Tanka Sequences

A Set of Four 
to a crown cawing
in sets of four--
eventually all sounds
fade into the distance

in the distance
the crows are still
here and now a cricket
repeats one note

one note set
inside a crescendo
and diminuendo--
wind rising and falling
through the trees

beyond the trees
a dog howls, stops
starts up again--
from the other room
i hear your sighs
     Bright Stars 6 An Organic Tanka Anthology


my grandson
doesn't want the caterpillar
to change
i tell him the story
of Peter Pan

the larva
crawls up the twig
to cocoon
i cloister myself from the world
and ruminate

the larva discards the last
of its skin
i too want to shed
     Ribbons, Fall 2014: Volume 10, Number 3

What We Don't Hear 
after an earthquake
the planet is a bell
a tuning-fork
singing a note
beyond human comprehension

the wolf perks its ears
the hare freezes in its track
even the earless
hear the vibration
the snake slithering out of the crack

a weakness
this human deafness
although sometimes
we sense the ringing
as deja vu

shake off the feeling 
un-attuned to the waves
passing through us
the earthquake's 

there are other vibrations
we don't hear
the cry of the tree
in drought
xylem tissue empty

and then the hum
at the base of all things
the syllable
that is creation's
     Bright Stars 3 An Organic Tanka Anthology

her backpack
is made of the skin
of an animal--
one that also travelled
this earth

it didn't travel at all
for human pleasure
and purpose

sometimes i hate
myself for what i consume
the waste--
such disregard i have shown
to my fellow creatures

burgers half eaten
and tossed into a refuse bin
leather wallets and bags
far removed from their living

the thought
that humans are the only
sentient beings
even though the whale

and wolves howl
of pack and relationship
and elephants
speak to their families in low tones
we cannot hear

in truth
it is humans who are deficient
don't know the lyrics
can't interpret the language
of our fellow animals
     Bright Stars 5 An Organic Tanka Anthology

when i was a tree i knew
sun: pulsing and constant
the river-light of all life
Ra, Sol, whatever words you want to call
a tree's God

when i was rooted i knew
succulence: water streaming
through stems and veins
and then the miracle of photosynthesis
far greater than water into wine

when i was a flower i knew
the precise location of sustenance
followed its arc across the sky
petals turning to gaze
in gratitude
     Bright Stars 3 An Organic Tanka Anthology

clearing out
my mother's room and finding
notes from my father--
how did i not notice
their romance?

only once
seeing my father hold
her hand--
i watched from the window
this unusual affection

from my parent's
now later in life feeling

never hearing
the sounds of their passion
through thin walls--
but i am here so it must
have happened

two sisters
and two brothers
five time--
we, the proof
of what was hidden

it is the absences:
what isn't said or done
in a family--
the vacuum of everyday

thinking i knew
the black and white
of them--
and then, after they're gone
    Bright Stars 6 An Organic Tanka Anthology

I resist the urge
to read the future
in the stars
the only certain prediction
is [my] death

I am old[er] now
road-mapped around the edges
footprints of the crow
weather beaten, time pummelled
crinkled paper-bag brown

my lifeline
etched across my palm
coming up short
the message is clear:
I've overstayed my welcome

it is always the oldest
sent into the freeze of winter
to feed the wolves
the oldest taken down by the predator
in the herd's race to escape

but if the tryth be known
we old hags just can't run
fast enough
don't blame the herd
don't blame the wolf
     3rd Place, Traditional Poem, Craigleigh Press Poetry Contest 2016

© Marianne Paul 2011