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).