Tanka Tuesday: Strange & Beliefs

I don’t know if this is a true tanka. It doesn’t sound exactly right to me, but it’s hard to say why not. It’s for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday poetry challenge.


uncanny sounds creep

’neath the sea mists of the moon

beware the notions

the sunlight strums—bright smiles

hide teeth sharp as sorrow

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

22 thoughts on “Tanka Tuesday: Strange & Beliefs”

  1. It reminds me of something from the Oracle. It’s kind mysterious (and creepy).
    I suppose if you’re strict about syllable count, then it’s not truly a tanka, but it’s a tanka to me. 🙂

    1. I’ve given up on syllable-counting. There are so many other rules to follow that the number of syllables is one rule too far. You’re right, it is more like an Oracle message 🙂

  2. You’re only a bit off on your syllables, Jane. You’re a well-seasoned poet. If the syllables constrain your creativity, then go with it. Now, with that being said, I agree with Merril. Your words sound like something of a mystical message. I think they’re saying, “go with it.” ❤

      1. It also could have something to do with pronunciation. I know accents add or delete syllables, too. We’ve been getting a lot of “free-form” poetry instead of the syllabic forms. Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. ❤

      2. It’s very hard to adapt both the Japanese way of looking at things, and the Japanese language to English and our western cultures. I’ve decided to let the syllables count themselves 🙂

  3. Well, you made me laugh with syllable count ..is one rule too far. You may be right on that. When a thought is done, it’s done. Trying to stuff it into something else usually ruins it:)
    I like it just the way you have it., phony bright smile and all. Nice work Jane.


  4. What me and my person like is the discipline of trying to stick to the syllable count, pair everything down to it’s bare minimum and cutting out the fluff (I’m not big on fluff). Yet, rhythm, phrasing and imagining come first. We loved so much of this poem – uncanny, for strange, and then the imagery: “sea mists of the moon”, “sunlight strums” and “teeth sharp as sorrow”. My person says she reads your poetry to learn. I think that’s called flattery!! Love Ben xx

    1. Thank you, Ben and your person, I feel extremely flattered! I know what you mean about the discipline of the syllable count, but what I don’t like about it with the tanka form is that it doesn’t add anything to the poem. It doesn’t give it a rhythm. I love poetry with a strict beat, like the short one I’ve just posted, iambic pentametre, but it’s for a reason, like the rhythm in a song. Somehow, the syllable counting thing seems gratuitous, to my way of thinking, an arbitrary number. So, to cut a long story short, I enjoy the discipline of metre, but I’m like Finbar, if I don’t see the point of a rule, I tend not to follow it. Dogs know 🙂

    1. Finbar sends Spanish bisous to Ben. I do live in the west, but the west of France. You’re right about the Yeats and Synge influence though. If I could write one line to touch their lyricism I’d be happy 🙂

    1. My dad was from Donegal and my maternal great-grandmother was from Sligo so you weren’t wrong about the origins, just the present location which with us is a moveable feast. France has a lot of good points and had even more when I first moved here. Finbar says it’s about a million times better than Spain anyway 🙂

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