In creating the post on Oulipo and Queneau’s fondness for the succinct poignance of Japanese poetry, I discovered the tanka. Usually, a tanka is created to mark a moment or occasion and consists of five lines of 31 syllables: 5,7,5,7,7 in that order.

Blood on the highway
mixed with mangled fur and hair
turns into a dream
of passing what was a dog
under a relentless sun.

This represents a vived moment in my life as I was walking down the street and came upon a dog that had been run over and had been lying there for awhile.

The lavender bloom
of the wisteria bush
veils the air with ghosts
from a thousand years of love
for days of fragrance.

This was a moment experienced as I noticed the neighbor’s wisteria bush and learned to love it’s beautiful blossoms and a new and wonderful scent.

Tickled by the tip-tap
of keys I typed twenty words.
Chitter-chat trip-trap
over tacit conventions
and treacled tediosity.

Okay - I think I blew the syllable-count. And it’s 21 words. Hmm.

Talk of Jimmie Vaughan,
The blues, and then the massage
table, and the hands
that know the fine loom of bones
weave silk into my sinews.


Jimmie Vaughan at the Bishopstock Blues Festival 2000 – Awesome!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_MEAz9zfwQ [/youtube]

Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds sing “What I say” – Fabulous indeed!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atQ84qkQgg4 [/youtube]

Oh no these are hard ](*,)

OK modified from well known tune

You could always say
That the Summer had its charm
You did no major harm
Senseless charmless and disarmed
Plus no animals were harmed

What well known tune was that?

That came out well, Krossie; and yes, writing a tanka is not easy. That’s why I wanted to try it out.

Now try writing one about an experienced moment in your life. Pick one that had a strong effect on you and I think the words will just flow. Then you just tweak them for lines and syllables. (At least, that’s what I did.)

Even harder!

I’ll work on it

Oh the tune is the cardigans sick and tired - not my cop o’ tea but almost menacingly catchy!



A breath, not taken,
briefly swallows truths untold
among the mourners.
No gasp, to punctuate life,
as when death befell my love.

How lovely, so sublime. It brings tears to my eyes.

Stood tall before me
pontificating on Joyce
the master in black
daunts my shallow mind and those
behind, untuned to icons.

This was a moment during freshman year of college when my friends invited me to sit in on a class taught by a rather intimidating professor whom they all admired. He was lecturing on Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, by James Joyce. I sat in the front and tried to listen, but it scared me off Joyce for a good while. [Luckily I found Guy Davenport later and came to appreciate Joyce greatly.]

Flat like a decal
on the pane, an Asian fan
golden brown, half-moon
with dark lines, folds into one,
opens flat, folds again and flies.

This was a butterfly I saw on the window today as I was exercising.

smiles in the smallest of things –
A familiar face
under trees at a rally
where the leaves chatter through us.

On seeing a person who lives on the street where my sister used to live and making a nice reconnection at a rally against corporate corruption in Washington held at the gates of the state capitol here in Austin yesterday.

Great stuff in this thread.

Lots of activity lately under Creative Writing. Good to see.

Creative souls meet
A surreal connection
Swiftly my pen glides
Across ancient rice paper
Mothers creative feather


I hope I got the syllable count right!!

Very well done. I love it!

Look at the debris
flying around, they shouted.
But my sight was blind
to all except the funnel
moving right, two miles away.

This was a tornado that we kids all gathered in the backyard to watch on the day after April Fools.

The red characters
taper down black-lacquered teak
held in the thousand
ages of knowing fingers:
body, soul and earth are fed.

On lunch at the Thai House …

Tanka for Egypt

Fireworks in my eyes
dazzle out of Egypt’s square
where untold hearts rise
through smiles and tears, eternal
rays in a riot of joy.

I very much like the wisteria bush one, the tornado one, and this last bit about Egypt. Yeah, I cried with joy for Egypt a little bit.

That Ibsen lives now
in his cousin’s Ghanese child
forms a maze of seas
travelled over centuries
to meet a welcome reader.


Last Wednesday I was teacher in a senior USA government class at a nearby Austin high school, where a girl named Ibsen was a student,
a direct descendant of Henrik Ibsen’s cousin and half Ghanese as well. What an amazing moment!

Kitty gets spunky,
Gets playful, persnickity,
Leaps lickety split
Roughshod over furniture,
Hides in a bag or a box.