Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2007, vol 5 no 1

TANKA

Dave Bacharach
 

you just
can't keep up anymore
with the taxes
an old farmer says
squinting at a cloud

 

a day
so beautiful
I spend some
wondering
how to enjoy it

 

I stop
to watch a tractor
pull a rake
over fresh cut hay
drying in the sun

 

two holes
in a bride's leg
put there
by the Pastor's dog
after her wedding

 

the time
she beat her horse
with its bridle--
I finally stopped her
both of us ashamed

 

as if
you know what it is
to live alone
she sobs, as I
walk out the door

 

she gives me
black silk pajamas
to wear in bed
between satin sheets
when she isn't there

 

my friend
in the coffin looks like
he shrank
outside a red leaf
floats in the air

 

12,000 feet
up in the Rockies
two chipmunks fight
even in this thin air
the same issues

 

a smashed ankle
too far upriver
for help
my hiking stick floats
gently down the rapids

 

with one kick
the boy teasing a horse
is dead
I buy the bay cheap
and give him a new name

 

the will directed
that her dog be killed
and buried with her
a lonely old aunt
gone mostly mad

 

all grown up
the ones who swung
from the big oak
I stack its boards
under shelter

 

it lies fallow
the farmer's field where
his son died
each evening he gazes
into the western sky

 

trying to save
a spider in the sink
I crush it--
once more
I'm misunderstood

 

setting down
another cinder block
square and level
with age this urge
to build solid things

 

I promise him
the pig won't be killed
at home
but he cries anyway
when the trucker comes

 

I drag a dead dog
off the road and get back
in my car
sometimes all that's left
is the right preposition

 


Dave Bacharach was born in 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennyslvania. His haiku and tanka have appeared recently in Full Moon, Ribbons, paper wasp, and The Heron's Nest. Modern English Tanka has published selections of his poetry, as well as book reviews and an essay with Lynne Rees, "The Tanka as Story" (MET, Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 2006). He lives in a rural area of New York 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 the urban environment.