Monday, November 14, 2016

Tanka Prose

The Singer

For years, I couldn't remember its name—that tasteful little nightclub tucked away from the bustle of shopping and restaurants. Intimate. Nothing ostentatious, simple wooden tables. Dark but not too dark. Safe but holding a measure of intrigue. Meant for people like me.

The resident musician sang and played nearly nonstop, curled around his guitar as if he were bound to it. (I rarely ever saw him stand up.) The song selection: whatever was popular back then, mellow but not too mellow. Notes and voice hinting of warm butterscotch.

An unlikely friend of mine with exotic island looks once spoke of him with an air of familiarity. "You know him?" I asked, as if he were a god and I a mere mortal-girl. "Sure," she responded between characteristic long drags on her cigarette. Of course, she and I lived in different lanes.

Fast forward: In time, the name of the place would come to me. Then, after a computer search to learn about its fate, I would stumble across the singer's name; another search would instantly yield current-day photos of him. In mere minutes, I would learn that he had landed himself on a list of registered sex offenders and, also, that he had been deemed a man of God, though I had no way of knowing which label had come first.

among shadows
at the trendy bars
I'd sit hoping
some young man would find me
yet hoping he wouldn't


The tanka "among shadows" was previously published in Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka, 2007.


  1. What an interesting and believable story! I especially like the irony of your last sentence. The prose makes an excellent backdrop to the relatable tanka.

  2. Thanks! I'm glad it's believable…because it's true (based on what I can remember from long ago). ;-)
    The tanka is very old and didn't really have anything to do with the prose, which was written more recently, but I thought it might go well with the prose, so I reused it!

  3. Some wonderful wording in the prose piece - you aren't just telling a story; you are telling it eloquently ... with a splash of panache. As well, I think the tanka dovetails beautifully with the prose. I really enjoyed reading this, Janet.

  4. Great piece. "warm butterscotch" --yum. But the rest, yikes! Oy, this world we live in...

  5. Well done. Very believable. So much is hidden behind the appearance of a person.


  6. Thanks, Wendy, Jennifer, and Adelaide!