The First Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation

As she prayed in the waiting room, she felt
Vertigo wash over her. Her doctor
Entered, beckoned her into his office.

Gently, said they’d confirmed the hCG
Results she’d gotten two days before, then
Asked how she was feeling, what she would do.

Throwing up every morning on her mom’s
Immaculate bathroom floor, what’d he think?
And then, when she was about to tell him -

            myrrh and starlight, birth
            apparition, psalm and verse,
            revealed elation:
            inside deep a new life stirred,
            advent, annunciation

Paused. Suddenly, not knowing why, she felt
Luminous, joyful, sorrowful, glorious,
Everything at once; yet certain that, while

Nothing would be the same, she would welcome
All to come, arms open, with virgin grace.


  1. Your work has been a nudge to never forget literature in my daily life and what a great find you have been for me, Sam, thank you for your thank you's today on Twitter, have a beautiful evening. Jewal (Kylo)

  2. Anonymous11:49:00 AM

    your tanka transcends itself in this piece... almost as a reminder of a beauty/love before-with-and-after breath. plus your imagery as always is very compelling and roots so many human foibles and truths. I admire the beauty in the piece.

  3. Brilliant, again. You are truly becoming one of my favorite poets. Ever.

  4. What incredibly kind words, I don't know what to say. All I can do is to keep on writing. Thank you.

  5. Your poetry is as lush as a rain forest.

    But, oh, I wish you would not use white text on a black background as it makes reading on a computer screen so very difficult and destroys the delicate contract each line has with your readers.

    No More Black rationale here: "Black Trance"

  6. Thanks! I've concentrated on the poetry, but you're right that making the reading experience easier is also important. I'll try a few things.

  7. I did some accessibility and usabiliy research, and for reference, here is one of the best discussions I found, with links to other texts -

  8. Short link -

    This poem has been accepted for publication in the literary journal MiPOesias (Vol. 24, Issue 1)

  9. As I thought of what this initially said to me...I then got something entirely different from it. You brought the past into this so delicately..and then the future.. Lovely.

  10. Such a vivid and powerful write, Samuel. I am in awe of your talent!

  11. Amazing write! Such an effective combination of form, the tanka break through the barrier of time and connected the past with the past. Reminds me that I am but a tadpole chasing sturgeon.

  12. yeah...i was often wondering how she difficult..esp. back in that time, back in that your capture here sam - transported into modern time - a timeless write-- and an awesome prompt sam - really love it

  13. Anonymous2:45:00 PM

    beautiful piece, and congrats on the pub

  14. ha. great use of your line breaks man, i still hear the dance in your words though...nice story telling make it look easy man...

  15. How creatively you wrote this ~ A tanka within a poem ~ Beautiful ~

  16. People have discovered the tanka, but not the other two other structures in this poem.

    I'll leave the third secret for now, but for the second structure - well, this is actually a sonnet 'pregnant' with a tanka.

  17. its an acrostic as well...smiles...


  18. hail mary!!!!!!!!


    1. Acrostic poem, yes, that's right!

  19. This probably wasn't your intent, but I found this absolutely hilarious. I sure expected you to put a "modern" spin on her reaction to the annunciation as well.

    You are really a brilliant writer, Samuel. You come up with the most original ways to present old material. You impress me every time.

    Ave [Maria] gratia plena---Hail Mary, full of grace.

    I really liked your clever use of "immaculate"---"Immaculate bathroom floor"

    The italicized "tanka break" is incredibly effective in taking us out of the human and placing us in the midst of the divine. I also love the way you tie in "virgin grace" with "ave gratia plena" at the end. Phenomenal work, as always.

  20. Anonymous11:52:00 PM

    Very beautiful and very clever... you are definitely an artist. Congratulations on the publication.

  21. Congratulations on you publications - you always show me something new :)

  22. A revelation - really!

  23. The quick shift from the modern to the divine is cleverly done. Somewhat disguised but still apparent. The tanka in italics gives the full impact to the shift, bifurcating the verse. Brilliant Sam!


  24. Very clever use of form to design an original flow.

  25. Anonymous9:51:00 AM

    Beautiful. The change in tone between parts is nicely done- I could feel a difference between the clinical and bodily reality on one side, and her own spiritual world on the other. Bravo for intertwining forms as well.

  26. "A sonnet 'pregnant' with a tanka," and all very artfully done, as always, Poet! You do justice to the craft in all its forms. I do so love reading you, thank you.

  27. Hi Sam,

    Have you read any works of John O'Donohue, an Irish priest and poet. His book, Conamara Blues, includes poems retelling the three mysteries.

    And here's his take on the first Joyful mystery.

    The Annunciation

    Cast from afar before the stones were born
    And rain had rinsed the darkness from colour
    The words have waited for the hunger in her
    To become the silence where they could form.

    The day's last light frames her by the window,
    A young woman with distance in her gaze,
    She could never imagine the surprise
    That is hovering over her life now.

    The sentence awakens like a raven,
    Fluttering and dark, opening her heart
    To nest the voice that first whispered the earth
    From dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.

    She offers to mother the shadows's child;
    Her untouched life becoming wild inside.

    I just thought you might like this :)

  28. Poignant and beautifully written.


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