The beauty of short tanka

These tanka are from the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Gusts, Canada’s Tanka magazine. I have a preference for shorter poems, revel in how so few words can say so much, and find longer tanka are often poems to which not enough thought has been given.

only had
one dream about
my father—
he walked
right past me

Stanford Forrester

sunlight
in between storm clouds
there is hope
for a sunny day
with you

Mike Montreuil

just
for a heartbeat
let me breathe-in
the scent
of his hair

Huguette Ducharme

sharing
the glass—
a taste of lipstick
just before
the taste of wine

Colin Bardell

I’ll bury it
moon deep for now—
this longing
for a lover
like you

Paul Smith

another
child dies
of cancer
clouds shape shifting
white to black

Pamela A. Babusci

Emptying trash
the letter
I threw away
I throw away
again

Carol Purington

a contrail
stretching straight
toward the sun
I was watching it
until I felt lonely

Kozue Uzawa

Shinoe Shôda, who died herself in 1965 from an illness caused by the atomic bomb, depicts the tragic death from the bomb of children and a teacher who tried to protect them:

the big bones
must be
the teacher’s
the little skulls
are amassed nearby

Hiroshi Homura’s skillful and unexpected juxtapositions carry a powerful message of radiation and the fallibility of the human body:

at ground zero
of the atomic bombing
I’m
unwrapping soap
at night, naked

Yoshiko Takagi describes how children are given tablets to protect them from radiation of the thyroid after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011:

how cruel—
on a child’s
palm
one pale red tablet
of potassium iodide

Sanford Goldstein says that variations keep readers alert—and appreciative:

tonight’s relief: /pie /deep /in a cafeteria/ booth         Sandford Goldstein

this child
sick
night after night
and still
the stars

Christina Nguyen

beachcombing
I feel at home
perhaps
in another life
I was a seagull

Joanne Morcom

you came back
little swallow
look
I am here
too

Huguette Ducharme

long line
at the coffee shop—
the perfect place
not to meet
anyone at all

Robert Piotrowski

wet
yellow leaves
grey sky
the drip drip
of time passing

munira judith avinger

little by little
my yoga poses
improving—
little by little
I get to know him

Kozue Uzawa

listening to
the Missa Solemnis,
I try to imagine
Beethoven’s
orphic silence

Mary Kendall

haiku weekend
silk jammies
channeling
the narrow road
to the interior

Tom Lyon Freeland

only had
one dream about
my father—
he walked
right past me

Stanford M. Forrester

The image at the top of the post is a detail from the cover of a novel about Murasaki, early Japanese novelist and tanka poet, by Lisa Dalby.

2 thoughts on “The beauty of short tanka

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