Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My next home and other house tanka

Below, several poems from the first half of my tanka career, most of them written and published at different times. Grouped together, I believe they almost form a sequence. Of course, in a deliberately written sequence, I hope I wouldn't have two brand-news and five houses or homes. ;) (And of course, years after the fact, I see an edit or two I perhaps should have made.)

my next home,

built among lean pines ...
and thinner the desire
to make a name for myself


I imagine it ...
our rustic home
sprouting up
through winter ryegrass

our brand-new

home site and, already,
some visitors ...
in the sandy loam
fresh tracks of deer

half the rooms
painted yellow—
a sin that I can't take
this much cheerfulness?

the time we spend
choosing our new front door
as if nothing else
much matters
but entrances and exits

up high

inside the porches
of our new home
wasps and daddy longlegs
all settled in before us

brand-new house
and yet another leak—
the puddles
I've been sloshing through
on my way to contentment

—"my next home," Tanka Splendor Awards 2007; "squinting," Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (anthology), 2007; "our brand-new," Nisqually Delta Review, Winter/Spring 2007; "half the rooms," Simply Haiku, Winter 2009; "the time we spend," Ribbons, Fall 2008, and Take Five (anthology), Vol. 1, 2009; A Pebbled Shore (TSA 2009 members' anthology); "brand-new house," Simply Haiku, Winter 2009.

Wouldn't you know it, but after all that effort in choosing a door (long story), the builder gave us the wrong size door, with no apologies.


  1. Wonderful. The yellow rooms cracked me up! And isn't that just the way it is with the door sometimes?!

  2. thanks, jennifer! I felt sorry for the painters, but my goodness. most of the walls that were yellow were supposed to be a soft white. and that door...the builder was devious about that (as well as a number of other things). but somehow we made it through!

  3. I liked them all, but the first one, four and five really spoke to me. I suppose the first one the most because I want people to think I'm a good writer and feel I have to prove to them that I am... and you have already done so :)

  4. What a nice surprise - thanks for visiting my home here, Susan, and letting me know which ones spoke to you most.

    I guess for me, 1 and 7 best sum up me and my life. I don't need to "think" you're a good writer, because I already "know" you are - is evident from your tanka that I've seen. I'm constantly feeling I have to prove I'm a decent writer - to others and myself. I've been interested in writing ever since I could hold a pencil. But from time to time I have to remind myself to just enjoy the act of writing and let it be (and not be interested in "names," etc.).

  5. This is a lovely piece, Janet. I never would have guessed that they were written at different times. My favorite is the last - it has a "truism" about it (the "back-to-reality" check that so often comes at the end of a long, involved project) and yet, there is a charming."C'est la vie" vibe that lends itself to a nuanced interpretation. Very nicely, done.

  6. thanks, wendy - and I always enjoy your commentaries!

  7. I love this Janet, sounds like home.

  8. thanks, Lisa - and nice to see you again!

  9. There is something in nearly all of these which relates with our current home: wasps when we moved in, a leaky roof, visiting deer, yellow walls, rustic house. No problem with the front door, but a lock on the back door which didn't lock and had to be changed.


  10. very interesting, adelaide!

    we had two sets of leaks in the sealed crawlspace - from plumbing and from our ac unit. we had to clean the damage associated with one of them ourselves. wrong-size front door (smaller than what we'd planned for) and a warped side door that didn't/doesn't close right. also, nobody could figure out the lock on one of them, so I believe my husband had to help. etc., etc., etc.