Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Autumn 2005, vol 3 no 3

TANKA

Dave Bacharach


waiting
behind a dumpster
in the dark
I squeeze forty quarters
and hope that he's alone

 

carrying rocks
to the pile I pause,
catch my breath,
and watch her work
in the garden

 

when they
cut out his throat
she nursed him--
a dying poet
with no voice

 

whoever
drove the car
that hit this
Great Horned Owl
is forgiven

 

did I thank the man
who picked me up years ago
when I hitchhiked drunk
on pay day, and drove me home,
I still wonder

 

I leave her place
and see a man waiting
where I once waited
for some other man
to leave her place

 

they put me
on a machine that took
the fingers
of the man before--
me, who's all thumbs

 

a mandarin
his retainers behind him
sits upon a cushion
and gazes over the valley,
on Rick's Auto Parts calendar

 

trading
whiskeys and beers
with a guy
tougher than me--
he thinks so too, I guess

 

each rock
I carry to the pile
is different
each trip has its perils
I place them carefully

 

the cat
skirts the lilies
by walking
along the rocks
at their edge

 

she cries
when someone talks
suicide
and worries about
my insensitivity

 

they find her dead
propped in the free chair
eyes wide open
surrounded by twenty
years of newspapers

 

on Memorial Day
I load the forty-five
my father brought back
and plink at empty bottles
of Japanese beer

 

Dave Bacharach was born in 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although new to haiku and tanka, he has an extensive background in English and American literature. A member of the Word Haiku Club, the Haiku Society of America, and the Tanka Society of America, his haiku have appeared recently in
tempslibres and Full Moon, and two of his tanka in Ribbons.

He lives in a rural area of New York State with his beloved partner, Mary. By day, he manages a large bus garage; at night, he writes poetry and practices the saxophone. His tanka are unique in their distinct reflection of a working man's life and urban environment.—Michael McCormick


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