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Mosaic Musings...interactive poetry reviews _ Poetry Education -> Karnak Crossing _ Tanka

Posted by: JustDaniel Sep 15 06, 11:23

Note: I'd thought there had been a post on this form earlier, but I could not locate it. If I'm incorrect, please let me know.

Tanka is a Japanese form of poetry of 31 onji; the closest we Americans come to that is to think in terms of 31 syllables. The lines are generally 5,7,5,7,7 syllables in length -- or preferably less -- short-long-short-long-long.

I'm told that the earlier tanka shifted rhythm after the 12th onji; the more modern ones de-emphasize the location of shift or switch after the 17th.

At any rate, here are some of my own attempts, for whatever they may be worth:


Stumbling into growth
may be bloody painful stuff,
but scars remind me
this vulnerability
opens my heart to loving.

© MLee Dickens'son 05 July 2002

Jesus’ Earthy Dad

kept her a virgin
miraculous conception
of Mary’s Joseph
whose union was further blessed:
four sons and unnamed daughters

© MLee Dickens'son12 Dec 2003

- Matthew 1:25; Mark 6:3

annuals vs. perennial

‘lovers’ seek to come
seasoned and with wild bouquet
pretending to root;
a love is but one… who blooms
when planted in nurtured ground

© MLee Dickens'son 18 Dec 2003

Posted by: JustDaniel Oct 4 09, 23:49

Lori... since you've asked about Tanka (and I'm no expert)... let me merely offer a few of mine... some tongue in cheek and some serious:

casting wile d'autres

small stones gave holeness
to old homes’ naked windows
when I was a stud;
some of us got our rocks off
or went on flings diff’rently

© M Lee Dickens’son 12 Dec 2003

dancing thoughts

though eye'd love to watch
feet would far more rush to join
and arms long to hold;
nose knows ascent of its own
and fingers ache but to touch

© M Lee Dickens’son 16 May 2004

do the arithmetic

teach the hollowness
of dull, worn mathematics...
students age, crumble,
ourselves spent, bent willows
who’ve wept till our branches droop

© MLee Dickens’son 27 June 2009

composed of Ten Words from Jack LaZebnik’s The Day the Tree Fell Down:
age, wept, branches, dull(ed), mathematics, bent, hollowness, crumble(ing), ourselves, worn

LIGHT + TRIALS = growth

Light is where He dwells;
it shines indescribably.
God leaves us speechless:
Holy, Unapproachable…
though His arms reach out, embrace.

Trials provide growth:
review in Dark what we’ve learned
in Light, His presence;
all difficulties purpose
lasting fruit. That’s holiness.

© Daniel J Ricketts 29 May 2005

Posted by: JustDaniel Jan 25 12, 11:15


many a kiss
becomes a wake-up slap
define who we're not
where we'd like to be

© MLee Dickens’son

Posted by: JustDaniel Apr 11 12, 07:50


days when you ran
with the wind
they have passed away
like your knees

© MLee Dickens'son 2012

Posted by: Alan Apr 11 12, 08:34

I can't
like your knees
and knobbly
unneccessarily so


Daniel, you say 31 sylls or less, but HOW much less is still OK ? DSoes this qualify as short-long-short-lon-long ?

Posted by: Larry Apr 11 12, 08:58

Standing among stumps
where a forest once florished,
life has departed.
Looking for the reason why,
eyes are blinded by my tears.

Posted by: JustDaniel Apr 11 12, 09:13

QUOTE (Alan @ Apr 11 12, 09:34 ) *
I can't
like your knees
and knobbly
unneccessarily so


Daniel, you say 31 sylls or less, but HOW much less is still OK ? DSoes this qualify as short-long-short-lon-long ?

The length of your lines here would be fine, in and of themselves, Alan. However, there is usually a PIVOT at the third line, so that the first three lines each are a self-sufficient part of ONE observation, and either the last two lines, OR the last three lines (using the third line in both pictures) each form a self-sufficient part of ANOTHER observation. Does that make sense? [ I picture a tanka kind of as a haiku/senryu with two long lines as an additional (or part of another) observation of the same phenomenon. ]

Let me ATTEMPT to use your pictures to give an example of this:

it is painful
to like your knees
since they're gnarled
they seem knobbly
so unnecessarily

deLighting in your sharing, Daniel sun.gif

Posted by: Larry Apr 13 12, 14:59

Pictures are painted
depicting what artists see
or wish to reveal.
Beauty is self-evident
but epiphanies take time.

Posted by: JustDaniel Apr 18 12, 15:09

a yellow splash
on an indigo canvas...
a burst of radiance
comes out of the blue

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 10 13, 19:55

A Current Scene

Look at your King...
shall I crucify him?

"Our king is Caesar!"
The government nails the Lord
in the mix with criminals

© MLee Dickens'son 2013

Posted by: Larry Mar 11 13, 09:34

Hi Daniel,

Timely and nicely done! I'll have to get back to you with a continuation of your post.


Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 11 13, 10:44

Thanks, Larry. I tried to utilize an old story to demonstrate a current reality as well.


scrape away lose flecks,
gouge out rotted ugliness;
paint an undercoat
caulk fills damage, prevents more;
final coat hides multitudes

Posted by: Larry Mar 11 13, 11:46

in de finite life

multitudes hide coats
in moth-proof summer storage
to further the life
of dead animals and plants
pausing and stemming decay

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 11 13, 14:00

since dogwood decayed
he constructed a cathouse;
good for his business
as his wife watched it grow
he ended in the doghouse

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 18 13, 08:48

fulfilled prophecy

lots cast for his clothes,
"I thirst" and "It is finished,"
soldiers pierce his side;
mourners entomb his body...
three days later, "He's alive!"

© MLee Dickens'son 2013

Meditation on Psalm 22, Zech. 12 and John 19

Posted by: JustDaniel Dec 15 18, 14:24

three weeks later
I'm still here in rehab
to have my IV's:
simply antibiotics
for body to stave off staph

Posted by: Larry Dec 17 18, 16:08

Christmas time is near
but people seem to forget
the season’s meaning
with what’s found under the tree
instead of the star on top

Posted by: JustDaniel Dec 22 18, 20:54

star studded at top
of the football team's roster
can't carry the ball
but no one expects him to;
he protects the quarterback

Posted by: Larry Dec 24 18, 23:29

get a quarter back
when you’re buying a new car
and you pay with cash
so when you get a flat tire
you’ll always have some spare change

Posted by: JustDaniel Jan 11 19, 00:56

change your spare often
by rotating the new tires
to even their wear
so everything is balanced
though your checkbook may not be

Posted by: Larry Jan 11 19, 16:12

checkbook may not be
mathematically correct
but when it add up
there is nothing left in it;
funds are gone but it was fun

Posted by: JustDaniel Jan 12 19, 20:44

Mafunzalo had
a habit of borrowing
he never paid back
family members would lend
so Theirfunzalo also

Posted by: Larry Jan 14 19, 16:09

sew their funzalo
where it will be long enough
and won't show too much;
a careless seamstress finds that
ma's funzalo doesn't fit

Posted by: JustDaniel Jan 16 19, 15:58

funzalo won't sit
well with a neighborhood loan shark
he keeps his hand on
his assets; best that you pay
if you would keep your hands on

Posted by: Larry Jan 17 19, 23:38

you would keep your hands
to yourself in crowded bars
or you’ll spill your drink
on someone bigger than you
and get shots you can’t swallow

Posted by: JustDaniel Jan 21 19, 15:45

shooting the swallows
frowned on in Capistrano
Goya won't can them
they are migratory birds
every year on March 19th

Posted by: Larry Jan 22 19, 23:03

march on the 19th
and you are two days early
for MLK day
but you were off Saturday
and Sunday’s a day of rest.

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 1 19, 09:10

on Sunday you wrest
strange verses from your Bible;
you've something to prove
on Monday you realize
you are just a pompous ass

Posted by: Larry Feb 1 19, 22:50

just a pompous ass
is not very descriptive
for Congress’ people
with their heads stuck in the sand;
they are all a bray-zen bunch

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 4 19, 08:52

yes, the bray-zen bunch
seem to all be jackasses
and their heads are not
buried somewhere in the sand;
they're in their large derrieres

Posted by: Larry Feb 5 19, 10:39

Their large derrieres
are covered with big pockets
which the like to fill
with money from certain funds
from the special interest gropes

No Daniel, I didn't mean "groups".

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 13 19, 15:51

interested gropes
are frowned upon by women;
enhanced derrieres
are only for the looking
not for attracted fingers

Posted by: Larry Feb 14 19, 23:51

attracted fingers
with all her Rubenesque curves
and the thought lingers
in my mind but lack of nerves
cause tears as the eye observes

How about one that rhymes?

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 16 19, 00:56

tears as eyes see
Kim Kardashian tonight
Fallon doesn't flee
but hugs her; it's quite a sight
so much packed in suit that tight

Posted by: Larry Feb 17 19, 23:13

packed in their tight suits,
female stars flaunt each blessing
which no one refutes
but I must be confessing
I’d rather be caressing

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 18 19, 09:41

I'll be caressing
without any confessing
'cause she is my wife
I enjoy my present life
and will not stir any strife

Posted by: Larry Feb 18 19, 20:03

any strife will stir
pain or anger will occur
and may often blur
what’s said and what you infer
when you are speaking to her

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 21 19, 16:10

when you are speaking
if you rope in your vowels
you will make no sense
if you toss out consonants
you can vocalize all night

Posted by: Larry Feb 23 19, 16:01

vocalize all night
if you are a coyote
with the moon in sight
and you feel billy-goaty
when you’ve eaten peyote

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 24 19, 05:03

if you eat oat pie
you are poorer than I am
try a few raisins
they'll help you get up and go
and even make you feel flushed

Posted by: Larry Feb 25 19, 16:27

make a flush and feel
that you have a winning hand
so when your chips spill
in the pot and things seem grand
don’t cry when four aces land

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 26 19, 02:08

when four asses land
in the four-seater out house
it's plop plop fizz fizz
oh, what a relief it is...
out before you're overcome

Posted by: Larry Feb 27 19, 16:08

before you are out
from swinging bats through the air
you would like to clout
that baseball so hard you would tear
the cover off and stay fair

Posted by: JustDaniel Feb 27 19, 23:58

ball with no cover
and everyone will see you
do it under wraps
your mate will appreciate
your giving her privacy

Posted by: Larry Feb 28 19, 22:38

her privacy gives
sufficient time to enjoy
the result which lives
in memories you employ
when old age looks might annoy

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 1 19, 10:33

old age might annoy
Lori so she doesn't look
down here to see it
ours sticks out all the edges
and oozes onto the page

Posted by: Larry Mar 3 19, 14:56

oozes on the page
are unctuous platitudes
which may be the rage
but with today’s attitudes
I’d rather have gratitudes

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 4 19, 18:16

having gratitude
is the surest way to peace
the world keeps turning
and we don't fall off the globe
nor lose all of our marbles

Posted by: Larry Mar 5 19, 18:01

lost all their marbles
when the ruling was announced
and Donald warbles
with tweets, their vendetta’s trounced;
heads will roll but some just bounced

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 6 19, 00:39

he said heads would roll
and Old MacDonald proved it
go, and lettuce see!
cabbage is even better
because it holds together

Posted by: Larry Mar 6 19, 23:11

because it will hold
pomade is good for the hair
and good brushes mold
a style that makes people stare
if you have enough up there

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 7 19, 15:07

I don't have enough
that would ever make it lie
it can't tell the truth
if it did it would tell you
that I did not shave my head

Posted by: Larry Mar 10 19, 11:22

that I did not shave
is what I hear from my wife
‘till I’m in my grave
and it always causes strife
but I guess that is my life

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 15 19, 14:44

I guess that my life
is not so complicated
my wife says nothing
whether I shave or do not
she thinks it makes me bristle?

Posted by: Larry Mar 17 19, 16:52

it makes me bristle
when I walk through the tall grass
and a large thistle
jabs my ankle or my ass;
my lawnmower needs more gas

Posted by: JustDaniel Mar 18 19, 15:52

lawnmower needs gas
back yard looks like a wheat field
sowed on fallow ground
some of the rocks in the yard
in the head of the owner

Posted by: Larry Mar 21 19, 08:08

head of the owner
is now shining and sunburned
and it’s a groaner
when realizing he spurned
sunscreen but now he has learned

Posted by: Larry Apr 11 19, 22:12

now he has learned “but”
should not be found at the end
of a phrase so cut
that addition and suspend
the afterthought you may send

Posted by: JustDaniel May 27 19, 06:52

send an afterthought
some time after digesting
get rid of the gas
well-constructed ideas
will not just put up a stink

Posted by: Larry May 30 19, 22:25

just put up a stink
about participation;
it’s not what you think,
it’s just solicitation
and my anticipation

Posted by: JustDaniel Jun 1 19, 08:14

don't anticipate
anything profound from me;
eyes and mind are slow
it's a chore just to get up
and clean out the pool filter

Posted by: Larry Jun 4 19, 14:15

clean the pool filter
after the dog swims around;
it’s out of kilter
when I get hair by the pound
he sheds all over the ground

Posted by: JustDaniel Jun 7 19, 10:55

scat all over ground
where the dog took morning walk;
quite a hairy scene
best to wait for it to dry
ere using pooper-scooper

Posted by: Larry Jun 10 19, 22:51

pooper scooper use
helps in keeping your hands clean
from solids or juice
or something that’s in between
that may look or smell obscene

Posted by: JustDaniel Jun 28 19, 06:18

smelling out Ob scene
were homicide detectives
four Obs found murdered
maid seemed very Ob-servant
so policemen checked her out

Posted by: Larry Jul 12 19, 21:51

policemen checked her
on the lighted street corner
but had to defer
arrest and had to warn her
to quit being a joiner

Posted by: JustDaniel Aug 19 19, 14:03

John caught joinin' 'er
ended up in the hoosegow;
'e kneaded arrest
since 'e didn't have the dough
to stay out of the oven

Posted by: Larry Aug 20 19, 12:42

out of the oven
for the miner infraction
of diggin’ lovin’;
professional’s attraction
caved in by legal faction

Posted by: JustDaniel Aug 20 19, 21:00

a large infection
found him scratching genitals;
his immoral itch
found to be causing him more
than his bargains expected

Posted by: Larry Aug 24 19, 22:36

expected bargain
when shopping for what’s offered
with shouted jargon
is not worth monies proffered
a disbelieving cough heard?

Posted by: JustDaniel Aug 30 19, 12:41

believe a coffin
will never hold your body?
need an adjustment
either to your body weight
or view that you will not die.

Posted by: Larry Sep 2 19, 15:07

view that you will die
because it happens to all
even if you try
by spending money to stall
the inevitable pall

Posted by: JustDaniel Sep 2 19, 18:10

available gall
is shouted in the mean streets
gullible crowd hears
truths stripped out of their context
to slander adversaries

Posted by: Larry Sep 12 19, 10:34

To adversaries,
I would suggest you make peace
for each path varies
but some are covered with grease
and rivalries never cease

Posted by: JustDaniel Sep 12 19, 16:49

will rivalries cease?
will the Hatfields and McCoys
keep shooting down peace?
the Masons and Dixons can't
find a trace of their old line

Posted by: Larry Sep 19 19, 13:09

their line finds a trace
of reasoning for the feud
but one must save face
without kin being too crude
so both families are screwed

Posted by: JustDaniel Sep 23 19, 06:15

someone must be screwed
for family's seed to pass;
that impregnation
had best be consensual
or feud will emerge screaming

Posted by: Larry Oct 11 19, 14:40

Feud emerged screaming
from the peace which used to reign;
guns and knives gleaming
and both sides must be insane
for such hatred you can’t feign

Posted by: JustDaniel Oct 14 19, 07:38

unfeigned hatred
eliminates guesswork
look down the barrel
and you'll see the clear water
collected from off your roof

Posted by: Larry Nov 13 19, 14:40

collect from your roof
all of the branches and leaves
so you can snow-proof
every gutter and the eaves
from what a long winter heaves

Posted by: JustDaniel Nov 19 19, 05:25

in long winter, heave
all the snow off your sidewalk
or just stay inside
letting fat accumulate
so you can't walk when spring comes

Posted by: Larry Dec 12 19, 00:02

you can’t walk in springs
without getting your feet wet
and oozing mud clings
until dried, then it will set
and you’ll have feet of clay yet.

Posted by: JustDaniel Dec 12 19, 04:01

you'll have feet of clay
if you pretend to be strong
could collapse in heap
of bricks and powdered mortar
interspersed with ivy sprigs

Posted by: Psyche Dec 26 19, 11:12

QUOTE (JustDaniel @ Dec 12 19, 06:01 ) *
you'll have feet of clay
if you pretend to be strong
could collapse in heap
of bricks and powdered mortar
interspersed with ivy sprigs

Hi Daniel, haven't been here for ages. I like your tanka, highly original. But ouch! Not for me. LOL.
Deftly worded. Hope you had a peaceful Christmas.
Best wishes, Sylvia butterfly.gif goodjob.gif

Posted by: JustDaniel Dec 27 19, 23:42

Great to see you visiting in Karnak, Sylvia!

Actually my latest tanka (a game with me and Larry, where we take part of the last line of the previous tanka to start a new one) is precisely what was happening to the chimney of hour house in Bridgeton. When we put on a new roof, the whole upper part of the chimney was simply a bunch of bricks stacked on each other, since the mortar had been eaten away by the residual of natural gas that was going through the chimney from our heaters and water heater. Our workers threw the bricks one or two at a time over our hedge into the neighboring property, where we cleaned them up and stacked them for later use. We had to put in a stainless steel liner which we had made by a local person and our guys installed it with some difficulty. Saved the main structure of the chimney by the stabilization with the liner and our redoing some of the mortar and parging and then painting the chimney, removing all the ivy that was growing on it as well. It could have been a huge mess!

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