Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter Tanka


 Winter Tanka




~*~


From whiskbroom branches
blackbirds drop a watersong
brown rain in their throats
leaf mummies see the moon's face
music-washed night after night.

~*~

Winter's hand strokes wind
across the grain, a dry sea
flat in shades of dust
in time the lost mermaid dies
beached high in the bones of grass.

~*~

Let the smoke go up
pluming on horseheads of clouds
visible for miles;
let the wildfire come starved
to its briar sacrifice.












posted for    real toads
Challenge: Why I Write Tanka, Part II
Dr Hisashi Nakamura has generously shared his knowledge and skill with the short Japanese syllabic form known as tanka in this series at The Imaginary Garden. A tanka contains 31 English syllables in a line pattern of 5/7/5/7/7. I find them very difficult to write, but easier than not writing them, perhaps, today. I have used the bare minimum of punctuation, so I beg indulgence for my grammatical liberties.


Process note on the third tanka: Like many areas of the western US, we are having wildfires this winter due to drought, high winds and human stupidity.





Photographs: Oak-Blackbirds-Maple, Prairiewise Seeds copyright joyannjones 2014

21 comments:

  1. Each tanka has a great sense of completion in itself, but they work so well together to create a portrait of a wild, harsh winter. You say you struggle with the form, but I see concise lines in which every word is doing its work in fine style.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The lost mermaid is a vivid and heartbreaking image, Hedge. I don't know tanka from Binaca, but I admire your craftsmanship always, and these are no exception. You have a skill for endowing nature with what i would almost call an intelligence or intent, without personifying it. You suggest its rhythms and interactions beautifully and unsparingly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agree with both above. I found the first especially lyrical and moving but all beautiful - the second with so many echos of Oklahoma - for me anyway - across the grain - dustbowl/fossils - the last--agh. Can hardly stand that - though perhaps good for soil I don't know. Pretty awful. Your poem has intriguing ambiguity - fate speaking. k.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautiful, I can see it from your visual images. I hope the dry sea has its moisture by spring, that the invocation in the last two lines hold.

    ReplyDelete
  5. great imagery in that opening...love the whiskbroom branches...the music washed moon face...the beached mermaid dying, so sad...to think of any animal or human just drying up is pretty horrifying...

    ReplyDelete
  6. That last, here in social, is especially resonant. ~

    ReplyDelete
  7. You really see what I see in the beautiful canopies ... the whiskbrooms made me go ahh... and then the mixing of senses with brown songs... these three are wonderful

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your use of words are so rich in imagery, happy to have found your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful words Hedgewitch. Great imagery, I do appreciate people with this calmness in the eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. These are beautifully done, Hedge.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The compression of powerful words and images is incredible, Hedge. The second is devastating.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Breathtaking imagery in all three, but the second will haunt me. I sure hope that the wildfires starve, and quickly. Thank you for these.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wonderful tankas, Hedge, and I so hate hearing about the wildfires - already, this early in the year - not a good outlook for the heat of summer.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That second one with the lost mermaid in the bones of grass.. wow, that's nice. Lovely words in all.

    ReplyDelete
  15. each hones the dry in an exquisite way. you sure have skills with the tanka form. watersongs and dead mermaids. all read wonderfully together.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow...All are great, but I especially love the last one

    ReplyDelete
  17. Joy, I love this idea of 'watersong' especially coming from the throats of birds. All three of these have something remarkable in them.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Perfectly penned tanka ... second verse is my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You put the two-part feature into full expression in each of these, you also brought the dimensions of time and space efficiently especially in the last one...the miles and the mention of sacrifice brings one's mind deep into roots of history. The trio are so complimentary to one another. Much enjoyed these, Hedge!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautiful tanka Hedge ~ I like the word pairing of brown rain, dry sea & horseheads of clouds ~ A gem to read this morning ~

    ReplyDelete

'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg