25 Cherita

Edited and Introduced by ai li
You answered the call for Cherita with such enthusiasm and aplomb that I was quite taken aback by all your collective energy. One is never quite certain how a call for submissions can be received but in this case, I was spoilt for choice. When it came to finalising the selection for the 25 Cherita from 25 poets who gave the form their best efforts, I really did feel like one of the unenviable X Factor judges at the judges’ houses when they had to eliminate fine contestants and whittle down to a specific number. It was difficult and not much fun at all as I wanted so many of these special Cherita to be seen, read, shared and published.

I then had a little brainwave and asked Kei if he would be willing to publish some of these other good examples of Cherita in ATPO 27, if he liked some of them, instead of just letting them go as I felt that the stories needed to be heard. We now not only have the 25 fine Cherita from 25 poets to enjoy but hopefully be able to partake in some of the other inspiring submitted Cherita in Atlas Poetica. It would have been a missed opportunity otherwise had these little gems not been seen and read.

Needless to say, I am quite emotional about the journey the Cherita has taken over the 19 years or so of its existence. It has not only ‘grown up’ in a most pleasing way but has allowed anyone who has a story to tell, no matter how trivial, no matter how different, to put either pen to paper or a mouse click to a computer screen. This begins that often perilous journey of self-discovery which can eventually emerge as a gift from the universe, or the divine.

I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to contribute so much of their inner spirit for this special feature on Cherita, and most especially to Kei for his vision, brilliant idea and support for this growing form, his kindness and ability in trusting me with this project which had me breaking out in cold sweats at the onset. I believe I did lose some weight because of the fear of not delivering, but my clothes do fit better now and I admittedly look slimmer as a result of this assignment which can’t be overall bad for my health.

Your Cherita journey begins here, so do be comfortable and let these words below take you back to memory’s campfire where these heartfelt stories now make their well-deserved debut.

1) Matsukaze, Dallas, Texas, USA

cool autumn evening

off from work,
i’ve spent the day

in your bed
in your embrace
in your scent

2) George Tardios, London, England

I see the sky reflected

in my teacup
I move

the cup
and tilt
the sky

3) Steve Travis, Carneys Point, New Jersey, USA

seven years gone

every room
still holds

the shape
of her

4) Larry Kimmel, Colrain, Massachusetts, USA

the home

that was home
to me — a leaf

the river’s

5) Allyson Chen, Arcadia, California, USA


only pavements and paper rainbows
for the vagabond

the eleventh hour chimes
there is no pot of gold
but the one you left behind

6) Lesley Anne Swanson, Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, USA

dust clouds

the breeding ground of stars . . .
let’s blow this dust off the shelf

seed another
this stellar afternoon

7) John Tehan, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

two cups of green tea

mine finished, empty
yours untouched, grown cold

summer hints
of an early fall

8) Patricia Prime, Auckland, New Zealand

starlit night

a street busker
plays the accordion

the upturned hat
empty at his feet
except for shadow

9) Ed Markowski, Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA

in love
on a snow
covered road

we walk
the fog

10) Christine Tardios, London, England

would you rather be
a jellyfish in surf
a limpet on rock

what karma
could survive
a storm?

11) Kris Lindbeck, Boca Raton, Florida, USA

I fall thirty feet

off the high pier
but keep my books above the waves

The bookstore clerk and I
talk about Le Guin
and then I wake

12) Gerrie March, London, England


all the satellites
in space collided

just think
how heavenly
it would be!

13) Anne-France Salmon Stevenson, Los Angeles, California, USA

my name is dove

on fragile branches
flying between continents

meeting friends
the world

14) Alegria Imperial, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

midnight sky

the glint of sapphire
on wet leaves

a rustle of shadows
in blindness
our fingers lock

15) Nimu Parmar, Stanmore, Middlesex, England

the train chugs

along the track
steam bellowing from its chimney

smog and smoke fills the air
and how she smiles
as she goes . . .

16) Tracy Davidson, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

desert heat

unable to wipe
sweat from her face

she waits
for her husband
to cast the first stone

17) Samantha Sirimanne Hyde, Denistone, New South Wales, Australia

cutting squares
of vintage silk
from your saris

recalling how a lifetime ago
you taught me
crimson lake, cerulean blue

18) Christine L. Villa, North Highlands, California, USA

death anniversary

sprouting weeds
on mother’s burial lot

maybe today
I’ll find a memory
to miss her

19) Gloria Dawson, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

Trauma never died

and kept writing her name
in sandstone temple corners,

the kind
of light you can’t conceive
until the sun comes up

20) Oz Hardwick, York, North Yorkshire, England

the coffee is cold

measuring time
by the cat’s shadow

I sort letters
arrange flowers
dust right into dark corners

21) Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Højby, Denmark

the glow worm of a night train

light travels
from light to light

back home
the rain is
where I left it

22) Pat Geyer, East Brunswick, New Jersey, USA


without thinking
or even feeling

it blows
in all directions . . .
north wind

23) Gavin Austin, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


to calm
his racing heart

it is at 3am
that the monsters

24) Kath Abela Wilson, Pasadena, California, USA

a large bubble

filled with days floats
on a dark river

I scoop it up without breaking
while mother watches from yesterday

25) Sheila Windsor, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England

lost world

word into sigh
into breath

and all the while

The original guidelines of the cherita

CHERITA [1 — 2 — 3)
(pronounced CHAIR-rita)

Cherita is the Malay word for story or tale. A cherita consists of a single stanza of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse, and then finishing with a three-line verse. It can be written solo or with up to three partners.

The cherita tells a story. It was created by ai li on the 22 June 1997 in memory of her grandparents who were raconteurs extraordinaire. It was also inspired by Larry Kimmel’s sensitive recognition of a shorter form contained within the opening three-verse stanza of ai li’s LUNENGA, which had been created on the 27 May 1997.

Biographies and acknowledgments

Matsukaze is a classical vocalist/actor/poet living in Dallas, TX. He has been writing short verse since early 2006.

George Tardios : Born London. First Director of Totleigh Barton, the Arvon Foundation’s first residential creative writing centre in Devon. Published in six ‘PEN/Arts Council’ anthologies by Hutchinson. Numerous poems in ‘The London Magazine’. Two collections, ‘BullSong’ and ‘Buttoned-Up Shapes’, available from Amazon. The latter also being published in Cyprus by ‘Armida Publications’ in a Greek translation. Founded and administered the ‘National Poetry Competition’ for the Poetry Society when it was sited at Earls Court.

Steve Travis : i enjoy the challenge of writing. and when a poem almost writes itself sometimes. and i love when a poem touches me in some way, and i love when something i write does the same for someone else. i live on the east coast of the states. in between working, i write, read, exercise. walks. being mindful.

Larry Kimmel was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He lives quietly in the hills of western Massachusetts. His most recent books are “shards and dust” and “outer edges.” “The Piercing Blue of Sirius: Selected Poems 1968 – 2008″ is free to read online at: http://larrykimmel.tripod.com/the_piercing_blue_of_sirius.htm

Allyson Chen was born in Canada and now lives with her husband and two children near Los Angeles, California. She enjoys career paths in several disciplines including engineering, Chinese medicine, and functional medicine.

Lesley Anne Swanson strives to write musically, using words and images that linger, especially when read aloud. Her tanka have been honored with the top awards of both the Japan Tanka Poets’ Society and the Tanka Society of America. She resides in Coopersburg, PA, USA.

After living for many years in New York City, John Tehan recently moved to a small village on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he reads some, writes some and ponders this and that. His poetry has appeared in Atlas Poetica, Ribbons, Neon Graffiti and Bright Stars, as well as in several ATPO Special Features. In his spare time, John enjoys nurturing his eternity plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, which is happily proving true to its name.

Patricia Prime is the co-editor of Kokako, the reviews/interviews editor of Haibun Today and a reviewer for Atlas Poetica, Takahe, Metverse Muse and other journals. She has self-published several small books of poetry and recently published a collection of tanka sequences, haibun and tanka prose called Shizuka with French poet, Giselle Maya

Ed Markowski lives writes, and paints in America’s Great Lakes Region. His book Reunion is due out this Summer from Shoe Music press.

Christine Tardios : Christine was brought up in Guernsey. She is a teacher and writer of short stories for children. Always interested in Holistic Healing, became a Reflexologist and Reiki Master, and is intent on expanding young childrens’ imagination to reveal the secrets of the world. She was the only woman in the three-person team who retraced on foot the 1871 journey when Stanley went to find Dr David Livingstone in Tanzania.The journey took 2 years.

Kris Lindbeck writes haiku and short poems on Twitter @krislindbeck she has published in M. Kei’s Bright Stars, Skylark Tanka, & Gnarled Oak, and written an essay on senryu in Simply Haiku.

Gerrie March is from Whitby, North Yorkshire, moving south as a young teenager. During her working life as a shorthand typist for 23 years, she trained as a Psychic Medium. She has worked in eleven countries and has been as a tutor and Psychic Medium at the College of Psychic Studies, London for 33 years.

Anne-France Salmon Stevenson : Anne-France has had a true cosmopolitan life, living in both Los Angeles, California and Paris, France.She has created a one woman business catering to high end travelers to France. She has been awarded with Gold Medal by the French Ambassador both here in Los Angeles and in Paris.

As Alegria Imperial continues her journey of self-discovery in writing haiku, tanka and other Japanese short form poetry, of which a number have been published and awarded, she has been experimenting on ways of better expressing herself, drawing deeper from her densely layered culture. In tanka, she has found an apt form for the lyricism quite inherent in her nature as a Pilipino, yet set against Canada, her new country.

Nimu Parmar : I have an accreditation in Spiritual Healing and I volunteer as a healer at The College Of Psychic Studies, South Kensington, London. My interest in spirituality has heightened over the years and I continue to educate myself on this subject. My hobbies, besides reading, includes archaeology, history, geography and antiques. I enjoy travelling to far flung places and discovering their way of life and culture.

Tracy Davidson lives in Warwickshire, England, and writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in various publications and anthologies, including: Mslexia, Poet’s Market, Modern Haiku, Atlas Poetica, A Hundred Gourds, The Binnacle, The Great Gatsby Anthology, Ekphrastia Gone Wild and In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights.

Samantha Sirimanne Hyde was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in Australia. She is grateful to have crossed paths with the exquisite world of haiku, tanka and other Japanese poetry forms.

Christine L. Villa is a creative explorer who eat, sleeps, and breathes everything creative from children’s book, Japanese short-form poetry, to arts and crafts. Aside from being a published children’s writer and award-winning haiku and tanka poet, she is also the founder and editor of Frameless Sky — a bi-annual poetry video journal. She blogs her poems at Blossom Rain. The Bluebird’s Cry, her collection of Japanese short-form poetry is now available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Gloria Dawson writes poetry, essays, and work for performance. Her work has been shown at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and published in Poetry Review, Datableed, The Literateur, Frogmore Papers, and anthologised in The Golden Hour II and Remembering Oluwale (Valley Press, 2016). Prizes include Highly Commended in the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize (2016), shortlisted for Eric Gregory Award (2005) and winner, Foyle Young Poet of the Year (2004). http://cargocollective.com/gloriadawson

Oz Hardwick is a York-based poet, photographer, music journalist, and occasional musician. His sixth poetry collection, probably called The House of Ghosts and Mirrors, will definitely be published by Valley Press in September 2017. As a viable alternative to poverty, Oz is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, and has written extensively on misericords and animal iconography in the Middle Ages under the pseudonym of Paul Hardwick. www.ozhardwick.co.uk

Johannes S. H. Bjerg : a Dane who writes in Danish and English simultaneously and mainly haiku and haiku related forms. 1 of 3 of the editors of Bones – “Journal for contemporary haiku” (http://www.bonesjournal.com), and sole editor of “the other bunny – for the other kind of haibun” (http://theotherbunny.wordpress.com) and “One Link Chain” – a blog for solo linked verse and haiku sequences (http://onelinkchain.blogspot.dk/) Has published several books: http://january-stones.blogspot.dk/p/books.html

Pat Geyer lives in East Brunswick, NJ, USA. Her home is surrounded by the parks and lakes where she finds her inspiration in Nature. Published in several journals, she is an amateur photographer and poet.

Gavin Austin, a Writing Fellow of the Fellowship of Australian Writers NSW Inc., writes short fiction, plays and poetry. His work has appeared in various Australian journals and anthologies, been broadcast on National Community Radio, and has been successful in numerous writing competitions. Gavin has also been published in literary collections in NZ, the USA and the UK. His poetry collection (long and short poetry) titled Shadow Play was published in 2010.

Kath Abela Wilson @kathabela on Twitter, sees life as a short poetic story. Her poet father read her “bedtime stories” as a child each night from the big book “Great Poems of the English Language”. That book was a gift to him from her lovely artistic mother who left the world at 95, last winter. She hosts poetry workshops at home and on Facebook, “Cherita Poets on Site”.

Sheila Windsor has written poetry, mainly short verse and haikai, as an almost daily practice for over twenty years. Her works are internationally published and awarded and translated into many languages. She is a former founding co-editor of Bones Journal; former editor of The Living Haiku Anthology and currently co-editor of moongarlic e-zine. Books: Totem – 2016 Yet To Be Named Free Press – Available Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk. Blue Smoke – 2016 Stark Mountain Press – Available Lulu.com.

Previously Published Credits

2) George Tardios
Previously published in ‘Buttoned-Up Shapes’ and ‘Apple Fire’ by Jill Pirie (Bloodaxe Books). Publisher : Saint Ursin Press.
25) Sheila Windsor
Previously published in Blue Smoke, Winfred Press, 2006.

© 2017