Two Tanka

The following two tanka won Tanka Splendor awards in 2002, the last year the awards were offered. They can be viewed on the AHA Poetry website, together with the following commentary by Jane Wilson.

job interview—

a fingernail clipping


at the edge

of the bathroom counter

Michael Dylan Welch

This tanka suggests that the speaker has just left home for a job interview, leaving behind a fingernail clipping that “balances” of the edge of the bathroom counter. The fingernail clipping cleverly suggests the nervousness of the speaker whose career or income depends on the outcome of the interview. From a larger perspective, the fingernail clipping also suggests what we all face as we struggle to balance our lives between the need for social acceptance and our need for individual freedom.

Jane Wilson

summer breeze

lifts a corner

of our picnic blanket—

I place a grape

on your outstretched tongue

Michael Dylan Welch

This tanka is playfully erotic. Just as the speaker in the poem is enjoying the sensuality of placing a grape on a lover’s outstretched tongue, the picnic basket [she means “blanket”—see part 4 of “Typos Happen” for an explanation] appears to be enjoying the sensual play of the summer wind.

Jane Wilson