Tag Archives: Tanka

A Ghoul (tanka #43), Passive (tanka #7)

Dreams covered in phlegm
shivering night, eyes pried shut
to keep out the ghouls
that dance outside your window
and scratch their eyes out back in

However, you move
position yourself again
like a sinner on
a ship of screaming shadows
lost at sea drowning daily


The Open Wound (2 Tankas)

Here are two more original poems in the style of the Japanese “tanka.”
I dedicate these particular two works to the brilliance of poet/author Denis Johnson whose work I am devouring as carefully as I can.

The Open Wound (in 2 parts)

the gruesome portal
hints of eyes and torn hair-strands
stare black from the void
of a time of a wasteland
awake under fire-mist trees

his eyes blown back in
recovering slints and cracks
confuse the landscape
while forests provide entry
from lost birds torn from their kin

The Cold (3 original tanka poems circa 2007)

 The Cold: To Be Taken Together or Separately 

Struggle until I
Seemingly reach the darkness
This, my immersion
As the stalk blows in the field
Cold wind embrace, gone

Overcome by this
Catastrophic renewal
My mind blinking black
An obscure conversation
A multitude of voices

Someone looks at me
From across desolation
I hear the train stop
It is a pity that I
May never see her again

Selected Translated Poems from Mariko Mori’s book “Zero, Zero, Zero”

lonely cat

I bought “Zero, Zero, Zero” on a trip to Osaka, Japan in the summer of 2001. I think that these translations, although amateur (i.e. unpublished), capture the sense that Mori wishes to express. Enjoy.

Mariko Mori: Zero, Zero, Zero

I look at the clouds as they suddenly tear away from each other.
Somewhere, someone is calling my name.

No matter what tomorrow’s weather will bring, realize that a person will die.

Words that one can’t speak are pulled into the depths of one’s body as the thorn twists deeper.

I mutter “zero, zero, zero” as the night sky’s illumination seeps into my sleep.

My despondency comes from the tips of my toes, passing up my spine and lands at the nape of my neck.

Melancholy is the back and forth of the swing, swinging until it reaches the darkness.