2019’s Final Post of Tanka

Following are tanka I wrote in 2019 which have not been published in any other venue. I hope you find something that pleases.

this homestead
on a nameless plain …
the oat field’s soughing
field hands’ work song behind the
staccato of busy hammers

along the millstream’s
grassy verge, willows flourish …
beyond, young oaks
reach for the yellow sun—
the old millwheel turns

on my break
in the midst of God’s glory
praying Psalms
in this wretched alley
behind the workshop

For the last day of this year, here are a few jisei-ei (death tanka).

the tiny flowers
I found pressed in pages
of her books—
on her grave, so gently laid,
this bouquet she picked herself

tears flow
around my death bed
as that dread door
opens, at last,
I find my smile

smoke signals rise
from the crematorium
to high heaven …
the least of God’s servants
is coming home

Here are a few tanka with the Zeitgeist as my muse.

late winter’s cold light
filling rented rubbish bins
with all their false smiles
false promises, cover-ups
the debris of corruption

use … misuse … abuse
how good tools are weaponized
the works of our hands
turned against a forthright world —
how selfish souls build ruin

as we press for
all species’ preservation
let us all recall …
every living thing on earth
is a mutant — life changes!

half a century
deconstructing pronouns
he/she and him/her
as hatred’s darkness spreads
we must turn to us and them

city dump
above the fetid mounds
herring gulls
pipe aloft
in the iceberg blue sky

— Denis M. Garrison

Modern English Tanka Press comes to an end with 2019.

Modern English Tanka Press (aka MET Press) is my, Denis Garrison’s, small publishing proprietorship. MET Press did business from 2006-2019 publishing both print and digital editions of books of poetry, journals, etc., related primarily to tanka, haiku, and other eastern short forms. Today, my blog, Tanka In English, is all that remains of MET Press which will go out of business at the end of this month. The printing relationship with Lulu Press will be ended this month and no further print publishing will be undertaken. MET Press’s many titles will be available to varying degrees in the secondary market but I will not be involved in that market. I have no stocks of out-of-print MET Press books so, please, no purchasing inquiries. Beginning in 2020, Tanka In English will be my personal blog; nothing more. It is my hope to continue the blog indefinitely as an archive of many great poetic works and resources for the reading public and as a place for my new poetry to appear. I do not plan to send out poetry submissions to journals, anthologies, etc. any more. My progressively worsening health is the main cause of this wrap up of MET Press and general withdrawal from participation in the poetry community. I have had a fabulous time in Tanka Town and met many wonderful and creative writers and artists. Still, there always comes a time to go home from the fair.

tiny studio
cramped and dark
now silent
oh … how the memories
flash across its walls

Denis M. Garrison

Jun Fujita, Tanka Pioneer, early tanka in English, posted

JUN FUJITA, TANKA PIONEER was perhaps the first master of tanka poetry in English. His work is an important and foundational aspect of the English tanka heritage. Modern English Tanka Press takes great pleasure in making this fine poet’s work once again available to the reading public. It is posted at the More Great Books page of this blog. Read and download for free at this link: Jun Fujita, Tanka Pioneer.

The Brink at Logan Pond

I am home again after two heart operations. The experience brought to mind the title poem of my first book length collection of poems. It is not radically brief poetry, but still a personal favorite and now with a new resonance for me.

The Brink at Logan Pond

On Logan Pond, the rose gold sky in pines’
Embrace between the cedar-shrouded hills,
Now from the stained-glass stone-still surface shines,
Just wrinkling at the emptying of rills.
The heavens condescended on this cruel
And vacant stretch of wet, this verdant sink.
Beneath its jeweled face, this silent pool
Still craves the careless creatures from the brink.
Just pausing there, at water’s edge, I feel
The almost tidal pull of Logan Pond.
It tempts me from the land, to blindly reel
In wanton waves and break my earthly bond.
The gorgeous waste shall not see me descend.
I’ll stand my ground ashore until the end.

Haiku Wisdom collection posted

HAIKU WISDOM : Living the Principles and Philosophies of Kung Fu, Haiku and Nature by Don Baird has been archived here on the More Great Books page of the Tanka In English blog. From the Foreword: “The title of this book is Haiku Wisdom. Its secondary title is Living the Principles and Philosophies of Kung Fu, Haiku and Nature. While much of the book is drawn on the philosophies of martial arts and its centuries of wisdom, it isn’t limited to that. Haiku, themselves, are often written as clear witnesses of nature and her ways. When observed well and written objectively, the messages of nature readily reveal themselves to the reader. Philosophical surprises are around every corner. It simply takes the poet and reader to connect the dots; aha! … the reader walks away with new and wonderful insights of life and its mysterious ways and workings.” This outstanding collection is archived here by permission of the author. This is a great read. Read and download Haiku Wisdom for free here.