2005 Form Challenges
#1 Tanka

The true feeling of Tanka like all other non-English poetry forms has become forgotten over the last few decades and made this wonderful form just an ordinary poetry form instead of a strict form of Zen.
The original pattern of Tanka (short poem) established centuries ago was a length of about twelve onji or sound-units, pausing after the fifth and seventh onji. Two twelve-unit segments were joined, with the closure a final seven-sound phrase added. This means that a Tanka has three parts and each one capable of standing alone. This created the classic 5 - 7 - 5 - 7 - 7 Tanka. In the true Zen tradition this should be adhered to.

Like the Sonnet of English and Italian courtiers during the European Renaissance, the Tanka served as a vehicle for love poetry for Japanese lovers during the five centuries of the Nara and Heian Periods (roughly 600 to 1200 AD).

During this period Tanka became notes exchanged by lovers. On returning home from a tryst the man would immediately sit down and compose a Tanka of gratitude, perhaps commenting upon some specific event that had occurred. The note would then be immediately dispatched to his lover by messenger or servant and his lover would be expected to instantly compose and return a suitable Tanka response, even if that meant arising from sleep. This form of poetry took on the name of Somonka.

Poem sent by Prince Otsu to Lady Ishikawa

Gentle foothills, and
in the dew drops of the mountains,
soaked, I waited for you--
grew wet from standing there
in the dew drops of the mountains.

Poem by Lady Ishikawa in response (7th C. CE)

Waiting for me,
you grew wet there
in gentle foothills,
in the dew drops of the mountains--
I wish I'd been such drops of dew.

Later Tankas were also written expressing desire for another person.

We dressed each other
Hurrying to say farewell
In the depth of night.
Our drowsy thighs touched and we
Were caught in bed by the dawn.

Empress Eifuku Mon (1271-1342)
In later periods, Tanka were written in praise of nature and began to employ natural imagery to express human emotions. All of these strands may still be found in present day Japanese Tanka and certainly in English language Tanka.

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Tanka Posts
Contents

Bad2DaBone

Finis
Forgiven

Deborah

Breath

Etain Druantia

New Mexico Sunset

Finbar Funface

Flesh Canvas

Gaer Llwyd

Friend

Gloria Carpenter

Adagio
Adagio 2
The First
Majesty
Paper Dolls
Stranger still
Sunmelt

Leny Roovers

Tanka in P Major

Lorainne Dafney

By Chance
Uncontrollable

Teagan De Danaan

Gentle
Morning
No More
The Mission
Through the eyes of a Stranger
Winter Wind


Bad2DaBone

Finis

Her tears bruised my heart
touching something buried deep
beyond my own fears.
She helped me break down those walls
as I heard her say goodbye.

Forgiven

Flicker restless flames
weeps as tears from magdalen
candle lit for peace
hides in shadows far from view
grace reserved for wounded souls.

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Deborah

Breath

With separate sighs
Parted we seem in silence,
Unity must be
The singing of my breathing
our deepest breath of shared air.

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Etain Druantia

New Mexico Sunset

Spirits dance orange
Across golden blue twilight
Buttes chant purples black
Coyote pack howls welcome
Luna takes center stage, bows

piper softly plays
yellow moon smiles approval
all creatures are still
music blesses their spirits
far cliffs echo in bass relief.

Response by Teagan

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Finbar Funface

Flesh Canvas

Hot, red skin, stings.
Striations carved upon virgin canvas
flesh ripples with each stroke
Mistress, orchestrates each swing
pleasure and pain skillfully sings.

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Gaer Llwyd

Flesh Canvas

Ah! to lose a friend
circumstance draws us closer
dissolves to vapor
reappears as bonds of love
on through the sunset of years

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Gloria Carpenter

Adagio

a ballet duet
choreographing soul deep
wind string pas de deux
solo movements combining
the dance of love pirouettes

lovers entranced
bodies move in harmony
moon spotlights their stage
senses and bodies spinning
we will call encore tonight

Response by Teagan

-----

Adagio 2

hard act to follow
curtain calls to graceful arms
wind and strings ascend
with one final leap of faith
moonlight bows and bids adieu

lights are out again
dancers sleep in others arms
music of the night
plays softly in sleeping time
with night fowls accompínied calls

Response by Teagan

-----

Majesty

Look how proud we stand
although our arms are tired
with Arctic burdens
sometimes shoulders ache from strain
still majestic standing tall.

-----

The First

icing sugar dust
sifted through the dawning year
gingerbread frosting
graced with glazed gumdrop garlands
an enchanting beginning

-----

Paper Dolls

darkness closes eyes
softly draping dripping stars
swirling moonbeam silk
until light exposes scars
is it only night we need?

dawn arouses eyes
softly kissing dreamlike wings
illuminating desire
until darkness smothers flame
of the burning paper dolls

-----

Stranger still

through what depth of sight
would you view a strangerís world
for a clear vision
your world may need left behind
would your mask obscure the view?

when walking in shoes
broken in by someone else
your toes can wiggle
sensing the protective sole
does comfort mean fitting in?

-----

Sunmelt

brilliant blue sky
relieves burdened arms of care
rain stick trickles sound
as golden cast spreads farewell
jasmine doffs an ermine hat

across the world changes
deckchairs host bronzed mantle
parched gardens die
scorched cracked earth reveals
dried out wilting wilderness

Response by Teagan

Storm crushes gardens,
snowdrops' fragile petals close-
tender stems bending,
won't break by angry wind's breath;
as silence returns, heads lift.

Response by Leny Roovers

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Leny Roovers

Tanka in P Major

Past pouncing passion,
panting participants pause-
playful Priapus
peeks, promising piled-up plates-
pure personified pleasure.

scintillation spies
sylphlike silkiness stretching
sinfully sacred
symbolic significance
Sirius satisfaction

Response by Gloria

'eated emotions
exciting, ecstatic end
elixir enhances
eclipsing enterprises
erudite equanimity

Response by Teagan

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Lorainne Dafney

By Chance

If we did not meet
when we did then I wouldn't
feel so beautiful
today and I cherish each
day and moment since the first

-----

Uncontrollable

Unexpected force
came upon the people and
mutilated lives
making innocent victims
statistics of history

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Teagan De Danaan

Gentle

My heart burst today
when you allowed me inside
now we share a heart
be gentle with me awhile
you helped the flames begin

My heart enfolds yours
beating together as one
feel our steady pulse
kindling the passion within
aroused rhythms igniting

Response by Gloria Carpenter

-----

Morning

Water spirits rise
mists from cool morning pools
dew dark tinted leaves
transform to daytime colours
summer opens her green eyes

-----

No More

There are no more dreams
because there is no more hope
to hope is to dream
a wish manifests itself
by nocturnal fantasies

let us speak of those
fantasies that come at night
are they not wish dreams
fashioned so that hope endures
to hope is to cherish dreams

Response by Gloria Carpenter

or alternatively

twinkling stars ignore
earnest wishes cast upon
hopeful whispered pleas
become silent as years pass
cynicism murders dreams

Response by Etain Druantia

or

I still can't believe it,
these images of humanity lost;
may these souls rest well,
may they have plenty
in whatever comes after

Response by Carly Svamvour

or

That dreams define me:
break down Faustian spirit,
whittle brittle bones,
bury wonderland whispers,
that suffocate my passion

Response by Badd2DaBone

-----

The Mission

I hear your music
a lone oboe calling out
a cello responds
and plays our adagio
good love is so beautiful

piper softly plays
yellow moon smiles approval
all creatures are still
music blesses their spirits
far cliffs echo in bass relief

-----

Through the eyes of a Stranger

Looking at the world
through another's eyes just think
would it be the same
as the one seen yesterday
would it be familiar?

Would the judgements
be the same as was before
are you comfortable
to walk in a strangers shoes
would the stranger be also?

-----

Winter Wind

Skeletal branches
fiercely whipping winter sky
winding porous soul
macabre shadows splay outwards
echoing silence around woods

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Any Comments or Suggestions, please email me

2005 Poetry Challenge
The Poets Garret
Tir Na nOg Poetry Community