25 Tanka Poets from New Zealand

Edited by Patricia Prime

1) Margaret Beverland

draught horses
pulling the haywagon
I remember the romance
sweat, taut muscles, the farmhand,
the scent of hay

KOKA 12


2) Tony Beyer

this body
full of grief
for others
it has loved
feels none for itself

TNHR 5


3) Catherine Bullock

listening to
the morepork’s repetitive call
I wonder
how often I
say the same thing

TNHR 4


4) Owen Bullock

the acrobat
in the picture
hangs upside down
just as he does
in real life

KOKA 8


5) Cyril Childs

I see myself
down where sand
makes sea sizzle
laughing back
at my father

KOKA 3


6) Eric Dodson

giving blood
a woman
with no known group
saves her own
for a rainy day

KOKA 9


7) p n w donnelly

lichened branches
twist
against the axe
streets of Amsterdam
all shades of red

winterSPIN. Papatoetoe, Auckland, NZ, 2000


8) Robin Fry

Frank O’Hara
went to Paris
bought Verlaine
liked Bonnard
ordered hamburgers and a malted.

KOKA 9


9) Bernard Gadd (1935-2007)

red poppy
I always see
my kneeling father
smile at the season’s
first

KOKA 8


10) Veronica Haughey

husband’s funeral
well-dressed widow looks askance
at Other Woman
who seems too distraught to know
that she is wearing odd shoes

Highly Commended,1st Kokako Tanka Competition. KOKA 6.


11) John Irvine

last words posted
in wet sand with a stick
to an old friend.
I smile as the outgoing tide
delivers them

KOKA 10


12) Catherine Mair

forgetting
her children’s birthdays
she watches cherry blossoms
open each day
from the rest home window

Runner-up, 1st Kokako Tanka Competition. KOKA 6.


13) Betty Ann Matthews

I visit the old house
after forty years
watch you disappear through
the bedroom wall
you just miss the door

KOKA 8


14) Jacqueline Ottaway

Old hulk half-submerged
by the sea’s swift tentacles
desolate, lifeless

But for a spider weaving
webs over vacant port-holes

We Sail Alone. Birkenhead, Auckland, NZ: Glen Esk Publishing, 2010


15) John O’Connor

knowing Shiki
died of consumption
but till now
never thinking of him
as a cripple

KOKA 1


16) Karen Peterson Butterworth

reading old letters –
my mother tells my father
about my birth –
how can I ever
fulfill such promise?

KOKA 2


17) Deryn Pittar

small waves gulp the sand
the moon walks her path to our log,
chilled backs – warm fronts,
bonfire after dark
at Tata Beach

‘Tanka Moments.’ fine line, Magazine of The New Zealand Poetry Society. Lambton Quay, Wellington, NZ, May 2010


18) Patricia Prime

after many years
how do you fall out of love?
imperceptibly
the way you walk into the tide line
one step after another

EUCL 7


19) Elaine Riddel

shut inside
I cannot see the sky
I know
only shadows of flying birds
on early morning walls

‘Tanka Moments.’ Magazine of The New Zealand Poetry Society. Lambton Quay, Wellington, NZ, September 2007


20) Barbara Strang

foreign bus stop . . .
on the hard bench
a child again
my feet not touching
the ground

EUCL 5


21) André Surridge

a letter
by Monet complaining
about the fog
soon it would creep
into his eyes

MET 5


22) Suzanne Vaassen

all autumn
two rabbits fatten in the loft
at Christmas
two children
gape at father’s killing knife

Highly Commended, 1st Kokako Tanka Competition. KOKA 6.


23) Richard von Sturmer

shaking the head
of a rain-soaked hydrangea,
blue sparks
before I can speak
before I can say a word

Trout 12, an online journal from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, 2005.


24) Helen Yong

drops of cool water
from the old spouting
fall onto the lemon tree –
this spring thirst I have
not as easy to quench

EUCL 6


25) Dick Whyte

so many ways
to finish
this tanka—
a camellia
falls

MAGN 5


© 2010