Tanka Writing Roundtable • Fall 2009
Dr. Randy Brooks

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Dr. Carmella Braniger

morning pearl

Carmella Braniger


I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. I published my first poem about lady bugs in third grade. My teacher mounted and posted it to our classroom bulletin board. I only stared writing tanka a few years ago with one of my students, Natalie Perfetti. As a part of her honors project, we started collaborating on short linked tanka sequences. Before we knew it, we were writing and publishing tanka trios along with haiku master, Randy Brooks.

My desire to encourage and collaborate other writers has evolved into my own personal relationship with the tanka form. Its brevity allows me to engage the creative moment every day. I am most interested in tanka sequences that merge, converge, and disperse again in new directions. morning pearl is an autumnal sequence in three parts: a meditative movement from harvest to first snow.


“blue evening star” is forthcoming in the premier issue of Moonbathing: A Journal of Women’s Tanka 1.1 (Fall/Winter).

white lilies on the water
my way home to a deeper

                    in the evening
                    she brings me
                    a morning glory
                    closed around

blue evening star
out of practice
my bones rattle
posturing my body
for your receipt

                    early harvest
                    across the road
                    a young buck’s
                    velvet antlers
                    thick with desire

wrapped in veils
the endless sky
on my back
i set out
for you

                    in moonbeams
                    gesture playfully
                    to follow their lead

white morning pearl
still hangs
in the sky
its light piercing
all the way through me


early morning
cold feet
she’s stopped
putting me
in her pictures

                    cars stopped
                    the train passes
                    from the backseat
                    she quietly whispers
                    the names of butterflies

vine ripe tomatoes
steeping in jars
gentle rattle
vacuum seals pop
what will he say next?

                    sunflower heads
                    dry in the sun
                    on the high line
                    a black bird

new corn maze
he whispers
soft breath
down my

                    i drop by for a visit
                    her picture still
                    in the

pound rice
all night long
she stirs green tea
with an ivory spoon


once more
before the loom
she waits for her hero
to come home from his war

                    the limp body
                    of a child
                    snow dust
                    on his jacket

twilight swim
in these dark waters
we defy gravity
feel the silver weight
of our lungs

                    your voice now
                    sweet and tender
                    cuts through fog
                    chorus of a song
                    we once knew

under the weight
of blankets and
a new moon
keeping our
feet warm

                    there at the far edge
                    of a frozen pond
                    the goose
                    to lead this flock
                    in great V-formations


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