The Tanka Challenge Project

2010

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Poised elegantly
On one fragile leg, a crane 
Waits near a dawn lake.
The rest of us flail and lean 
Striving to find our balance.

02/07/2010 

Outside the window
Branches wave their leafy arms  
At the wind's prompting.  
Clouds vie against the sun and  
The final gusts of winter. 

04/01/2010

The day shifts from mist
To drizzle to mist again,  
Unceasingly bleak.  
Spring's soft breezes cannot come  
Quite soon enough to suit me! 

04/02/2010

Mist gives way at last
Before the sun's promenade 
Through a cloud pocked sky.  
Distant sails toss on the bay  
Like petals on the spring breeze. 

04/03/2010

Finally silence,
Broken only by the drip 
Of rain from the eaves. 
Reluctant to cede its hold, 
Winter shakes a stormy fist.

04/04/2010

I set a challenge
To test myself and perhaps
Create some beauty. 
What I do is what I do. 
What you do is what you do.

04/05/2010

With each blow, thunder
Erupts from the rawhide skins. 
Bodies sway and strain. 
Through the whirling sticks I think 
"I'd better not hit poor Clint!"

04/06/2010

The neighbor's dog bays
As dusk deepens. A door slams 
Somewhere below me. 
Evening settles on the
Neighborhood like an old quilt.

04/07/2010

They're not in that drawer.
Nor are they in that basket. 
Perhaps here - but no! 
Search as I might through the house 
I cannot find my tabi! 

04/08/2010

Out there the sun shines,
Taunting me in the face of 
My daily duties. 
Another Friday passes 
Far too slowly to suit me.

04/09/2010

New mown, dewy grass
Tempst the nose with spring scents as 
It chills the toes. 
Towering clouds crown the hills 
With the promise of more rain.

04/10/2010

How green are the hills
Peeping through their misty robes 
Across the harbor. 
Soon it will be the time for 
The glow of distant lanterns.

04/11/2010

From blushing questions
To the richesse of true art
And friendships like gold:
Renown is not black or white
It is far more colorful.

04/12/2010

Against the black hills
Distant lanterns glow softly
Like tiny fireflies.
The random clank of halyards
Rises from the marina.

04/13/2010

The window downstairs
Rattles in protest about
A stiff ocean breeze.
Despite late afternoon sunshine
More spring storms lurk off the coast.

04/14/2010

The windows vibrate,
The very walls seem to shudder
At this rude onslaught.
Apocalyptic horsemen?
No, some jerk in a boom car.

04/15/2010

Still so white and soft,
But here and there, one sees signs:
Worn spots and even a hole.
What lover would trade for such
A poor, shabby kosode?

04/16/2010

Pine boughs gently shade
The women with their hand work
As fighters compete.
The clack of their mock battles
Seem a ritual of spring.

04/17/2010

Another night
In a still, silent old house
Alone with my thoughts.
The hours till dawn march onward
With or without the sleeper.

04/18/2010

The tiger's child wields
His brush like a sword as he
Fights like a dancer.
Long life and joy to him
Born in that auspicious year.

04/19/2010

Clouds pile in the west,
A tangle of pinks and greys
Like slept-in bedding.
Chilly as the dusk breeze is
The empty mat that awaits.

04/20/2010

Whipped by savage winds
The maple cowers against
The side of the house.
Yet another storm thrashes
Its way through the countryside.

04/21/2010

Gnarled vines are laden
With purple and white cascades
Of bursting flowers.
So briefly the fuji blooms
Before falling to tatters. 

04/22/2010

One cup tastes of joy,
While this one whispers subtleties.
That one struts and crows.
It is a delight to pour
For a circle of good friends.

04/23/2010

Hills robed in spring green
Loom over the pilgrim's path
As I move homeward.
If only it were my lot
To wear such a rich color.

04/25/2010

The lights of houses
In the hills defy the night
Despite their distance.
Here we are, shining, they cry.
As I watch from my window.

04/26/2010

Clouds heavy with rain
March like a footsore army
Retreating eastward.
Even the sunset is grey
And the hills glower dimly.

04/27/2010

Jagged as flint blades
And as dark, white rimmed waves bite
And tear at the shore.
A sea bird hangs in the air
Defying the whipping wind.

04/28/2010

That stranger I see
Stares back at me with my eyes
From a mirror's depths.
Some days I would trade wisdom
For youth in all its folly.

04/29/2010

A month is over,
A new one dawns tomorrow
With new challenges.
Will I write more, I wonder,
As spring turns into summer?

04/30/2010

Boats bob at moorings,
Their masts afire as the
Sun sinks in the bay.
Halyards chime gently as day
Eases slowly into night.

11/01/2010

Torrents flow, choking
Ev'ry street of the city
with jubilation.
A mighty flood of people
Greets the triumph of Giants.

11/02/2010

Warm sun on my cheek
Belies the evidence read
In a calendar.
Layered robes seem a joke but
Soon will be all the fashion.

11/03/2010

Hull up on streaked waves
Of pink dawn clouds, a crescent 
Moon sails in silence. 
Soon the sun will pass by her 
Swamping her gunwales with light.

11/04/2010

Somewhere to the east
Chopper blades chatter 
And a siren wails. 
As darkness shrouds the windows, 
I wonder if Oakland burns.

11/05/2010

Rain on the shingles
Whispers in voices too soft 
To discern meaning. 
On such mornings it's tempting 
To lie and listen to them.

11/07/2010

Dusk seems so final
As the hills begin to bloom 
With distant lamp light. 
How can mere mortals try to 
Hold the sun's journey hostage?

11/08/2010

The low hanging moon
Seems caught in telephone wires 
Viewed from the side street. 
Hungry, I hurry home with 
My string bean beef and fried rice.

11/09/2010

I light a lamp and
Sit down to write in a house 
Empty but for me. 
He's not here to make me smile. 
That was a long time ago.

11/10/2010

A bugle call drifts
Up the street through my window
As colors are struck.
Each dawn, each sunset they mark,
Whether here or in harm's way. 

11/11/2010

The autumn sky throbs,
A blue so intense it stings
The eyes with splendor.
Bloody sleeved maples raise arms,
Defying the tearing wind.

11/12/2010

I hear him outside
Pacing up and down the path,
Listing his complaints.
It must be hard to endure
The karma of being cat.

11/13/2010

"Come out," taunts the breeze.
"Come out," teases the sunshine
As it leans through my window.
Yet duty requires I sit
Indoors and sew awhile more.

11/14/2010

Late afternoon sun
Sets the gingko tree ablaze
With an inner light.
Oh, to wear such light like silk
Even though winter looms close.

11/15/2010

A single misstep
Went unnoticed at the time,
Though now I must limp.
I can only conclude that
Growing old's not for sissies.

11/16/2010

At once the mountain
Seems to gather her white hems
Then spread them again.
Fog unfurls itself across
The bay like a silken train.

11/17/2010

A distant bell tolls
As blood-hued maple leaves lie
Dead in the gutter.
The echoes die as all are
Scattered by an autumn wind.

11/18/2010

Grey on grey, a veil
Of rain turns the city
To a vague shadow.
Bay and sky melt together
While the city disappears.

11/19/2010

A galloping rain
Overtakes my dreams, tempting
Me to lie abed.
Yet I rise, beckoned by a
Duty to meet those I serve.

11/20/2010

Two rainbow banners
Unfurled from angry storm clouds
As I hastened home.
If one believed in portents
Surely this would be one such.

11/21/2010

Dark clouds crown the hills
To face opposing numbers
Sailing up the bay.
A few vain patches of blue
Soon flee the contested field.

11/22/2010

A breath of wood smoke
Beckons despite the knifing
Chill of autumn dusk.
Windows glow all down the street.
Within is warmth, light and food.

11/23/2010

The defiant tree
Still flaunts tattered robes, aglow
In the setting sun.
Already it is colder.
Will he be so tomorrow?

11/24/2010

A waft of incense
And a lapful of new silk
Are such pleasant things.
Though I celebrate alone
I've much to be thankful for.

11/25/2010

Muted light hovers
At the window, like a shy
Child, unsure of entry.
The streets seem far too quiet:
The neighbors must be away.

11/26/2010

The telltale patter
Overhead tells more than a
Glance out the window.
Despite the urge to stay in,
Duty demands I travel.

11/27/2010

Eight long hours
Of answering questions and
Making future plans.
So many questions: it's like
Being pecked to death by cats.

11/28/2010

So much to write down
Before it become jumbled:
My students await.
This unending day becomes
Night as the clock tolls the hour.

11/29/2010

Some cling red and gold
To bony branches, some fall
In rustling brown piles.
How can one choose among them
When they are all beautiful?

11/3
0/2010


Copyright 2010, 2019 Lisa A. Joseph

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