The River Between

Proudly presenting mine and my youngest daughter’s first publication, a tan renga:  Blithe Spirit 22:4, November 2012.

~ ~ ~

The River Between

Claire Everett and Amy Claire Rose Smith (15) 

black spot on the sun
the shadow of a minnow
steels the heron’s eye
   how does it feel to spend life
   cowering in weeds and ignorance?

the plumes of a rain cloud
   stirring summer stillness
   a wing blue as ice
   grey as slate
every mood
of the river
is yours
   an impenetrable haze
  where bird ends and water begins
the clink of the brush
in the water-glass
   still blinking
   the reptilian eye
   of the long-dead
in a dream
I wade against the current
flint knife at my hip
   sifting fish through silt
   two scaly feet
fishtail and underbelly
   neck curved
  to meet the breast
  morning flight
nag champa
a Chinese brush makes water
of the air
   gentle as washing a newborn
  preening each soft feather
ashes of roses
the heronry fills with wings
   from the dagger-bill
   the last croaks
   before going to roost


Amy and I would like to thank Alan Summers, former Linked Forms editor for Notes from the Gean who initially accepted this piece before the journal went on hiatus. Special thanks to Colin Blundell who then accepted it for Blithe Spirit.



Small Comforts


Small Comforts


the embrace that begins
and ends our day

Always rising at the same time. The cup of coffee you bring me before you leave for work. The favourite shirt you keep for Wednesday (the mid-week ‘morale booster’).The expressions known only to us, spoken like charms. This, the comfort of rituals, the invisible cord that binds our loose-leaf days. If there is a god of small things, I imagine this is how he is appeased. They will surely come, those other days, the ones that knock us sideways. But let’s not think of them now.

the book falls open
at your favourite poem…

Blackbird song ripples the twilight. A snowdrop pushes through frozen ground. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail it’s spring in the catkinned lanes, then summer is rusting on the vine. White rabbits! Pinch, punch, the first of the month! Over and again, until the leaves are gold and the stoat is in its ermine. Because they will come, those other days, days of pestilence and war, hurricane and tsunami. But let’s not think of them now.

and still
the certainty of sunrise…
winter aconite


A Hundred Gourds 1:4, September 2012


a selection of Tanka Poets on Site prompts:


leaf by yellow leaf

the squirrel lines its drey …

she has gone

to gather kindling,

the child I used to be


a sycamore seed

in the wings of autumn

waiting for the breath

that is my cue

to dance



is the scent of summer. . .

not yet five

the pod in my hand

plump with peas


I plot a course

between the brightest stars,

a Viking maid

sailing the simmer dim . . .

this first breath of salt-air



flurries of starlings

with winter on their wings

the poetry

of homemade seedcake

in my daughter’s hands


through rust-stained dreams

rain’s syncopated rhythm

since your words

made a tin roof

of my heart


they call him a weed

and suddenly he sees

only dandelions

sun-rayed, or drifting by

their heads in the clouds


rock to rin gong

how far from there to here?

copper is my hair

in the morning light

and your touch is my song



a loop-the-loop of stars

one last barrel roll

before the dream has me

wing walking on a new day


twelve moons . . .

As you know, I recently published my first collection of 100 tanka, twelve moonsI’d like to thank everyone who has bought a copy and I also wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the wonderful comments and feedback I’ve received. It’s this kind of support that has inspired me to keep writing, submit to journals and come as far as I have today. Thank you all!

You can read more about twelve moons here:

This is an amazing book. The work is delicate and light as the touch of a feather, but profound at the same time. This is a first work by this author who clearly possesses a remarkable gift for the tanka form. It is extremely reminiscent of the very famous work in the same form, Tangled Hair. It has the same elegant, fragile quality whilst still having a modern sensibility. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Violette Rose-Jones  ( Customer Review)

twelve moons is, quite simply, the best tanka collection I have ever bought. I have been an admirer of the poetry of Claire Everett for quite a while, and this eagerly awaited book not only lives up to my expectations, it exceeds them. I very highly recommend  what I believe will come to be viewed as a classic work.

Clive Oseman ( Customer Review)

Got mine yesterday! Never really read tanka before so what a nice introduction to the form. Folks were trying to explain it but reading this gem makes more sense. Congrats, it’s wonderful.

Haiku Rue

Our copy was in our welcome home mail… from Createspace when we got home from Seabeck Haiku Gathering! So beautiful and I know my heart will be full of your visions… as always… so beautiful to have it in one place, and in my hands.

Kathabela Wilson

I’ve just received my copy today, Claire – and it’s beautiful and delightful to read. I’m no expert on poetry or Tanka but it touches my heart and colours my emotions…Thank you.

Sara May

Claire, I received my copy of “twelve moons”, your lovely tanka collection. As I was reading, and sighing, my husband asked what pleased me so. I read him this: transformed/by the breath of your love/I am no longer sand/scattered to the wind/but the beauty of blown glass. He let out a long “ooooooooooh” and looked at me with dewy eyes. He said he really gets why I love tanka so, and why I love the work of Claire Everett. I hope many writers will experience this poetry by ordering your book.

Carol Judkins


Crossing the Shades


Für Elise…
each star takes its place
in the twilight

To sit and watch, pinpoint the exact moment the iris is lost to blue. Perhaps Vincent himself has a hand in it. Cobalt, thalo, indigo, wash by wash, the coming of night. This hour the moon and stars have made for quiet reflection. All streams and rivers, all roads now lead to darkness, if we will let them.

It could be that it’s the breeze that unlatches the gate, but the dead tread softly, like the scent of lilacs through an open door, but softer still. Grandad, coming slowly up the path, pinches mint between his fingers. Grandma, making something of the leftovers, the cat on her shoulder in its third or fourth life. Dad, sitting on the step, rolls another cigarette. It’ll be the death of him. The one who died before she was born.

On a clear night many a flower is touched by moonlight; the one whose name is forgotten; the one which has no scent.

once more
into the shadows…
dewfall hawk


note: *The title is taken from “Afterwards” by Thomas Hardy

Contemporary Haibun Online
8:2, July 2012

Samhain Blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere!

But to Each Other Dream


This is the blue hour, when the blackbird drinks its fill of fading stars. I can no longer recall when I first sensed her gentle hand was at the latch. Perhaps, even before I learned the words by which she makes herself known I could hear her morning-step upon the stair?

A breeze parts the curtains, lets slip a chink of light; I must taste the blossoms that unfold. Or else, I wake to the music of her laughter, lift my eyes from a dream to catch a glimpse of her smile through an indoor lattice, all delight. Soft, her tread, closer, until I feel the circle of her arm, the warmth of her cheek, her fingers, still stained with the dawn. She lifts her knee, rests her foot upon the prie-dieu and gathers me into her swoon. Of all her gowns, this is my favourite, with mackerel skies in the hang of the folds and a train that carries the scent of pines. We share the inward fragrance of each other’s heart.

where have you been?

not far, not far…

I have come, swift

as a hen-bird on the wing

to breast her eggs again

She says she forgot the stars, the moon and sun….the blue above the trees. Did I forget them too?  They were not the same without her near…   If I should die…if she…  Let us speak, then, only of now. The cool cascades of her ink-dark hair, the sweetness of her tears. One hundred, one thousand years from now, it will not matter what became of one without the other.

what is my mind

in this pot-of-basil day?


my dark-eyed muse



The title and all text in italics excerpted from ‘Isabella, or The Pot of Basil’  by John Keats (1795-1821)

Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868) by William Holman Hunt:


Notes from the Gean 4:1, 2012

twelve moons

Having been asked on several occasions when I was going to bring out a collection  . . . I’m pleased to announce that I’ve done just that!

twelve moons spans a year of my life in tanka. David Terelinck kindly wrote the introduction and my daughter Amy has provided the illustrations. I hope you will enjoy it and I thank everyone who has inspired and encouraged me along the way.

You can read more about the collection here:


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