Heron Sea

Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay
Tanka and Other Short Forms

by M. Kei

2007 Keibooks, Perryville, Maryland

Heron Sea, Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay Copyright 2007 by M. Kei Cover photo courtesy of the US Geological Survey This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. Originally printed in the United States of America 5 4 3 2 Buy this book as a trade paperback from: M. Kei Keibooks P. O. Box 1118 Elkton, MD 21922-1118 or North America: http://Lulu.com/keibooks or International: http://www.amazon.com/Heron-Sea-M-Kei/dp/B002ACQXJ8/ref=sr_1_1? ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252096409&sr=1-1

This book includes both previously published and new poems. Grateful acknowledgment is made to: Modern English Tanka Kokako (NZ) Ribbons Red Lights Gusts (CAN) Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society (UK) Haiku Harvest Nisqually Delta Review Simply Haiku Lynx, A Journal for Linking Poets Chesapeake Bay Saijiki Outsiders MyTown Sketchbook Haiku du Jour Haiku Blossoms (India) Fire Pearls, Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart Landfall, Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka Nota Bene Contest 2006 Tanka Splendor Award 2006 Special Thanks to the Skipjack Martha Lewis and the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum Additional Thanks to Denis M. Garrison for technical assistance and Sanford Goldstein for his invaluable support

Other Publications by M. Kei Poetry
Slow Motion : The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka (editor-in-chief) Fire Pearls, Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart (editor) Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (editor)

Pirates of the Narrow Seas Pirates of the Narrow Seas 2 : Men of Honor Pirates of the Narrow Seas 3 : Iron Men Read PoNS free online at: http://NarrowSeas.blogspot.com

Introduction, 7 Chesapeake Country, 9 Skipjack One, 16 Love, 22 Skipjack Two, 29 Head of the Bay, 34 Threnody, 44 Biography, 54 Notes and Credits, 55

Heron Sea, Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay, combines my love of short form poetry with the Chesapeake Bay. The forms, principally tanka, are ultimately Japanese in origin, but well-suited to the culture and environment of the Chesapeake. Tanka, the ancestral form of Japanese poem, predates the better known haiku by more than a thousand years. At a time when the bards of Europe were composing epics of blood and violence like Beowulf, in Japan everyone from soldiers to emperors, fishergirls to royal ladies, were writing tanka. More than four thousand of them were anthologized in the Man’yoshu, or ‘Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves’ in the 8th century AD. Tanka anthologies are still being published today, making tanka the world’s oldest continuously anthologized genre of poetry. Tanka is marked by lyricism and the melding of the human and natural environments. Composed in Japanese in a pattern of five lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables, it spawned numerous variations. Never dictatorial, Japanese tanka vary from the pattern at times. In English, due to the great differences in the languages, tanka are usually much shorter and less regular in line length in order to capture the suppleness of the original form. While all possible subjects are suitable for tanka, the natural and human environments remain perennial favorites. Because of that, I have found tanka to be an excellent vehicle for bearing witness to life and loss at the Head of the Bay. My European ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the Chesapeake, arriving at Jamestown in 1628 and spreading up the Eastern Shore, while my Native ancestors have been here for thousands of years. They joined in what developed into a unique American regional culture, distinguished by the intense interconnections of land and water. The Chesapeake itself is more than two hundred miles from the Susquehanna River to the Virginia Capes, with more than eleven thousand miles of coast. The intertwining of land, islands, inlets, and wetlands makes the Chesapeake Bay the largest estuary in North America and a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Known as the ‘osprey garden,’ more than half of all North American ospreys live here, along with half the blue herons of the East Coast, and the largest concentration of bald eagles in the Lower 48. The Chesapeake is a winter haven for birds from as far away as Greenland and Brazil. And that is to say nothing of the many smaller and less obvious species. The Chesapeake is also one of the most threatened waterways in North America. Given a flunking grade of only 27% in its last evaluation by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, this represents a noticeable improvement over the Bay’s nadir. Unfortunately, while the prominent return of major species like bald eagles and rockfish is important, it masks the ongoing loss of wetlands and the demise of the Chesapeake Bay oyster population. Losing oysters has had important cultural, environmental, and financial impacts. First and foremost is the ecological loss: oysters are ‘filter feeders’ that naturally clean the water. At the time Captain John Smith (of Pocahontas fame) explored the Bay, there were so many oysters they filtered the entire volume of the Bay in three days. Smith

reported water crystal clear twenty feet straight down to a sandy bottom. People living and playing on the Bay today assume that the brown murk with which they are so familiar is natural and normal, but it isn’t. Oystering was once the seventh largest industry in Maryland, and the loss of the livelihoods of so many people has served as a drag on the economy, especially on the Eastern Shore where watermen have only partially been able to make their living from oyster farming, eel-fishing, tourism, and other activities. Few of them can afford to keep up with the maintenance of a skipjack, bugeye, or draketail boat, to name just a few of the indigenous baycraft. Old boats are abandoned in the marshes, and as they die, the traditional skills and way of life they enabled die with them. Watermen, once responsible for overfishing the oyster beds, are now among the most ardent environmentalists of the Bay. In very few other occupations is the link between human action and environmental loss so deeply felt. Once a fleet of more than a thousand skipjacks harvested oysters on the bay, now less than two dozen exist. One, the Martha Lewis, is the last sailboat in North America to fish commercially under sail. Martha doesn’t make a living at it; she is owned and operated by the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy, a small, grassroots, nonprofit organization with one and a half paid staff. The rest of us are volunteers who give our time and money to preserve the last vestiges of the watermen’s traditional culture. The last time I went out oystering with Martha, seven men dredged five bushels in six hours of backbreaking labor. The bushels were worth $50 each. During the warm months Martha takes passengers on cruises and students on environmental classrooms, one of several baycraft that tries to support themselves in this way. Working aboard the Martha Lewis in fair weather and foul, sunlight and starlight, winter and summer, has written a large amount of the poetry in this book. From the water it is possible to see numerous derelict structures, abandoned islands, and wetlands being overrun by development, all largely invisible to those who whizz by on Interstate 95. Every time I cross the Hatem Bridge between Cecil and Harford Counties, I look down, straining for a glimpse of a big wooden sailboat, her boom so long it trails over her stern. Martha, with her mast the size of a telephone pole, is a giant among the pleasure craft that call Havre de Grace home, but she is a fragile giant. Bellwether of the Chesapeake, this one frail boat is my personal symbol for four hundred years of history and the very uncertain future of the Chesapeake Bay. I write poetry to fight against the loss of what I love, yet every poem of celebration is also a threnody for a dying world. I hope that my poems will move the reader in the way that no amount of history, ecology, economics, or facts can do.

M. Kei Perryville, Maryland Chesapeake Bay, USA 14 March 2007


Chesapeake Country


I write poetry like the hills of Maryland, slow, easy, green swells, rolling from creek to vale, with all the time in the world.

luminous green light the dappled hill climbs away from the town limits

May afternoon, every piling with its seagull

Ankle-aching acres of wooded cliffs between here and there, but oh! the view from Turkey Point!

on the river, a wedding cake tugboat pushes a sheet cake barge

most days I am happy to forget there is anything beyond these green hills


the peacock of night spreads his tail . . . stars shimmer everywhere

under the stars, even this little town is Camelot

in a small museum i stroke my hands over Native stones, weights for nets empty of dreams

these widowed lands, where once my Native ancestors dwelled in freedom


turning down a side street in an unfamiliar town, I stumble across a garden of childhood bluebells

so many things taller than me, hollyhocks and waterfalls

hiking through the autumn woods, my son and I climb over the fallen fence and into the world

the great blue heron the blue painted ship the blue silence

no wind tonight a puddle of silver in the bay’s darkness, a full moon off the port bow


cormorants perched on ancient pilings, you give new meaning to the color of darkness

white drifts in the stubbled field snow geese

I can’t see him in all this haze, but the reedy ‘arawk’ tells me the blue heron is close by

rising from the bay wings tipped with water the hunting heron

ah, heron, I wish I could eat fish raw from the bay I caught with my own beak


slack water, the tide neither rising nor ebbing; for a moment I wonder if I too can walk on water

Let me steep myself in the briny breach and be born anew this day

this beach charges me nothing to walk among the sea rack and shards of memory

stitch my shroud tie granite to my ankles bury me deep in the heart of the Chesapeake


I, who have found the end of the rainbow, can never be unhappy


Skipjack One


the dawn puddles around my house; I rise to sail the moon in a paper boat

sailors know hours spent on the water are not deducted from mankind’s mortal allotment

a spring afternoon, the mast snags on a crescent moon; the mate goes up and varnishes it

‘boat bum’— that’s me! hanging around the clipper bows and teak work

side by side a yacht with


gleaming teakwood and an oysterboat with mended sails

how small the task yet how meticulous; a marlinspike pierces the laces and draws them tight

shaking the bats out of the mainsail a cloud of night made homeless by my hands

in the midst of all that blue, the orange flash of kayak paddles

take the helm! let the worrying kind stay on shore!


the working skipjack draws abreast of the model sailboat race; I notice the toy skipjack and cheer her on a sudden gust and the toy skipjack heels hard and almost goes over; a moment later and the real skipjack heels too bowling for skipjacks, God’s sport for the afternoon

bury the lee rail! if you’re going sailing you might as well get wet

at the water's edge trees rustle in a cool breeze not yet felt in town; sloops at anchor turn their heads to face the gathering storm


a bully breeze! douse the jib, or we’re all going swimming!

storm bells the musical tones of halyards ringing in the freshening breeze

aboard the Martha Lewis, with a sky half sun and half storm, we race for flat water

Tornado warning, we work in haste to batten down everything on the boat; we seek shelter and hope for the best

the wind sings a threnody in the harp-strung rigging; dead mariners rise in answer


these widowed boats, the men who loved them gone to their graves




Trust has nothing to do with it, either you have the courage to step off the cliff of love . . . or you don’t.

close enough to touch, this moon of mine

his burlap skin washed by the diamond waters, and everywhere, jellyfish in bloom

if only the leaves were not so green, this lover’s heart might enjoy a little emptiness

When my boys are here the autumn nights fly past like swallows in the dusk. Autumn nights are long only by repute.


Eventually, the mountains will come to the sea, speck by speck eon by eon

like humans, the blue crab can mate only when she sheds her shell

even though the waves come and go, it is better to love the ocean than the crumbling mountain


Cinnamon mornings follow silk moons of August. Styrofoam tea sits quietly at my elbow, teasing with remembered taste.

brewing a storm in this coffee cup, I forecast the clouds in your eyes and rain about to fall

How is it that the moon is not torn apart by these winds that blow?

autumn afternoon if only we had as much to say as this heron standing silent

will there be a winter of white velvet snow and glittering ice diamonds, or just the mud of your cold heart?


once there were so many grasses swaying in the sea, beckoning to traders who never thought their pleasures would end

I was not lonely with the snow-capped heron as my company, but when my lover returned the silence was desolate

it is no woman this moon of men sailor in the great sea of longing

i don’t want to move heaven and earth, just the heart of a man


snow lakes iceboats cutting across the winter my young heart cracking

the shattered bones of old loves haunt the sea that surrenders all

Winter, like old age, begins with snow and dwindles to a dreary grey; the longing for spring is as strong as the desire for love.

tossing my heart into the recycling bin, I hope that somebody else can put it to good use


tracing the face of the man in the moon my own face looks back at me


Skipjack Two


leaving port, the container ship's wake rocks the sailboat dredging for oysters in shallow water

slowly the points change shape as we glide past, an autumn bending around the shore

she talks as she sails this old wooden boat of oyster days and summer bays and watermen grown old

the iron skeleton at the water’s edge, what was it once when machines had meaning and men their purpose?


the earth is not forever islands of the Chesapeake slip into memory

rags, tatters, and remnants, full of raveled winds

sometimes on autumn nights when I am alone, I hear the old boats singing in the mist

low grey hills of barges loaded with gravel, softened almost into beauty by the rising of the mist on the evening bay

white sea and black shore reflect a black sea and white moon and everywhere . . . stars


standing on Federal Hill, the city of Tirnagoth appears in the moonlight a moment later vanishes

viewed through a scrim of sleet, even the headlights have a soft glow

oyster season starts with new yellow slickers for the crew; by the end of the first day, they're torn and dirty

frozen dawn, hunching in my collar I work the boat, the heron hunches on a nearby rock


drudger’s breeze: twenty knots and snow —the oysterboats blow out of Dogwood Cove and into the bay

graveyard of boats their memory sinks into the marsh


Head of the Bay


In the moment before I open my eyes, when I don’t know if I wake or sleep, how radiant the dawn!

amid the rocks of the jetty, an absence of herons

the car rattles out of the wintry dale, and suddenly, the green sound of frogs singing

with a groan like the breaking of a man’s heart, the chokecherry tree comes down in a white fury of lightning and blossoms


seen from above, the entire vale fills with sparkling mist; the farmer who owns that must be a poet too

the green hand of an ancient oak cups the clouds; it holds a new spring in its gnarled palm

the waterlily lifts itself from the mud, unstained and still pure

the old car struggles up the hill to a village named 'Twilight'


the bat darts across the moon and swallows the night

hollyhocks in bloom— the dooryard of an abandoned house

summer sun so very hot the blaze-faced foal stays in the shadow of his mother

two blue herons in the stillest waters of the estuary the wind ripples just one

a breath about to exhale a clammy heat on my skin rain about to fall


when the rain pelts down fair weather fishermen leave the old wooden dock; an old black man dons his hat and stays a little longer

to the others, it’s just another seagull, but I know all the birds here and it’s a stranger

ospreys nest on the derelict trestle; trains rumble over the 'new' bridge rusted now by age

sitting on the buoy, the hunch-necked heron turns a semicircle to stare at us as we sail slowly past


a new heron I know he’s not the old heron but people ask me “how can you tell?”

the stone gristmill broad on the starboard bow, stories falling into the bay from its motionless wheel

an abandoned farmhouse stone eyes gaping slack-mouthed door where only flies buzz in and out

the dowager houses stand primly in their ragged porches looking embarrassed as ladies do in such circumstances


in the windows of the abandoned depot, spiderweb art

boarded up but not blank it waits —as we all wait— for the return of the trains

alone at the county fair I ride a purple pony going nowhere

Musing over the view, I wish there was one who would share it. A single dandelion clings to the precipice.


morning fog even the junkyard wrecks look good

tempted this Monday morning to take the mist-filled lane away from town

the skyline’s not much to look at, just a green line drawn along the bottom of the clouds

the slattern houses sag on a mean street in a small town, floral sheets for curtains cinder blocks for steps and the fetid smell of despair


still here today the seedpods blown under last week’s door

the hillcrest road climbs straight into the golden moon

October . . . the gallows oak on a windy night

dead doe on the side of the highway, her fawn shivering beside her

North East a town so small it doesn't have a proper name


the house holds yesterday’s heat in store against the thief called Autumn

sleepless early in a November morning before the sun, before the birds, before the grace of dawn

an easy winter, full of fat sparrows

a female cardinal, green as the pine bough, her red beak the only sign of coming spring




So many moons I have seen, in this, my life, but no two are the same . . . have I changed?

my reflection in the elevator doors— as gaunt as I feel

only seventeen, she wants to join the navy . . . I play with disposable chopsticks and pretend enthusiasm

be careful what you write even in your journal, hearts are waiting for their bruises


sharp and blue, this night without a moon

a dozen contrails stretch across the sky, all pointing to the west, beyond my dreams

bindweed clambers around the swingset with no swings

this is not to say I have never felt despair; I too have looked into deep wells, and finding no stars, cursed the night


if snails could sing, would it make the world happy?

answer me, my friend, before this night devours my very soul

maple seeds twirl down at this desperate place called home

when I was a child, cicadas sang the summer that would never end


high tides threaten to overwhelm the dock: my daughter tells me about the man who hits her

in a garden gone to weeds is the temple of my heart

the first cold night of August, and the shirring of crickets mourning summer

emerald the grass in the last long rain before autumn claims it all


give me an old dog (his puppy years worn out) content to lay his muzzle on my knee while I sit beside the fire

in my dreams, a lean, low-hulled corsair glides up the bay —and wrecks on rocks of memory

the blueness of the sky shines right through the thin, pale moon

i didn’t want to remember, but i can’t unremember tonight or i would forget


green midnight and the scent coming off the pines autumn creeping in with the crickets

october eve the moon licks the rim of the world

my daughter searches for an apartment she can afford where nobody has been shot

potato soup a little too thin, autumn creeps silently among the pine trees


the sweep of the revolving door brushes souls in and out spinning into nothingness

this watch has worn out another wristband time spinning will Earth too wear out its human bond?

if I wanted to turn the world upside down, I’d be a possum

there are no dreams tonight only memories staring into the persimmon darkness


orange needles even pine trees come at last to the autumn of their lives

winter watermelon, and borrowed dreams of summer

snow is falling from the shattered heavens tonight— lightning in winter

the whirling snowfall batters my weary heart with insistent beauty


on a night like this not even the owls have anything to say


M. Kei (pronounced “m’kay”) is the pen name of a poet who lives in Cecil County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Divorced, he is the parent of two college age students. He currently makes a living as a customer service manager at Wal-mart. Kei formerly served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum while the Museum during its attempt to raise two million dollars to complete the building and exhibits. For fun, Kei serves as a volunteer crewman and storyteacher aboard the Skipjack Martha Lewis. He learned to sail on board a skipjack, and has only sailed wooden boats. He has some additional experience with both tall ships and small wooden baycraft, and his insane dream is to become a rich and famous poet so that he can afford to restore a log sailing canoe, or other traditional bayboat. If that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he also writes and publishes poetry, mostly tanka. He has had over 1500 poems accepted for publication and has won awards for his poetry. He is the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology Fire Pearls, Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart and the editor-in-chief of Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka. Kei also edited the Chesapeake Bay Saijiki (Haiku Almanac) online, manages the Kyoka Mad Poems e-list, and co-manages the Tanka Roundtable. He is the founder and editor of Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka. Both Take Five and Atlas Poetica were on the Montserrat Review's list of Recommended Reading for Fall 2009. He is a researcher of tanka in English and is the author of ‘The Bibliography of Tanka in English’ and various articles in the field.


Notes and Credits
Chesapeake Country 1 Cecil and Harford Counties, Maryland, also known as the ‘Head of the Bay.’ Sketchbook, 1:3, Dec 2007. 2 View from the Student Lounge, Cecil Community College, North East, MD. Sketchbook, 1:2, Oct 2007. 3 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. 4 Turkey Point, Cecil County, MD. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. 5 Susquehanna River, off Havre de Grace, MD. 6 Chesapeake Bay. 7 Cecil County, MD. 8 North East, MD. Haiku du Jour, 18 Jul 2006. 9 Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, Havre de Grace, MD. 10 North America. 11 Chestertown, MD. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 12 Elkton and Falling Branch, MD. 13 Brandywine River, Chadd’s Ford, PA. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 14 Aboard the Skipjack Martha Lewis, off Spesutia Island. Haiku Blossoms: Getting Acquainted with Nature Poetry (India), 9-10 Dec 2006. 15 Off Perry Point, MD. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 16 Aboard the SV Kalmar Nyckel, Christianna River, Wilmington, DE. 17 A field near Middletown, DE. 18 Aboard the Skipjack Martha Lewis, off Havre de Grace, MD. 19 Off Havre de Grace, MD. 20 Ibid. 21 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society (UK), 2007. 22 Chesapeake Bay. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 25 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. I really did find the end of the rainbow, or more correctly, it found me. I was eating dinner by myself between cruises on the Skipjack Martha Lewis and it dropped right down into the water in front of me about a hundred feet away. It stained the water with its colors, and as I watched, it spent about half an hour slowly swinging away until it dissipated on the Cecil shore. God himself has told me I belong here and need to keep doing what I am doing. Skipjack: traditional wooden sailboat used to dredge for oysters on the Chesapeake Bay. Technically, ‘two-sailed bateaux,’ they can be recognized by the immense sails needed to power the dredges. The Skipjack Martha Lewis is the last vessel in North America to fish commercially under sail, but she can’t make a living at it, and is now operated by the nonprofit Chesapeake Heritage Foundation. Skipjack One 1 Perryville, MD. ‘Editor’s Choice,’ Nisqually Delta Review, 3:1, Winter/Spring, 2007. 2 Chesapeake Bay. 3 Skipjack Martha Lewis, City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. Kokako #5, (NZ), Sept 2006. 4 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. 5 Ibid. Kokako #6, (NZ), Apr 2006. 6 I leathered the oars for a wooden skiff at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michael’s, MD, Easter of 2006. 7 Skipjack Martha Lewis, City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. Actually, it was Capt. Greg that shook them out—they were starting to roost in the mains’l. Ribbons, 2:4, Winter, 2006. 8 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. 9 At the helm of the Skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark, oldest of the surviving skipjacks, under the auspices of the legendary Capt. Wade, Tilghman Island, MD. We got our propellor fouled in a line of eel pots and were forty-five minutes late getting back to shore, but it wasn’t my fault! 10 Remote controlled toyboat race, off Concord Point Lighthouse, viewed from the deck of the Skipjack Martha Lewis, Havre de Grace, MD.


1 Ibid. When we saw the toy boats heel, we knew what was coming and braced ourselves. Martha buried her lee rail. Fun! 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. Appeared as part of ‘Skipjack Sequence,’ Lynx, XXI:3, Oct 2006. 15 Bulle Rock sends a strong local breeze over the channel approaching Havre de Grace, even on calm days. 16 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. 17 On one of my first sails with the Martha Lewis, we ran out from under a squall. Hail stung my neck and I realized why sailors wear beards and promptly grew one. ‘Winter,’ Chesapeake Bay Saijiki, 2006. 18 No tornado came our way, but the wind drove the tide up the bay and the unusually high tide broke a piling at our dock. 19 Transiting the Skipjack Martha Lewis from Havre de Grace to Sparrow’s Point, MD, for the start of oyster season. Kokako #6, (NZ), Apr 2006. 20 Less than two dozen skipjacks remain of a fleet that once numbered over a thousand. Love 1 Turkey Point, MD. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. 2 Rt. 40, Perryville, MD. 3 In dry years, salt water inundates the bay and jellyfish flock as far north as Tilghman’s Island. 4 Winner, Tanka Splendor Award, 2006. Ribbons, 2:4, Winter, 2006. 5 For two friends of mine. Simply Haiku, 4:2, Summer, 2006. 6 ‘Editor’s Choice,’ Nisqually Delta Review, 2:2, Summer/Fall, 2006. 7 Blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, are the official crustacean of the State of Maryland. The name means ‘beautiful swimmers.’ Kokako #6, (NZ), Apr 2006. 8 Loss of wetlands and silting of the rivers and streams destroys the natural protections the Bay affords. We were hit moderately hard by Hurricane Isabel, so a hit by something the size of Katrina (not impossible), would be devastating. Modern English Tanka, 1:2, Winter, 2006. 9 One of many poems I wrote while recovering from aphasia caused by narcolepsy. MyTown Outsiders, May 2006. 10 I don’t currently have a lover, but I can dream, can’t I? 11 You can’t expect an amusing or clever remark in every single note. 12 The herons of Havre de Grace are often seen, but rarely heard. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007 13 Somehow, I don’t seem to be very good at retaining lovers. 14 This is not a love poem. It’s about the loss of sea grasses on the Susquehanna Flats and the negative consequences for water quality and waterfowl. ‘Editor’s Choice,’ Nisqually Delta Review, 2:2, Summer/Fall, 2006. 15 A., who disappeared without notice and returned the same way, but didn’t stay long. Did I mention I have trouble retaining lovers? Simply Haiku, 4:2, Summer, 2006. 16 I have always regarded the moon as male and the sun as female. The female is the steadier of the two, and it is the male that wanders, appearing and disappearing at will. Such is my experience. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007 17 Ki no Tsurayuki, editor-in-chief of the Kokinshu, the tanka anthology that made the mold for the next thousand years, said that poetry had the power to move the Heavens and Earth. My ambitions are considerably smaller. 18 “Snow lakes” was originally a typo for “snowflakes,” but when I saw it, I immediately flashed back to my youth, the iceboats of Michigan, and my first broken heart. Fire Pearls: Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart, 2006. 19 Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007 20 Spring, at least, will always return, which cannot be said with any certainty about lovers. Sketchbook, 1:2, Nov 2006. 21 You’d think somebody would want it. It doesn’t seem to be doing me much good. 22 Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. Skipjack Two


1 Aboard the Skipjack Martha Lewis at Seven Foot Knoll, off the Port of Baltimore. 2 Martha Lewis in transit from Havre de Grace to Sparrow’s Point, MD, at the start of oyster season. 3 Ibid. Martha had quite a lot to say on that trip. Her rigging was singing and her shrouds were banging and her gaff jaws were grinding. It reminds a man that he is a worm clinging to a plank of wood in the middle of God’s vastness. Anglo Japanese Tanka Society (UK), May 2007. 4 Sparrow’s Point, MD. Anglo Japanese Tanka Society, (UK) May 2007. 5 Several islands of the Bay have eroded away into nothingness during living memory. Several others are heading that way. 6 Most people reading this think it’s about a homeless person. It’s not. It’s about the Skipjack Martha Lewis, who is in dire need of a new mains’l. It costs thousands of dollars to have a custom sail that big made and there aren’t very many sailmakers left who can do it. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. 7 If you keep quiet and empty your mind, you will be able to hear them too. 8 Off Perry Point, MD. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. Specially requested for Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka. 9 The Chesapeake Bay at night, and in the middle of it, one lone skipjack, moths fluttering around her steaming light. 10 Tirnagoth is the Celtic Paradise. It can be reached by climbing the tallest hill, then climbing a ladder of moonbeams up to the full moon. Federal Hill, Baltimore. 11 Everything is beautiful, if you believe in beauty. 12 Oyster-dredging is some of the hardest work there is, done in the coldest, dampest weather. Seven Foot Knoll, off the Port of Baltimore. 13 Late autumn, Havre de Grace, MD. 14 Watermen ‘drudge arsters’ all winter without regard for the weather. 15 And sometimes they don’t come home. ‘Non-Seasonal Topics,’ Chesapeake Bay Saijiki, 2006. Head of the Bay 1 Perryville, MD. 2 Havre de Grace, MD. When the herons aren’t there, I miss them. 3 Pylesville, Harford County, MD. 4 I wrote this poem while driving through a squall. Fifteen minutes later, I came out from under the eaves of the storm and discovered a great blooming chokecherry tree shattered by lightning. I figure the tree got struck right about the time I was composing the poem. My daughter says, “Papa. Don’t write any poems about people dying, it might come true!” Rt. 1, Harford County, MD. Winner, Tanka Splendor Contest, 2006. Ribbons, 2:4, Winter, 2006. 5 Pylesville, MD. 6 Jarretsville, Harford County, MD. 7 Rt. 40, near Bush River, Harford County, MD. 8 Okay, so it’s really named, “Trappe’s Church.” I go through there almost every week about twilight to pick up my son for visitation, so “Twilight” it is. 9 As seen from the deck of the Skipjack Martha Lewis. 10 Rt. 7, near Belcamp, Harford County, MD. Hollyhocks, irises, and violets are my favorite flowers. ‘Summer’, Chesapeake Bay Saijiki, 2006. 11 Rt. 136, near Twilight, Harford County, MD. 12 The cover of this book. 13 Maryland’s heat turns clammy before it rains. You’ve been sweltering in 100+ heat and as the humidity nears 100%, the temperature suddenly drops, chilling the sweat on your skin. Then the rain starts. Anglo Japanese Tanka Society (UK), May 2007. 14 City Marina, Havre de Grace, MD. Simply Haiku, 4:2, Summer, 2006. 15 If you pay attention to the world around yourself, you notice these things. 16 Old and ‘new’ train bridges over the Susquehanna River at the Head of the Bay. 17 His name is ‘Henry,’ and he keeps an eye on all that Martha does. 18 Because he didn’t look like them. 19 The old stone gristmill on Perry Point. Head of the Bay, MD. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 20 Cecil County, MD. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006.


21 Port Deposit, Cecil County, MD. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. 22 Port Deposit, Cecil County, MD. 23 Elkton Railroad Station, not to be confused with Elkton Station, a building at Cecil Community College. Elkton, MD. 24 Fair Hill, MD. 25 Carpenter’s Point, Perryville, MD. Modern English Tanka, 1:2, Winter, 2006. 26 Rt. 40, Cecil County, MD. 27 Rt. 7, Elkton, MD. 28 Elkton, MD. Red Lights, 3:1, Jan 2007. 29 Hollingsworth Manor, Elkton, MD. I used to live there. Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006 30 Elkton Station, Elkton, MD. 31 The drive home along Rt. 40, Cecil County, MD. 32 It’s actually the “Bicentennial Oak,” but not on a windy October night. Big Elk Mall, Elkton, MD. 33 Rt. 40, Perryville, MD. 34 Yes, it’s name really is “North East.” That’s all there is. It’s not a very big town, so it doesn’t need a very big name. A variant previously published as part of ‘Cecil County, Maryland,’ Nota Bene, 2006. 35 Perryville, MD. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. Being a poor man, fat sparrows make me happy because they mean a mild winter. 38 Ibid. Threnody 1 Ibid. Nisqually Delta Review, 3:1, Winter/Spring, 2007. 2 Elkton Station, Elkton, MD. 3 My daughter decided to become a teacher instead. Nisqually Delta Review, 3:1, Winter/Spring, 2007. 4 Anglo Japanese Tanka Society, (UK), Mar 2007. 5 Perryville, MD. 6 North of Jarretsville, Harford County, MD. Gusts #4, Fall/Winter, 2006. 7 Elkton, MD. Another place I used to live. ‘Summer,’ Chesapeake Bay Saijiki, 2006. 8 Cecil County, MD. 9 I think it would. I know it would make me happy. 10 Sometimes a friend is the only thing standing between a poet and oblivion. 11 Elkton, MD. 12 During the visit of the seventeen year periodical cicada. Sketchbook, 1:3, Dec 2006. 13 I put a stop to that. Fire Pearls: Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart, 2006. 14 Elkton, MD. Haiku Harvest, 6:1, Spring/Summer, 2006. 15 Perryville, MD. 16 Ibid. Ribbons, 2:4, Winter, 2006. 17 Inspired by Poseidon, mascot of the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, Havre de Grace, MD. 18 Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn, 2006. 19 Perryville, MD. 20 My abusive father. 21 Perryville, MD. 22 Ibid. 23 She didn’t find it, and moved in with me. 24 Perryville, MD. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 25 Baltimore, MD. Simply Haiku, 5:1, Spring, 2007. 26 Cecil County, MD. 27 In the eyes of a possum, we are all upside down. 28 Perryville, MD. 29 Ibid. Anglo Japanese Tanka Society, (UK), March 2 30 Grocery store, North East, MD. 31 Elkton, MD. 32 Ibid. Haiku Harvest, 6:1, Spring/Summer, 2006. 33 Elkton, MD.