Seven Tanka on Haiku

      by Naomi Beth Wakan

I have stood
in Bashō’s birthplace
in Iga Ueno
longing for some inspiration
to rise from the dirt floor

I have just read
of Bashō’s wife
(albeit common-law)
why in his thousands of haiku
did he not once tell of his love?

a breath of fresh air
for haiku
a breath of fresh air
for Shiki

one himself
how could Issa
not be one with all underdogs . . .
the authenticity of his words

if I read
another haiku on cherry blossom
I will scream . . .
isn’t it enough to spread a rug
and lie under the branches?

otters, seals, eagles,
Drumbeg is too much
for a single haiku
I spill over into tanka
with sandpipers and herons

no paper
I write a haiku
on a shell
at the beach, my childhood home,
everything I need is at hand

From the books of Naomi Beth Wakan: Segues (Wolsak and Wynn, 2005), Sex After 70 (Bevalia Press, 2010), and And After 80 (Bevalia Press, 2013).