Tanka Kukai 1 Favorites

Roundtable Tanka Kukai 1 Favorites, Fall 2009

this move
from my parents’ home
my last—
I might get some money
when my mom visits

Don Gorjuan (3)

praying in a dark
dorm room, I wonder
if there’s anyone listening.
How must it feel
to be the moon?

Joseph Bein (5)

ah, evening, evening
how quickly you close
morning glory blossoms
          each violet petal
          hushed up into itself


watching the war
from the bedside
wedding ring
on the nightstand

Aubrie Cox

I ran across the street
almost tripped
and fell
oh well

Brianna Martin (4)

you are more than a friend,
you stand by me
when the world walks out.
and for that,
I owe you my life.

Lainie Pahos (5)

It can be so MANY things! It could be a person, a god, or even a pet (which I'm relating it to right now). It's great as a reader to see this because they can take their own spin on it and make it personal. It can be taken seriously (I owe you my life) in the sense of say Jesus, he's given us his life, so I will give mine to him. Or in a less literal way of how someone say "i owe you my life!" not being serious. That's what makes this poem great...the reader gets what they want out of the poem-not just what the writer wants. Nikki

This tanka spoke to me immediately. I loved how easy it was to relate to. It has so much depth to it. You could think of so many different people when you read it. For example, when I first read it I thought of my boyfriend, because he is that person that is always that for me and stands by me no matter what. Then as I re read it a few times I realized how much of a religious emphasis that there could be on this poem. This tanka is extremely deep and definitely one of my favorites from the first batch of kukai’s. Lauren

writing tanka
on a Sunday afternoon
at my computer—
I wonder
if I’ve got mail

Don Gorjuan (4)

I liked this tanka because I really liked the contrast in it. I think of poetry (especially like tanka) as an organic experience. I always handwrite before I even touch a computer. Because it is something that comes from within you, typing seems so abstract and concrete. I also think that being at a computer where you essentially have the whole world at your fingertips is dangerous. For minor distractions, like wondering if you have mail as well as bigger problems. I liked that the author brought that all together, whether knowingly or not. Lainie

in a mind
that no others
could even assume
to understand
I lose myself

Heather Burgess (3)

a dull
and cloudy morning
what is the day
the sunrise


Fall Festival
carnival lights
friends from high school
I still
won't call my friends

cars stop
let the train pass
from the backseat
you quietly whisper
the names of butterflies

Carmella Braniger (4)

This tanka does a number of things on several levels that I love. The first is a basic staple of this type of poetry, which juxtaposes man-made elements (the train and cars) and nature (butterflies). But not only does it juxtapose these two things, but the assumably loud clamor outside the car from the rumbling and clanking of the train, the dinging from crossing lights, and the general hum of car engines to the quietness within the car (and more distinctly, a child's whisper in the back seat). Then additionally, the harsh, dark, heaviness of machinery versus the light, colorful and delicateness of butterflies. Within the rush of the daily (more than likely urban) life, there is this moment that breaks through with the soft whispering of someone who has managed to completely block out the distractions. The simple act of a child that adults diligently struggle with in meditation and their daily lives. Aubrie

at the stop light
a jagged edge of clouds
pass over
my little red car
dark under a cloth top

Randy Brooks (4)

I know choosing this poem may make me seem like a sycophant, but it truly was my favorite. There are just so many sensations that go into this poem. When I imagine the jagged clouds, I can almost see a very geometrical horizon with the clouds done in pastels. That would be a fun image in my book. And then there’s the awe of these giant clouds towering over the small car in the poem. It’s one of those moments when you get lost in the awe inspired by clouds. It’s happened to me a couple of times, and sometimes it’s not safe for the other drivers on the road. Gordon

dark side
of the moon
a war prisoner

Aubrie Cox (7)

I found this poem fascinating for several reasons. First of all, I loved the imagery of the dark side of the moon; I think it is a powerful image of loneliness and isolation – a very cold, distant concept. I also found that the brevity of the lines added to the imagery; both in relation to the distance felt by the “war prisoner”, and the jagged nature of his/her scars, the short, abrupt lines seemed to fit this perfectly. I also found that this poem resonated with me personally on a metaphorical level, since I have, at times, felt like a war prisoner in my own life, and certainly bear scars of my own. Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that the poem is powerful both figuratively and metaphorically; not only can it refer to a person whose life is like a war, and whose memories are like scars he or she traces, it can also refer to a very real prisoner of war in a very simple yet profound way. Joe

three dollars
cut in allowance
she's made her bed
every morning

Randy Brooks (6)

she asks again
about her father
quietly, I
the lilacs

Aubrie Cox (5)

I admire this poem for the way in which the author establishes a form/content relationship. It opens with the warm questioning gesture of the “she.” The poem’s pivot line, and the pause it creates, establishes an abrupt, startling distance between “she” and “I.” The “I” turns away from the child and toward the seasonal scent of the lilac, creating a clear sense of loss and perhaps longing. This is not the first time “she” has asked. Carmella

waves on the ocean
follow one another, they
make perfect music;
why are you still so


I stare into
his eyes
wondering what he’s thinking,
little does he know
I hope he thinks of me.

I see this man
whom I love
a man
I see only a child
in his eyes

Nikki Evans (5)

© 2009, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.