Lost and Translation

I found these poems sandwiched between the pages of The Hand of the Poet: Poems and Papers in Manuscript, a beautiful volume of drafts and redrafts from poets like Julia Alvarez and Philip Levine, Robert Frost and Allen Ginsberg. At the time, I knew this would be an appropriate place for this little copied and folded mini manuscript. Luckily, I found it again.

The tanka was published years ago in Modern English Tanka, and I can’t remember how my little cricket song was translated into Russian, or how I came across Jefi-Jun’s version. Lost, then found. translation tanka

Five lines

Years ago, when I fell into what is sometimes referred to as “writer’s block,” I found an outlet in haiku, tanka, cinquain, and other short form poems. I made a pledge to myself to write three lines a day, sometimes five. I was able to keep it up for over a year, until the file folder, neatly titled “haiku a day” was inadvertently sucked into the cyber trash.

I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately, so here is day 1 of the new “five lines a day” folder.

no mind for words, no
sink hole to burrow or free
unforgivable limbs
from pen caps whose plastic scratches
leave no trace of helpful blood

poem in your pocket

Four Tankas


The moon’s fingernail
scrapes a far away gazer’s
thoughts, breaking open
her mind, freeing a thousand
love songs stoked with lunar dust.

East-blowing storms coil
above night’s descending
horizon. Stars pop
from showering brushstrokes
across blue lingering breath.

I pledge to read each
day’s oncoming slaughter
as a penniless
dark spur opening beneath
a cataclysm of daisies.

As the final gasp
of a humid day wheezes
into dusk, a breeze
tickles with its feather tongue,
hinting at evening’s reprieve.