The Tanka Challenge Project    


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Late afternoon sun
Conspires with a playful breeze 
And the calls of birds. 
After a busy morning 
I cannot control a yawn.


Blossoms give way to the
Clatter of hammering and 
Rising walls and roofs. 
Even the birds are drowned out 
By relentless construction.


Instead of songbirds,
Defiant crows greet the dawn 
With their rough clamor.  
They taunt the men in hard hats 
And mock the ugly condos.


Phenomenal woman,
She'd have been ninety today 
That poet teacher. 
Still her words rise to inspire 
From a past rooted in pain. 

04/04/2018 For Maya Angelou 

I had to wonder
At the newcomers standing 
In the side alley. 
Why all of a sudden do 
We have so many trash bins?


A persistent hiss
Wakes me from a dead sleep in 
The dark of my room. 
Just the rain, but now I must 
Get up and close some windows.


Awake so early
I run through plans for the day 
And put on my clothes. 
Rain or no rain, I have things 
To do and people to see.


Clay footed, I failed. 
I was not who you think and 
I let myself down. 
I can only go foward, 
Wiping boots on yesterday.


Bitter on the tongue
Is the medicine I use 
To deal with these aches. 
Bitter too is the knowledge 
I must battle time itself.


A crescent moon peeps
Shyly through the streaky blinds 
Of a grey dawn sky. 
Like her, I am not looking 
Forward to what this day brings.


Kindle and Facebook hate 
Working together and so  
They ate my poem!!!! 
The challenge says no rewrites: 
This is not about egrets.


Time to shut windows
Against the darkness and winds 
Blowing from the hills. 
Though I saw wisteria today, 
The cold still clings with vigor.


The clock has just chimed,
Reminding me that the day 
Is nearly over. 
Yet here I sit once again, 
Struggling to craft a poem.


Errands completed,
I took the road by the bay 
On my way back home. 
The tide was high and white with 
Blustery winds from the sea.


Storm and Sun fight
To dominate a spring day, 
With all their powers. 
When it includes a hail storm, 
Don't blame it on foxes.


He stood on the grass,
Challenge gleaming in his eye 
As I came outside. 
Silly crow, I am nowhere 
Near your nest in that maple!


I am in no mood
To write anything pithy 
Or witty or wise. 
Insert requisite amount 
Of profanity instead.


A long road traveled
Mostly in darkness 
Ends with warm welcome. 
What fun it is to visit 
Friends I don't often get to see.


Jade eyes assess me:
"NOW!" he cries, then turns away, 
Flicking his striped tail. 
"NOW!" he leaps into my lap 
To accept the worship due.


Willing hands and feet
To remember our training 
I must hold the field. 
As I count bruises later 
I am not discontented.


I can never know
What a Monday morning holds, 
Knowing only this: 
It is impossible to 
Compose by a ringing phone.


No peaceful garden
Awaits me with writing tools
And floating wine cups.
I sit in a quiet house,
Wondering what I should write.


He wanders slowly
As if drunk or half asleep
Across my window.
First warm, then chilly, springtime
Is confusing for a bee.


Spines in tidy rows
They wait for the right reader
To discover them.
There is no trove of treasure
To compare with a bookstore.


How can it be that
The gingko is dressed in green
Instead of bright gold?
A strange warm wind dries the air;
The season is out of joint.


After a full day
Attending a new Princess
I took the coast road.
Handfuls of stars vied with mist
To guide my path home again.


The sun does not care
About numbers on a clock
She just treads the sky.
I shall miss my afternoons
As winter darkness holds sway.


Even late at night,
The clouds go rosy with light
From the nearby port.
Ships from far away bring forth
And bear away their treasures.


An afternoon breeze
Carries the scent of the sea
Through open windows.
I stop to admire the lap
Of those persistent blue waves.


At last the maple
Changes into new attire
Of green edged crimson.
Yet the breeze is still too warm
By the calendar's counting.


Again my eyes burn
With unshed tears as I rise
With the smoke stained sun.
I wait for news of my friends
While Paradise becomes Hell.


Dammit, Facebook, I
Was actually trying
To read that item.
Please stop refreshing my screen
When I have not asked for it.


It's eight forty one
On a Sunday night and I
Still must write today.
Head cold and heartache make for
Feeble poetry subjects.


My day consists
Of all the duties no one
Else wants to deal with.
Left undone, these unseen tasks
Would quickly make themselves felt.


With tales of heroes
Beloved by so many,
He taught and amused.
Storytellers are heroes
As much as their creations. 

11/12/2018 For Stan Lee

Far away fire stirs
A fog that reddens the sun
And hides the city.
That stinging veil is woven
With the threads of blackened dreams.


Too many dark days
Have I spent huddled inside,
Restless and twitchy.
At least there is enough tea
And reading to catch up on.


The garden next door
Is ragged and overgrown,
And drowning in leaves.
Yet the vines are not quite done
Yielding the odd tomato.


All I did was sit
For a moment, not knowing
I would surrender.
Naps are much underrated,
Yet their power is stealthy.


Come sweet, blessed rain!
Wash the world with your cool scent
And sweep down the gutters.
Leaves gleam like precious gemstones,
Scattered about underfoot.


Wherever you are,
And whoever you are with,
Have a lovely day.
A holiday is special
No matter how you spend it.


The metronome drip
From the eaves is hypnotic
In quiet moments.
I have tea and a good book
Until sleep takes hold of me.


It's such a pity
To have wasted the weekend
With a pesky cold.
I got little enough done
And drank so very much tea.


Rain hisses outside,
Rushing down the gutters in
A noisy whisper.
There will be mud tomorrow
Where they are building houses.


Copyright 2018 Lisa A. Joseph

No HOBBY LOBBY products were used in these projects.