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

TANKA

An Xiao

i don't suppose
it matters that she litters
on the ground --
tarnished cement would
still be tarnished cement

 

how am i
to admire the brilliance of
autumn leaves? --
so quickly does the train
become another subway

 

only the baby
takes the time to smile
at me --
a tired couple sleeps
on the subway

 

he digs through
garbage like i dig through
clothing racks --
waiting for the bus,
i count my change

 

i wish
i could ask them how they
got there --
the pair of sneakers in the
corner of the subway stop

 

I often wonder
what the poets of Heian
would think --
the wind in the heater vents
the sun in my monitor's glare

 

[Written on the 17th day of the 8th month, after hearing news from the Philippines]

high humidity
once again in New York --
how is it that
I smell the ripe mangos
plucked fresh from Lola's farm?

 

where did
that pretty butterfly go?
resting by the stream
i glanced away and it vanished --
just another windswept leaf

 

an early rain
just outside my window --
checking email
i count the pitter patters
till i fall asleep again

 

i still
remember stroking them
from her hair --
sakura blossoms by
the tidal basin

 

all that
separates my skirt
from my tears
is one tiny black kitten
kneading my thighs

 

bundling up with
my old black coat --
was it really
only a year ago tonight
kisses beneath the pines?

 

snowed in --
i listen to my roommate
play warcraft
as i tweeze away
my eyebrows

 

dreaming of lola
in my empty bedroom --
how can death
be so real tonight
12 time zones away?

 

Sometimes
I wonder if they stop
to watch me too --
her skirt, her hips
swishing, swaying

 

you'd have to
pay me a million dollars...
tightening my
muscles against my bladder
i pass the subway restroom

 

why must it
always be so difficult?
sitting still
thinking of nothing
thinking of everything

 


An Xiao Originally from the city of angels (Los Angeles), An Xiao tells us that she has forsaken her tropical Filipino roots and taken up residence in the blistering cold urbana of New York City. During the day, she works for a nonprofit social justice organization in midtown, and in her off hours, she enjoys long strolls in the park, writing short verse and treating herself to hot plates of delicious Mexican food. An's artistic passions include both film and poetry -- "the modern and the ancient," as she likes to call them. She is currently experimenting with the concept of haiku film and has produced and directed a number of shorts for local festivals. Her blog (http://thatwaszen.blogspot.com), That Was Zen, This Is Tao, features much of her work and thoughts as an artist, a Zen practitioner and a human being seeking joy in every moment. Though she took up the Way of Poetry almost two years ago, she hadn't given much thought to publishing until recently, so her published body of work remains limited at the moment. --Michael McClintock