Tom Clausen Home
Assorted Tanka
Home | Home page | Bio for Tom | Haiku & Senryu -definitions/ thoughts | Haiku Chapbooks ( 1) Autumn Wind in the Cracks (1994) | (2) Unraked Leaves ( 1995) | (3) Standing Here ( 1998) | Homework (2000) Snapshot Press, UK | being there (2005) Swamp Press | Tanka chapbooks (1) A Work of Love (1997) Tiny Poems Press | Growing Late- (2006) Snapshot Press | A Haiku Way of Life | Assorted Haiku | Assorted Senryu | Assorted Tanka | Haibun | Favorite Links | Dim Sum -Tom | Robert T. Clausen | Favorite Haiku | Favorite Senryu | Favorite Tanka | Zen Entries | Memorable Quotes | Dalai Lama | Death Poems | Cat Poems | Dog Poems | Train Poems | Longer poems | Song Lyrics | Rt. 9 Haiku Group | Rt. 9 Haiku Group-Tom 3-23-06 | Haiku Circle (6-02-07) | 4-21-09 Mann Library reading | My email address: tpc2@cornell.edu

 
 
Assorted Tanka

 
 
each day a cycle
home to work, work to home
a quiet faith in things,
as real as unreal this way
of being here all these seasons
 
 
 
 
 
 
so many things
to have opinions on
yet as I drive along
I don't arrive
at any of them
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
standing here just watching
the spring sun sparkle
on the water...
what is it they say
about living life to the fullest
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
now the mower won't start
in the middle of this rough day
I find myself
carrying a white towel
back to the house
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in my daughter's room
which used to be my room
her shelf
full of model horses
all looking at me
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
high clouds...
one horse leans in
against another-
before our children
my wife and I were like that
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
with thunder very close
our little dog
gets in under my legs,
if only I could feel
so safe with myself
 
 
 
 
 
 
early summer breeze
plays the sun
across the forest ferns-
everything so nice
I hardly know what to do
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
before the new puppy
my wife got ten chickens,
before them two parakeets, two cats,
our two children and long ago
just me...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
at the old parking lot
the sparrows bathe
in a big puddle
sometimes I'm so happy
just to be here as witness
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
my wife needs a room
of her own,
a place to close the door,
a place I never saw
in the sunnier days before
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
a storm coming up
and as I take the laundry
off the line
it occurs to me
this is a moment to savor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I hold back 
 saying anything
because of the way one thing
leads to another
if you let them start...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
hugging
perhaps too long
but not long enough
to remember
her name
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
years are passing
unable to shed tears
for anyone-
will I wait to the end
to let it all go?
 
 
 
 
I've never been homeless
but think of it
seeing that shed
with a broken window
dawn light streaming in
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
the geese go where
they must go
no mind-
the spring rain drops
bouncing off me
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
much of my life spent
wanting others to like
what I like-
in my jacket pocket the stone
is worked with worries
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
having told her
I was writing less
and living more
I promptly write down
the absudity of that
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
for all that
which I will not get to
do in this life
the fountain carries on
in the rain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
the sun leaves me
at the Rest Area
with another day done
I entertain the thought
'you can never go home again'
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
you, ready as me
there on the other coast
imagine, to hop a freight
and leave behind all
that didn't seem quite right
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in the wind
I rake and gather
leaves
with thoughts of people
I've known before
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
the river must make
so many curves
to pass through the lowlands
             the way nature always
             says something to us
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
this piercing cold
makes me realize
the gift it is to be alive
even if the way along
is too thin or thicketed
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in the attic
to set a mousetrap
I find a letter of long ago,
the fiction of a new love
that did not last
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
amazing
flesh and bones
driving in heavy traffic,
that here I am
doing this
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in embers tonight
I stare
and wonder why
I am here,
you are there
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ten years later...
both married with one child
we all pass on a path
and smile politely
without a word
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
cold walk home
I stop to pee
looking up in the dark
the tiniest of snowflakes
finds my nose
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
to show me
the spirit of a train
I wish for one to come-
these overgrown tracks
I walk along
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
the cold walk,
silence
between us,
the creek running
under ice
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
three days removed
from Halloween
the ghost of me goes
through the motions
in this tattered family costume
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
my favorite old t-shirt
through the wash
with my fountain pen in pocket
has left ink stains to wear
all around my heart
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
showing my daughter
my childhood 'fish' jackknife
she promptly says:
"i'll put that in your grave
when you die"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in line
at the post office
I watch her
pen point search
for the last thing to say
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
beneath the open
library window
she wakes slightly to stretch,
and beautifully
change position
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
creating a space
in himself
that can't be filled
        - his lengthy ritual
          seaside walks
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
a pale sun
visits
every now and then
the crocus bed
you made
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
in the bottom of a box
during our yard sale
I find my childhood chieftan ring
          - within five minutes
            my son has lost it
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sunset shot through
the mist nestled 
across the swamp,
how hard it can be
to forgive and forget 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

she looks long
at the ocean,
that place she threw
a rock and
her bracelet too...

 

 

the concert over,
the crowd empties
out into the street,
where people and music go 
in some eternal tune

 
 
 
 

so the day
with its snow
and cold is done,
a three star
sudoku too!

 

 

 

 

were I an old dog
with a happy grin
and even some naughty habits
it seems my family
might find me more sympathetic
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

passing by so close
and quietly...
it's as if the dark permits
the deer and me
a mutual sense of safety

 

 

 

 

she presides over an hour
this sunny spring day...
when my focus begins to shift
she tells me
we aren't done yet!

 

 

 

 

of this world
one day
in a third floor mansion,
the next
at the bottom of the sea

 

 

 

 

so much spring going on
yet the old truck,
going nowhere,
has a bird's nest
built on a back tire

 

 

 

by myself
driving by the lake,
the one I once drove by
with my mother,
that last trip out of town

 

 

 

 

in the attic to clean
I read letter's from my parents
to each other...
so many things
that cannot be thrown out

 

 

 

 

I check out both ends
of the Staten Island ferry
and join the majority...
those who look ahead
to where we are going

 

 

 

 

again this year
the leaves fall
and I watch...
the world as it is
still too much


 

 

 

late night
alone in the stillness
the Christmas lights
go off and on,
off and on...

 

 

 

 

before dawn...
this timeless journey
in the here and now
exploring further
myself again...

 

 

 

 

cracks in the plaster
have appeared again,
as inevitable as ever
this difference
between us

 

 

 

 

on my bike ride home
I pass a man and his kids
who both wave at me...
my happy wave back
in cycling fellowship


 

 

 

 

how lovely
to do nothing at all
as these wind gusts
billow her blouse
 a bit open

 

 

 

 

no contest at all
sitting here under a willow
watching the water
while all sorts of chores
remain undone...

 

 

 

 

yet another message
to be found out here,
this plains town
football field
without a scoreboard

 

 

 

 

gently
the morning has come,
 the ash tree leaves a flutter
as if I should hesitate
 to find my way
 into the day

 

 

 

 

I give up the search
and go out to buy
another bottle...deciding where
to safely hide it
I find the missing one!

 

 

 

 

always wanting
to speed further away
from that day, pulled over
to be given a ticket
for my family to see

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

made my bed
and lying in it
a whole night
without much sleep
but plenty of positions...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

perpendicular
to my path here
late in the day
quickening my step
someone I want to see...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there was a first day
on the job and now
forty-two years later
I arrive at the last day
and walk out the door...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post cards
from all over the world
sent with little messages
as if I was somewhere
beyond the living room...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 raining leaves
in the balmy breeze
this walk shows me my life
has arrived with no need
to be at odds with itself
 
 







beyond the cluster flies
blue sky
out the attic window-
everything
we're supposed to do









the meal enjoyed
with drinks and cheer
they've talked out some time,
now bundled to go
into the elements again










so far
around the earth
but with just a touch here
I let you know there
I 'like' it...









in the dark
these endless ruminations
of what I think
others think
I should do...