I’ll Be Home: 25 Tanka on the theme of Your True Home

Edited by Liam Wilkinson
“Nowhere is the right place, and when I get there I’ll be home” so writes the poet David Budbill in his poem ‘Home’ (Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse, 1999). All of us have a sense of home, perhaps even a place we refer to as our true home. But, as the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, your true home is “something you can touch and live in every moment”. Perhaps we carry our home with us. Perhaps it’s somewhere or something to which we’re constantly trying to return. Perhaps we’ve left home for good. Perhaps we’re yet to find it at all.

In this feature, twenty-five poets reach into their hearts for a handful of that feeling, that emotion, that place we call home. From the warm comforts of Australia to the cold silver of spoons in a jar; from the mooncakes of China to the light of the International Space Station, a poet’s home can take us on journeys we’ll long savour thanks to the brief breaths of these five line poems.


no place for me
at any home where
my children live,
I remain homeless
except in my ancient memory

Sanford Goldstein


snow outside
I think of home
brown bodies and sun
kangaroos with joeys
koalas asleep in gum trees

Tess Driver


carefully I read
recipes I should have known
would trick me,
“bake me, this is easy”
our apartment fills with smoke

Joann Grisetti


three lanterns
in a small boat
& someone singing
for the light in me
to come home

Darrell Lindsey


a dozen spoons
fill a jelly jar on our mantle
each one
reminds us to stir sweetness
into each waking hour

Neal Whitman


inside me
a small green island
in wide grey seas
I watch the lifetide
rolling in, rolling out

Joy McCall


even now
when the first leaves turn
I return
with this wild longing
to our den in the lichen cave

Sonam Chhoki


the essence of air
so vast in the moors
we keep trying
to prolong existence

Joanna Ashwell


white frangipani
and a hint of incense
. . . for a moment
I’m with my grandmother
in a dim-lit tropical shrine

Samantha Sirimanne Hyde


an hour before dawn
the Space Station
reflects sunlight
and briefly eclipses
the kitchen light

Michael G. Smith


it’s hard to be
a monk alone
the breeze in the pine
the umbrella in the rain

Miriam Sagan


full moon
peeps through the roof
the street dweller
tightly holds the thread
of hope against wild thunder

Pravat Kumar Padhy


A home
is too big
if you can’t
sense it
at its extent

Bruce England


a woman’s smile
from the yoga mat
my island
of anonymity

Gerry Jacobson,


pine forest
rays of light seep through
standing still I feel
as if I could grow branches

Catherine Smith


morning alarm clock
the kookaburra chorus
outside my window
uniquely and clearly
places me Downunder

Barbara A. Taylor


and its familiar scent
rose to the surface
with all those other things that float –
apples, corks, summer flies

Lee Nash


after the operation
hoping they got it all
bananas blacken
in the fruit bowl

André Surridge
New Zealand


I came across it
while packing up to move
that old throw pillow
Mother embroidered
with “Home Sweet Home”

Margaret Chula


I loved my Friday
therapy sessions
I kicked off my shoes
in the comfy room
and made myself at home

Richard St. Clair


moving away
from my daughters, I wonder—
have I done my job?
have I taught them how to build
a home within themselves?

Autumn Noelle Hall


Father once said,
the foreign moon seems rounder
than the one at home . . .
alone in this promised land
I bite into a mooncake

Chen-ou Liu


a gateway
in the low stone wall
leads nowhere
but to the half-wild meadow
at the center of myself

Jenny Ward Angyal


this moment now
the present
a gift for the taking
in a room
the size of the world

John Tehan


the memories flooding
my mind
for miles, looking backward
at a dollhouse in the mirror

Debbie Strange

Biographical Sketches

Liam Wilkinson is the editor of Englyn Journal of Four Line Poetry. His collection of tanka pairs ‘Seeing Double’ is forthcoming from Skylark Publishing. He lives in North Yorkshire, England.

Sanford Goldstein has been writing tanka for more than 50 years.

Tess Driver lives by the sea in South Australia. Her surroundings are the inspiration for many of her poems. She has been published in many collections and has two collections Woman Behind Glass and Kite Lady. She has worked on a film script and opera libretto and has published travel writing and poems for Art Gallery Collections. Tess has lived and worked in Australia, England, United States and Thailand.

Joann Grisetti grew up in Sasebo, Japan. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and two sons. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Haiku Magazine, Daily Love, Lynx, Inclement, Poetry Quarterly, Atlas Poetica, Living Haiku Anthology, Autumn Legends, Whispers In The Wind, Haiku Journal, Wilderness House Review, Bright Stars, and Red Lights. In addition, Joann has published short stories in the Inwood Indiana Press.

Darrell Lindsey is a freelance writer and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas. His haiku and tanka have won awards in the United States, Japan, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Canada.

Neal Whitman lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, Elaine. Both are members of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society which meets every fall at the Asilomar Conference Center a mile down the street from their front door. Motto Chez Whitman: If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean, you are lucky enough. Monterey Bay inspires their haiku and tanka.

Joy McCall is a paraplegic amputee following a motorcycle crash. Her kinfolk, friends, nature, love, and poetry keep her sane. She spent much of her life in the States and Canada but now lives in Norwich, England, where she was born a year before the bombs fell. Keibooks has published three of her books of tanka and more are planned.

Sonam Chhoki., born and raised in Bhutan, is inspired by her father, Sonam Gyamtsho, the architect of Bhutan’s non-monastic modern education. Her tanka has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, UK and US and included in the Cultural Olympics 2012 Poetry Parnassus and BBC Radio Scotland Written Word program. She is the current haibun and senryu editor of the UHTS journal, cattails.

Joanna Ashwell, from County Durham, North East of England, member of the British Haiku Society, one haiku collection published by Hub Editions – Between Moonlight; published in Presence, Blithe Spirit, Haibun Online and various other publications.

Samantha Sirimanne Hyde was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in Australia. She is grateful to have recently crossed paths with the exquisite world of haiku, tanka and other Japanese poetry forms.

Michael G. Smith lives in Santa Fe, NM. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Atlas Poetica, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Sulphur River Literary Review, the Kerf, The Santa Fe Literary Review and other journals. The Dark is Different in Reverse, a chapbook, was published by Bitterzoet Press in 2013. No Small Things, a full-length book of poetry, was published by Tres Chicas Books in 2014.

Miriam Sagan is the author of Tanka from the Edge (MET Publishing) and a haiku collection All My Beautiful Failures (Miriam’s Well) as well as twenty-five other books of fiction, poetry, and memoir. She won the 2014 Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and curates a variety of text installations including haiku on metal traffic signs on Santa Fe’s west side.

Pravat Kumar Padhy, a graduate and Ph.D from IIT-Dhanbad, loves to blend science with literature. His short form of Japanese poems have appeared in The World Haiku Review, Lynx,The Notes from the Gean, Atlas Poetica, Simply Haiku, Red lights, Ribbons, Haigaonline, World Haiku Association, TanshiArt, The Heron’s Nest, Atlas Poetica, Skylark, Shamrock, A Hundred Gourds, Bottle Rockets, Frogpond, hedgerow, Acorn, Kokako, Presence, Issa’s Untidy Hut, The Bamboo Hut, Modern Haiku, tinywords etc. Recently his tanka have been anthologized in Fire Pearls 2 and Bright Stars, edited by M Kei. His haiku won the Editor’s Choice Award at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, Canada UNESCO International Year of Water Co-operation and The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Contest, Creatrix Haiku Commendation Award.

Bruce England began writing haiku seriously in 1984. Other related interests include haiku theory and haiku practice and the occasional tanka. A chapbook, Shorelines, was published with Tony Mariano in 1998.

Gerry Jacobson lives in Canberra now but spent many years at university and working in Victoria. He has walked the Wonnangatta valley (painted earlier by von Guerard). Gerry’s tanka have been published in Eucalypt, Ribbons, Atlas Poetica and Haibun Today.

Catherine Smith has had Tanka, Haiku and Tanka Prose published in Australia and Overseas. She credits her gradual success to a keen interest in the Japanese disciplines and to the generous mentorship and support of internationally known writers of Japanese poetry in Australia.

Barbara A. Taylor’s free verse poems, renku, haiga, haiku, tanka, and other Japanese short form poetry appear in international journals and anthologies on line and in print. She lives in the Rainbow Region, Northern NSW, Australia.

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publisher. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including The French Literary Review, The Dawntreader, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Orbis, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Interpreter’s House, The Journal (UK), Brittle Star, The World Haiku Review, Black Poppy Review and Silver Birch Press. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com.

André Surridge was born in Hull, England. He lives in Hamilton, New Zealand. He has won several awards for haiku and tanka. His poems have been published in many venues including all four volumes of Take Five – Best Contemporary Tanka.

Margaret Chula lived in Japan for twelve years. Her seven books of poetry include two tanka collections: Always Filling, Always Full and, most recently, Just This. She has promoted tanka through readings, workshops, and lectures in the U.S. and abroad and currently serves as President of the Tanka Society of America.

Richard St. Clair (b. 1946) has only visited India in his imagination. Raised in North Dakota (USA), he is a prolific composer of modern classical music and a retired concert pianist with a doctoral degree in music from Harvard University. He has written haiku for over 20 years and tanka for 15 years. Recently he set English tanka of Jun Fujita to music. His own tanka have appeared elsewhere in Atlas Poetica and Bright Stars. A Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, he currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Like singer John Denver, Autumn Noelle Hall was “born in the summer of [her] 27th year, coming home to a place [she’d] never been before.” Colorado’s unparalleled natural beauty and indomitable wild spirit has inspired her writing and emboldened her soul’s journey for over two decades.

Chen-ou Liu lives in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of four books, including Following the Moon to the Maple Land (First Prize Winner of the 2011 Haiku Pix Chapbook Contest). His tanka and haiku have been honored with many awards.

Jenny Ward Angyal lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in Gibsonville, NC, USA. She has written poetry since the age of five and tanka since 2008. Her tanka and other poems have appeared in various journals and may also be found online at http://grassminstrel.blogspot.com/

John Tehan lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he reads some, writes some and ponders. His tanka and other poetry have appeared in Atlas Poetica, Bright Stars, Reflections, and Prime Time Cape Cod. In his spare time, John enjoys nurturing and communing with his eternity plant, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, which is happily proving true to its name.

Debbie Strange (Winnipeg, Canada) is a member of the Writers’ Collective of Manitoba, and is also affiliated with several haiku and tanka organizations. Her writing has received awards, and has been translated, anthologized and published internationally. Debbie is an avid photographer, with a passion for creating tanka art. Her first short form collection, Warp and Weft, Tanka Threads is available through Keibooks. You are invited to visit her on Twitter @Debbie_Strange and at debbiemstrange.blogspot.ca.

© 2016