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Askold Skalsky, US
 

 

 

 

Tanka Cycle: Homage to Takuboku

 

Japanese poet (1886-1912) known for his tankas, short

 

fragmentary impressions in simple direct language.

 

1.

nothing
but experts here
so I shut up
and smile
a lot

 

2.

I like to rub
my cat's whiskers
kiss
his nose
he tolerates it

 

3.

phone starts
ringing
in the morning dark
I get out of bed
trembling

 

4.

went to see her
with high talk
and thoughts of love
but only got
annoyed

 

5.

man passes me
as I avert my eyes
turn around
catch him doing
the same

 

5.

three-year-old
walks up to a tree
says he'll climb it
to the clouds
tells me bye-bye

 

6.

maddening old woman
but just what kind
of people
did I think
needed help

 

7.

kid in a cemetery
skulking about
with a rifle
peering behind
gravestones

 

8.

what music
close
my eyes
to hear it
better

 

9.

I see it now
big mistake
all my life afraid
of the wrong
things

 

10.

man with a
bumper sticker
about god
nearly runs me off
the road

 

11.

have lived long enough
to know the future
won't be much different
from the past
keep hoping anyway

 

12.

distracted
by a thousand things
the secret
of their long
marriage

 

13.

disgusting
on the parking lot
a torn bag
full of
dead squirrels

 

14.

the couple who argue
every day
have just decorated
their mailbox with
little hearts

 

15.

had a very
busy year
substituting
one obsession
for another

 

16.

mouse hiding
behind the bookshelf
for two days now
I walk around
uneasy

 

16.

this must be
the onset
of old age
can't even remember
my wet dream

 

17.

just got back
from another
vacation
fun
without happiness

 

18.

thank god for the taste
of peaches he says
I'm thankful too
but think of the camps
at Magadan

 

19.

passes me in the hall
with barely a nod
if she only knew
what we did last night
in my dream

 

23.

walk around
thinking about my life
see a crack in the pavement
through which some grass
is growing

 

20.

the swami says
that meeting people
is meeting god
really had my fill
today

 

21.

we sit in the kitchen
with our drinks and talk
about the decrepitude of the old
feel pretty sure
it won't happen to us

 

22.

nearly got killed
driving home
on the interstate
now stand here
frying some eggs

 

23.

mother's worse
sent me
a birthday card
signed
her full name

 

24.

if only I could
open up
in love
what a man
I'd be

 

 

About Askold Skalsky, US

 

Originally from Ukraine, Askold Skalsky, a professor of English at a community college in western Maryland, USA, has published in numerous small press magazines and journals, including Notre Dame Review and Southern Poetry Review. He has also published in Canada, England, Ireland, and mainland Europe. He has received his second poetry award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and his work was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is currently at work on his first book of poems, The Ponies of Chuang Tzu.

This is Askold Skalsky's first appearance in Sketchbook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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