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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 2, June 2019

Janet Jenkins-Stotts
Topeka, Kansas, USA

The Ghost of Master Po

My first death, a brief sharp pain, was my own. Karma drove me under the horse’s hooves. My second, lasting death was at the hand of you, my student. Reacting in animal anger, you stabbed the rider of the skittish stallion, causing my name, my teachings of compassion and peace, to die for eternity.

But I am falling into your error—not accepting responsibility for my own faults. When you repeatedly complained my teachings were too hard, and you were only human, I should have repudiated you. It was my own pride that made me keep you as my pupil. I thought I could make a begging bowl from flawed clay. I am justly humbled.

my poems have been
swimming in the shallow end,
afraid of the depths,
floating on facile rhymes, as
they slowly dog paddle home

Author's Note: The tanka was previously published in River City Poetry, June 2017.



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