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

TANKA

Carmen Sterba
 

at dusk
when the last light eases
my soul
I savor the crunch
of compacted snow

 

from this view
the fog keeps advancing
thru wet firs
heaviness hits as jet lag
prepares to pounce

 

rush of cold
in the doorway
every fiber
of my body propels
me out on the ice

 

a doe freezes
as a human trespasses
the vacant lot
a few black berries left
on sprawling branches

 

when you hear
of my skyward release
gather outdoors
in the light of dawn
and sing a hymn of hope

--Ribbons, Vol 2:2

 

in my childhood
this spot between the twin firs
was the right size
as was a homemade swing
that flew into the sky

--Ribbons, Vol 2:4

 

first night
alone in the apartment
and unable to sleep
as the black maple thrashes
to signal a coming storm

--Anthology of the Tanka Society of America, 2006

 

Tanka Sequence: Back to Japan

 

unknown
until I stepped off
my flight
this boundless joy
of returning

 

each day
in self-imposed exile
I speak your name
though not my birth country
I am your daughter none the less

 

this land
that sucked me in
and spit me out
now even the strangers
look like friends

 


Carmen Sterba Carmen Sterba lived in Japan for 31 years as a student, teacher, and finally a haiku poet. When she returned to the USA three years ago, she volunteered to be the Secretary of the Haiku Society of America from 2005-06. Her chapbook, sunlit jar (2002), received positive reviews in Frogpond and Lynx. In 2005, 15 of her haiku appeared in A New Resonance 4: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku. Recently, her tanka have been appearing regularly in Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal. Presently, Carmen teaches English as a Foreign Language at a small college south of Seattle. She has degrees in Far Eastern Studies, Literature, and is now working on an MA in Christian Ministry.

Claire Gallagher, Ruth Yarrow, and Carmen Sterba (far right), on Puget Sound.
Photo by Dave Russo.