Some Random Tanka…..

Watercolor, 2006, Jane Kohut-Bartels, "Dawn"

Watercolor, 2006, Jane Kohut-Bartels, “Dawn”

Tanka is such a beautiful form of poetry. These are some early tanka. I struggle with the form, still.

Lady Nyo


The moon floats on wisps

Of clouds extending outward.

Tendrils of white fire

Blanketing the universe

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.


Come into my arms.

Bury under the warm quilt.

Your scent makes me drunk

Like the wine we gulped last night.

Too much lust and drink to think.


Give me a moment!

To catch my breath and settle.

Give me some peace now.

Stop kissing my hands, stop it!

What if someone is watching?


Presence of Autumn

Burst of color radiates

From Earth-bound anchors

Sun grabs prismatic beauty

And tosses the spectrum wide!


Bolts of lightening flash!

The sky brightens like the day

too soon it darkens.

My eyes opened or closed see

the futility of love.


Had I not known life

I would have thought it all dreams.

Who is to tell truth?

It comes at too sharp a price.

Better to bear flattery.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008-2013

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24 Responses to “Some Random Tanka…..”

  1. brian miller Says:

    ha i like the drunk under the covers one but that is the romantic in me…smiles. that last one as well is tight…that one may be my fav….you know i dont think i have ever written a tanka…


  2. ManicDdaily Says:

    Ah. I love all of them. They are wonderful. The kissing my hands one so human – very memorable -t he bearing of flattery, painful but also so human. You really have this form down . Just terrific. k.


  3. Blue Flute Says:

    I am a fan of the tanka form too, though I usually do it freestyle (five lines, less than 31 syllables, but not following 5/7/5/7/7).


  4. ladynyo Says:

    It’s a marvelous form, regardless how we develop them. None of these (I haven’t looked lately) are classical tanka, more freeverse.

    I have learned some of the discipline of tanka with the top poem, bottom poem, and the pivot on the third line. It’s a good discipline to learn because keeping within those confines makes it harder, but we also learn a very exacting discipline.
    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  5. ladynyo Says:

    K, you are so kind. These are really ‘pre-learning’ tanka….they generally ignore the great discipline of the top/bottom poems and the pivot on the third line…and other things….LOL!

    But! I think tanka gives the best expression for most of us who delve into Japanese forms…I don’t know if I hide behind tanka, or I reveal myself. Haven’t figured that out, but I love, love, love the form. Even when I slaughter it.

    It allows for such raw emotion.

    Thank you, K, for reading and your lovely comment.



  6. ladynyo Says:

    GOOD GOD Brian!!! You’ve never written a tanka??????

    Well, you have something to look forward to.

    I find tanka to be the clearest and easiest way to a very emotional poem without sentimentality. Or something like that.

    With this book, “A Kapitany” I have gotten away from poetry a bit….since this early fall, and now I find I am missing something so essential to my psyche that I know something is amiss. I will try to go back to it this month. Tanka is an extraordinary form….and these aren’t classical tanka. But they are early attempts, too.

    Thank you so much, Brian for reading and always your comments. I tried to post a comment on your site about Berry=Blueberry…wonderful poem! but my computer turned off….I’ll try again.



  7. ManicDdaily Says:

    Thanks you, Jane! Hard to think of these as pre-learning Tanka. If so, all I can say is “first thought, best thought!” k.


  8. RepressedSoul Says:

    I’ve never penned a tank either! Plenty of haiku and senryu! These are absolutely stunning!


  9. Heaven (@asweetlust) Says:

    This is so lovely Jane ~ I love # 2 and 3 best ~ You have reminded me to try my hand into this form sometime ~


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Heaven! You have something ahead that will bring such good and thorough delight of the soul! Please, try your hand at tanka. I wrote a little presentation for dverse or Oneshot…I can’t remember…but it went over well, and if you missed it…and would like to read it….(a combination of historical, classical examples of great tanka-ists…let me know and I will send it. For some reason, it’s been a constant ‘read’ on the site for a while. It’s just my understanding, which is very new and narrow…about tanka.

    But@ you have the most wonderful adventure into the heart and soul with tanka.



  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you so much, RepressedSoul. Now, I’ve never done a sennyu, I bow to you. Haiku, yes but I find them much more taxing than tanka.

    Thank you so much for reading and your comment. You should pen a tanka….



  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K…well, there is a funny and ouch-laden story behind my tanka. Someone we both knew as a reader on our blogs…submitted my tanka (without telling me…) to the Great Jane Hirshfield. LOL!

    Her critique was this: “Good first drafts”. LOL!

    Unfortunately, they were not first drafts, they were examples of a tanka poet who did not know anything really about the structure of tanka. I still struggle with that. But there is a top poem/bottom poem/ and a pivot line that joins them together. Marries them.

    About a year later I would learn, so I think Jane Hirshfield was being kind.

    I did present a piece to OneShot or Deversepoet on tanka. That was wonderful fun, and I got to use some of my (reformed) tanka.




  13. ayala Says:

    Jane, beautiful as always! 🙂


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Tank you, Ayala.




  15. charlesmashburn Says:

    I don’t know anything about the form, but I really enjoyed these!


  16. Gretchen Leary Says:

    1 & 5 were my favorites. Nice job!


  17. marousia Says:

    These are beautiful – each one speaks volumes


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Marousia! Thank you for reading and your comment.



  19. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Gretchen.

    Lady Nyo


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Charles….



  21. Beth Winter Says:

    Wow… Each brings such vivid moments to life, tidbits often overlooked or unseen. Gorgeous


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Beth. Just learning here…but I have also learned that the friendship of other poets and writers can’t be topped. We are aliens in an alien world at times.

    Thanks, Beth, for reading and leaving such a kind comment.



  23. yelena Says:

    absolutely beautiful, all of them. i love the first one especially ‘Tendrils of white fire Blanketing the universe..’ – so vivid!:)


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Yelana…tanka concentrates so much in the mind…and heart.

    Lady Nyo (that first one is my favorite, too.)


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