“True Colours” by Michael Dylan Welch

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Michael Dylan Welch


Solo Rengay

true colours—
the abstract painting

an off-colour joke
from the psychiatrist

outside the lines
the kindergarten teacher

the realtor
talking too much
about local colour

hardly colourblind
the district attorney

technicolour sunset—
the photographer loads
another memory card

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms

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Michael Dylan Welch: “Why am I drawn to haiku and related Japanese poetry? Because I’ve always found short forms of poetry to be the most appealing, and haiku is the queen of short poetry. I write because I can’t help but share my passion for haiku (together with longer poetry). This is a chief motive behind my establishment of National Haiku Writing Month. Unfortunately, haiku is widely misunderstood and mistaught, so another reason I continue to write haiku, and write about it, is to help correct these misunderstandings.” (website)

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“Midday Heat: A Twenty-Stanza Renku” by Jonathan Weinert & Debra Kang Dean

Jonathan Weinert & Debra Kang Dean


Summer 2012

[1 Front]


midday heat stands still
a far siren by the lake
we go on dying

to be touched by some coolness
to be perfect reflections

of the open sky
in the mail today an empty box
from no one I know

tough enough to keep mustard seeds,
washed-up shells, and shadows in—



[1 Back]


you moonlight ladies
at ease on a coverlet
of fresh scarlet leaves

remembering how I held you
in early dark that last time

as the plane lifted
through fog I inhaled deeply
a scent still fading

from my raveled right shirtsleeve
and the far end of the world

windswept grains of sand
spiraling counterclockwise
before scattering

as we do, as we will do
in the story’s second half



[2 Front]


when fresh snow outlined the grapes
and healed the tattered
vine leaves on the gray stone fence

cold company we made, friend
Moon, my shadow and me

across a low field
some movement in the windbreak
half-expected cry

of the owl, who replies—
question, is it, or answer

to the question posed
by love’s abiding absence:
how do you go on

beyond magical thinking, what
remains: scents on a pillow …



[2 Back]


so strange, rain drops here—
among billowy clouds this one
sprinkling above me

as fierce green whorls breach earth
having no alternative

you wait, sipping on
rosebud tea in the presence
of blighted blossoms

signifying renewal
or something like renewal

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms


Jonathan Weinert: “I had no experience with renku until my co-conspirator and teacher, Debra Kang Dean, approached me with the idea of writing one over the summer of 2012. This required some studying on my part, to familiarize myself with the rules of the form. I’ve long been fascinated with how formal restrictions can exert a pressure on the language and imagination, forcing them into unexpected channels. Renku adds requirements on content to the usual structural rules: the moon must go here, a blossom must go there. There was a surprising freedom in following these rules. Surprising, too, was the way that spilling our two voices together produced a third, the voice of an unknown other with a history and a way of seeing that are neither Debra’s nor my own. A renku’s links, it seems, reach both out of the poem as well as across it.” (website)

Debra Kang Dean: “I date the start of my serious engagement with renku to the mid- to late-’90s, when Tadashi Kondo invited me to participate in several renku writing sessions. He described it as being like a mandala that included all parts of experience. In Taiji, there is a phrase—borrowed energy—that suggests one of the pleasures of writing renku. What I particularly delight in is the way it affords an ongoing challenge to think in terms of closing and opening simultaneously, which, in the language of renku is called linking and shifting. The rules of renku are complex, and I don’t pretend to have come close to mastering them, so I approach each chance to write renku as an opportunity to learn by doing. There is a strong sense of call and response about renku but without repetition—that is, something calls out and one responds, and that response calls forth another response, and so on. Therefore, to work with different partners is to have the opportunity to expand the range of one’s responses.” (website)

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“Musashi-san” by Jack Vian

Jack Vian



Who are the ones who awake without hearing
the sound of the sun-filled
dancing upon the edges of an outstretched wing?

And who am I?

To stand alone like a swordsman
without his sword,

a mere figure
in the unresolved distance
like a brushstroke

awaiting a scroll—

an empty bowl
ungrateful for the pleasure
of its emptiness

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
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Jack Vian: “For the incarcerated poet, a poem is more than just a literary construct, it is an ideal given flesh. It’s the difference in wishing that a passing plane will notice the ship-wrecked castaways, and taking the time to carve an SOS in the beach or put a message in a bottle. So I’m always thankful when readers find something worthwhile in my experience. The only Japanese form that I use regularly is the haiku, and my practice of that had fallen into arrears. But I wrote this highly versified almost-haibun while reading a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.”

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“Haiku Sequence” by John Samuel Tieman & Walter Bargen

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John Samuel Tieman & Walter Bargen



once my father drew
the face of the moon before
he got drunk and left

To point at the moon
Is to point the moon
Right here.

* *

I throw a raisin
to a mockingbird hungry
belly yellow eyes

This withered drop of sun
So dark at noon
And so tasty.

* *

a scrap of my past
an old postcard from somewhere
I forgot to stamp

Forty years found
In a postcard whose lake and trees
Rested between pages 26 and 27.

* *

a single snowflake
I do my best to save it
I melt anyway

It is an epaulet, a promotion,
A star to be shouldered
The general command of snow.

* *

in a parking lot
I spot an acorn falling
from nowhere at all

The pale blue flower
Grows in the crack
Ready to move concrete.

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
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John Samuel Tieman & Walter Bargen: “We met when we served on the Missouri Arts Council. A few years ago, through email we began to exchange these short poems, these poems and many more, a project that now is a book-length collection.” (website)

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“Simple Tanka Prose for the Seasons” by Charles Tarlton

Charles Tarlton



On the probing black finger ends of maples now the palest buds where someone has dusted them with green icing sugar.

as from a distance
when the faint sounds of voices
come to you
before you’ve been through the gate
and into the stadium



Atsui Natsua

The breeze that urged the curtains to and fro was thick, hot, and wet, and a single buzzing bee was caught there between the wire screens and the partly open glass.

weddings being planned
under a sweet profusion
of flower scents
intoxicating even
more than the purest love




On both sides of the street these tall deciduous crowns are electric with color—the reds like scarlet church glass, yellows dense as new butter, and purples, O purples like heavy old wine.

sun in such clear air
there’s a bite and a crunch
under foot out here
beauty of unmasked pigments
the sugared ruby sap




Everyone aboard the ship was anxious. We were late leaving Southampton and now there was a danger of storms in the north Atlantic or maybe even a wandering winter iceberg. We watched the land sink into the ship’s cold wake until there was only the sea around us.

late winter, the ice
around Lake Ontario
hovers in wind-wave
sculptures frozen in the air
not cresting until spring

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms


Charles Tarlton: “I have been writing tanka prose for the last seven or eight years. Before that I wrote poems mostly in a neo-modernist style, some of my heroes being Wallace Stevens, Pound, and John Berryman. My purpose is to develop and bend tanka prose to the larger services of contemporary poetry in English.”

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