Cheyenne Cañon: Tanka Suite

Jun Fujita, Japanese-American photographer and poet of the mid-20th century, might have been the first to introduce the rest of us Americans to the tanka, an elegant form comprised of 31 syllables across a handful of lines. It’s similar to the haiku, but it provides a little more flexibility and, somehow, may seem more user-friendly. I thought the form might be conducive to a seasonal snapshot of a favorite place—hence, my attempt at the tanka below. I loved how following those syllables in a four-part loop felt like a form of meditation and kept my impulse for unnecessary words in check.

Bath of apple green, acorn accents,
a gaggle of happy
ice shards sings down
the softening creek.
Cornflower sky mirror.

Canyon shade cool and amber
–tonic for a cacophonous day.
Peeling pines like
sunburnt butterscotch,
a heady summer brew.

The ending strung taut across
leafy trails like a pull
of taffy. A flame of
sorrel shouts around the bend,
then whispers to gold.

Geometry of January jagged
against stillborn falls.
After the storm,
pine needles spread spiky,
translucent fingers.

Photo By: Discover Colorado Springs