Tuesday, July 15, 2014


UNDERTOW TANKA REVIEW

ISSUE # 1




The Talisman of Grief
(A tanka sequence)


‘Do you see white hairs?’
Mother asked and I laughed
but now
I too ask my ten-year old
and she rolls her eyes

her fourteenth day rite -
a blue butterfly alights
on the prayer wheel
has mother already
found a new rebirth?

she calls
through drifts of mists
in the pine grove
the fear of not finding her
shatters the carapace of dream

that coaxing smile
as she sculptured mango shapes
for my fevered mouth
I want to remember this
not her cancer-hollowed face

each spring
her favourite rhododendrons
fill the valley
with their scent and hue
I see her in every bloom


Sonam Chhoki
Bhutan





Earnest
(A tanka sequence)

forgetting faces
yet some of them stick…
those kids
who hung nicknames
around my neck

taunts
of Ken the Hammer
drive me deeper
into the hole
of myself

a bully
fishing for weakness
hooks
my shyness with
Kenny the Shark

a curve ball
from the kid who calls me
Earnest
I drive it deep
to center field


Ken Slaughter
USA






betrayal
(A tanka sequence)


all heroes
are fated to rescue
and betrayal
both darkling knight
and sabbat lord
-b-

I feel his breath
as he rides
past my door
the church bells
ring the sloe hour
-j-

sweeping
the floor behind me
I leave
footprints in the dew
where I mount
-b-

at daybreak
his shadow fades
as always
I wait for the night
and the dark man
-j-

the madman
keeps the tales
to himself
his large black bag
hidden in the forest
-b-

wild beasts
have torn the bag
with tooth and claw
the chalice lies sullied
the cloth rotting
-j-

hunger
of necessity rends
and tears
the long-limbed mandrake
howls at separation
-b-

Brian Zimmer & Joy McCall
USA & UK








another gaze
from a handsome stranger...
I seal my lips
on a heart pendant
with my husband’s ashes


Christine L. Villa, USA


the way he tucks
my hair behind my ear…
for the first time
I feel the sincerity
of a man’s apology


Christine L. Villa, USA


belly ache 
from laughing
at my own jokes…
I realize I’ve carved
a deeper sorrow


Christine L. Villa, USA


where do I go
without you now…
the heavy silence
after I turn off
the oxygen machine

Christine L. Villa, USA


to love somebody 
even after death…
I keep in a box
a photo of a woman
he once loved


Christine L. Villa, USA


the sound 
of him sleeping
more hours in a day
any bird song
is a sad lullaby


Christine L. Villa, USA


a dewdrop dangling
from the tip of a petal…
I try hard
not to show him
my tears


Christine L. Villa, USA


a whiff of hyacinth
by the grocery entrance . . .
this cold winter night
I hope from aisle to aisle
thinking of spring


Christine L. Villa, USA


all the pills
he couldn’t take anymore…
alone I count
the tulips waiting
to be photographed


Christine L. Villa, USA


a baby
enclosed by her
mother's arms...
when does a shell
let go of her pearl


Christine L. Villa, USA




watching Gator Boys
with my daughter
on the couch
her feet
wrestle with mine

Susan Burch, USA


grandma’s wearing her
gaudy holiday sweater
again this year
I bite my tongue
and tell her it’s lovely

Susan Burch, USA

hiding behind
her shaky smile
the diagnosis
of Parkinson’s, she hasn’t
been able to swallow

Susan Burch, USA

finding out
her son’s a pedophile
my mother
wonders where
she went wrong

Susan Burch, USA

hearing the cheers
from Wrigley Stadium
the boy imagines
he’s there, eating a hot dog,
instead of in chemo

Susan Burch, USA

eyeing
his old baseball bat
he sighs
after all these years
still no kids

Susan Bunch, USA


maybe I should
bury your ashes
in the backyard
your blue pinwheel
still spinning


Susan Burch, USA



f i s s u r e s
and (whose) fault lines
cracking open
we try to mend the damage
of our quaking lives

Debbie Strange
Canada


African sun
honed on a rasp of sky
leaking ichor
our hands are stained
with the blood of child-soldiers

Debbie Strange
Canada

she held
her daughter's lips
to a mirror
no baby's breath
bloomed in the garden

Debbie Strange
Canada


jellyfish
on the beach
at low tide
you still make me
weak in the knees

Debbie Strange
Canada

our years roll by
like runaway trains
gathering speed
the closer we come
to the end of the line

Debbie Strange
Canada


children
of war zones
silenced
with no legs to walk
along the path to peace

Debbie Strange
Canada


sun rays
palpate mossy loam
on the forest floor
a nursery log suckles fungi
oh, to wean myself from you

Debbie Strange
Canada


this alchemy
of ripened clementines
and woodsmoke
the fragrance of my past
both curse and benediction

Debbie Strange
Canada


silences
or tirades cursed
every meal
we lost weight eating
degradation for dessert

Debbie Strange
Canada


the widow sinks
into depression's palette
her life's pigment
once the richest saffron
now Vincent's shade of blue


Debbie Strange
Canada






as tea leaves in water
my heart sways and submerges
under the moonlight

is it too much to ask you
to stay two moments longer?


Aruna Rao, India


with monsoon winds
two moons have passed already
in wilting breath
I seek the length of your sleeve
and the eclipse to sing again

Aruna Rao, India



the stench of sweetness
still lingers in the grass
when I walk back

the mountain carries the moon
from one side to the other

Aruna Rao, India

in these heavy clouds
I search for the shade of grey
with bated breath

I wake behind shrouded doors
to the sound of your footsteps

Aruna Rao, India


as quicksand does,
I fall into the mouth of your heart
while it ponders
my ribs tinge in flavours
deep and bold, swirling


Aruna Rao, India


as tea in winter
I drink your breath
in evening whistles

how I wish the snow stays
and your blanket upon me


Aruna Rao, India


over this blank scroll
my brush hovers
while I search my heart
love's hummingbirds
flit further away


Aruna Rao, India




in the garden
a calendula blooms
unnoticed
just another day 
that slips by


Shloka Shankar, India

summer skies...
wing by wing a bluebird
disappears
the house grows eerier
with just me and my shadow


Shloka Shankar, India

the faint
voices in my head
grow louder...
a caressing moonbeam
rests on my cheek


Shloka Shankar, India

under the elm
I count broken promises
by rote...
learning to unlearn
each one of them

Shloka Shankar, India




Caroline Skanne
UK



draped in dreams
of stars and moons
we wander together
entwined by night
two souls surviving


Caroline Skanne
UK


full moon
in scorpio
a passion
that lasts
all night

Caroline Skanne
UK



the afterglow
of our love
lingers softly
moonbeams
on bare skin

Caroline Skanne
UK



love's light touch
two butterflies
circling the sun --
together we know
anything is possible

Caroline Skanne
UK



taken under
a wrens' wing
weightless, i travel
on all that is
effervescent

Caroline Skanne
UK


half moon
you show me
two sides
to the same
old truth

Caroline Skanne
UK




the book of my life
keeps getting bigger
it's a good thing
I choose to write it
on trimmings of the Lokta bush

 Kath Abela Wilson
USA


one stem
a  hundred blooms
this century plant
each life shapes
its own spring

 Kath Abela Wilson
USA


from the air
I see it
the long ago
more watery more green
I forgot that this is home

Kath Abela Wilson
USA


I keep it
under my flowery hat
the magic garden
that grows there
in my head

Kath Abela Wilson
USA


sometimes
I can't tell the difference
between us
do we swim or fly

and what do we fish for

 Kath Abela Wilson
USA


sometimes impossible
becomes possible
magnolia
I watch you turn
into a bird

Kath Abela Wilson
USA


as if twilight
was an easy door
you left
for the place where lights
were already off

Kath Abela Wilson
USA


as if the sea
were were your village
you lead me on
crumbling steps to shore
to slice sashimi

 Kath Abela Wilson
USA


even by this busy street
I notice the place
where the deer slept
wishing it were you
all night the bent lilies

 Kath Abela Wilson
USA


broken pieces
mortared with tears
scenes
on a Moroccan plate
I set into my hearth

Kath Abela Wilson
USA


with duress
first wife holds inside
her outrage
he is looking
at a young filly

Joann Grisetti
Winter Springs FL USA





frost fingers
a watercolor palette
in October
wings wash the sky
by the thousands

Joann Grisetti
Winter Springs FL USA


loud words
trying so very hard
to hurt you
I would do anything
to remember our your smile



Joann Grisetti
Winter Springs FL USA


first man
to last more than three dates
quite special
the feeling that comes
while dancing

Joann Grisetti
Winter Springs FL USA




autumn…
sailor drifts back
in time
on a summer
undertow


Pat Geyer, USA


alone,
watching the waves 
crash...
i remember 
the future


Pat Geyer, USA


ocean waves
crashing over sand castles
children laugh...
i try to remember that
feeling of scattered laughter


Pat Geyer, USA


bluest of blue
this undersea ridge...
waiting,
we cross a bridge
to our ocean of dreams 


Pat Geyer, USA


no fresh ground
sand covered debris
waits to float away...
ghosts of sad memories
rush back to the sea


Pat Geyer, USA



undertow
running back to the sea
a seashell
looking back at your steps
cannot remember your face





Vessislava Liubomirova Savova
Sofia, Bulgaria


someone sings
easy come easy go
an echo
the waves are going back
back to the deep ocean

Vessislava Liubomirova Savova
Sofia, Bulgaria



unknown creature
at the bottom of the ocean
a secret
a robber has stolen
a picture of yours

Vessislava Liubomirova Savova
Sofia, Bulgaria






waiting for
the supermoon
above us
a pair of lovebirds
pecking

Angelo B. Ancheta
Philippines



still reeling
from the surge
only we know
the slamming waves
goes a refrain

Angelo B. Ancheta
Philippines



Arunansu Bandyopadhyay
India


ripping apart
your last letter
in a fit of rage--
white butterflies
flutter away

Arunansu Bandyopadhyay
India


applying a balm
over burning ulcers
i can only smile
to your morbid eyes
ill with love

Arunansu Bandyopadhyay
India


sun sets behind
bullet-ridden clouds
at Golgotha
a violin plays out
the agony of mankind

Arunansu Bandyopadhyay
India


watching the trail
of a Grad missile...
was this the route
followed by the Star
of Bethlehem?


Arunansu Bandyopadhyay

India


a late summer sunset
sumptuous and surreal

wears clouds
of salmon pink and charcoal gray …
a kiss of lightning ends the day

Judi Brannan Armbruster
USA


coveys of quail scuttle
under dead blackberry bushes
challenge Jays and Juncos
for seeds shaken from the feeder…
count sixty 

Judi Brannan Armbruster
USA


there is on earth

this mangled mountain
where progress looms
and nature tumbles
to her knees


Judi Brannan Armbruster
USA





trying to figure out
the meaning
of undertowtanka,
find it's too deep
for me

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

I ponder
and seem
to understand,
after all, good tanka
have more than a surface meaning

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

at eighty-eight
I find the surface
is old, bent,
cane-driven,
and still I guard an undercurrent of wisdom

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

my wife
died in l972,
and she mentioned once
this surface life
which she wanted no part of

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

no pennies
from heaven
in the violence of our world,
our hate has a depth
beyond all understanding

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

once
we sang
over the rainbow,
how beautiful we felt
our world would be

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

walking
on sand
and treading
down, down,
to what?

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

perhaps
the younger she was
the prettier,
but so much behind
her splendid scarf and hat

Sanford Goldstein
Japan

long ago
I felt the world
a tour-de-force,
now I want to hide
below and beyond

Sanford Goldstein
Japan



I search
my moon all the way          
horizon of hope
offers solace in the midnight
rekindling vastness of the sky

Pravat Kumar Padhy,
India

I painted
throughout night
my memories
of grief and anguish
remain as patches of white

Pravat Kumar Padhy,
India

autumn morning
all my wishes fall apart
some drains
into the meandering river
rest blown before I could gather

Pravat Kumar Padhy,
India

the spider
rides up and down
on the mirror
I readjust my face
picking up the shinny hair

Pravat Kumar Padhy,
India

thin moon
in the hot summer
the nest swings
catching darkness
everywhere

Pravat Kumar Padhy,
India

the train
whistles to start
I carry her
memories till I reach
the stretched distance

Pravat Kumar Padhy,
India




harsh sunlight
on the fourth anniversary
of his death
sunrise on the lough
almost painful to watch

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

winter garden
the steady creak
of a rusty swing chair
I try to remember my father's voice
calling us for Sunday mass

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

at low tide
the sound of seagulls
and moaning wind
in the rock pool I find
nothing but my reflection

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

an old farmer
returns a field mouse
to the scarecrow's pocket
I long for the ridged texture
of Dad's old corduroy coat

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland




I walk between worlds
a shadow born of light
and darkness...
who hears the cry of legends
under this waking moon

Rebecca Drouilhet  
Picayune, Mississippi, USA


swimming
in an ocean of stars...
all the years
we spent racing through the night
never looking up until now

Rebecca Drouilhet  
Picayune, Mississippi, USA


fireworks
and the star-spangled banner
under a half-moon sky
what afterglow will remain
inside my American dream

Rebecca Drouilhet  
Picayune, Mississippi, USA





sliver moon
waterbugs creep into
shadows
the dog's tags jangle
on the lonely street


Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


the moon
is a ghost egg
floating
like a spotted snake
made of orange jello


Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


in my dream
writing haiku with
Kerouac
I write of his eyes
he writes of dead flies

Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


gave away
my first haiku book
broken
like a blue bead muse
I want it back

Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


will I ever
understand pine trees
how they drop
and keep their needles
living on poet time


Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


wish I could
believe in her ghosts
how she steals -
the blood of family stories
bad enough without her lies


Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


we played in the attic
of the gingerbread castle
hiding in closets
never knowing how
the crooked man lurked

Carole Johnston
Lexington, Kentucky, USA




late summer
walking the beach
light blinds us
we spend the day
watching our feet


Liz Moura, USA

so few petals
remain on the stems
each morning
I find them piling up
inside my old shoes

Liz Moura, USA


supermoon
we hear the neighbors
outside
as we nestle
in threadbare sheets


Liz Moura, USA




another polar vortex
my first winter
with a puppy –
Mother Nature’s
sense of humour

Leslie Bamford
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


morning walk
two sparrows spooning
in a magnolia
bridal suite of pink -
who needs Vegas?


Leslie Bamford
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


quarreling under
the patio umbrella
this afternoon -
baby grackles scold
us from their nest


Leslie Bamford
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada