Disciplinal Poetry of the Issue
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Issue's Disciplinal Poetry - by Kay Lindgren
Tanka- presented and authored by Maria C. Faverio
a la Carte - Kathleen Cesaro
December is a Time to Ponder Life
- Kathleen Cesaro
The Lightning Bug - Kay Lindgren
Synaesthete - Kay Lindgren
Blossoms– Mark Norman
(Lachesis) - Jorge González
Disciplinal Poetry - Lachesis
By Kay Lindgren
origin of the lachesis is unknown. It is likely to be a relatively recent
invention by a poet of the New Formalist movement. It is popular among
members of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (USA). Its
invention has been credited to one Robert "Amigo" DeWitt, who
lives in Louisiana. Amigo has published over a thousand poems and has
won more than a hundred awards. A World War II veteran, Amigo taught English
and coached football in the Duval County, Florida, school system before
retiring during the 1980's.
consists of eighteen iambic pentameter lines in alternating tercets and
couplets. The rhyme scheme is :
AAA BB CCC
DD EEE FF GGG
is not rich in rhymes, the lachesis presents a profound challenge.
I share the
first and second prize winners of the Lachesis Award in the National Federation
of State Poetry Society's 1994 contest. These poems were published in
Encore, the NFSPS anthology of prize poems.
A Memory of Wings - Gail Teachworth
My dream is yellow-green, like lemon tea,
a pleasant form of floating, fancy-free
above a field of flowers, like a bee.
I find myself
content to flit around
a little over two feet off the ground.
from this point is rather strange,
it takes some time adjusting to the change.
Amused, but quite unable to arrange
in any order making sense,
the fantasy of flight is so intense.
with the flow, as some might say,
adrift through flower-power's hideaway
where anything is possible today.
finds me grounded to the Earth,
I'll know I have enjoyed, for all its worth,
of wings, the hovering, this flight.
Though fragile dream-wings only last one night,
remembering continues in the light.
- Robert Shelford
We rhyming poets are a lonely bunch,
Creating verse with even metric punch,
Smug academics think we're out to lunch.
people also think we're jerks
With sad anachronistic mental quirks.
in days of video and fax,
If sugar cane and ascertain will match
Or anapestic beats should get the axe.
to trash tradition's rules
And other writing skills once taught in schools.
scribes scorn proper punctuation,
Mix random words defying conjugation,
Enjoy obscurity and obfuscation.
jibes, we strange ones try to write
Sweet metric songs to treasure and delight.
verse seems forgettable, for sure.
I'd rather draft, as masters have before,
A line like "Quoth the Raven, Nevermore!"
I am fortunate
to know Amigo, Gail and Robert, all three of whom generously offer me
free help with my writing.
a la Carte - Kathleen Cesaro
If time were given predatory traits,
The favored wall is surely what it rates!
Beneath its jagged teeth there'd be no dates.
A Roman-numbered frisbee's quite a thrill!
Whoever thought a sundial could get ill?
If time were like the ocean or the sea,
It'd swallow up the likes of you and me,
And spit us out to spite eternity.
A metronome deserves a knuckle rap...
Impertinence, in each impatient tap!
If time went on vacation for a week,
A lake could find itself within a creek.
The reaper'd have to turn the other cheek.
A clock's fair game to practice field-goal kicks,
And uprights usually terminate the ticks!
If time professes just to be your friend,
He'll borrow wasted minutes he can spend.
That scoundrel is the one without the end.
is a Time to Ponder Life - Kathleen
is a time to ponder life,
For women who have come to be "the wife,"
whose days consist of mollifying strife.
What happened to the freckled girl, so free,
with flying curls and piercing shrieks of glee?
The men she's loved have given her a goal:
To extirpate her will, deny her soul.
Her pleasure must be found in their control.
What happened to the temperament so bold,
The sassing back and stares so icy cold?
Her father's love, withheld 'til she complied...
Her husband, trusted mate, until he lied...
Her son, adored, but always occupied...
The bending willow weeps, but doesn't break;
A heart continues beating, with an ache.
The expectation's gone of Christmas cheer,
Of family who gather year to year.
The distance now between them draws a tear.
Bug - Kay Lindgren
Although the belt that hugs Orion's girth
might spurn my sparkle spawned so close to Earth,
my fire rivals peridots of worth.
I am the
spark born of two dueling blades
of grass as sunset's mandarin silk fades.
I hover over
and morse out dots and dashes yellow-green -
not go or caution - signals in between...
sketches in the cosmos drift
too slow for mortals' eyes to see shapes shift,
and I ignite imaginations
by lining up in marching band formations,
then winging out to form new constellations.
with wanderlust, I am a star
whose orbit scorns the confines of a jar.
is brief; too soon my light is spent.
Don't bottle me: I would not be content
to blaze alone in a glass firmament.
Note: "The Lightning
Bug" won a first prize in the 1999 Florida
State Poets Association international contest.
- Kay Lindgren
When names are lavender and kelly green,
when tone of voice and color wheel convene
so that the whiner's yellow voice is seen
as well as heard,
my senses come to me
like sound and light shows. I get in for free.
I'd buy a ticket to
the exit door
when trumpet tosses me an apple core,
when saxophone spills merlot on the floor.
Sometimes, the hues
of music fade in haste.
My tongue will linger on a letter's taste
when R is orange,
C is lemon-lime.
Ripe honeybells fall from the wall clock's chime
when lilac lull and serenade scent rhyme.
Skin tightens like
a drumhead when the flute
of Jethro Tull warps in the key of jute.
are like twins conjoined: My ear
and eye inseparable. I would pay dear
if I could only see the sights I hear.
– Mark Norman
Apple blossoms waft the breeze.
Rising sap in the dogwood trees
beyond Old Man Winter’s lengthy freeze.
peals from a holler over,
schools out, skipping home amongst the clover.
Mother smiling beside the clothesline sheets
working together the chores complete.
Dad’s home, seated for dinner we all meet
Prayer before, laughter after, supper’s respite,
plate leavens, sweet treats for the dogs tonight.
nodding its heavy head.
Hide and go seek behind the shed,
lying in the grass admiring heaven’s spread
Sun sets in a burst of color
warm welcome, for a full moon silver dollar.
Fireflies dancing tauntingly ahead
just out of reach, the children are led
to the hearth to be kissed and tucked to bed
- Jorge González
agua nadar en tus manos,
abrazar tus hombros como hermanos,
seducirte con mares lejanos.
aire batir alas, fuego,
en el eterno vuelo que es juego.
que dulces se levantan,
andan por quedos oídos, cantan,
y la voz de un ser maligno espantan.
No hay dos
verbos y luce la luna
en la cueva do mora tu cuna.
que el tiempo así calcina:
amigos, las verdades, la inquina.
Pero tu verso el odio fulmina.
No hay sombras
en lo hondo de la duda,
trémula ausencia que a nos acuda.
dos vientos en la corriente,
sólo un inocuo desliz pendiente,
a la espera de un alma durmiente.
presented and authored by Maria C. Faverio
(originally called waka, “Japanese song”) has been the most
popular form of Japanese poetry for more than 1,200 years. 90% of the
4,500 poems in Japan’s oldest anthology (Man’yo-shu, Anthology
of 10,000 Leaves, ca. 759) are in this form, as well as 991 in the second
oldest anthology, the Kokinshu (Collection of Ancient and Modern Times,
ca. 905), which was considered the sacred book of court poets. The tanka
received imperial patronage and produced generation after generation of
court poets. It is also believed that at that time one’s desirability
as a lover was often determined by the quality of one’s tanka. Tanka
were written on all occasions and were concise and evocative, like haiku
(the tanka is older than the haiku though, as the haiku was actually born
from the first three lines of the tanka). They were essential for the
good reputation of a person and were often accompanied by a gentle symbol
like a branch or a flower.
still very important: each year, on New Year's Day, the Emperor of Japan
and his family join the commoners and write tanka with them on certain
topics. In a magnificent ceremony, a selection of these tanka are then
chanted before the Royal Court and preserved as national treasures. In
Japan, the tanka is also a vital part of the Noh theater plays, where
it is used in the form of prayers or 'talking with the gods'.
In 1871 what
later became the Imperial Poetry Bureau was established under the Ministry
of the Imperial Household, a school of rigid formalists obsessed with
tradition and lacking any form of creativity. This formalism didn’t
change until the impact of Westernization about 15 years later.
with the way the tanka was deteriorating, poets sought other poetic forms
beyond the traditional 31 syllables in the form 5-7-5-7-71 (which are
usually in only one or two lines in Japanese2), and the tanka was attacked
in several essays. This in its turn caused a new reaction, and younger
poets tried to rescue the tanka through innovation.
1 In English tanka, this rule is flexible (the same as with haiku) because
of the different structure of the English language. It has sometimes been
adapted to just short-long-short-long-long, and sometimes even to five
lines of arbitrary length. 2 The Japanese speak of “phrases”
for lines and of onji for syllables: because of the familiarity of the
natural syntax of the phrases and more specifically of the tones used
in the Japanese pronunciation, Japanese tanka can be written in only one
or two lines.
In The Reform
of Tanka (1887), Yoshiyuki Hagino suggested to modernize its diction and
to give greater freedom to its style.
In February 1893 Naobumi Ochiai founded the Asaka-sha (Brotherhood of
Asaka), a society of tanka-reformists, whose most remarkable rebel was
Tekkan Yosano, who overtly attacked the technical triviality and effete
formalism of the Old School and advocated a “manly” poetry
that gave vent to personal feelings and passions in a simple, plain language.
In November 1899 Tekkan founded the Tokyo Shinshi-sha (The New Poetry
Brotherhood of Tokyo) and launched the magazine Myojo (called Myojo after
the star Venus: Tekkan chose this name to emphasize that he wanted to
bring the light of the morning star to the darkened world of the tanka).
Akiko Yosano (one of its members) became one of the most significant reformers
of the tanka and later also married Tekkan. Akiko’s most famous
book is Midaregami (Tangled Hair) with 399 tanka, 115 published for the
first time. Midaregami owes its name to a tanka Tekkan had dedicated to
Akiko: “To you I present / this name / suited to autumn, / Lady
of the restless mind, / of the tangled hair”. The implications behind
Akiko’s use of “tangled hair” are those of a complex
and intense pattern of beauty, sexuality, and insanity.
Akiko glorified the female body, the emancipation of women, sympathized
with the downtrodden, attacked priests and moralists. Her tanka pictured
women at lonely inns, at home, in the fields, in temples and cities, and
involved the most different human types. She transformed the tanka into
a personal and dramatic vehicle for a great variety of psychologically
difficult situations involving pity, hate, suffering, love, death, and
madness. This gradually led to the reestablishment of the tanka, particularly
with Takuboku, who wrote: “Poetry must not be what is usually called
poetry. It must be an exact report, an honest diary, of the changes in
a man's emotional life. Accordingly, it must be fragmentary; it must not
have organization.” Takuboku’s tanka refer to ordinary life,
daily occurrences, like in the following two tanka:
I work, work
No joy in my life.
At my hands.
But too weary
To reach over
And pick up
sang her own body, something which was (and is) very unusual, as self-glorification
has always been considered un-Japanese. She also used the tanka as a sort
In this room of love,
The pink of night’s passing.
In my bath
Submerged like some graceful lily
At the bottom of a spring,
This body of twenty summers.
Two women and a man
Parted with a nod
On the sixth of the month.
Many of the most significant contemporary tanka poets are women, some
of which I would like to briefly introduce here.
Fumi Saito’s tanka explore the philosophical dualities of reality
and art of the 1960s, the contrast between God’s universe and the
world of the poet, and transform traditional seasonal images into surrealistic
On my frozen nerve
There is a place
Where a red canary
of breast cancer in 2002 (at 93) and could still write a tanka about her
of one breast, my chest is like
a field. - O, skylarks,
come and visit, with the hare,
and the worms, and the insects.
conveys a voluptuous nostalgia in a fine, decorative language.
of my twenties
Come back to me
With a glint
of Heat-haze weariness!
Scratches on enamel.
combines the thoughts of Marxism and the student movement with traditional
seasonal images, like tear gas and the smell of lemon in the following
Rising from my breast
Hidden to protect me
From tear gas:
The smell of lemon.
emphasizes family life, the life of a wife and a mother:
or being born –
Either the ultimate sorrow.
Just the same,
I turn the light out
and Amari Hayashi write colloquial tanka.
Machi makes use of overt abstractions and interweaves them with philosophical
Watching them together –
One sees only the flash,
tanka are full of beautiful graphic images:
pluck the cosmos
If you slept with a hundred men:
A girl laughs
In the fields.
Ei Akitsu’s tanka show a fresh, peculiar humour combined with down-to-earth
Walking with ovaries
Hanging inside –
The wind blows, the bamboo groves
Cry from within.
obviously only a few examples. The tanka will certainly continue to be
popular in Japan, and it is becoming more and more popular outside Japan,
like the haiku. Both the haiku and the tanka deserve their popularity
– for their freshness, originality and delightful insight.
S. Pictures of the Heart 1996 University of Hawai’i Press Honolulu
Akiko Yosano Tangled Hair 1987 Charles E. Tuttle Company Rutland, Vermont