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Tanka by George Swede

I drive through rain
to an old friend
with cancer--
the windshield wiper
like a pendulum clock

The Haiku Quarterly, 1996, No. 17


A teacher for
thirty-six years, I know
even less than I thought--
the chalk dust gathered
like early snow


Marriage is work
work is a marriage--
such thoughts as I watch
the pair of robins
carry twigs to the maple


In the middle
of the driveway gravel
an ant stops to peer--
like my attempts
to predict the future


One friend advised
this and another that--
I sit transfixed as
the weathervane points south
while the trees bend north


In the late 1980s, I found the tanka to be a perfect form for dealing with experiences slightly longer than can fit comfortably into a haiku. Since then, I have been a judge (1991, 1997) for Tanka Splendor (an annual contest run by AHA Books) and published work in the following periodicals: Acorn, American Tanka, Five Lines Down, The Haiku Quarterly (UK), Hummingbird, Industrial Sabotage, Lynx, The Plaza (JP), Poetry Nippon (JP), The Tanka Journal (JP). One of my tanka came third in the Poetry Society of Japan's International Tanka Contest, 1990.


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