She wants me to quit smoking. Says all it’s doing is stealing days from us. And I suppose I don’t disagree. I already gave up drinking about a year ago. The best moment of my life. I got so many things back I had lost. God, the budding trees, and my only child. The taste of food and a will once more to bend to tie my boot laces. And I also received gifts I guess I never really had before. Incredible stuff. A small but easy-to-get-to-know row of sunflowers. The delicate wisdom of a half-dozen chickadees darting in and out of the elm saplings. A refined and brilliant woman who yet possesses cave-painting thoughts and tattoos made of mud. On this bright sunny day, though, she’s only studying the clouds gathering inside my chest and praying it doesn’t begin to rain. She always talks of how sad and alone she feels whenever it does.
she hands him
the broom and pan
—Republished here with author’s permission from Senryu Circle
(Facebook: 7 April 2020)
was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and has lived for 20 years in the Grand Traverse Region. He is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Cigarette Butts and Lilacs (Modern English Tanka Press, 2008), and a chapbook, The Pie in Pieces: Thirty-three Songs from the Midwest (River Man Publishing, 2006). His poetry has appeared in journals such as Blood Lotus, Dunes Review, Eclectica, Frogpond, Red River Review, Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal, and Smokebox.
In 2011, his essay “The Myths of Manhood” was published in a collection of essays for National Public Radio, This I Believe: On Fatherhood (Jossey-Bass, John Wiley & Sons). His writing is also anthologized in Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka (Modern English Tanka Press, 2009); Beyond Forgetting (Kent State University Press, 2008); Dust of Summers and A New Resonance (Red Moon Press, 2008 and 2007, respectively); Taboo Haiku (Avisson Press, 2006); and In the Arms of Words (Sherman Asher Publishing, 2005). He received the 2008 William J. Shaw Memorial Prize for Poetry, and won Honorable Mention in the Michigan Liberal Arts poetry contest in 2006.