September 2016

UHTS collected works

UHTS Spotlight Poet
Michele L. Harvey, USA

It’s been a little more than ten years since I first discovered tanka via the web. Like most people, I had been introduced to haiku in grade school, but not its elder, more expansive cousin.

My whole life has been spent watering fields and wild places and I chose my profession as one in which I could continue that idyll; landscape painting. It would come as no surprise to know the immediate sympathy I found between the two genres and since I was outdoors sketching for paintings, those same ‘sketches’ or images could do dual duty as fodder for tanka.

There was a wealth of imagery everywhere the eye and heart could wander and I found it an easy springboard for any sort of expression. The indescribable bittersweet melancholy of later years is easily heard in the autumn calls of geese on the wing, or seen in the all too brief flaming color of fallen leaves, soon to be extinguished.

Jane Reichhold’s AHA Poetry forums helped me organize my thoughts and shape them into poetry. With the generous help of other more experienced poets my inner world morphed into expressed poems, working within a time-honored framework. Then too, I learned of Dennis Garrison’s idea of "dreaming room" (an essay from Modern English Tanka, Spring 2007), allowing empty space within a poem in which the reader can bring his own experience to.

In good painting there is a similar "space" where viewer and artist commingle. Art to be at its best, is a sharing and melding of experience. It changes with the players (the artist & viewer or poet & reader.) It lives and breathes through that merging of both.

Tanka then became another means of expressing my response to the visible and emotional worlds around me and in me. It was a way perhaps, of reconciling the two. Tanka both forces close examination of the physical world and at the same time enlarges the inner world of understanding. I never know where a phrase or image will take me, and what treasure will unfold in its wake. Tanka truly is the world in a dewdrop, changeable by the moment, but complete in itself.

My thanks to UHTS and an’ya for the kind invitation to participate as a spotlighted poet here, in cattails.

shattered blue
of a robin’s egg lying
in the grass…
I’m familiar too, with dreams
that never get off the ground

cricket song
beneath heads bowed with seed
along with
the lengthening shadows
of autumn in the wings

there are nights
when my skin seems paper thin
a faint blush
spreads through the blossoms
of hydrangeas with the frost

just enough time
to tell her that I love her…
daffodils fade
in the room that was hers
before death came to claim her

long years
of this a practiced life
carried out in silence,
toast a perfect golden brown

I have tried
to hide my sentiments
but the moon
has chased away any cloud
and left me with no option

in his hand
he lovingly caresses
a smooth stone…
were that my face, my eyes
could be his lucky charm

Tuscan hills
that appear eternal…
men swarm
to cut white marble
like butter with a knife

grief bleeds
an invisible river
and carves
a smooth and polished channel
through the stone of his heart

her heart’s
a slender, hothouse rose
proud and tight
but mine’s a red geranium
on a sunny windowsill

having no idea
of the cage she’s wrought herself
invisible bars
of another story
of her long-dead husband

Michele L. Harvey