As a longtime avid reader of Classical Japanese and Chinese poetry, I've always been amazed at Michael's ability to blend a classical sentiment within a modern context. A seeming homage to a past poetic style can take an abrupt, ironic turn into a sudden flash of insight. Never far from the surface is a wry sense of humor that jolts the reader into the unpredictability of life's travails. These are songs of love and regret, the passing of the seasons, mundane observations of daily life transformed into wider truths, with a sensitive ear for spoken and unspoken thoughts and feelings that underlie the current of everyday life. There is much here to inspire the modern reader in the current and past tradition of Japanese tanka.