Nine Tankas – Shanto

“In 12th century Japan, poets, individually or in teams, participated in poetry contests held in the royal courts. Prizes were at times elegant and valuable, so hundreds of poets often competed. The verse they wrote was called Tanka (tän´ka, or “short poem”; also called Waka). A very old form even then, it was based on still more-ancient uta, songs of Japanese mythology. Treasured collections of tanka exist from as far back as the 7th century” – definition courtesy of the wordshop.

The following nine tankas were submitted anonymously and deal with “the city, beauty of lights and transience”.

1. Tanka – Strobes and Beats

A Lothario

Traverses a sea of flesh

In dim-lit madness

Seeking a flash of beauty

Lips lock amidst strobes and beats

2.
Tanka – Lights like Fire

Cast from world above

To black underground, waiting

For floating Charon.

With fury, lights, like flames, spill

The train is in the station


3.
Tanka – Neon

Permanent buildings

House impermanent drifters

Dreamless sleepers they

Wand’ring cold, chromatic streets

Bathed. Clothed. Warmed by neon glows.


4.
Tanka –Wither and Shed

A flower withers

A kiss to memory cast

All beauty must fade

Trees shed leaves in fall. And a

Man learns to love and let go.


5.
Tanka – Ode to WKW

White smoke coils upwards

Flourescent suns light faces

Slow motion hips sway

Grieved glamorous visages

See embers of promise doused

6.
Tanka – Distillation

Frosty air. Nostrils.

Lightless. Golden fireflies hang.

Steps. Salt grinds beneath.

Crackling melody. Snowflakes.

Breeze. Voices. Honks. Alive, warm.

7.
Tanka – Sleep, Easy

Motionless, lids shut,

In space and time. Thoughts begin

To run, untamed, free

And arrange into new shapes

Hues, sounds and signs. Dreams are born.

8.
Tanka – Shame on Icarus

Concrete, glass jungle

Towers that shame Icarus

Chatter is birdsong

Lamp-posts are trees. Men are beasts,

That chase, hunt, die, kill and love.

9.
Tanka – Life of Sparks

Ephemeral we

Sparks – joys, aches, kisses, hopes, smiles

Abruptly erased

Lost in desks, cars, streets, crowds, shops

Washed away like tears in rain

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