Poetic Contours

Margaret Ryan
Cath Mason

Evelyn Ann Romano

32 Persons of Different Occupations Poetry Competition 1494

In ancient and medieval Japanese society chanted, sung or spoken language sprang from roots found in the Chinese art called kanshi or shi. Over several hundred years the foreign impact blended into Japanese language traditions and evolved into a diverse selection of poetic forms, some of which are known to modern connoisseurs of Japanese literature and culture. Westerners are familiar with the haiku and the tanka, itself a similar short form poetic structure. After establishment of the Shogunate in 1603, norms began to modernize yielding a substantial array of formal poetic expression. By the 19th century the haibun joined the canon of forms. Haibun extends some traditional structures through its combination of prose and haiku, offering a wider range of subject matter and treatment including diaries, journals, prose, essays and even short stories, relayed with imagery or syllabic stresses mixed with free prose. — Editor

a haiku by Margaret Ryan

catbird chortles
in the oak tree outback
mockingbird’s “cover”

Tampa Spring
a tanka by Margaret Ryan

spring seems like fall here
live oak leaves pool on dry ground
pushed out by new growth
they catch the next breeze skyward
to dance with the mourning doves

Two Tankas
by Cath Mason

Tanka I

petal falls from rose
did it tear itself apart?
did rose discard it?
If I say that I left you
will you make me a liar?

Tanka II

My front door opens
to fluffy fecundity
rabbits, more rabbits
Catholic Nanna warned mum
Do something, Don’t breed like them

3 Tankas
by Evelyn Romano

Rose-pink azaleas
Palette of gorgeous color
No one to notice
People rushing and hurrying
To their cardiac rehab

Eclipse of the sun
Moon and sun merge into one
Humans meld, connect
Brotherhood resurrected
While wars rage on the planet.

She radiates love
Smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Ends pitch, finds her room,
Locks the door, lowers the blinds,
Removes her make-up and weeps.

Spring Remembered
by Margaret Ryan
Tampa, March 19, 2024
Haibun – Prose Poem

Down here the oak leaves seem to behave contrariwise, falling in spring after staying on the trees all winter. Such is the nature of the Live Oak. The neighborhood streets are lined with them–mature trees, having been planted years ago, their canopies spreading out over the residential streets, offering welcome shade on hot southern summer days. Lovely and leafy and prodigious producers of acorns some years. But in spring their old leaves clog the gutters and downspouts, obstruct sluiceways and roundabouts, and pile up curbside in storm-soaked bundles awaiting removal. In dry weather one might see them taking off in scattered flight with every wind gust. And then there is the pollen, which rains down on everything dusting the city in a fine green mist.

It’s the first day of spring now, and the leaves are falling. I’m out doing yardwork, thinking about the other places I’ve known where leaf raking was an autumn chore and springtime arrived suddenly, almost overnight. But in these semi-tropical climes, spring and fall are understated and the real difference in seasons is between rainy and dry. Up north, I imagine the tulips are already emerging from their hibernation, humming with the pent-up energy of their dormancy. Tulips are ungrowable here. Up north, I remember the dividing line between winter and spring as being somehow crisp and clean, bringing with it a definite shift in mood. But perhaps it was never so clear-cut –that shift from Winter to Spring? Just a curious artifact of remembering. Old memories playing new tricks.

At the moment, I am concerned with practicalities. Removing old oak leaves from the front curb to let the stormwater flow. As I work, I hear birdsong from high up in the oak’s treetops. Mockingbird? Catbird? Hard to tell, they share each other’s lovely songbook. On the oak trunk next to me a squirrel watches me quizzically, as if asking when the acorns will return. I smile and shrug, and think how sheltering the live oak is. Later, back home, I set a table with storebought tulips and mismatched china and turn my old oven’s clock ahead an hour, one more time.

Margaret Ryan has taken many OLLI-USF courses over the last several years including classes in history, science, politics, short stories, poetry, and travel. She wrote her first haiku in high school, then went decades where most of the writing she did was work-related and technical. She rediscovered her interest in fiction and verse after taking an imaginative writing class and a poetry seminar through OLLI.

Cath Mason’s poems are forthcoming, or have appeared in Palm Prints, Literary Mama, Woman’s Weekly, Pennine Ink and Sandhill Review. Her poem “Dent in the Day” won an honorable mention USF’s Poetry Competition 2015. Her poem “The Out of Body Experience of a Potato” won the humor prize in the 2012 Southport Writers’ Circle International Poetry Competition. Her poem “A Tampa Welcome” is on display on the Tampa Poetry Post at the downtown Municipal Office Building.

Evelyn Ann Romano is an award-winning poet whose poetry has been published in numerous journals including Bacopa Review, Sandhill Review, Wordsmith, Chasing Light, New Mirage Quarterly, Palettes&Quills, Cadence, Time of Singing and many others. She is a three-time Tampa Writers Alliance Poetry Prizewinner. Other awards include Mt. Dora poetry prize, New River Poets award and Hillsborough County Library award. Excerpts from her poem, “Love Letter to Tampa” were displayed city-wide at numerous locations as part of the Love Tampa project run by the City of Tampa. Her debut chapbook, “RIPE” was published in 2018 by FinishingLine Press. Her latest chapbook, “Eve Redeemed- A Woman’s Journey” was published in January 2023. Evelyn has been an OLLI member since 2016 and was a member of Life Long Writers at USF for many years. She is a New Jersey transplant who lives in New Tampa.

Coffee and Poetry at Jack’s House
Welcomes Florida Poet Laureate,
Peter Meinke

The Jack Kerouac House of St. Petersburg
Sunday, April 28 3-6 p.m.
Admission $10

To participate contact

Casting Poetry on the Lighter Side
Enjoy an evening of giggles and guffaws at the new Commodore Theater, 811 E 7th Avenue. Tampa poets will showcase their work at the Victoria Dym Laugh Fest.
April 25, 7:30 p.m.

Season 4 of Poetry in America is available for streaming on the PBS website. Go to https://www.poetryinamerica.org for the latest episode as well as listing of previous season collections available to stream on the WEDU PBS app.

  • Events throughout the month of April. Browse through the website here.
  • Poetry Readings at the Dali Museum. Browse through the website here.

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3 Replies to “Poetic Contours”

  1. What a cornucopia of joy this morning…poetry to invite our insights, delight our senses, and nourish our souls.
    Spring Remembered fascinates on so many levels: description of life here under the oaks, relationships between nature and human living, the potency of seasons……and with phrases such as “tulips…humming with the pent-up energy of their dormancy.” that give pause for us to take in their power and their beauty….
    I love the store bought tulips and mismatched china and the old oven clock…the squirrel wondering when acorns will return as we move ahead one hour, one more time. Life here in Florida under the oaks…images too shining to forget.

  2. Thank you for this Monday menagerie—a chortling catbird, a grinning Cheshire cat, and a lot of horny rabbits.

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