The Circle Must Close (a tanka)

Every ending
Leads to a new beginning
The last shall be first
The new grows out of the old
Life will always follow death


This poem is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #14 – LAST & NEW


Father Zeus


Dyēus Pater, Iou Pater
Zeus, Shining Sky Father: Iupiter.
Kronos child, Saturn son,
Faithless Hera husband.
Grandson of Gē Mater, Earth Mother Gaia.
Brother-lover of Dē Mater, Earth Mother Demeter,
Who bore Persephone, Grain Goddess, Underworld Queen,
Kidnapped by Zeus-Brother Dis Pater, Rich Father Hades.

Mother and son plot against husband and father,
Justice for siblings, sons and daughters,
Cyclical family history repeating.

Siblings vomited up from poisoned pater’s belly,
Monstrous uncles freed from grandma Gaia’s womb.
A revolution started with Cyclops forged thunder,
Hundred handed boulder hurlers,
Invisible helmets and earthquake tridents.

Siege of Mount Othrys end with Titans exiled to Tartarus,
And a new golden throne on Mount Olympus.


Pronunciation Key:
Dyēus Pater = Day-yoose Pa-tare
Iou Pater = You Pa-tare
Zeus = Zoose
Iupiter. = You-pit-er (aka Jupiter)
Gē Mater = Gee Ma-tare
Gaia. = Guy-ya
Dē Mater = Dee Ma-tare
Demeter, = Duh-meter
Persephone = Per-sef-o-knee
Dis Pater = Dis Pa-tare
Hades = Hay-dees.

Image:  Zeus with a laurel crown. Gold stater from Lampsacus, Mysia (ca. 360–340 BC), obverse. From WikiMedia Commons.


Three From Illinois

three from ill

Lawyer, Warrior, Constitutional Scholar,
American presidents three.
Kentucky, Ohio, Hawaii born,
Springfield, Galena, Chicago home.
Lovers of life, liberty, freedom, and family
Defenders, protectors, believers
Of our diverse union of souls and states,
More perfect that any other on Earth.

Abolitionist, Unionist, Civil Rights Activist,
A dream of a country healed;
People no longer owned as property,
Protector, dream nurturer, country reconstructor,
Reputation ruined by revenge seeking reconstruction killing racist
And history book rewriters.
A dream personified in a country still bearing
Civil War scars and nightmares of the past,
A dream expanded: equality and equity for all.

Captain, General, Commander-in-Chief,
Manning the wheel through the straits in a storm,
Commanding from horseback in private’s coat
With stars sewn onto it,
Leading with humor, dignity, and grace,
Educated, intelligent, but never elitist,
Never pompous nor pretentious,
Never giving up or in,
Ground may be lost today,
But we’ll lick ’em tomorrow.


Who Are You? (Senryu)

I am who I am
Who else could I ever be?
Are you who you are?


Snow (tanka)

Snow. Cold. Six feet deep.
Soft white blanket covers all.
Warming hearts with cold
Smiles ignite; snowflakes fall
Symbol of seasonal cheer.


This is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #13 – Warm & Cheer



Ouranos, Uranus, Caelus: Sky.
Heavens born of Aether and Earth,
maybe just Earth,
Or generated from Chaotic chasms in the Night.

Heaven and Earth came together,
Producing monsters, titans and gods:

Bright Arges orb-eye,
Brothers Brontes and Steropes,
Thunder and lightning,
Craftsmen, skilled smiths forging
Thunderbolts, sunlight and moonbeams.

Hundred handed, fifty headed
Strong Briareos, Cottus and Gyges,
So terrible to behold that
Sky Father pushed them back
Into Gaia’s womb.

Mother Ge, in anguish and in pain,
Asked the youngest of her eldest children,
Crafty Kronos Saturnus,
To see justice done.

With a flint sickle,
Fashioned by his mother,
Kronos castrated the Sky
Throwing away the testicles
To be swallowed up by his uncle, the Sea.

Drops of blood from the open wound
Became Erinyes, Furies, Eumenides,
Kindly Ones, spirits of vengeance and death.

Semen foamed up from Pontus’ throat,
Birthing Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Kronos declared king of gods,
Kept his ugly brethren imprisoned
In his mother’s uterus.

Gaia wailed as eunuched Uranus squeaked,
“I hope you have a son just like you.”


Pronunciation Notes:
Ouranos = Or-an-nos
Uranus = Your-an-us
Caelus = Kay-lus
Arges = Ar-gees
Brontes = Bron-tees
Steropes = Stare-op-ees
Briareos = Bri-ar-e-os
Cottus = Kot-tus
Gyges = Guy-Gees
Gaia = Guy-ya
Ge = Gee
Erinyes = Erin-ees
Eumenides = You-men-i-dees
Aphrodite = Af-fro-die-tee

Image: The Mutiliation of Uranus by Saturn by Giorgio Vasari & Cristoforo Gherardi. Found at WikiMedia Commons.

Johnny Cash


A voice God would speak with from a burning bush.
A man not consumed by the ring of fire,
Hurt yet healed, wearing a black badge for the poor and beaten down,
Champion of the voiceless with the Beatitudes tattooed on his heart,
Like a Hebrew prophet filled with inspiration, visions and voices,
Waiting for the man to come around,
Carrying nothing
But the thought of You.

26 February 2005/16-17 December 2016

שלום (a tanka)

Peace: Absence of War
Shalom: Wholeness; Unity
Everything: Broken
A house divided can’t stand
The world soul must be healed.


שלום = Shalom (pronounced Sha-lome), the Hebrew word most commonly tramslated as “Peace,” but which more literally means, as stated in the poem, “wholeness.” See more here.

This tanka is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #12 – Peace & Spirit. I chose to use “soul” in place of “spirit.”


Óðinn’s Wisdom


All my life, says Óðinn Alföðr,
I’ve sought wisdom and knowledge.
I’ve sacrificed, I’ve studied and endured.
And the only thing I am sure of
Is that twilight’s fall can not be averted,
Ragnarök will come, Asgard will burn,
Fenrir will slip his chains, Sköll will feast on Sól’s bones,
Darkness will fall, we will all die.

Its a fact that must be faced,
How its faced will define you.


Pronunciation guide:
ð = “th” as in “father”
Óðinn Alföðr = O-thin All-father
Ragnarök = Rag-na-rok
Fenrir = Fen-rear
Sköll = Skole (Rhymes with “toll”)
Sól = Sole

Image: Odin, der Göttervater. Odin enthroned with weapons, wolves and ravens” by Carl Emil Doepler (1824-1905). Found in WikiMedia Commons.

That Dog Diogenes


I saw that dog Diogenes
Walking daylight, lamp in hand.
Wandering the streets of Athens,
Looking for one good man.

Living virtue naturally,
In a simple cloak he’d be dressed,
Indifferent to wealth or power,
By which the ignorant are so impressed.

Men, they complicate everything
With their customs and their laws.
Only wisdom and rationality can
Avoid the suffering these things cause.

Live your life in simplicity,
Want only what you truly need.
Your true self will start to flourish
Once unquenchable desire you cease to feed.

I saw Diogenes last Sunday,
Masturbating in the street,
“If only twas so easy,” he said,
“To cure hunger without having to eat.”

Humble lentils fill a belly,
Wine barrels provide a dry bed,
Collect all the gold your heart desires,
You’ll still end your life dead.

Alexander saw Diogenes
Sunbathing by himself in Crete.
The great king saw within him
Not one ounce of evil or deceit.

Standing in awe of true wisdom,
Wanting to do what was right,
The king asked what wish he could grant him,
Diogenes said, “Get out of my fucking light!”



Image #1: “Diogenes” by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) Found on WikiMedia Commons.
Image #2:”Alexander the Great and Diogenes” by Hendrick Heerschop (1626-1690) Found on WikiMedia Commons.