Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2006, vol 4 no 1

TANKA

Robert Wilson

night deepens . . .
lizard learns
from his shadow
how to enter
a room quietly

 

moonlight
brushing my lips
and the glossolalia of
tongues slipping
into wetness

 

a baby boy
programmed to die
pops up like a
jack-in-the-box from
his mother's stomach

 

gold buddhas,
sitting on the echo
of muffled cries . . .
gunships setting fire
to the moon

 

i think of you
when i eat cantaloupe,
and when i dream . . .
sowing seed long ago
in jasmine scented shadows

 

holding you in
a morning thickened
thickened with clouds . . .
this dew
covered meadow

 

on the sofa,
while it rains ,
an old woman
drawing memories from
another woman's child

 

am i mad,
wanting a jellyfish
to teach me
how to breathe
the tide?

 

it was hard for me
not to smile,
whale watching
with a boatload
of fat people

 

how will this laborer
stand straight again,
his back bowed for
centuries, a
cousin to the ox?

[tribute to Edwin Markham's epic poem, "The Man With the Hoe"]

 

morning cool . . .
the sigh of
crickets
. . . and water
cleansing autumn

 

long hairs
reach out from
my eyebrows
taunting me
with old age

 

a little girl
stealing cookies
from the cookie jar . . .
mother slipping
into winter

 

heavy snowfall . . .
a client phones
in an order
for chinese
diet pills

 

come spring,
the moon blossoms
and clouds
chase gray whales
into the open sea

 

think of me
when you see
the clouds part . . .
a finger of light
tickling blossoms

 


Robert Wilson Robert Wilson is a well-known haijin, editor of Simply Haiku and strong advocate of short form Asian poetry. A native of Los Angeles, born in 1950, he now resides near the gates of Yosemite National Park, in Groveland, California. Among other projects, he is currently completing work on his first collection of tanka, Tanka Fields. Wilson's tanka are notable for their repeated, consistent use of imagery involving shadows, dream, moonlight, various water images, and restless loneliness---frequently combined with dreamy surrealist touches and a sensuous vocabulary. Michael McClintock