Laurels #1

February 2024

Richard L. Matta, editor


Welcome to the inaugural issue of Laurels, the Tanka Society of America’s new members-only online journal. As the first guest editor, I chose the theme “a makeover: finding beauty in the broken.” Members from nine countries—through their own kintsugi lenses—responded to the theme with wonderful and varied poems, and I chose fifty for publication. These poetic renderings, arranged by each poet’s first name, range from addressing the power of persistence and courage in pressing through hardship to finding beauty through imagination. One shape poem might give spider-fearing readers shivers, while several others reflect on avoiding the trap of a fixed way of looking at people, places, and things. Thank you to all poets who responded. I’ll end with this quote from Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”


Richard L. Matta





again, I pull weeds

those nutrient-sucking

water-gulping invaders

but for one with a blue flower

the color of sky


Adelaide B. Shaw

Somers, New York





after months

of an empty carpet,

a small brown dog

curled where my white darling lay—

learning this replacement


Amelia Fielden

Wollongong, Australia



around and round

a vulture’s vigilance

circling fresh offal

albeit how artful

is the grace of its glide



Florence, Oregon



among the cuttings

of lavender and roses

a wish bone twig―

I grab both ends

and pull


Barbara Sabol

Akron, Ohio




keeping notes

on a child’s courage

so someday she knows

a true hero


Betsy Hearne

Urbana, Illinois



a billow

of pollen on the breeze . . .


to the dance’s rhythm

i become the flower


Carole Harrison

Jamberoo, Australia



gracefully                    stretching

             into   the   silence . . .

                     one by one

           the    faint    shadow

of     thick    hairy     spider      legs


C. X. Turner

Birmingham, United Kingdom



fly, don’t hover

too close—

there’ll be plenty of time

to buzz around

my corpse


Cynthia Anderson

Yucca Valley, California




dot the neglected lawn

bright harbingers

of prairie flowers’



David Chandler

Chicago, Illinois



an angry dog

battered and abandoned

eyes locked on mine

that moment no one saw

two injured spirits intertwined


David Lee Hill

Bakersfield, California





my first

spring stroll without you

         the bitter bite

         of a late frost sweetened

         by plum blossom breeze


Billie Dee

San Miguel, New Mexico





lying on this bed

of sun-warmed moss

and lichen,

I imagine myself

a fruiting body


Debbie Strange

Winnipeg, Manitoba



the new year still young

each day a treasure

I’ve stopped

wondering where I am

on the Bell curve of life


Diane Funston

Marysville, California



wet tankers

in that railway siding

stand and wait

with their graffiti

glistening, gorgeous


Gerry Jacobson

Canberra, Australia




between shards of ice

on the lake

an unknown flower

frozen in time


Jacob D. Salzer

Vancouver, Washington



the smell of manure

can wrinkle a city nose

so acrid, sharp and pungent

to someone raised on a farm

it can be sweet nostalgia


Jacqueline Korschun Hyman

Sawyerville, Québec



near our garden

catbirds weave a nest

and groom it often

but their snug home

has no chicks


Janet Ruth Heller

Portage, Michigan




in winter’s depth

wafts of decay

signal the brightness

of paperwhites


Jon Hare

Falmouth, Massachusetts



her scars

so well hidden

mark the contours

of her beauty

of my love


John Tehan

Cape Cod, Massachusetts




but still mine

re-stitched and worn

the ragged bear

with magic hugs


Joanna Ashwell

Barnard Castle, United Kingdom





Leonard Cohen said

the cracks let in the light

kintsugi fills

the cracks with gold . . .

which way to choose?


Joy McCall

Norwich, England





a suitcase full

of broken dishes

I saved them all

my first fireplace mosaic

was mixed with tears


Kath Abela Wilson

Pasadena, California



it’s even better

second time around . . .

friends notice

a happy lilt in my voice

and love-light in my eyes


Keitha Keyes

Sydney, Australia



my love, i will knit

a cocoon of golden silk

to wrap around you

this winter until the spring

reveals your metamorphosis



Chattanooga, Tennessee



your pills on the table

cane by the chair

same blue eyes

I fell in love with—

growing old together


Leslie Bamford

Waterloo, Ontario



after a squall

the ocean leaves debris

driftwood, clams and cockles

carried home

to add beauty to routine


Linda Conroy

Bellingham, Washington



left to decay

at the garden gate


today I reveal

my better self


Margaret Tau

New Bern, North Carolina



after the wildfire

the charred eucalypt forest

a sea of green

epicormic shoots

sway in the breeze


Marilyn Humbert

Sydney, Australia




a kimono remodeled

from grandmother’s

I am a sakura tree

blooming for a hundred years


Mari Konno

Fukui, Japan



the house up the street

sagging disheveled


until a rainbow

bathed it in indigo


Mark Teaford

Napa, California





my agile ascent

over the porch steps

at last

a caterpillar

gets its wings


Mary Davila

Buffalo, New York






the dusty smell

of an antique store

an old toy

from my childhood

calls to me


Mel Goldberg

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico



the plaque on the courthouse

by the town square

records the high water mark

as if we might one day learn

how to love again


Michael Dylan Welch

Sammamish, Washington




Grandma’s tea cup

carelessly broken

carefully mended

beautifully scarred


Michael Flanagan

Hamilton, New York



a used copy

of Huckleberry Finn

highlighted in yellow

someone else’s thoughts

about what is important


Michael Ketchek

Rochester, New York



a strange beauty

in the way he glides

down the hallway

the balding macrocephalic

with those vacant fawn eyes


Michael H. Lester

Los Angeles, California



surely bent

but still serviceable

he moves snow

with his old shovel

as easily as a youngster


Michele L. Harvey

Hamilton, New York



spider webs

interlace the treetops

after rain

crystal chandeliers

glisten in the sunlight


Michelle Brock

Queanbeyan, Australia




the back corner of the yard

I decide not to decide


or flower


Peggy Hale Bilbro

Huntsville, Alabama



an ugly chunk

of live-oak firewood

curved just so

becomes a modest nude

with wide carved eyes


Peter Larsen

Lake View Terrace, California





pink sweater

and tarnished hoop earrings

I will always be

your favorite



Randy Brooks

Taylorville, Illinois





swept up

by the autumn wind

a maple leaf


in the spider’s web


Rick Jackofsky

Rocky Point, New York




was a fearless wing walker

who married

a well-known snake charmer

such tales she made up for us


Roberta Beach Jacobson

Indianola, Iowa




the sun a bright orange ball

such beauty

from forest fires raging

hundreds of miles away


Robert Erlandson

Birmingham, Michigan



leafing through old pictures

full of our young smiles

I caress the frayed edges

will your fingers smooth them out

these lines that mark our years


Suraja Menon Roychowdhury

Lexington, Massachusetts



how I persist

despite your attempts

to keep me down . . .

a dandelion growing

in a sidewalk crack


Susan Burch

Hagerstown, Maryland



a grass spider

backs into the funnel

of her web . . .

the mysteries within

our hidden selves


Susan Weaver

Allentown, Pennsylvania



a broken shell

glued to a piece

of sea glass

becomes the fin of a fish

that birthed an artist


Tim Cremin

Andover, Massachusetts



a rough scholar’s rock

sculptured for a waterfall

spoke clearly to me

healing my wounded soul

and bringing me needed peace


William Kerr

New York, New York





too wild for blue

to paint a clear horizon

rolling waves

carry our dreams

our stories from afar


Xenia Tran

Nairn, Scotland