Trying Tanka

I’m finding myself rather taken with learning the tanka form of poetry at the moment and have been playing round with sentences and structure. This form seems to readily lend itself to the idea of #small stones and I had noticed one or two other writers using it for just that purpose on the 31 Days Challenge so I decided to investigate.

From what I’ve read it is suggested that writers in English language don’t follow the Japanese form of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables but instead should aim for five lines of 3/5/3/5/5  due to the relative disparity in the length of syllables in each language. The syllable count isn’t necessarily rigid but 21 plus or minus should be a guide and there is no contrived rhyming.

The seeds of this one crept into my head at sometime after six this morning when I was walking Plottdog — go me! Who says I can’t do mornings? Actually, I think this must have been an aberration since my brain is normally barely functional at that time.  As usual I had committed the cardinal sin of having no notebook or phone and in any event had no specs with me so the opportunity to scribble it down was totally lost. I am somewhat challenged in the short-term memory department and such was my delight at this unexpected handful of words floating around in my head, I really wanted to remember them. Given it was still dark  and only a few hardy dog-walkers were about, I decided the best chance I had of remembering anything was by repeating it over and over.

So I did.

The man at number 3, who unaccountably already looks at me as if I am slightly mad, will probably hereafter cross the road to avoid crazy dog woman chanting unintelligible nonsense about magpies and chaos. To be honest, I don’t blame him.

Anyway this is my first attempt at a tanka poem. It is maybe not as pithy or earth shatteringly brilliant as it first seemed to me but I hope it at least follows form. I am told line three should be a pivotal line which joins the whole while making grammatical sense individually when combined with line 1 and 2 and  with 4 and 5. I’m not sure what tanka purists would make of it but I enjoyed playing around with the structure.

Fat magpie
sitting in the road,
a portent
my day foretold of
chaos and complaint.

This pretty much sums up my day yesterday too.