and yet…and yet…


The two longer poems of mine:

Encounter With a Poem

In my dream last night all the words
in all of the books still in print
had ripped themselves out of the pages
demanding their freedom.

Not knowing what to expect, I rushed down the stairs.

Imagine my relief
when the only thing unusual
was a poem by Billy Collins playing cards
in the kitchen.

Each line was in its own chair
except the ones that rhymed
and they were sitting together.

One of them held something
that looked like a cigarette
and I didn’t really  mind
as long as he smoked in dimensions.

A tall line of verse, on a semi-colon cushion,
observing a cobweb in the corner of the ceiling,
played a clever simile

Which held the trick
until a short line on the right
trumped it with a metaphor.

as politely as I could
I offered them a non-smoking room
inside my kindle

and away they went, on iambic feet,
back into the pages of their book.


Passing a Lake At Dawn

I pass this lake every morning without noticing,
but today  an oval of sunlit blue
surrounded by grey clouds
looks like a spaceship in the sky

and I’m trying to drive but there’s a ladder
of slanted light floating down
and  my head jerks around
like a robot suddenly given life

and the mist is rising
and the face of the lake is still and serene
as if in a trance, or in a dream,

waiting for aliens to emerge from the sky
and take her away

and I could almost want to go, too
but there’s a left turn ahead
and so much to do.


invisible fence
his wife says the dog
will get used to it

~First Sonic Boom Senyru Contest Winner

performance review
I practice by bragging
to my wife

~Prune Juice 16

managers’ lounge
three of them
troubleshoot the coffeemaker

~Sonic Boom 3

an old friend…
I duck down
the other aisle

~Moongarlic 6