I have fallen in love with the Japanese Tanka, or Waka, a form of poetry.

I walk around during the day, counting on my fingers:  5-7-5-7-7, trying to ‘fit’ the words to the alloted measure of each line.  I don’t like to ‘wrap around a line’ but some times it’s unavoidable.  Others do it, and though it’s not ‘traditional’, it works.  And who’s judging?  We are just applying our creative thoughts to a traditional form.

Tanka was already in use during the 7th century in Japan if I remember correctly, and haiku was to come much later.  There were other forms that came in and out of fashion, and freeverse has been very popular in the 20th century amongst Japanese poets, but tanka has remained the favourite form of many Japanese.

I am studying the history of Japanese literature right now, and will try to write something as to my findings.  They will be thin for a while, because the understanding is slow coming.

Lady Nyo


My husband caught me
Counting fast on my fingers.
You I was thinking
Of, composing a tanka.
(He was making love to me.)

Last night he slapped me-
not hard, to make me attend.
He guesses too much,
while lying in his arms now
my mind is far, far away.

Listen to the wind.
Does it blow hard where you are?
I send a message.
Hang out your window. Catch it!
Let it rub upon your breast.

Women sneer at me.
“She thinks she is a virgin,
she forgets her place.”
Do I? Your touch makes me young.
Do not laugh at me so much!

I have not heard from
you, now it is seven days.
I constantly sigh.
My heart is like a leaden
weight, it turns into a stone.

I saw you last night
But you were so misshapen.
This is what happens
When the heart hopes without cease.
Dreams become houses of fear.

You smiled and I
hung upon it like a thread.
This is not proper.
I must detach my heart soon,
I will disappear like smoke.

I am now jaded!
These past weeks have made me so.
Some say now wisdom
Has finally visited
My senses restored, reclaimed.

Out of the corner
Of my eye, I saw you there.
I dare not look more,
My husband has been patient.
He deserves no more folly.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: