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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tanka is a classic Japanese form, with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Even if you don't enjoy poetry, I promise you'll enjoy these!

I plan to enter some of these in a Tanka competition, so please leave a comment voting for your favorite!

Submitted: January 30, 2007

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Submitted: January 30, 2007



Tanka is an ancient Japanese form of poetry, older and less familiar than Haiku. The syllable patter is normally 5-7-5-7-7, though many tanka poets who write in English will take any combination of 5 lines and 31 syllables. In classic tanka, the upper verse (5-7-5) sets a comparison or natural scene: the lower verse (7-7) pertains to an important life passage. I try to stick to that pattern as much as possible.

1. Miracles

They don't amaze us
If they can't make us smile
But sometimes I think
the Devil works miracles
every bit as great as God's

2. Swansong

Graceful, moon-white swans
carry immortality
on wings of starlight
with the proper precautions
six months can be forever

3. Crab Apples

Wind blows crab apples
down from their white-blossomed throne
If change is so good
why do they moan as they are
carried away on the breeze?

4. Flowers in Autumn

Smiling in the grass
Summer flower in Autumn
Golden flare of hope
I wish our lives could be thus,
not fast fading candle flames

5. Ice

Winter chills the air
Clear ice encases branches
sparkles like crystal
I miss you with all my heart
The ice inside never melts

6. Over Dinner

In the Dining Room
We stare across the table
We are both silent
Then, you seem to want to speak...
You only say, "Pass the salt."

7. Faces

Faces on the train
Twisting around each other
all blur into you
Surrounded by so many
I feel so very alone

8. Remember

I can remember
his eyes, his voice, his smile
his hand clutching mine
as we run through the soft snow
I can't remember his name

9. Drink

Cold rain pounds the roof
Inside, the hot shower
will burn away your touch
I drink in the steam-filled air
and the water tastes like blood

10. Snowflakes

Catching white snow flakes
In our warm black-mittened hands
they will glisten there,
but only for a moment
before they melt into black

11. Dragonflies

Blue-winged dragonflies
hover over the water
glistening monsters
The slightest touch makes me burn
and those little wings are strong

12. White Curtains

Heavy white curtains
fight to keep the golden sun
out of her bedroom
They look like her wedding dress
yards of weighted, dusty lace

13. Empty Bed

I lay in bed, cold
sheets hold your shape beside me
my soul holds nothing
though newly gone from my bed
you are long gone from my heart

14. Monument

When I first met you
I wanted to carve your name
in the solid stone
Somewhere along the line
I must have confused stone with sand

15. Broken Vase

Like a child tries
to repair his mother's vase
with tender fingers
You are only gentle with
things you've already broken

16. Smile

Her dark eyes are blind
She's told they are beautiful
at those words, she laughs
and her smile is like sunlight:
it does not reach her eyes

17. The Moon

The full silver moon
sits on her throne in the sky
and I envy her
I know she is with you
every night, while I sleep alone

18. White Curtains II

On her wedding day
White-web curtains lock the sun
out of her bedroom
They look like her wedding dress
a white flag of surrender

19. Winter Lullabye

I hear our love song
as I curl up on the couch
by the fireplace
I hear the scratch of your pen
on sheets of cold white paper

20. December

White snow will soften
the edges of your tombstone
Did you know? This snow
is the first I've faced alone
Your grave looked colder in June

21. The Tree

Black against the sky
a single tree on the hill
moans in the night wind
When she thinks no one can hear
I know she is lonely, too

22. The River

The frozen river
is a solid sheet of ice
beneath the surface
the crystal water sleeps safe
where no one looks too closely

23. A Romance

He will always claim
that he loves me more than gold
I'm not so sure
He cried when I gave his ring back
without saving the receipt

24. Strangers

Beautiful strangers
pass me on the street, and smile
I don't smile back
Everyone is ugly
Once you get to know them

25. Moonlight

Surrounded by stars
the Moon is lonely tonight
waiting for the Sun
They were lovers once, but now
They are two worlds apart

26. A Conversation

"You are beautiful."
"You say it like you mean it."
"Why won't you believe me?
You've always been beautiful."
"You've always been a fool."

27. Last Words

Our parting words
endlessly repeat in my head
without meaning
As though I'm overhearing
the conversation of strangers

28. Brutal

In so many words
This is the short history
of a long night
You came, you saw, you conquered
and left me wondering, et tu?

29. Willows

Wind in the willows
fragile green branches breaking
writhing in the night
Oh God, I'm weary of wind
The silence won't let me rest

30. Blossoms

Cherry blossoms
I meant to pick a handful
before the frost
I only find the right words
when you're too far away to hear

31. Footprints

It snowed last night
everything covered in snow
except our footprints
Beauty can only hide
what wasn't deep to begin with

32. Boreas

Icy morning wind
Cold fingers tangle my hair--
a winter embrace
I keep remembering you
and it just makes me colder

33. Tears

Some wounds are so deep
no one can ever see them
but you still feel them
Look up, smile through the pain
let us think they're happy tears

34. Lilies

Floating white lilies
petaled stars in a deep sky
untroubled by waves
They think they'll live forever
and we know nothing of frost

35. Less Traveled

Two roads diverged
and I chose the one less traveled:
the path was unworn
and I soon lost my way
in that silent yellow wood

36. For a Season

You were like the snow
Soft, comforting, yeilding, white
Now, you are like ice
Trecherous, cold, beautiful
I am so sick of winter

37. Unconvinced

No point pretending
we can't remember the past
But why dwell on it?
We can never move foreward
If we can't stop looking back

38. Victory

I never chose this
but then again, who would?
This just isn't fair
I might have won the battle
if there hadn't been a war

39. Price

Life's just money
you don't know how to spend
and you're just the girl
with a thousand dollar watch
and a fifty cent soul

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