Tom Clausen Home
Favorite 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:

This is a selection of some of my favorite tanka ...

son of mine
what's done is done...
seed by seed, I'd breathe
back the dandelion clock,
place its stem in your hand

- Claire Everett
thirty years
on the job
I've become
something of an expert
on what's unimportant
    - John Stevenson
all I found
when I Googled my father
was his obituary
    a small wind releases
      the song of the wind chime
   - Margaret Chula
with enduring love
my darling,
the book he found
at a rummage sale
  - John Martell
the unknown man
who stared down the tanks-
we love him
and also the one
who pulled him aside
  - John Stevenson
Bee's, butterflies, birds
swaying meadow flowers
and something more...
just beyond
- George Swede
how you say
I wanted to hear
now that it's
too late
- Rose Hunter
so many years ago
the night she left me,
and still it lingers:
on the car radio a song
just right for my blues
- Sanford Goldstein
right away among
the smooth pebbles
of the Zen garden
a small, jagged stone
- George Swede
no matter
if I never take
another lover-
I have your imprint
our children and the sea
- Amelia Fielden
after I am gone
break my plate
bury my pen
plant flowers
in my cup
- Michael Ketchek
Thunder at dawn
shakes me out of a dream
I didn't want to leave
that green space in the woods
where wildflowers hide
- Carol Purington
in this season
of falling leaves
how easy
to watch dreams vanish
in wisps of autumn smoke
- Angela Leuck
one's life
can no more be entrusted
to another
than can the timing
of a perfect soft-boiled egg
- Mariko Kitakubo
my parents and in-laws
moving toward senility
there's  no one
I need to impress
- Margaret Chula
wanting to stay,
I could not,
and leaving,
I wanted
to write ten thousand poems
 - Sanford Goldstein
we drive in silence
and even though I offer
occasional smiles
you know you'll never reach where
it is that my thoughts wander
  - Jean Jorgensen
Seeing a layer
of dust on the surface
of my bathroom mirror,
I traced a finger through it
to make a Happy face
 - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
she says she
owns two very fine cats,
though probably
unaware that cats do not
have owners, only staff
  - Art Stein
as if she feels
how much I am missing you
a girl near me on the plane
begins to weep
  - Laura Maffei
Gone all morning
I come home for lunch
and scratch his ears
- my little dog
so happy with so little
  - Pat Shelley
November chill-
tangles of silver caught
in my brush.
Tell me
I'm still yours
  - Pamela Miller Ness
in early darkness
I plan
how to fit twenty things
into a ten thing day
   - Kirsty Karkow
maybe we'll meet again
in the fullness of tomorrow's moon
alone in my room
I notice how smoothly my jeans
slide off my hips
   - Thelma Mariano
if it's not the headlines
it's a dead deer by the roadside
or something else
I just keep tripping over
the first noble truth
   - Michael Ketchek


I, who
have almost nothing,
want little
beyond freedom from this
freedom from that
  - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
The huge reservoir
beyond the dam
thinking of my wife
I realize the great value
of holding back my words
   - Michael Ketchek
semester's last class
and his twenty-two students
end their stiff questions-
the moment comes like a winged bird
like a Prometheus unbound
  - Sanford Goldstein
on warm sand
my toes
inches from the whole
Atlantic Ocean
  - Art Stein
wondering for years
what would be
my life's defining moment
      an egret staring at me
      me staring back
  - Jeanne Emerich
brick factory building
abandoned twenty year-
the small town boys
still haven't broken
every window
  - Michael Ketchek
Clouds gather
and part, gather and part.
So will we.
Even now, it seems,
we're gathering, parting
  - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
dry seeds scatter
from my hand into the wind-
one clings
as if to say there is in me
something yet to be
  - Jeanne Emerich
I walk fast
as if far is not
far enough
as if these loved fields
were not gift enough
  - Caroline Gourlay
Come quickly- as soon as
these blossoms open
they fall
this world exists
as a sheen of dew on flowers
  - Lady Izumi Shikibu
She waits
in purple- lidded privacy
ignoring the tea
with a sweep of one hand
sends the waitress away
  - Patricia Prime
they say the moon
little by little each day
moves away
I confess to no one
what strangers we have become
 - Marjorie Buettner
How afraid
so many of us are of life-
not wanting
to leave behind the known
not knowing whats ahead
  - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
an old photograph
of my parents
young and happy,
    of all the things I own
    that is the saddest
  - Michael McClintock
how will I know you
on the Internet-
in Cyberspace-
without the warmth of your voice
the touch of your hand
   - Pat Shelley
Here in the desert,
spring is over just like that,
Our lives, too, are short.
Who knows whether you and I
will meet in the next world?
  - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
on the back of the letter
she wrote to me
      a poem about windows
      and distance
   - Leatrice Lifshitz
Thinking about it,
what else is there but this—
birth, death,
and something in between
of uncertain duration?
   - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
the railroad tracks
more and more we live
our parallel lives
  - Larry Kimmel
parting with
my telescope
and with it
a certain way
of seeing myself
   - John Stevenson
Department meeting:
while the mouths utter business
the eyes ripple with
someone sailing, someone fishing
someone drowning
    - George Swede
long after she's left
the garden she tended
weeds reclaim the flowerbeds
my heart too
has grown wild
   - Brian Tasker
invited at last
to meet his parents
i find myself
wondering which me
i should wear
   - Doris Kasson
you climb
a speck on the rockface
of the mountain-
waiting here below it is
I who am exposed
  - Caroline Gourlay
vacation's end
the highway still unraveling
when I close my eyes
how many parts of myself
have I left homeless behind
  - Marjorie Buettner
he's traveled
these highways most of his life
yet today
somewhere between anger and tears
old man admits he is lost
  - Jean Jorgensen
I tell my guardian angel
I'll happily die
in April
alas, each April comes
and I tell her I'm not ready
  - Pat Shelley
I had read
your love poems
and now,
having met you,
read them again
  - John Stevenson
far down the valley
she waves and calls to me
I love her more
in the time it takes
her voice to arrive
    - John Sheirer
on my lap
the cat
becomes a book-rest
for my other world
  - Carolyn Thomas
her plane disappears
into starlight...
and somewhere
in her luggage
my love poem
  - Michael Dylan Welch
the storm tossed trees
through glass
afraid to let myself go
where the wind would take me
  - Alison Williams
in the curve of light
the crash and spray
of the full-moon tide;
   for a moment with arms crossed
   the power of my youth
  - Jeff Witkin
the wind-blown clouds
lighten and darken
lighten and darken
the room
in which we argue
  - Brian Tasker
A subway train,
traveling beside ours,
veers up and away.
My feelings for you
go where they go
  - John Stevenson
hair clean and long
sun-dried in the wind
my face
searches the blue sky
for its final destination
  - Jane Reichhold
this road
connecting to another
that to another
until reaching the spot
where i will turn cold
  - William Ramsey
Not to disturb
the spider in her web
between two trees
I take
the other path
  - Pat Shelley
Writing a poem
of longing for her
I'm irritated
by the interruption
of her phone call
  - George Swede
and you open
your deep-green eyes-
blackbirds stir
somewhere in the conifers
  - John Barlow
with a man
who was once
the center of my universe
I discuss
interest rates
  - Fay Aoyagi
not a single star
out of place in the
 milky way-
the garden gate
left ajar all night
  - Pamela Babusci
just five minutes
pressed against a stranger
on a crowded train
so why do I spend my day
dreaming of a life with her?
  - John Barlow
on the night train
through that foreign land
I waver once
a lit farm kitchen
  - Marianne Bluger
Ice in the corners
of my bedroom window
reminds me
how long it's been
since I saw her last.
   - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
Almost invisible
the zero
I traced
only last week
in the mantle dust...
 - Marianne Bluger
in the dark
a tawny owl calls
I pour out my last drop
of whiskey
  - John Barlow
late spring hike
the trail still full of snow
on the north slope
we take turns walking
in each other's footsteps
   - David Rice
weeding in the garden
humming to myself
suddenly a mourning dove
calls from me some sadness
I can't quite name
     - Mary Lou Bittle-DeLapa
Several languages
and a thousand theorems
safe in his cranium
how serene my father
looks in death
 - Marianne Bluger
all day at my desk
to glance up
at sunset
the housebricks
a deeper red
   - Brian Tasker
in the ship's wake
a pair of sea gulls
follow, then tail off
in different directions
the words I meant to say
   - Carlos Colon
I'm never happier
than at dawn, walking down
a mountain trail,
the day ahead an empty bowl
waiting to be filled
   - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk  ( for Marian Olson )
thinking of my wife
I accidentally say
I love you
to a stranger's
answering machine
    - John Sheirer
it takes
this thick snowfall
to remind me
how thin and more thin
is my desire
 - Sanford Goldstein
overlooking the moor
it came to me here;
a feeling of loneliness
brought by the wind
the warmth of the sun
  - Brian Tasker
in morning fog
we ship our oars and drift
between loon calls
all that's left of this world
the warmth of our bodies
  - Christopher Herold
a sudden loud noise
all the pigeons of Venice
at once fill the sky
that is how it felt when your hand
accidentally touched mine
   - Ruby Spriggs
  the spirit again
as a crab in a shell
   able to walk
sideways into the sea
  and back to you
   - Werner Reichhold
Snow on the peaks
of the far mountains
faintly blue...
packing my few things
for the winter road
 - Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
for a meal I'll eat
I decide to let loose
my hair.
    - Pamela Miller Ness
after the long night
near my dying mother's bed
I turn from her face
to watch the gathering light
in another morning sky
  - Jerry Kilbride
one derelict boat
lost in a maze of mudflats
in the setting sun
    automatically I think
    of my life- nothing like that!
   David Steele
a wintry evening
all the way back to the car;
hardly knowing her
yet so intimately
her perfume remains
 - Brian Tasker
the emptiness
in that girl's
  - Sanford Goldstein
when I think
we may never
meet again...
this hillside of aspens
endlessly fluttering
 - Larry Kimmel
listening to you
talk about him, about you,
about them, about me,
and now, here it is, somehow
the dinner I made for us
  - Christopher Herold
like receipts
of a business
gone bankrupt
I keep
these old love letters
  - Kenneth Tanemura
Wind, do not tease me
do not muss my hair
My joy is too large for the house
and I cannot go in
to await his coming
  - Pat Shelley
these hands
slicing onions for dinner...
but my heart has gone
to wherever it is
that you are
  - Christopher Herold
warm in bed-
I wonder
where the birds
are weathering
the storm
  - Kenneth Tanemura
This is a selection of some of my favorite tanka from Takuboku, whose tanka honesty I find refreshing and inspiring. It was his tanka that sparked my interest in tanka after discovering them in his book titled : Poems to Eat.
the trouble is
every man
keeps a prisoner
in his heart
came to
a mirror shop
what a jolt-
I could've been
some bum walking by
that face-
man in the street
laughing, police
dragging him off
having buried
my youth
you keep kissing
the gravestone
you built
like a train
through the wilderness
every so often
this torment
travels across my mind
heading in
the same direction-
I watch
from the sidelines
never forget
that man, tears
running down his face
a handful of sand
held out to show me
wrote GREAT
in the sand
a hundred times
forgot about dying
and went on home
live secretly
inside me
these days-
won't let me laugh
feels like
there's a cliff
in my head
day by day
like a kite
cut from the string
the soul
of my youth
has fluttered away
always come
to this gloomy bar
the late sunset
reddening, shines
right in my drink
guy I saw
on a park bench
once or twice
don't see
him lately...
tomorrow will
be better-
yeah, sure...
I go to sleep

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