a daily tanka — June 30

round here the parks have

harbour buoys and anchor chains

strewn over the grass 

tho plaques explain

unmoored, our past sails on 

Image: Port Kembla Maritime Park, I’ve been wanting to stop at this little neglected park for ages but it’s trapped between busy roads and across from the busy courthouse.

And for music, here’s Canadian world music ensemble Constantinople with kora maestro Ablaye Cissoko with their album Itinerant Gardens (YouTubers)

found tanka — June 29

as he eats

he eyes 

the world

in his spoon

— how might

it end

for this man

this white carton

this suffering ?

An erasure (with a few liberties) of Jane Kenyon’s poem Man Eating, from Let Evening Come, Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 2005, p. 128. (A marvellous collection from a fine poet gone too soon – if you’ve not read her poem ‘Having it out with melancholy‘ take a moment, it’s right here).

And for music this morning, some Indo-Baroque meets alt-folk minimalism from British string duo Balladeste — a collaboration between violinist Preetha Narayanan and cellist Tara Franks. Here’s their 2021 album Beyond Breath (Youtube).

‘not a tanka’ tanka — June 28

always a fan of

the Brechtian gesture

again I'm pressed

against the wall between us

— seems insurmountable 

Image: from a 2008 performance of Bertolt Brecht‘s play The Caucasian Chalk Circle, c/- Otterbein University Theatre & Dance from USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

And for music this morning, German composer Max Richter has re-recomposed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons this time using gut strings, period instruments and even vintage synthesisers to create a ‘grittier, more punk rock sound‘ — with Elena Urioste and the Chineke! Orchestra ) (Youtube). You know where to start.

a daily tanka — June 27

at the bird expo
a frenzy of flapping
cash in hand
beautiful plumage this one
hand-reared for wired skies

Image: It was going off at the “Bird Expo” at Berkeley (a suburb of Southern Wollongong) yesterday. Birds, kids, selfies with parrots, the sound of money and stories about seed mix and dried pawpaw tossed everywhere. This young blue and yellow macaw (Ara ararauna) was a long way from home.

And for music this morning, here’s Stockholm, Sweden /Brisbane, Australia country duo Texas Tea with their album Röda Tråden (Youtube) (trs: ‘red threads’ according to goggle)

tanka prose — 23 June

Photographing in Wollongong cemetery looking for worn angels and broken columns, I met a woman who used to be in the ‘industry’ and we start talking. As an ex-funeral director, she pointed to those she’d put in here — one over there, a couple further on. Even family members, a cousin, an uncle. Not her husband tho, he’s buried elsewhere. 

Since he passed, she’d been touring the country with her friend looking at cemeteries. I asked her what she was looking for but all she said was ‘I just like them, they’re peaceful.’ They’ve even visited western australian cemeteries, driving across the nullabor in their white diahatsu with purple wire wheels. 

in the cemetery
some graves ostentatious in black
— lawns and marble squares 
and then the little grass patch
for the stillborn babies 

Originally established on the outskirts, over the last hundred years the city has grown to surround the cemetery. Light industry on one side, new housing and a school on the other. It takes effort to block out the road noise and the clanking of equipment being unloaded.

in the cemetery 
tidied plots with fresh flowers
then Ryan’s pine cross 
10 years and still no headstone
— which will be my grave?

We talk about masonry styles, urns and torches, the broken column of a life cut short. She points to the earliest plots of the cemetery dating back to the 1850s, now an enclave behind the courier depot and the indoor sports centre. Aside from the trees, we’re the only ones breathing in all this crowd. 

in the cemetery
I have no graves to visit
— gave dad’s ashes 
to the ocean off Perth
bloom on dark waves 

Image: Bronte Cemetery, 2016. Today, tanka prose or tanka tale (a bit like a haibun) for you. There’ll be no tanka for the next couple of days as I’m off travelling, so I thought this installment might tide us over.

And for music, something beautiful but appropriate to the theme of this post, American composer Gregory Hutter with Tears (Youtube) from a poem by Walt Whitman. This from a 2019 album of Secular Choral Music (Youtube). You are going to want to listen to this album several times, then go and buy a copy, it’s that good.

a daily tanka — June 22

still so much to do
winter snows, my toes ache
eyes too           I lean back
and it’s you: your perfume
lifts this heavy bloom to gold

Image: For everyone enjoying warm weather, here’s a wonderful photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash.

I just wasn’t happy with any drafts this morning, so I’ve updated an earlier post and squeezed it through the tanka-matic.

And for music today, here’s the multi-instrumental, multi-lingual, multi-talented Savalises (Jordi, Ferran and Arriana) with Monsterat Figueras and Pedro Estevan with their 2005 album of eclectic Spanish, Catalan & World music, Du Temps & De L’Instant (maybe start with La Salve feat. Arriana.) (Youtube album; La Salve).

cento tanka — June 21

             who wrote these lyrics?

the house is loud with autumn rain

            the night air is...bright

it’s already 2 a.m

            this strange thing must have crept

Image: Hill 60 is the ‘exclusive’ end of Port Kembla (doesn’t stop lime leaking from their cement render does it?)

A cento tanka comprised as follows:

  1. Blackbirds, Greg Rappleye
  2. Three Tanka, mikajima yoshiko (trs James Garza)
  3. This House, Katie Condon
  4. Already Two, Vladimir Mayakovsky.
  5. Fork, Charles Simic.  

And for music this morning, more solo instrumental joy with American guitarist Michael Hedges with his 1984 album Aerial Boundaries (thanks Lisa). (Youtubers).

a bridal tanka — June 20

the bride barefoot

shivers on early sand 

— the camera guy

seeing how perfect the light

stands her in icy seas 

Image: Scott Broome on Unsplash. And it was freezing on the beach the other morning and there they were…

And for music this morning, some suburban banjo (!) – from Australian composer Andrew Tuttle – with his 2020 album Alexandra. The album is about Alexandra Hills, a suburb of Brisbane. (Youtubers)

“Andrew Tuttle grew up in Alexandra Hills, a quiet slice of rural life in Redlands, a city which lies 20km or so from Brisbane, on the East Coast of Australia. Or at least that was the plan. The reality proved to be somewhat different, the area changing quickly after his family’s relocation there, resulting in his home being quickly absorbed by rapid urban sprawl, leaving him in a limbo between nature and suburbia…”

a daily tanka—June 19

supermarket fruit

so upbeat    each luscious piece

a picture (of health)

— perversely tho     (like love) 

I hesitate to bite * 

* unless there’s a duck prepared to feed me berries while I sit in this blue tessellated sphere

Image: Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, detail c/- @BoschBot on Twitter.

And for music this morning, some cool jazz with Isreali born, New York based saxophonist Oded Tzur – with his 2022 album Isabela (start with the The Lion Turtle). (tubers). I’ll get off the jazz kick tomorrow, I promise.

a restless tanka — June 18

white-black-white all night 

          dust devils across the veldt

wind beats the screendoor

        windowpanes zebras herd

                                   nickering     dreams rattled

Image: Game on the High Veldt – illustration from Oates, F. Matabele Land and the Victoria Falls, A Naturalist’s Wanderings in the Interior of South Africa (1889), Kegan, Paul Tench & Co. p. 71 c/- Wikimedia Commons.

And for music this morning, something to keep you going if the wind’s blowin and the bedroom’s full of stampeding wildlife, here’s Miles from 1957 with The Birth of the Cool (reach for sunglasses before playing) (Youtube cats)