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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 3, September 2015


Charles D. Tarlton
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA

Spring in Western Massachusetts:
Three Tanka Prose


During the night a soft hiss of rain was backdrop to my dreams, first of black and orange highways, the traffic passing at dusk, then of the sea’s windless dark, the invisible and transient wavelets on the sand, and finally, an early breeze this morning as I woke to the sound of the leaves.

little kisses blown
to the moon, and afterwards
listening to hear
just what the moon thinks of my
forwardness, this proposal


Right after the snow melted the yard was a mess; no one had trimmed away the dead growths that lay brown and sadly flat where they had fallen. Bare black dirt ruled everywhere the grass had been excluded by stones or weathered boards stuck in the ground. But now it is the end of May, and the trees have come fully leafed, the irises are just a little past perfection, and green systems of every design push up and out, thrusting eager and engorged stems toward the air’s unconditional promise of flowers.

the frail tissue of the rose
forsythia knows
it must exchange pale yellows
for a more durable green


They came to plant a lawn in our front yard, but first they had to tear out the ornamental fence and haul away the gravel from the paths. They dug earth and compost from the bottom of the garden, brought it up in wheelbarrows, and spread it around to make the surface level and rich. Then they raked and tossed grass seed generously around, double-checking corners, and raked it all again. We watered it twice a day, in the cool dawn and in the long shadows of twilight, and now it has “popped up” (as the gardener puts it) and is almost ready to be mowed.

spring’s green carpeting
in full revival, its warm smells
plant obscenity
in the hearts of honey bees
drive the chickadees insane



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