nonstop . . .

nonstop haiga

National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) is in full gear, and, happily, I am joining old friends and new in the effort to produce one haiku per day for the shortest month of the year. This is the fourth year I’ve participated in this Facebook brainchild of haiku guru Michael Dylan Welch, who provides a different word prompt each day for inspiration. (Day 5’s word is “nonstop.”)

This year I’m using the exercise to explore haiku that honor my late husband. (The photo of the road that leads to our house was taken by Larry in November 2013, a year before his death.)

Posted in Haiga, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Larry Chapman Kelly, Michael Dylan Welch, NaHaiWriMo | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

leaning on his cane . . .

leaning . .

leaning on his cane
he looks like a character
out of Bashō . . .
weighed down at end of day
by the weight of his shadow

–for Larry

red lights 11:1, January 2015

Some of you might know that my husband, Larry Chapman Kelly, passed away suddenly a week before Thanksgiving. Others, who know my work, know that Larry was frequently the inspiration for and subject of my tanka, and will surely continue to be so. During the past year of his life, Larry used a sassafras walking stick he had inherited from his father in order to remain mobile, and the sight of him returning home from work each day made me think of my poetic hero Bashō, who traveled on foot to record his world at the end of his life. Like Bashō, Larry often documented the world around him–through pictures rather than poems; the barn featured here is one of many he encountered and photographed on his travels.

Posted in Family, Larry Chapman Kelly, red lights, Tanka, Winter | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

southbound . . .

southbound the irresistible urge to follow

A Hundred Gourds 4:1, December 2014

Posted in A Hundred Gourds, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Monostich | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

old friends . . .

old friends–
we used to talk about sex
life, death and the gradations
of a peony’s petals

All The Shells: Tanka Society of America
Members’ Anthology 2014

Posted in Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Tanka | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

tanka time . . .

reminding myself
never to grow bitter . . .
after the storm,
see how the peonies
kowtow to kiss the ground?

Ribbons 10.3, Fall 2014

The newest edition of the Tanka Society of America’s Ribbons arrived in my mailbox today. As always, this triannual journal is filled with wonderful examples of the five-line form written by a diverse group of international tanka poets, as well as essays and book reviews. For me, this issue is a pivotal one since I have been asked to replace Angela Leuck, who is stepping down as Ribbons’ Book Review Editor to concentrate more on her own writing. Although a daunting task, I am honored and eager to take up the challenge and look forward to responding to both anthologies and individual collections of tanka as thoughtfully as I can.

I stumbled upon the tanka form four years ago after seeing a submission call for Moonbathing, a journal that specializes in showcasing contemporary tanka written exclusively by women. Intrigued, I immediately began researching “how to” write the form and was delighted when my first tanka was accepted for publication by the journal’s editor, tanka poet Pamela Babusci. Shortly afterward, I had a string of tanka accepted by another of the tanka world’s leading publishers, M. Kei, the editor of Atlas Poetica.

To say I was thrilled by those early acceptances is an understatement. I was off and running. I felt I’d found my voice through a five-line form that has a long, lyrical history with the capacity of fusing elements of the best Eastern and Western poetic traditions. In the process I’ve discovered an amazing community of writers that I respect and admire. I am humbled to be in their warm company, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead as I continue my tanka journey with friends old and new.

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stars, planet, moons, et. al. . . .

The roots of an Exquisite Corpse–like Halloween–are planted in Surrealism. Given that, I tried to give myself license not to take myself too seriously when it came to rattling the skeletal threads of this Corpse together into a sequential body which, I hope, proves to be more treat than trick. (I’m not quite sure what I’d call the end result, but nevertheless it was fun . . .)

A huge thank you to all my Exquisite Corpse participants, appearing after Van Brock’s and my opening stanzas, in the following order: i. Rachel Sutcliffe; ii. Belinda Broughton; iii. Jim Sullivan; iv. Adelaide Shaw; v. David Terelinck; vi. Mary Frederick Ahearn; vii. Belinda Broughton.  Happy Halloween! Good sports, with lovely bones, one and all!


Circling My Night Sky . . .


Margaret , sorry:
all else should be more lovely,
with stars, planets, moons.

stars, planets, moons–
so many old friends I see
circling my night sky

circling my night sky
all the stars I’ve loved
and lost


and found, circling
stars, planets, moons

stars, planets, moons
the child chatters about

the many permutations
of stars, planets, moons


Stars, planets, moons–
a wife’s wink clears the day

clearing the day circling my night


circling my night sky
dark clouds racing
as fast as my heart

fast as my heart
dark clouds racing . . .


circling my night sky
this borrowed moonlight
unsettles the senses

unsettled: five stars circling
my borrowed night sky


circling my night sky
remnants of dreams
you deign to grace

saying grace 
under a moonlit sky


circling my night sky . . .
the dream me
and Owl

and me, circling
the light of the moon


(Apologies to Rachel Sutcliffe for previously misattributing her lovely haiku . . . )

Posted in All Hallow's Eve, Exquisite Corpse, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Halloween | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

exquisite corpse update . . .

Thanks to those who’ve generously submitted to my “exquisite corpse” project. And if you haven’t but would like to, I’m extending the deadline until Monday, Oct. 27. (See previous post for the low-down.) I’m letting the responses percolate before putting together something wonderfully mysterious in time for Halloween. Stay tuned!

Posted in Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Halloween | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

exquisite corpse, anyone? . . .

A week or two ago, the folks at WordPress sent me virtual “happy anniversary” wishes, reminding me that I’d started this blog with them four years ago. It’s hard to believe that I’ve kept this enterprise going all that time, and that what started out as an exceptionally naïve venture into the world of haiku has led me down a path that has sustained and nurtured me so faithfully all these many days and nights later.

Although I readily admit a temptation to delete some of my early posts (ones that present a dubious learning curve as I felt my way through and around a form that on the surface can appear deceptively simple), I was happy to run across an early post that was, I think, fairly successful–thanks in large part to a longtime poet friend of mine named Van K. Brock, who sent me a string of gritty haiku prefaced with the following

Margaret, sorry:
all else should be more lovely,
with stars, planets, moons.

And to which I felt compelled to respond to, in Exquisite Corpse fashion, with

stars, planets, moons–
so many old friends I see
circling my night sky

Given the double whammy of this month’s blood-red harvest moon and eclipse–not to mention the approach of Halloween and Día de Muertos–I thought it would be fun to resurrect our Exquisite Corpse to see what readers could do with it. The rules are simple: take the last line of either Van Brock’s or my haiku and use it as the first line of your own haiku; then, send your E.C. haiku to me in a comment to this post. I’ll combine all the E.C. haiku I receive into a sequence (perhaps with a transitional haiku or two) and see what develops in a pre-Halloween post I’ll feature here.

Care to keep the exquisite corpse circling?  If so, respond here in a comment (which will remain hidden until the final sequence is revealed) by October 22. That should give me enough time to, hopefully, assemble something suitably exquisite . . . or, at the very least, more than a little interesting.

Posted in Autumn, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Moon, Van K. Brock | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

virtual friends . . .


Lately, I’ve had the good fortune to have my work showcased by two virtual friends. The first, Marjorie Buettner, is one of three new editors at the helm of the recently revamped Contemporary Haibun Online. Although I’ve never met Marjorie in the flesh, I’d know her distinctively lyrical voice and beautiful poetry anywhere, and I’m honored to have collaborated with her previously. (Our responsive haibun “Circadian Rhythm” was published in the March 2014 issue of Haibun Today.) So, when Marjorie asked if I’d consider being the “Featured Writer” in the current issue of CHO, I was both delighted and humbled; the newly formatted online journal is a haibun lover’s dream, and, as always, this issue is chockfull of wonderful examples of the form.

Likewise, I’ve never met haiku legend Michael Dylan Welch–the force behind the (now year-round) National Haiku Writing Month site on Facebook, who also writes and edits a tremendously informative haiku website called Graceguts. In addition to the many examples of Michael’s haiku-related writings (poems, as well as numerous thought-provoking essays on everything from haiku and tanka to the linked forms of haibun and rengay), his site also hosts a section featuring poems inspired in some way by haiku. After seeing my free-verse poem “After Bashō,” Michael contacted me to say he’d like to include my poem on Graceguts. I’m more than honored.

Writing, many say, is a lonely profession . . . , and it can be lonely–or at least solitary. But the world we live in today is–thanks to the internet–a global one, filled with more and more opportunities for exploration and the discovery of new voices. What a great time to be a poet!


Posted in Contemporary Haibun Online, Graceguts, Haibun, Haibun Today, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Marjorie Buettner, Michael Dylan Welch | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

perhaps . . .

there is a heaven . . .
cherry blossoms

The Heron’s Nest XVI:3, September 2014

Posted in Cherry blossoms, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, The Heron's Nest | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments