Spring Blooms: Tanka

In February, spring comes temporarily to New Jersey, and we rejoice to see yellow and purple crocuses open to the light. In Florida, families bury their dead, while youthful hearts, watered with blood, swell and join together to cry out against the darkness.


Rising above ground

bulbs thrust tendrils to surface,

seeking warmth and light


we gather, remembering

seeds of kindness, blooms of love


This is for Colleenโ€™s Tanka Tuesday. Colleen asked us to use synonyms for breakthrough and movement.ย  I don’t know if a Haibun can include a tanka instead of a haiku. So this is either a Haibun or a tanka with a poetic introduction. Maybe someone can let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

Iโ€™m also linking this to Open Link Night at dVerse.




53 thoughts on “Spring Blooms: Tanka

  1. Your opening words depict at once hope and grief. For those Florida parents and young survivors, hope will be a long time coming. Great write!

  2. Technically a haibun ends with a haiku but in this case, the tanka is a fitting and lovely end. So much pain and yet hope in this haibun and tanka. You did beautiful work on this. My only quibble is that the kami-no-ku. and shimo-no-ku are separated into ttwo separate parts. I’ve noticed several writers who do that. The tanka goes together all in a line. Again, this haibun is beautiful in its sadness and in its hope. I love the last two lines, the shimo-no-ku.

    • Thank you for kind words and explanation, Toni. Yes, I thought the haibun was supposed to end with a haiku. ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually wrote the tanka first, but then it seemed to need an explanation. I had thought the two parts of the tanka were supposed to be separate (I’m not sure where I heard that), so thank you for correcting me!

      I see so many different explanations for all of these forms. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I know. It depeneds on who you ask. The “older” more classic ones keep all lines together. For some reason, they always think the top three lines are a “haiku” but really, the tanka is a separate form and while the parts are divided into upper and lower, it is only to show the turn line rather than to separate. The Japanese ladies ages ago used to write resplendent tanka to their lovers after a night of love, a sort of thank you. the men returned the favor. I don’t know if you know this. If you do, I am sorry to repeat it. Like the haiku, it is written to be read in one breath. separating the parts makes one take a break in the reading, simply. also, some call a tanka a finished haiku. LOL. a haiku is complete on its own! For this reason, a lot of people separate the two parts. One of the most informed people I know in the way of tanka is Jane Bartels. Frank gave a link to her writing on tanka in the last dVerse Post, Brevity. So there ya go!

      • Re: separation in a tanka, I thought the same as you, but looking back, I can’t see how I came to that. The same with using a tanka in a haibun. I’ve done it more than a handful of times, but I’m not sure what got me there to begin with. I’d prefer to stay within the standards for both forms, so I’ll have to remember this.

      • Yes, I think I wrote a tanka without separations, but then I saw the separation, and I thought that was the correct way–but I’m also not sure where that came from. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. You have a lovely gift for words and images and emotions, Merril D. Smith! Someone once mentioned to me that crocus often struggle mightily to push their way up through frozen/thawing/re-frozen earth. I used to think of them as delicate beauties. Now I think of them as persistent and perhaps at times ferocious forces of nature โ€” in addition to being exquisitely beautiful. I planted a bunch last fall JUST before our first frost; so i am curious to see if any will manage to push their purple/yellow/white noses up out of the ground in the upcoming days/weeks. And I am a thousand times more curious to see what will unfold as “youthful hearts, watered with blood, swell and join together to cry out against the darkness” here in the USA… Thank you for the beauty and inspiration of your words and wisdom.

    • Thank you so much, Will, for your lovely comment! I appreciate your very kind words. I do hope your crocuses will bloom and bring you joy with their beauty. We planted ours–oh, gosh–probably decades ago–I think the squirrels move them around, or somehow they migrate. . .
      (I love gardens, but I am not a gardener.)
      And yes, I am curious, too, to see what will unfold here. These young people give me some hope, even as some try to take them down.

  4. Merril, I was so touched by your prose. Poetry is one of the most powerful ways we have to touch people during a crisis. Thanks for taking a stand. โค

  5. Merril, side note:
    I got an early morning phone call so am late for my reading your blog!
    I so wanted to read while you sipped your refreshed coffee. . .
    Carrie is worried about only a few RSVP’s for birthday party, (she paid $20 for ten children as guests for Micah’s party. . . ) Adults don’t “count” since we won’t be jumping on the trampolines (Sky Zone). ๐ŸŽˆ
    Anyway, I love the fact your flowers (creamy white-colored crocuses) are coming up out of the moist ground. It is sad they must now represent hope mixed with tears. . . Ground and rain seem to match my gloomy feelings perfectly. They will brighten as the day goes on. . .
    The “darkness” doesn’t give Pres. Obama credit for his administration in 2013 trying to pass gun control for assault weapons, stalled out in the legal process, not sure if Congress (?) “He” is erasing the “goodness” and “light” of a period where nothing was ever passed as requested!
    I see shoots of green but haven’t found flowers blooming here yet. ๐Ÿ’ฎ May your weekend be filled with hope, and the rain wash our sadness and darkness away. ๐Ÿ’™

    • Thank you for your detailed comment and good wishes. I ended up working instead of going to the gym, since I need to get through page proofs, as well as do other work. I may be making another pot of coffee. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I hope it all works out for Micah’s party. People seem to be really awful at responding to invitations these days.


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