25 Humorous Tanka and Kyoka

Edited by Joanne Morcom
When I suggested to M. Kei, the editor of Atlas Poetica: A Journal of World Tanka, that I’d like to guest edit a Special Features Section about humorous tanka and kyoka, he quickly replied in the affirmative. I thank him for his advice and support in this most pleasant task. I also thank all of the poets for submitting their work, and for making me smile and laugh, even as I struggled to choose twenty-five poems from so many delightful tanka and kyoka. Several poets also very kindly resubmitted their work when I inexplicably lost some submissions.

I’m impressed by the diversity of the subject matter, although interpersonal relationships and the aging process are somewhat common themes. This is no surprise, as there’s probably nothing funnier than coping with our fellow human beings and with our aging selves. Thank goodness we can find humor and laughter in these and other everyday experiences, or we might not survive them.

The selected poems also show diversity in types of humor, including absurdity, wordplay and wry observations, some self-deprecating. What unites them is a sense of playful amusement that relieves life’s seriousness and reminds us that we’re all travelling on the same rather bumpy road together.

In closing, I offer a quotation from a poem titled “Your Laughter” by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda:

Take bread away from me, if you wish
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

1) ai li

the old year
that dance frock
with the low neckline
her breasts
much lower now

2) Susan Burch

in Lowe’s
contractor pick-up area
a man asks me
if it hurt
when I fell from heaven

3) Janet Lynn Davis

not a chance
I’m walking too fast—
my shadow
collides with a shadow
of a speed limit sign

4) Amelia Fielden

log cabin life
old-fashioned family fun
for a week
swimming fishing hiking . . .
with of course WIFI

5) Liz Gibbs

my next night shift . . .
I try to scratch out
the full moon
on my calendar

6) Autumn Noelle Hall

when I retire
he says, I’m going to stop
under my breath I reply
I’m going to start

7) Carole Harrison

old tabby
greets Burmese brother
‘bow wow’ . . .
it’s never too late
to learn another language

8) Lorne Henry

still in gaudy clothes
after a Christmas concert
a stranger tells me
‘you are very un-chic’
oh the things I should have said

9) Marilyn Humbert

in the drawer
of my dresser
spoon together
waiting for dinner

10) Gerry Jacobson

in London
it cost me 30 p
just to pee
at the railway station
of Water-loo

11) M. Kei

114 degrees
in the engine room—
it’s not hell,
but it’s right
next door

12) Julie Bloss Kelsey

after a downpour
driving home at dusk
I swerve around a frog
another frog

13) Justin Lamb

tap clack
chingching, thud—
i dropped
a drumstick

14) Michael H. Lester

I carry her
across the threshold
to our wedding bed . . .
we spend the night
playing Pokemon go

15) Chen-ou Liu

three months
after a tug of war
with my ex
my bald head sprouting
soft new hair

16) Bob Lucky

grilling steaks
on a blazing afternoon—
“you look hot,”
my wife says, so I hope
one thing leads to another

17) Don Miller

break time
at the global warming
my ice tea
with no ice

18) Pravat Kumar Padhy

thin pond
in the midst of
scorching heat
the cows gently lick
each other’s shadow

19) Lucille Raizada

snow in May—
as we wake
our neighbour
dressed for the office
slips on the ice

20) Cynthia Rowe

our wildlife
guide wears Clark Gable
on his back
my partner sighs: frankly,
my dear, I don’t give a damn

21) Ram Krishna Singh

she says she is
a pure vegetarian
and hates to take
even an egg ‘coz it comes
from a chicken’s vagina

22) Ken Slaughter

the time it takes
to stand up and walk
at a museum
I re-enact the stages
of human evolution

23) Barbara Taylor

70th year
I contemplate
the necessity
for a new septic tank
and my first false teeth!

24) John Tehan

I was addicted
to the hokey-pokey
until I joined a
12-step program
and turned myself around

25) Kath Abela Wilson

Chinese village
a quaint sign reads
we’re so excited
about our garden we
wet our plants

Biographical Sketches

Joanne Morcom is a social worker, laughter yoga leader and poet from Alberta, Canada. She’s the author of four haiku and tanka poetry collections. Her most recent book, Like Ocean Waves, is a collection of previously published and new tanka.

ai li is a Straits Chinese short form poet from London, England and Singapore who writes about Life, Love and Loss bringing healing and prayer to her poems. The creator of cherita, co-editor and publisher of the cherita, founding editor and publisher of still, moving into breath and dew-on-line, she is also an evidential spiritualist medium, an urban photographer, and a surrealist collage painter. Find her essence in the quiet of her inner rooms at: https://www.amazon.com/ai-li/e/B0080X6ROC/ref=sr tc 2 0?qid=1469884842&sr=1-2-ent

Susan Burch is a good egg from Hagerstown, Maryland, USA.

Janet Lynn Davis lives in a small community carved out of the woods north of Houston, Texas (USA). Her poems, especially her tanka and related forms, have been published in numerous print and online venues over the past dozen or so years. She felt privileged to serve for a term as vice president of the Tanka Society of America. She’s currently the tanka prose editor at Haibun Today and a contributing editor at KYSO Flash.

Amelia Fielden is an Australian, and a professional translator of Japanese literature. She is also an enthusiastic writer of tanka and kyoka in English.

Liz Gibbs s a recent member of the Magpie Haiku & Tanka Poets. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she focuses on imagery to stir the creative juices. Her magical garden with much wildlife and foliage provide inspiration. As a registered nurse for forty years, she draws humour from that field which can be a “crazy” profession on those long nights shifts with a full moon.

In Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, USA, where Autumn Noelle Hall lives and writes, absurdity’s just a way of life. It might reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit in January or snow in June. Owls den in burrows, bears perch in trees; chipmunks devour deer-resistant gardens, and raccoons puddle in birdbaths. Here, where one watches the sunrise spill down the mountain slope or jumps at the full moon’s helium-balloon pop over the ridge, topsy turvy tanka inevitably abound.

In her poetry Carole Harrison loves to explore how landscapes and time sculpt character and attitude to life. She lives in country coastal Australia, attempting to grow vegetables amongst birds, remnant rainforest and dairy cows. One day she hopes to publish a chapbook.

Lorne Henry has been writing haiku since 1992 while living in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) and tanka from about 1996. She now lives in the Australian countryside.

Marilyn Humbert lives in the northern suburbs of Sydney NSW surrounded by bush. Her pastimes include writing free verse, tanka, and haiku. Her tanka and haiku appear in international and Australian journals, anthologies and online. Some of her free verse poems have been awarded prizes in competitions and some have been published.

Gerry Jacobson lives in Canberra, Australia and writes tanka in its cafes. He dances, grows vegetables and prays for rain. He travels frequently to hang out with grandchildren in Sydney and in Stockholm.

M. Kei is tall ship sailor, poet, and author.

Julie Bloss Kelsey (USA) enjoys writing haiku, scifaiku and other short poetic forms. Her tanka have appeared in Moonbathing, Atlas Poetica, hedgerow and The Bamboo Hut. She enjoys travel, crafting and drinking iced decaf lattes.

Justin Lamb is from Snohomish, Washington, USA.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, USA, Michael H. Lester is a CPA and attorney practicing business management for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, California. Numerous journals have selected Michael’s haiku, tanka, cherita, haibun and tanka prose for publication. Michael is the author of a book of poetry, Notes from a Commode – Volume 1 available on Amazon.com. He has several other books in the works, and is a co-founder of the cherita: your storybook journal.

Chen-ou Liu lives in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of five books, including Following the Moon to the Maple Land (First Prize, 2011 Haiku Pix Chapbook Contest) and A Life in Transition and Translation (Honorable Mention, 2014 Turtle Light Press Biennial Haiku Chapbook Competition). His tanka and haiku have been honored with many awards.

Bob Lucky ’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including Flash, Rattle, Modern Haiku, KYSO Flash, Haibun Today, Altas Poetica and Contemporary Haibun Online (where he edits content). Lucky’s chapbook of haiku, tanka prose, and prose poems, entitled Ethiopian Time (Red Bird Chapbook, 2014) was an honorable mention in the Touchstone Book Awards. He now lives and works in Saudi Arabia.

Don Miller lives in southern New Mexico, USA. He has been writing tanka since the early 1980s, and has had his tanka, tanka sequences, tanka prose, and other short-form poetry published on a somewhat regular basis in various print and online journals since the early 2000s.

Pravat Kumar Padhy hails from Odisha, India. He holds Master’s in Science and Technology and a Ph. D. From IIT-Dhanbad. His short form of Japanese poems have appeared in many international journals and anthologies. His tanka have been anthologized in Fire Pearls 2 and Bright Stars. His haiku won Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Honorable Mention, Canada UNESCO International year of Water Co-operation and The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Contest, Creatix Haiku Commendation Award, Iafor Vladimir Devide Haiku Award.

Lucille Raizada is a wife, a mother and a grandmother who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is a retired grade one French immersion teacher. She has written in some form or other since her teen years, and has written haiku and tanka for about ten years, and encourages her family to write haiku. She has published ten haiku chapbooks, two of them bilingual. She also contributes to Haiku Canada and Tanka Canada journals.

Cynthia Rowe is Past President: Australian Haiku Society; Editor: Haiku Expressions; Past President: Eastern Suburbs Branch (Bondi Writers), FAW NSW. She is a University of Melbourne graduate in French and Philosophy and has taught tertiary French and English. She was awarded a Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Francaise by the French Ministry of Education and is a Writing Fellow of FAW NSW. Cynthia has published seven novels and two poetry books.

Ram Krishna Singh, born, brought up and educated in Varanasi (U.P. , India), has been writing poetry in English for about four decades. He’s published over 160 academic articles, 175 book reviews, and 17 collections of poems, including I Am No Jesus and Other Selected Poems, Tanka and Haiku (English/Crimean Tatar, 2014). Retired as Professor at Indian School of Mines, Dr. Singh now lives at Jayanti-4(W), Road #1, Block-B, Vastu Vihar Colony, Ph. II, N.H. 2, Govindpur-828109 (Dhanbad), Jharkhand, more at: www.rksinghpoet.blogspot.in

Ken Slaughter has survived 30 years in Information Technology and is now retired. He lives in Massachusetts, USA with his wife and cat. He currently serves as Vice President of the Tanka Society of America. His tanka poetry has been published in many online and print journals.

“Each day demands that I write and that my fingers touch and feel the earth.” Free verse poems, renku, haiga, haibun, haiku, tanka and other Japanese short form poetry appear in many international journals and anthologies online and in print, including Eucalypt, Cattails, Atlas Poetica, Wisteria, Kokako, Modern English Tanka, Red Lights, TinyWords, and others. Barbara A. Taylor lives in the Rainbow Region, Northern NSW, Australia. Diverse poems with audio are at http://batsword.tripod.com, and more recently, at http://batsword.webs.com

After living for many years in New York City, USA, John Tehan recently moved to a small village on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he reads some, writes some and ponders this and that. His tanka and other poetry have appeared in Atlas Poetica, Ribbons, Neon Graffiti, Bright Stars, Reflections and Prime Time Cape Cod, as well as in several ATPO Special Features. In his spare time, John enjoys nurturing and communing with his eternity plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, which is happily proving true to its name.

Kath Abela Wilson lives in Pasadena, California, USA and travels the world with her mathematician flute player husband. Just returned from Japan, Taiwan and China, she finds the experiences sharpen her wit and call for close observation of ironic and unusually funny details, which are highlights of our human experience.

© 2017