THE DREAMING ROOM — tanka sequence

16 Feb

Published in “The Dreaming Room: Modern English Tanka in Collage and Montage Sets” (Modern English Tanka Press, Baltimore, 2007).


an azure ceiling
dangles its yellow parasol
paper shreds flutter
like aspen leaves from the beams
as the room goes dark, goes bright

mounted butterfly
hanging under hardened glass
floating over cork
just enough room for your dreams
meadow breeze . . . a sapphire flash

the loathsome woods
do not mean, but be
may the silence
of the oaks
abide with thee

I slept in the woods
and the bracken went chestnut
this ancient lake glows
green at each stroke of my oar
flocking birds darken the sky

the day’s heat broken
my damp shirt cooling, drying
in the tree-row’s shade
red mulberries stain my hands
and the old wooden bucket

this cold white room
takes on many colors
in the changing light
when will I see you next?
how long until a full moon?

what do I become
in the stupor of the night?
my familiar hands,
what do they conceal by day?
which nightmare is real; which dream?

rose-grey blanket
the same old smog hangs
over Baltimore
night shifts in full swing
the predators awaken

skyscrapers sway
dreaming in the night wind
city’s black canyons
shimmering rivers of light
so faint, the bleats of prey

my ivory dome
lit by foxfire and coals
the shadows writhe
as my sins flicker
like dying searchlights

wet velvet forest
rooted in the flotsam
of a sea of tears
the yew-beams of my lodge
pulse dully in the night

the townsfolk panic
at the sight of painted birds
they raze dark places
and fence-off the forest depths—
hell arrives in a white van

rye whisky
burns my gut, so, cheers!
I’ve lived so long
an enemy of death
I know pain is proof of life

the doctors insist,
‘lobotomies are painless;
taking half will leave
room for happiness, for dreams’—
for whom? which half am I; who . . .

for weeks
after anesthesia
I search
those hours are nowhere
like a hole in the sea

gone are the nightmares
past are the manic midnights
all’s gone sober-grey
everything tastes like test scores
I dance to the clock’s tick-tock

the boy says
he wants to see it all—
shaking my head
I wonder what he’d do
if the scales fell from his eyes

some nights
all I can do is lean
against the old wall
and know
that stone is cold


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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Tanka



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