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March 2023

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Ms. Tanya Joyce

Tanya Joyce is a San Francisco poet and painter. She likes reading poetry out loud and listening to other poets read. For Tanya, the message of each poet’s heart comes through most fully in the individual voice. Tanya has four chapbooks in print. Her work is included in many Artists Embassy International publications. She has won two Grand Prizes at San Francisco’s Dancing Poetry Festival. Her current projects include creating one of a kind handmade book.

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by Tanya Joyce

In an old garden
stands a blossoming plum
with a painted sign on the trunk
warning to beware of vicious dogs

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Noriko, serious
Professor, poet, translator
At the poetry banquet
In traditional robes — 
Kimono, obi, tabis, zoris.
And around her neck,
Tucked into folds of her kimono,
A black and white makeup purse — 
White as spring blossoms —
Black designs of Snoopy on it,
The purse hanging at precisely
The right angle.

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—  my teacher, Li Li-Da,
demonstrating calligraphy
at an exhibit of old masters 

In front of your excellence
My brush hesitates.

Everywhere I should move,
I falter.

Blobs drip unintentionally.
My lines are ungraceful.

Your characters jump off the paper
A thousand years old.

You shine through the protective glass case
Like the first day of spring.

Opening this, my heart,
I let the ink spill as it pleases.

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In East Oakland this afternoon
I watched morning glories
Cascade across the wire fence
That holds back barking dogs.
Flowers of autumn
Whirligigs of five points
Blue and red-violet
Creep across the sidewalk
Toward a squat old plum tree
Dropping orange fruit.

Cherry leaves turning yellow.
Pear leaves turning red.
The sun sets early, dusty pink.
A neighbor fixes his roof
Before the winter rains.

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What’s the point of pouring water
Into these bowls?
Every day
I offer water to the gods
Without any idea
Whether or not they like it.

Pour the water over your own heart
My teacher says. Like sunshine,
It washes the golden sun within you.
If you offer water with a pure heart
The gods will receive it.

Pure heart, allowed to settle.
Thought, unmixed with doubt.
Offering, having stirred up the depths.

Ancient loss
And yesterday’s refuse
Rise to the top
And subside.
Let all of it flow through your heart
And settle once again
As you glide past,
Resting on sunshine.

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"A cat is not a leopard
Though both are related.
Paper is not a petal
Though both come from trees."

"Beautiful things surround you"
Is what she would teach us.
Knowing your universe,
Loving the land.

City and countryside
Both have their value.
Concrete and hedgerow,
Garden and trash heap.

What you seek is present
Not in a catalog
Not on the internet
Not sold in stores.

In order to value it
You must discover it.
In order to treasure it
Follow what comes to you.