Two autumn tanka

18 March

the tomato vine
once supple with promise
dried, a squat fruit
of autumn—life’s lesson

(as if it needed underlining)

19 March

smokey sunrise
gorgeous pinks and scarlets
street lights haloed
horizon a Rothko smear
crimsoned over charcoal

Image: Mark Rothko – No. 46 (Black, Ochre and Red over Red), 1957. Oil on canvas (1903-1970) Panza Collection. MOCA c/- Rob Corder on Flickr. The Southern Hemisphere moves into Autumn, the vegies die off and hazard reduction burns on the escarpment drape the valleys with smoke.

And for music this morning, I’ve been a bit obsessed of late with Caroline Shaw’s composition Orange (Youtube). So here it is again for all you gardeners.

tanka on the first heatwave of summer — Feb. 16.

beyond the cafe —
street trees roil, girrrr of 
ten thousand cicadas 
SUV backs into wall —
tea-leaves orbit my cup

Image: my scorching driveway. The poet musing from the air-conditioned comfort of a cafe while the world outside gets used to what local weather forecasters describe as a ‘low intensity heatwave’.

And for music this morning, here’s Taiwanese ensemble Cicada with their 2023 album Seeking the Sources of Streams (Youtube) –

tanka on the arrival of a new symptom… Feb. 3

refractory gang — 
eyes, toes, night sweats 
a heart overthrown
like my dad I yell 
at the screen, what new thing now? 

Image: Skeleton dancers and band on theatre stage, Sydney, c. 1928. Photographer unknown c/- State Library of New South Wales on Flickr. Musing on the body and what we inherit (including a dodgy heart) from our parents…

And for music today – here’s Gianluca Littera on harmonica with Quartetto Energie Nove playing with Gordon Jacob’s Divertimento for Harmonica and Strings (Youtube). The whole album’s worth exploring (as long as the harmonica wasn’t spoiled for you by listening to years of Max Geldray playing in the musical intermissions on The Goon Show on the BBC).

tanka Jan 29. (with mosquitoes)

after Rodney Jones

such a battle
just reading your poetry
mosquitoes dance      the page
she will inherit (not us)
— how she sings the harvest 

Image: untitled by Daniel Iván on Flickr. A piece inspired by Rodney Jones’ poem about war and violence The Mosquito – which I was reading in my kitchen at 5am under attack from the subject of his poem (the last line is taken from his poem).

And for music today here’s some uplifting “nature punk” from US band/singer Hurray for the Riff-Raff – with Life on Earth (Youtube) (The whole album is gorgeous and recommended).

Afternoon tanka – Jan 27

impatient the air
slams a door, a saucer
certainty of downpours
evaporates before 
reaching this far

Image: Utagawa Hiroshige, Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi Bridge and Atake, from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo 1857. c/- Metropolitan Museum

And for music this morning, here’s Japanese composer Isao Tomita with Claire de Lune (Youtube). The whole album (sorry couldn’t find it on Youtube but there’s plenty of Tomita for you to enjoy) is pretty fab from the master of synths. (I remember my father bringing home one of Tomita’s LPs and we sat fascinated that all this music was without a single instrument being bowed or blown into or orchestra being conducted)

a flat tanka — Jan. 15

barely waves, turquoise
lift and settle
of surfers
collective supplication
anything, send us anything

Image: Harold Salvage sunbaking, “The Sunbather” from Camping trips on Culburra Beach by Max Dupain and Olive Cotton c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr

Music this morning, here’s Australian musician Andrew Tuttle with reminiscence of Alexandra (Youtube has the live performance), very chill – banjo, cicadas and sprinklers on the lawns – and no surf today.

7 January tanka

blown sand blocks our street
duneland has returned
like the past
finds us oddly
unready its tidings

Image: Dunes south of Port Kembla, c. 1940s c/- Wollongong Library. A tanka inspired by the brief closure of a local road after a few days of strong southerlies. This area was subject to some ‘dune shaping’ recently by the local council which involved removal of foredune vegetation which (in my view) helped stabilise the sand. That said, the past is implacable.

Music this morning, here’s British vocal ensemble Voces8 with a reworking of Radiohead’s Pyramid Song (Youtube).

a tanka sonnet — August 2

as sun leaves the wall
spider gets busy 
sowing sails and vacancies
scaled to her prey 
in hopper legs and fly husks 

how like this, this is— 
line on line and beauty
bent round purpose 
like a bonsai cypress 
framed by chicken wire 

and how wrapt we are
beguiled by gravity 
stuck, barely able 
to remember the door

Image: A favourite wall in Wollongong, rear of the Bridgestone Tyres outlet, McCabe Park. A bit of play with forms today (apols to any tanka purists, the syllable count doesn’t work either).

And for music this morning, here’s another piece from favourite US soul guitarist Shuggie Otis, Live in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) from 2014 (Youtube).

tanka — 23 July

i wrote poetry
in the morning     bright
dew on tranquil lawns

— it’s afternoon already
and i’m re-writing    still

Image: Night Scene, from Camping at Culburra, NSW 1937, Max Dupain and Olive Cotton, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr.

And for music this morning, here’s American jazz dada-ist composer Raymond Scott (1908-1994) with some soothing sounds for baby vol 1 . (Youtube). Maybe start with Sleepy Time (Youtube) Yes, there’s another two volumes (!).