The Tanka Challenge Project


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Oh for a chill breeze
To rattle the scarlet leaves 
On the garden path. 
I swelter in heavy sleeves: 
The seasons are out of sync.


I wake in darkness,
The rush of rain on the roof 
Loud, then soft again. 
All too soon I must go out 
Into the season's first storm.


Words from my father
Late in the evening are a 
Long held tradition. 
He is not so far away 
When I listen to his tales.


Finally blushing,
The tall maple's leaves begin
Their showy decline. 
She blazes like a bright torch 
In late afternoon sunlight.


Coming home at night
I find the house is chilly: 
Time to shut windows. 
Time too to nestle beneath 
My favorite wool blanket.


Each time I impose
This challenge upon myself
I know it will come: 
More than one night of trying 
To come up with a topic.


Colored wisps of cloud
Paint the western horizon 
As sun sinks in bay. 
A thousand lamps glimmer on  
Eastern hils as night descends.


As I lay out clothes
For tomorrow, I recall 
Rain has been forecast. 
My favorite sweater, then. 
Now where are those warm boot socks?


A cavalry charge
Of grey maned storm clouds race east,  
Darkening the sky. 
In moments, a fusillade 
Of rain batters the windows.


Fine lines on paper
Take on a life of their own 
And I laugh aloud. 
Two men wage a war of stares 
On a scroll centuries old.


The Marine barracks
Plays their sunset bugle call 
As the flag comes down.  
I pause to listen most nights 
As darkness falls earlier.


Lists have been checked off.
Clothing has been pressed and packed, 
As have been my books. 
In the morning it begins, 
A journey to a new place.


In quiet chambers
I gazed upon images 
Writ in silk and gold. 
A world away, a city 
Bled and weeps for her fallen.


I wait with my sword
For a turn with some stranger 
In a too-small room. 
Some fall to my humble skills, 
Each one gives me new lessons.


A sheaf of bright leaves
Bound simply with silken thread 
Cause the heart to leap. 
A hand reaches in friendship 
Across untold miles to me.

11/15/2015, for Ki no Kotori-hime

Chill winds off the bay
Rattle windows in their frames 
And sway the treetops. 
Inside the house I shiver 
And unfold one more blanket.


Travel takes its toll
On mind and body alike: 
I cannot resist. 
It will be an early night 
With a soothing cup of tea.


I have one answer
To those who say we must face 
Hatred with more hate: 
It is braver to face fear 
And be a light in darkness.


We sit in darkness,
Drawn in by a tale told in 
Moving light and sound. 
Though faced with many trials, 
This time our hero triumphs.


The hills are so brown
They seem faded and empty 
After a hard summer. 
I look in vain for rain clouds 
In a sky empty of them.


Seriously, James?
Who texts at six fifteen on 
A Sunday morning? 
Himeji is beautiful 
But so is a good sleep-in!


I hasten homeward,
Bags stuffed with delicacies 
For the coming feast. 
A cold eyed moon watches as 
I rummage for my car keys.


Dawn brings a new pang
And I cannot be sure how 
I have come by it. 
Why is my calendar marked 
In aching joints and lost friends?


Gleaming like rubies,
Wet leaves carpet the front path 
Between house and street. 
All this treasure is good for 
Is wet hems and poem grist.


Leaves blaze golden
In the cold morning sunlight, 
Defying the wind. 
The little gingko will soon 
Be bare of her bright raiment.


Beneath an oak tree
Four friends met with swords in hand 
To test their mettle. 
Mettle is harder to test 
When fighting injuries too.


Another month ends
With chilly winds and the rasp 
Of leaves on the path. 
The nights grow ever longer 
As the cold moon turns her face.


 For reasons I no longer recall, there was no April tanka challenge in 2015. 

Copyright 2015, 2019, Lisa A. Joseph

No HOBBY LOBBY products were used in these projects.