Tanka Writing Roundtable • Fall 2017
Dr. Randy Brooks

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Lauren Rhodes

The Green Light Speakeasy

Lauren Rhodes

Welcome to the Green Light Speakeasy.

Old sport. Did you know you can't repeat the past. Well, nevermind about that. Here at the Green Light Speakeasy, there are many parties to be had and none of those stuffy parties where there's no privacy. Come and join us. We're conveniently located just across the bay. You can't miss us. You don't even need to be from West or East Egg to gain access to our humble establishment. Everything has a rhyme and a reason here at the Green Light Speakeasy. Every tanka you're about to encounter was personally hand-chosen by the proprietor herself. All the tanka correspond to a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous novel, The Great Gatsby.

the eerie silence
freezes our bodies
like Han in carbonite
it's a trap
we can't escape

we sit at desks
stained with dead sea scrolls
x, o, x
unbeknownst to him
I play to win

checked out
lounging in the sun
pulled like taffy
alternating rows of red and white
interest long gone

in freshness
saved for a
rainy day
that never comes

red lips
hair flips a plenty
word vomiting
blah, blah, blah

This came to me while I was in a meeting. It captures the exact moment when I realized there are some people who like to talk just for the sake of hearing themself talk. Like there is nothing wrong with ranting and venting but sometimes I feel like some people say whatever comes to mind whether their opinion is asked for or not because they like the sound of of their own voice.

body wriggles and sheds a layer
he drapes it over a chair
dingy off-white t-shirt
blue jeans, black belt

the slight whooshing of the eraser
cleaning the chalkboard
ever so softly
filled the room
for a lifetime

like a chandelier
these tears hang above me,
even when not in use
there’s a dull bulb
I can never bring myself to change

This was one of my first attempts at Tanka and I love it for that reason and because I wrote after a heartbreak and it helped me get some of my feelings out. I think to me it captures what a divorce is like, and what I mean is, there is still pain left over. Because you can’t stay with someone who doesn’t make you happy and who isn’t happy staying with you but nevertheless those feelings are still there. Almost like the memory of a dull light bulb on a chandelier long after the light bulb is changed.

she draws flowers
with a pencil
delicate as a newborn baby
swaddled in cotton
she dreams of flying away

a girl
Needs! . . . a man
like parmesan complements spaghetti
it tastes good
yet, you have to be in the right mood

I am so done with the patriarchy and the heteronormativity of society so this was basically my smashing of both those things. It’s a favorite of mine because a majority of the time identifying and living as a woman means I have to be aware of my every move so males don’t get the wrong idea. However, they still find some way to get the wrong idea and to call us names and to make weird sexual advances towards us regardless of what we are wearing, saying and doing. So this piece was an ode to how hard it is living and identifying as a women.

from a barrel
to the ground
apples bakig in the sun
to rot
these stitches will never heal

© 2017, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.