2 Tanka Kukai - Favorites

Roundtable Tanka Kukai 2, Fall 2011

the sun reflects off the lake
silence echoes off the docks
I wave to a fellow runner.
Worries couldn't be
more miles away

Kendall Robison (2)

we walked across the stage
moving our tassels from
one side to the other
fifty years ago
seems like yesterday

the mournful melody
of the train whistle
passing through this tired town
someone is going home--
i wave.

Brittany Mytnik (8)

We discussed this tanka in class but to me, it is particularly touching because of the last line. I imagined that the speaker was on the train, waving out at the mournful town they were leaving behind. It is mournful because the speaker regrets leaving, and the term "someone" is used because the person does not know who they are…perhaps they are leaving to find themself. There is also beautiful alliteration in "mournful melody" and "through this tired town;" just subtle enough on the tongue that it creates a sort of melody in the reader's mind, much like the imagined melody of the train. Sam

your blackened fingertips
trace the path
of a maze in the newspaper
and cannot find the end--
neither can i

the day I long for every year
counting down the days
but this year I cringe
knowing this Christmas
I have to finally face you

wandering through
a used book store
I pull an old volume from the shelf
take in the smell
and move along

his anger aimed
at me
i evade
another hole
punched in the wall

I play with my food
at brunch with grandmother
my due date approaching
she asks him again
when he intends to marry me

a great friend
sees me walking
he shouts my surname
after so long
it could be a symphony

Owen Kosik

This tanka is a bit mysterious to me. I can relate to the friend shouting my name, and I love the word choice of "after so long/ it could be a symphony;" however, I am not sure exactly what the author meant by this. The way I am interpreting it is that, because it is a "great friend," hearing them shout your surname is refreshing and beautiful to you. However, it says that it "could" be a symphony, as though it has the potential to be, but it is not currently. Perhaps the author wishes that this person who is a "great friend" would be a boyfriend instead, and if this ideal were to be realized, the sound of him shouting their surname would be a "symphony" because it would hold more significance. I like that the meaning is ambiguous, and it is enjoyable to figure out the possible meanings. Brittany

the stares and whispers
as she walks down the hallway
she wonders how they know
as she holds onto
her still flat belly

hot, soothing tea
laughter and conversation
until I speak his name
and she whispers
her inmost secret

Fragrant coffee fumes
wafting through the empty apartment
the scent
echoes more loudly
than your words

sniffing me like if I'm
unknown to you
I took you
for your first walk
more like you walked me

hakuna matata
is the life!
fame, women, beer
until my heart
gets frostbite

Bill Rzesutko (6)

majestic and serene,
white mist
rises from the river--
i once thought
home was on the other side

sparkling reflections of light
leap across the ocean's surface
beneath which
my heart now lies,

a simple third letter
sent in the mail
all it held
was a stamp . . .
write me back?

One simple question
do you believe in love
at first sight
wipe my tears
and say you do

Cristy Carranza (5)

visiting the old neighborhood
with the kids in the car
I don't know why
but I lie to them
about which house was mine

Nora Kocher (7)

watching the rain
illuminated by
cars' headlights
i remember when
you called me beautiful

Brittany Mytnik (5)

only together
for 2 days
but how quickly
we fell back
into old habits

Owen Kosik (8)

This poem of returning was special to me because I thought of it as a poem of happiness, I thought of it as two people that have been apart and are seeing each other again. And although it's only for 2 days, they are strong enough to be able to act they very same way around each other without making things awkward. It was just special because last weekend I was only home for a short time, but it didn't matter, I was still able to be the same around the people at home. Morgan

at the forgotten park bench
she holds a tea party
for spiders
and squirrels . . .
Peace here.

half way there
livin' on a prayer
c'mon old reliable
don't fail me now
sput sput sput

turning left
turning right
I hike this mountain
on a journey
to touch the sky

you wake me
with a kiss
eggs, ham, and pancakes
then put me to
sleep in tears

I think
I wonder
I give up
drowning in these
snow white bubbles

Rain pours down
like an evening shower
softening the roughest of edges
Heh--even makes my hood
worth living in.

warming my toes
in the bathtub
after a long walk home
the smell of Christmas cookies
fills the house

Nora Kocher

I really liked this tanka because it really reminded me of the warmth Christmas can bring. Even though this person had just walked a long way, they know and appreciate the smell of cookies in the oven. I imagine the house to be very warm and welcoming, just like the water on their cold feet. It is very relaxing. I'm sad I didn't read this one during kukai. I really felt it slipped through the cracks. Bill

back in your arms
you squeeze me close
as if afraid that
when I leave
I'll disappear this time

Desi Thomas (9)

I think this tanka speaks to me because I am away from home, and when people from home hug me, it feels like they're afraid I may not come back again. Especially my mom, but sometimes even more so, my boyfriend. And I think this is because you see so many people go off to school and break up with their significant other who is still at home. It feels like they're afraid too, the others, and not just me. And this tanka expresses that. It expresses that the other person in the relationship is afraid too. Although they have no reason to be. I'll always come back. Because back is home, and home is where the people you truly care for are. Morgan

in the meadow,
next to him,
my heart races
as his hand
brushes against mine

Morgan Ewald

This tanka had a great image associated with it. I envisioned myself as the guy. It made me think of the first time you hold someone special's hand. I could picture the meadow clearly in my mind. Quiet and yet full of life. It was mid-day and there were wildflowers and dandelions blossoming all around us. It was really sweet. Bill

blossoming angst
like a dark, fetid flower.
the girl
you'd never show
your parents.

Joeseph Sparks

This tanka is the epitome of the angsty teen punk tanka. It captures the awe that I see in my fifteen year old brother's face when he sees a rebellious girl walk by and just has to try to impress her. It made me laugh because the poem is exactly what it says--angst, complete with the word "dark" and that in your face sort of voice. There is also melodramatic alliteration in "fetid flower," which adds to the overall atmosphere. I chose to write about this tanka because of the strong voice that comes from it, while still being simple and enjoyable. Sam

silence as the sun rises
comfort as we lay closer
peace as your breathing matches my own
I wait patiently
for the alarm clock

Kendall Robison (3)

I like this tanka because it reminds me of the first night I returned home. I had spent the night over my husband's house and I couldn't sleep. I guess I was too excited to be with him. He had class the next day and instead of going to sleep, I just stayed up listening to him breath… snore… until my alarm clock went off so I could wake him up for school. I can remember it just like it was yesterday… It's like this tanka really hit it on the head. Word for word, I can relate to it. All of it. Desi

I love you
three words
as fake as the
artificial flowers
on your grave

I open the door
a look of surprise and happiness
fills her wisdomed face
as she tells me
the bathroom needs cleaning

sighs echo
like slammed doors
running through gypsy blood.
Who knew I'd come home
travel sized?

the temple wisteria
chasing my
flustering thoughts.
who knew god
was so easily offended!

early Christmas morning
their sick child's third night
in the ICU
no coffee shops
are open yet

Nora Kocher (7)

she shoots at him
he stabs at her
they both miss
on purpose

in the mirror
she shows off her milky thighs.
new heels,
celebrating six months
without your bruises

Samantha Parks (9)

calm wind
under a tree
immersed in an adventure
sword drawn
to save the princess

Bill Rzesutko (6)

staring at the rain
wondering where you
are at this very moment
are you thinking
about me too?

Ashley Longcor

Again, this tanka hits it right on the head for me. As I was speeding back to Chicago for reasons that I will not mention, it started to rain down really hard. I mean, it was pouring down real bad. While I'm trying to maneuver my car down the highway, all I could think about was my husband and what he was doing, where he was, and if he was worrying about me going 40 past the speed limit (sad, I know). Desi

racing their walkers
down the hallway to the caf
two old kooks
in love at last . . .
warm chocolate

Samantha Parks (7)

Normally,my favorite types of tanka are filled with angst, sadness, and despair, but inthe kukai this week, my two favorite tanka were actually very light and happy! Ireally enjoyed seeing the lighter side of the tanka. I especially enjoyed theuse of the word "kooks", since it was a word that I never thought that I wouldsee and be able to take seriously in tanka. Kendall

for the first time
since I left,
i surprise you
on your front porch

I am Rose.
in full bloom
my black petals spout
in need of nothing but
space, air, & quiet

a three hour drive
becomes five.
Sitting in the wrong state,
I ponder . . .

Joe Sparks (4)

The second tanka that was one of myfavorites was a favorite because of the opposite turn. The first two lines ofthe tanka made me believe that it would be another sad tanka, but it wasn'tuntil the turn in the last line when the combination of three letters made thetanka into one that was almost light hearted. Many times, tanka have lines thatare happy or peaceful until the last one or two lines that make it despairing.The opposite effect in this tanka made it one of my favorites that I have readall semester. Kendall

so much to do,
so little time
in my BIG BLUE hoodie
discussing how soon I'll be
back again

rolling in the leaves
we pretend to be dragons,
tossing rings of smoke
and . . . enlightenment
into the stars

Christmas Eve snowstorm
she still drives on
having decided it was finally time
for her two year old
to meet his grandparents

the sharp prick of a needle
stealing my blood,
offering to another
what I can no longer circulate
with this broken heart

I return to find
my blood in a pool
on the porch steps
of my house—
warm, thick, & strong

I have missed you
so much . . .
and carving
jack 'o lanterns
was a beautiful surprise

Morgan Ewald

this creaky home
full of good memories
feels quite lonely
his room
emptied, cleaned, repainted

Owen Kosik (4)

faded pictures
in a dust coated album,
still smooth to the touch.
i feel the sudden urge
to walk

Brittany Mytnik (4)

struggling to figure out
where she went wrong
she had it all mapped out
now all she feels is

memories of childhood
are their only bond
he tries and tries
but she says

weak, tired, and broken
I feel
Holy Spirit rush in
lux aeterna

in the moment
before I kiss you
I brush the hair from your eyes
and want nothing more
than to hold this breath

Samantha Parks

In an episode of the TV series "How I Met Your Mother," one character said that the moment leading up to a kiss is almost better than the kiss itself, sometimes. The anticipation and "magic" right before the kiss occurs is exciting. Sometimes you don't want that moment to end, even though it means getting what you want (the kiss), because it would be that much closer to being over. Also, it cannot be known what will happen during or after the kiss--the people involved may or may not enjoy the kiss, and the relationship may never be the same afterwards. This tanka captured all of this perfectly. The narrator wants nothing more "than to hold this breath" before the kiss, and the image is simply beautiful and relatable. Brittany

breathless whispers
are still a mist
in my mind.
i can hardly
find my way home again

our sport is crashing
into brick walls.

Samantha Parks (5)

twilight kiss
under a willow
as fireflies dance around us
and crickets serenade
our hearts our whole

© 2011, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.