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American Tanka

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Once upon a time, I submitted some tanka poetry to American Tanka and got a “these are close” comment. Now, if you know anything about submitting your work in the literary world, you know that automated rejection slips are proliferate. To even get a personal note back is rare. To get a “these are close” comment is as close to getting published as possible. I am proud:)

Now, tanka is similar to haiku in its form as a short poem that packs an entire experience into very few words. There are 5 lines and the typical syllable pattern is 5-7-5-7-7.  But American Tanka doesn’t completely adhere to these stringent rules due to the differences in the language structures between Japanese and English. My poems below don’t adhere to the syllabic rules, but they do point to very concise, precise moments. Enjoy!

Nothing we can do
but wait until they drip dry-
those icicles 
tight against
our power line.
 
 
Hand-in-hand we 
pass holes in a
winter-beaten road
beside the discomforting 
rip in your jeans.
 
 
The note he left
was stacks of collected
white paper
he never could
penetrate.
 
 
She fashions
title and border
for her pictures,
poems and letters
to surround the vacant hour.
 
 
The sparkle faded
from her eye
as she detected
a dish, dust mite
and ripped fabric.

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