Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tanka Prose

Something in the Air
by Janet Lynn Davis (prose) and Susan Burch (tanka)

I catch myself staring at the cracks in her thickly applied pink lipstick. Then it happens. Something from somewhere lands in one of my eyes, aggravating a contact lens and as per usual triggering a mini-waterfall. 

At the eleventh hour, just as I need to get serious about my required research paper, my Freshman English instructor, via swift strokes with her red pen, presses me to switch to a more-traditional (aka stodgy) topic. That's why I'm now sitting here in her dank little office behind the classroom: to assert myself. 

In a flash, her face freezes as she no doubt notices the waterworks. “Okay. You can go ahead with it,” she sheepishly acquiesces. “I was only afraid things would get too psychological for me.” With that, she officially approves my original topic: Why People Laugh.   

This probably wasn't the first time tears saved me. I run with it.            

I blink my eye 
to get a lash out—
the married guy
sharing the elevator
winks back at me

Authors' Note: For those unfamiliar with U.S. university curriculums, "Freshman English" refers to a first-year English literature and composition course (or courses).
Haibun Today, vol 9 no. 2, June 2015

Thanks to fellow poet Susan for working on this with me. Was fun to do! By the way, what I write about here (the prose) really did happen.


  1. A great collaboration! I love the irony of the research paper's title. One reason people laugh is because they've read this entertaining and relatable tanka story!

  2. Oh, those coincidences! Humorous! Fantastic!

  3. Love this oh-so-human capture. Very cool ... and funny!

  4. Love it! Funny human stories are what makes people laugh.


  5. Glad you all found this entertaining! As far as the prose goes, it's true, down to the last detail (though I'm not certain about the exact wording of the title of the paper, since that paper, for which I received an A, long ago disappeared).