Four Tanka: Leaves

Blackbirds and robins
Contest the young river birch
Outside my window.
In explosions of birdsong
They fight their elegant war.

Oriole feathers:
Halloween colors flutter
Among green catkins
As they pause on their journey
Against the washwater sky.

Leap into the pile.
Ten thousand bits that detach
From their lacy forms
Tangle in hair. Now fall back —
Watch Vs of geese as they flee.

Six pines across the coulee:
Last green the eye can discern
On a bank of white.
Cardinals splash the needles
With flitting, flickering red.


During my last stay in Minnesota, I lived in a suburban townhouse development. There wasn’t much of nature to be had there, but there were trees and birds. This was my first attempt at tanka; I enjoyed them and would return to the form.

Portions of this poem appeared in red lights.


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