Tanka 224, Haiku 895, 896, 897

From the collection The Immediate and No Sooner, from 2021.

Tanka 224

blurred copyright year
a book coy about its age
charmless and dated
the former belle of the ball
presents her tattered dance card

Haiku 895

the engine cramped up
the transmission seized and gasped
the minivan died

Haiku 896

the inheritance –
this dull sawblade of a laugh –
your father left you

Haiku 897

a wool coat soaked through
the apathetic triumph
of winter drizzle

Little Vines 11/18/21

This week’s selection.

You travel light
you long for home
Won’t you call me? I miss you too.

feeling a spiral
the flock of birds
disconnects from the earth and rises

the soul flies out of her body
a shadow dissipating in the doomed glow
of a putrid yellow moon

orange juice and beets
I don’t like the taste of them together
but what a beautiful color pair they are

a chaotic lunchtime
but on the table
plums purr purple in their dish

the typewriter
clacks out a mermaid’s autobiography

Oxygen struggles with sulfurous gases
Losing badly. A new nose just arrived
notices: the afterlife smells like….

I so need a good day today.
Is there one available
at a price I can afford?

gluey and almost translucent,
decked out in too-tight-too-short black bathing trunks
the man strode across the beach, fuming

You cut flowers from my garden
for your mom, said the ogre.
How sweet. Now go and bring me her tooth.

the house is still
there is no answer when I call out
I know he’s gone now many years
But somehow I just can’t believe it

Tight on the one side
loose on the other? Oh my goodness.
Well, Dr. Flaxon did say he was in a bad way all right.

The teapot stamps on the table
rattles its lid. The sugar bowl
cringes. The cup gapes. You know
what happens next.

I made spaghetti for dinner
the baby loves it. Now he’s wearing it
in a three-strand necklace

strung along the lonely road
a gathering of decrepit houses –
fossils of the life here as it used to be

I can never think of that hour without feeling the
pinpricks of what might be altered
if I ever have to re-live it

Stop quibbling. It’s footprints
Gloria, footprints.
That’s all you have to remember. Footprints.

That top-heavy cake – you knew the risks so now
detonate it gently like I showed you
and watch out for Grandma

The packed chaotic highway
a perfect site for romance
if you are a car looking to kiss a concrete barrier, maybe

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Half in This World Half Yet to Arrive

You may know that in addition to my poetry I also do art, posted on my blog Claudia McGill and Her Art World. For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Half in This World Half Yet to Arrive

In what fairy tale did you speak your first words?
What magic made you
a flower in a garden a wise frog friend
a seer
wearing a mended apron and a divided mind
who sees me as I am with one eye
and with the other
knows me as I might be?

What spell cast over your house knitted its roof
embroidered its windows
What hand colored in the empty spaces
with feathered strokes of hope?

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 27

Haiku 893, 894, Tanka 222, 223

From the collection published in 2021, The Immediate and No Sooner.

Haiku 893

A statistic coasts
its reputation assured
The textbook says so

Haiku 894

unblinking unseeing eye
slowly moving to the left
pulling pale pink thread

Tanka 222

Two weeks at the spa.
Invigorating idyll.
of recent nuisances done –
I’m so relaxed now. I purr.

Tanka 223

skinny fox still young
patchy fur and threadbare rump
stringy tail held straight
no looks and no lack of poise
comes right up to the back door

A Few New: Haiku 940, 941; Shadorma 381, 389

I’ve been focusing on short form poems such as haiku, shadorma, and tanka lately. Here are some examples from this week.

Haiku 940.

This winter night floats
half a minute to midnight
The snow falls in rafts

Haiku 941.

Glum as a toothache
who’s just grasped that the dentist
has expunged its home

Shadorma 381.

Up near night
pranksters skateboard home
streetlights pink
the sidewalks
skirting tight islands of light
the indigo rolls

Shadorma 389.

I keep here
Secret journaled thoughts
I’ll share one
from page ten:
Thoughts of mixing plaids and stripes.
I am tempted. Yes.


From “And Don’t Come Back”, from 2021.


The first time it is
the getting off the ground
The second time
it’s the flight that matters

the gray moon
your dusted-off complexion
and your laugh
your wild mood and your hurry
Trailing streaks of ashy snow
you tear across the sky

You fly.


A Succession of Moments

From the collection published in 2021, And Don’t Come Back.

A Succession of Moments

but I’m not always
to the moment when I
lose the fight
begin to sink
I keep on with the bucket-filling
the up and over

an instant of distraction in
my stupid admiration
for each perfect arch of water I toss

How can I have time for that?
while I am
so hard at work
and sinking –

I sink.
I start to swim.
Every time
so far
I always swim. I swim.


Haiku 889, 890, 891, 892

From the collection The Immediate and No Sooner, 2021.

Haiku 889

Dial eight and talk loud
Anybody who answers
Shout’em down. And good.

Haiku 890

an insecure life
that has turned itself around –
I found my way home

Haiku 891

gelid poetry
glistening on the white page
the reader shivers

Haiku 892

the liquid verdict
-thumbs down despite all efforts –
of unset jello

Little Vines 11/12/21

Another busy week. But the Little Vines are always a place where I want to spend some time. Here are the ones from this week.

the outraged heart
wields a razor
one close shave and you are gone from sight

I write my signature in chalk
on the sidewalk
the rain washes it away
By then I am long gone, too.

the fierce gift of
a paper cut
focusing your mind away from your troubles

In time a future reluctance to
talk face to face will arise, yes,
but for now we’re still friends

the gentle pink planet floats
in the center of this infinitely expanding
turquoise bowl

her life a skeletal structure
in which hours of stress
fill in the spaces

it never fails we have
information in five hundred files and yet
the simplest answers evade us all

it’s a lonely thing
to be waiting in a sterile container
when you forgot to bring a book with you

FYI, ten times worse than your usual ghost –
for those of you living in haunted houses –
is an intractable aging wraith with a cough

here’s how her autobiography ends –
the coin slot
jams on her last quarter

fussing with the ideology
that is always lurking in the peripheral vision
the paid spokesperson sweats before the crowd

Cats that are regularly defied
by their owners
never notice

the worm digs its way past
shards of metal buried deep in the earth
relics of the time
before the humans were asked to leave

Pressed for time?
Our organization offers a long list of quick prayers
suitable for those caught in a small boat
sinking in the middle of a lake in a thunderstorm

a disclaimer on the label of an empty bottle
the hairs ponder their new look
and wonder if they can still sue

of every type and description
blossom with the first hard freeze