Tanka Writing Roundtable • Fall 2009
Dr. Randy Brooks

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Jackson Lewis

Dead Leaves

Jackson Lewis

Takuboku Ishakawa, one of my favorite tanka poets, wrote tanka in the way many would write a diary. Most of his work was taken directly from a moment in his life with nothing fantastic or unreal added to it.

Fortunately, my life at the moment is not a poetically tragic as Takuboku's was. I am not in a constant state of depression, ill health, or a dilapidating state of poverty. I am your average college student, so while I have no qualms about taking real life events and transforming them into poetry, I made a point to embellish most every story to make more interesting while keeping ahold of the emotion that moment sparked inside of me.

So please enjoy my embellished and slightly fictional tanka diary from my first semester at Millikin University.

college girl
hums in contemplation
convenience store speakers
playing Bach

the misty rain
tickles my face
as I search
for a dry place
to scribble down tanka

carrying two crates
of sweaters
into the cold
I'm happy
just to be home


blinds shut
door closed
one would think
I have something
to hide

thumbing through
a Chekhov play
it hits me—
the Russians
call this comedy!


like old maids
meeting for coffee,
precariously perched
grackles gossip
on a stop sign

three words . . .
that's all it takes
to send me
across campus


just like that
we're kids again
standing in the rain
after I told you
I'm leaving

i drive by a couple
leaning in for a kiss
lips almost touching
i pass by
before they reach


late at night
a full moon
parts the clouds
to guide me home

despite the vase
of black roses
on her desk
she still


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