Words without Voice


Words without Voice

How do I reconcile
               thoughts as fantasy
                              memory and reality
             passion with voice
the page as desire?

vision disjointed

               no oracle


               thoughts recede


empty page

Words without Voice is the opening poem from my collection, Glass Awash, recently published by Spartan Press. It can be purchased at Amazon. Contact me if you are interested in a signed copy.

Shared with OpenLinkNight LIVE at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Image source: clipart-library.com

Anticipation ~ chōka & haiku

My initial reaction to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 229 #SynonymsOnly, where the words offered are dawn and twilight (to be replaced with synonyms), was to write a haiku.

morning light
with sunset

Instead, I decided to write a chōka.


morning lightsailboats at anchor
in the waning evening light
long day on the lake
lapping of waves against hulls
sound of buoys rings
air of anticipation
to feel wind in morning’s light

light of setting sun
brings a night of quiet rest
morning light arrives
waves ripple in reflection
as the cycle continues

Chōka, a Japanese long poem written primarily from the 6th to the 14th century. Chōka have alternating lines of 5 and 7 syllables and an indefinite length (from 7 to 149 lines), ending with an added 7 syllable line. So, 5-7-5-7-5-7-…7, and a length allowing greater themes.

Chōka often were followed by one or more short poems called hanka, or “envoys,” summarizing, supplementing, or elaborating on, the contents of the main poem. Sometimes, a tanka would serve as an envoy, and that is what I have written here.

Man’yōshū (“Collection of a Myriad Leaves”) is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry (from some time after AD 759) and contains 4,536 waka (classical Japanese poetry). 265 of those are chōka (long poems). The 1940/1965 edition of The Man’yōshū: One Thousand Poems (a translation) is available for download as a PDF from Internet Archive and is some pretty interesting reading.

Image: sunset on the Niagara River at Lake Ontario, Youngstown, New York
                              (click image for larger view in new tab)

what prompted this?

what prompted this?

walking away     not
looking back         poked
prodded these words       so
much I couldn’t start
a fire in a can of gasoline
this scene is rubbing the words
raw        rubbing me raw
robbing me of         any
desire        to write them
     down         on cue
or otherwise         lies
I tell myself to      motivate
instigate        navigate my way
onto the page        engage myself
with a process that should need
no prompts          just be what it is

Well, I guess I got that out of my system. If this means I’m writing, I’ll take it.
Day 15, National/Global Poetry Writing Month

Blogger Recognition Award

Winter driving has always been one of my least favorite things to do. Imagine that. It was part of my job before I retired – driving a semi in the Buffalo and Western New York area. I got to do just that last weekend – thankfully in a car and not a semi – as I drove home in a lake effect snow storm on I-86 between Jamestown and Erie. That experience was tempered (just a little) while pulled off the road to clean my windows, when I was pleasantly surprised by a WP notification that I had been nominated by Jim Webster for The Blogger Recognition Award.

Jim Webster is a farmer and an author who writes about his books and about farm life in Britain, as well as about his community of South Cumbria and Britain, at large, often providing insightful observations of human character. Speaking of human character, Jim also has a site where he tells the tales of Tallis Steelyard, a poet with the highest of standards, sometimes exercised in the lowest of places. Tallis has appeared here many times as a guest blogger while on book tours, telling tales of Port Naain society, as seen through the eyes of a jobbing poet.

I was back home in Missouri, snug as a bug in a rug, when I received notification that Sue Vincent also had nominated me for The Blogger Recognition Award. I started following Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo when I discovered her #writephoto / Thursday Photo Prompt, in which she offers a weekly photo, taken in her travels about Britain. And boy, does she travel, visiting historic sites in Britain, as far as the northern reaches of Scotland, with her colleagues in the Silent Eye, recounting their experiences of visual and spiritual discovery. Her blog also includes poetry, sometimes written by her roommate, Ani, a canine with a most astute nature.

The rules for The Blogger Recognition Award are as follows:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

I started this blog in April 2014, when I wrote a poem for each day of the month to participate in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). I started following a handful of poets, but once April was over I slacked off, both in posting and reading other poets. I participated again in 2015 and realized I needed that motivation to write. I started reading the poets I followed, adding more as I went along. I found that, by the end of the year, I was writing on a more regular basis, often inspired by the words I was reading, as well as in response to prompts provided by some of those bloggers. I’ve discovered a very welcoming community on WordPress and consider many of those with whom I interact to be friends, people I would enjoy meeting. A stop along my recent trip home showed just how possible that is.

Occasionally, I’ll post a blog with photos I’ve taken while kayaking, hiking, or traveling, but poetry continues to be my main focus.

I’ve had this blog for more than five years, now, and last year I switched to a paid plan on WordPress, for two reasons. First, to have the option to include audio files in which I read some of my poems; and second, to remove the ads from my blog. Occasionally, I will create a video poem, which I embed after posting it on YouTube.

If I were to offer advice to new bloggers, it would be to reply to the people who comment on your posts. As you interact with them, both on your blogs and in comments on theirs, you’ll find a community opening up before you.

As a second bit of advice: We all need encouragement. Even a simple “Like” lets us know that others have seen what we have to say, so do the same for those you have read. And comment, when possible. Sometimes I struggle to find the right words for a comment, but I will do so when I can find those words.

Normally, I don’t take part in blogger awards, so I’m going to forgo nominating other bloggers for this. Regardless, please take the time to find out what Sue and Jim (and his alter ego, Tallis) are all about.

I’ll add one more thing: I wish I could follow more bloggers, but, as it is, sometimes I find it hard to keep up with those I do follow. Real life gets in the way, but that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Ken Gierke

What Remains – #writephoto

What Remains

What Remains_1See me now as I am and know
that mine is not a sad story.

My life could be held
in a feather, seemingly

insignificant, but with countless
strands holding both troubled times

and the promise delivered
What Remains_2by blue skies. Dipped in ink

to spill its tales, or carried on the wind
to those who have known me,

it speaks of a life lived.
See me now and know me.

This is my response to Thursday Photo Prompt: Remains #writephoto, from Sue Vincent at Daily Echo.  Sue has provided two photos for this week’s prompt.


no spring sprouts – ADD troiku

no spring sprouts
nor desire to tend garden
in this time of loss


in the herb garden
nothing more than weed-choked life
echoing my grief

his heart attack
takes my mind to dark places
mourning clouds my sight

his heart attack
complicated loss

A troiku is a form devised by Kristjaan Panneman at Carpe Diem: three haiku, with each of the three lines from a suggested haiku as the first line of each haiku in the troiku.

If you have stayed with me this far, you can see that this is not a troiku. I totally spaced out when posting this, and have corrected it here.

scent and color pale – after the storm

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #24 Revise That Haiku
offers two classic haiku: 

in the moonlight,
the color and scent of the wisteria
seems far away
                         Yosa Buson (1716-1784)
a mountain village
under the piled-up snow
the sound of water
                         Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)

My revisions:

scent and color pale

(Clément Rosenthal)

scent and color pale
wisteria in moonlight
haunting in absence



after winter storm

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(Utagawa Hiroshige)

after winter storm
mountain village recovers
heavy snow melting