a selection of tanka from the collection
 Cold Stars         White Moon
  Larry      Kimmel
   A Winfred Press On-line Book

   364 Wilson Hill Road 
    Colrain, MA 01340 USA

Collected Poems Online: 
the longer poems of Larry Kimmel      
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Copyright © 2002 by Larry Kimmel

        are due the editors of the following publications where these tanka, sometimes 
        in different form, first appeared: American Tanka; black bough; The Christian 
        Science Monitor; Forms (by Anthropos Theophoras Review); The Green Age 
        Literary Review; Hummingbird; Lynx; Raw Nervz Haiku; still; Tanka Splendor 
        1995, '96, '97, '98, 99, 00; Tuttle Publishing; Woodnotes. 


      Daybreak unfolds
      like an unexpected  dollar -
      while break
      ing fast I budget my morning
      down to its last bright penny

                                                                                         Picking up the dime
                                                                                         from the sidewalk she shows
                                                                                         the bird nest
                                                                                         between her breasts -
                                                                                                      and then her beard

      The wee crystal ball
      from my son's marble bag -
      the whole of those
      muddy, moisty, green-veiled,
      pussywillow days

                                                                                     Hearing your fame
                                                                                     on the radio, I go
                                                                                     walking streets of leaves -
                                                                                     longing to see you, I ache,
                                                                                     having no success to speak of

      All morning
      the mood of the otherwise
      forgotten dream -
      the backs of maple leaves
      turned silver under water

                                                                                       Staring at
                                                                                       the kitchen linoleum,
                                                                                       I can still find,
                                                                                       after all these years,
                                                                                       a familiar face or two

      At twilight the flame
      in the bush is candlelight
      caught by the window -
      nothing more, nothing less
          - is what you make of it

                                                                                        Again tonight
                                                                                        along the color ribboned river
                                                                                        I feel its frail insistence -
                                                                                        this hunger, tissue thin
                                                                                        behind my breastbone

      Stark from the shower
      to answer the phone,
      she dons a robe
      of the finest distance . . .
      the girl with spring desire

                                                                                       And the autumn woods
                                                                                       so lovely that you want
                                                                                       but don't know what it is
                                                                                       you want -
                                                                                       it only makes you sorry

      Looking down
      on that distant page
      of meadow -

      a railroad train straight as a sentence
      and I too mountain high to read its noise

                                                                                       In the face
                                                                                       of the approaching pedestrian,
                                                                                       I see something,
                                                                                       something to wince about -
                                                                                       then hear the crash behind me

      We did what we could
      read their letters, figured their taxes
      good neighbors they -
                                 now just a cellar hole
      and the lilacs in spring

                                                                                     In his tree house,
                                                                                     red as the rose that newly sprung
                                                                                     this June
                                                                                     he blooms with shame -
                                                                                     having blurted out his secret

      It's something
      to realize you're nothing
      to somebody else -
                      blue smoke rising
                      from a farther hill . . .

                                                                                     Bittersweet in such plenty,
                                                                                     an orange-and-yellow mist
                                                                                     that wants telling . . .
                                                                                     if she will not answer my letters
                                                                                                                  if she will not

      Looking up, I gaze
      at the faded reds and golds
      of an autumn hillside -
      the story in the old tapestry
      not at all what I remembered

                                                                                    To the east
                                                                                     the fiery windows of sunset,
                                                                                     in the slush at the curb
                                                                                                  a dead pigeon . . .
                                                                                     what's done is done

      Along the winter streets,
      the lifeless streets
      of yellow window lights
      and leafless trees, I pass
                  - a click of cleats


                                                                                   Her skirt brightens
                                                                                    in the sunlight at the door -
                                                                                    quick!  quick!
                                                                                                her scissor shadow
                                                                                                            cuts me through

      Selling flowers, she wears
      nothing but the briefest briefs
      beneath her dress -
      but her snippy way withers
      my fine bouquet of notions

                                                                                    We argue,
                                                                                     yet this other sharing
                                                                                     of our differences -
                                                                                                    such sweet

      Standing in the green-dusk
      of the woods looking out -
      how bright the meadow . . .
             how odd this reluctance
             to step into brilliance

                                                                                     As twilight gathers,
                                                                                     the white boulder in
                                                                                     the stone fence
                                                                                                    grows luminous -
                                                                                      some things take a lifetime

      When I think
      that we may never
      meet again . . .
      this hillside of aspens
      endlessly fluttering

                                                                                    This bit of woods
                                                                                     its hush, its russet carpet so smooth -
                                                                                     enchanted it seems -
                                                                                     if there was one thing
                                                                                     we might have agreed upon . . .

      These first cool nights
      a neighbor burns apple wood . . .
      it's not so much memory
      that comes wafting back,
                      as a trace of legend

                                                                                      Cold stars, white moon,
                                                                                      the crunch of snow underfoot -
                                                                                      how it pierces
                                                                                      to recall a kindness
                                                                                      rudely refused

      Geraniums in a windowbox,
      a young wife leaning out
      to tend them -
      when did my heart
                            become a fist?

                                                                                     A wicker of branches
                                                                                     holds the bluish fog
                                                                                     of a December afternoon -
                                                                                     again, in the flat below
                                                                                     a woman is weeping

      Frost-stars on the window,
      hills in the purple distance . . .
      if I thought
      it'd do some good I'd rave
      of things invisible to see

                                                                                      A thistledown floats
                                                                                      over grass and Queen Anne's lace
                                                                                      this yellow afternoon . . .
                                                                                      and what have I to do
                                                                                      with tumultuous times?

      A drizzly day,
      with yellow leaves pasted
      to wet black pavement -
      returning the library books
      she left behind . . .

                                                                                      A flickering
                                                                                      uncertainty, this candle
                                                                                      teased by a draft -
                                                                                      somehow I just don't feel
                                                                                      like sharing anymore

      In the night-fog,
      a yellow bruise
      where the streetlight was -
      any truth is better
      than indefinite doubt

                                                                                                Reaching up,
                                                                                                she touches the first lilac bloom
                                                                                                of the season -
                                                                                                "Even if I'm meditating
                                                                                                let me know when you leave"

      Using the wind
      by allowing the wind
      full play -
      this butterfly--not much more
      than a folded piece of paper

                                                                                      In maple shade,
                                                                                      trying to match mind to pond,
                                                                                      thoughts to trout . . .
                                                                                      this wrong
                                                                                      too often dwelt upon


      I look up from her letter,
      my worst fear realized,
      just in time to see
      a goldfinch leave
      the thistle's purple bloom

                                                                                      The tilt
                                                                                      of her head to undo
                                                                                      an earring -
                                                                                      fortresses crumble into
                                                                                      winter moonlight

      Her laughter
      trails out the window -
      a bevy
      of blue butterflies over
      the moon washed city . . .


                                                                                     Rorschach tree-scape
                                                                                     and moon fleeced clouds . . . 
                                                                                     how unlikely,
                                                                                     against a yellow windowshade,
                                                                                     this perfect female profile

      Fist poised to knock,
      I hear two voices within -
      the irises nod
      and whisper as I retrace my steps
      along her flagstone walk

                                                                                      illume the maples
                                                                                      from within . . .
                                                                                      was it so much, my love, 
                                                                                      to expect the truth?                                        

      Eyes squeezed,
      the tabby in the bookstore window
      sleeps -
      I imagine you here,
      your arm through mine

                                                                                        Fast clouds,
                                                                                        autumn leaves swirl
                                                                                        in the street -
                                                                                        I almost sob to see her happiness
                                                                                        wrapped in such a shabby coat

      The girl
      could have done better
      in White River Junction,
      than run into my arms
      and the set-

                                                                                        I've come again
                                                                                        to this oak-gripped bank -
                                                                                        who knows why?
                                                                                        recalling our last time here together,
                                                                                        I watch a red leaf drift out of sight

      As in a singer's song
      this stretch of railroad track
      diminuendos into distance . . .
      the distance
      of impossible longing

                                                                                      In eternity
                                                                                      how can it matter much -
                                                                                      but still,
                                                                                      that dim December afternoon
                                                                                      I might have been there

      At the chapel's plain-glass window
      the wind-stirred bittersweet . . .
      and I don't know why,
      great age seems unnecessary

                                                                                        As night takes over,
                                                                                        the chirring of crickets . . .
                                                                                        a knee-high sea
                                                                                        of sound that I  
                                                                                        could almost walk upon