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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Waka Fest continues: 16 (and a half) more waka

Waka Fest is now in its third week. We've got 16 new ones here, plus half a waka that we're asking you to finish. 

From Beth Lowell:

under tangled roots
and moss, down at the bottom
where no one can see
is both the scariest place
and the most beautiful one

I woke up today
and saw the sky filled with clouds
an interesting reflection
of dogwood petals and cement
cotton, bones, grubs, angora

From Michael Swerdloff:

I am alone here
Alone need not be lonely
Trees stand tall rooted
Compost takes hold of Earth’s breath
The force of love is relentless

A vision with eyes
Staring like the owl at dusk
Full moon sighs tides rise
Reflections of love and desire
Nothing quells The Golden Mind

The sand bleeds parched soles
Emptying clamshells at midnight
The shoreline is full
Hermit crabs at home anywhere
Moments wash away forever

Camel humps desert
The cactus knows no limit
Needles poke through flesh
The answer is not questioned
The question is not answered

The night sleeps again
Sunrise lifts human blindness
Hands stretch across time
Seeing is not believing
Rumi speaks sunset arrives

River almost still
A heart beating quickly
Mind needs to slow down
A breeze tickles the tall grass
The grass returns to its post

I breathe a half breath
Confusion breeds illusion
Dry tears shake my grip
The river does snot know lies
Cool tranquil waters refresh

What is the next step?
I can’t wait and do nothing
Tadpoles scurry about
The frog sits home unmoving
Speed takes much time and effort

And then it was Beth Lowell's turn again:

3 a.m.
the dogs are barking
I can’t fall back
a thousand nagging worries
death, at the top of the list

a thousand birds are singing
hot coffee or warm bed
sleep... not on the table

at the feeder,
starlings, mourning doves, grackles
all shooed away
I didn’t speak up but...
are they not birds?

in my mailbox
that dreaded white envelope
I’ve been waiting so long
for a red letter day

forgetting my keys-
exactly what I needed
right at this moment
avoiding the accident
only two blocks up the road

I felt let down when
I finally reached the end
but I turned around
and was pleasantly surprised
to find my perspective changed

And finally, from your humble editor, half a waka. I've written the first two lines, and I hope you'll write the other three. The pattern is 5-7-5-7-7, which adds up to 31 syllables. I've used 12, so that leaves 19 more:

Pink blossoms rain down
gently guided by the breeze
[5 syllables]
[7 syllables]
[7 syllables]

To finish my waka or to add a waka (or two, or more) to our ongoing poetic conversation, just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of this post on our web site, or email your waka to 

And for those interested in learning more about waka, we also found this great resource from Columbia University's East Asian Studies program.

So far no one has taken advantage of our 24-hour waka hotline to call in a spoken version of their waka, but we're still hoping. 

Click here to use our 24-hour waka hotline:


Anonymous beth lowell said...

pink blossoms rain down
gently guided by the breeze
ten thousand farewells
the silence of the morning
blooming softly in my heart

7:00 AM  
Anonymous beth said...

with a blister
those black high heeled shoes
didn't work out
as planned

10:02 AM  

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