Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3
 

TANKA

Michael McClintock
 

my neighbor
the atomic spy
each Tuesday
comes out among the people
for red apples, bread and milk

 

her presence
lingers long after
her visit —
I'll rinse the wine cup
but not shut the room

 

I roll the air
under my tongue . . .
an evening in May
a thousand orange groves
scent the morsel

 

which ever
way I turn
at the zoo
I want to go back and touch
the elephant's paper ears

 

forest,
meadow,
plain —
the river's silver
thread of Buddha

 

the late summer sun
pulls down into the ocean
the days afterbirth
my sense of waiting too long
for something, for anything

 

where the iron bridge
crosses the Platte, shivering,
the cottonwoods
open their leaves for a star
that falls toward the river

 

enough is enough —
painting the old house
I stop at the eaves
deciding to keep them
cobwebbed and beautiful

 

The final three poems are reprinted from the San Francisco 2008 International Tanka Competition, sponsored by the Haiku Poets of Northern California: the late summer sun, First Place; where the iron bridge, Second Place; and enough is enough —, Honorable Mention.

 


Michael McClintock's newest collections are Meals at Midnight (2008) from Modern English Tanka Press, Baltimore, Maryland, and Sketches from the San Joaquin (2009), winner of the 2008 Turtle Light Press Haiku Chapbook Competition, from Turtle Light Press, Highland Park, New Jersey. McClintock's new anthology, Streetlights: Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka, also appeared in 2009 from Modern English Tanka Press and contains over 800 poems by 69 contemporary tanka poets. He edits American Tanka and lives in central California's San Joaquin Valley.

Michael McClintock

Portrait by Karen J. McClintock. Used by permission.