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A tanka is a poetic form similar to a haiku, but with five lines instead of three, and a structure of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables per line. For example:


tanka: small poem
just thirty-one syllables
for painting your thoughts
what can you write in this space
endearing, bright, or brooding?


your thoughts flash past mine
speeding through the linking wires
stirring heart and mind
i wonder, can electrons
caress each other in flight?

On the Eric

dust motes drift between
wary fighters who circle
around the eric
in a flurry of sword blows
chivalry's dance is finished


Butterfly springs forth
from a lifetime's thick cocoon
spreads gossamer wings
to dry in the bright sunlight
wondering at freedom's scope


Low slanting sun blinds
as I walk toward the clock tower
where others mill 'round
Jugglers weave complex patterns
to distract my watchful eye.


Here are some sonnets (Shakespearean form, if I recall correctly) that I've written:

Of Time Removed

Our conversations wind like Celtic knotwork
through subjects grave and silly, large and small
past moments filled with calm, unfettered silence
shared hopes and dreams, or anything at all.

Your warmth and laughter are my inspiration
my first thoughts upon waking are of you
but now I must take time for meditation
and working my life issues further through

You lead me to aspire for the best
by chivalrous assay you make of life
and counsel me that time will truth attest
how closely we might grow in passion blithe

So as the sun burns off the morning mist
I think on friendship, more than simple gift.


Straining 'gainst the moorings of this life
I strive for freedom, yet fear unknown sea
and balance, as though on point of a knife
between two future lives which beckon me.

I tremble as I contemplate the visions
whose reckoning must fall to me alone
and search for certainty to make decisions
which of two loves in my heart to enthrone?

Where is the star I seek, to guide me onward,
that I might sail boldly into storm?
The muse tells me, look not outside but inward,
create an answer shaped from chaos' form.

Two possibilities there seem to be
In either case, the choices start with me.

Miscellaneous free-form poems

One Too Many

One too many cakes or cookies,
hamburgers, potato chips;
one too many tabloid diets,
too much wine, or avocado dip.

One by one the pounds add up
burdening my fragile frame
body stuffed to feed heart's hunger
becomes a monument to shame.

One too many lonely nights
missing human company
one too many bitter fights
over booze, abuse, adultery.

Finally, one too many times
facing mirrored self and pain
choose a desperate end to torment,
or seek a path to health again?

One day at a time, one step
work for progress, not perfection
learn to share, heal and transcend
addiction's deadly self-deception.

Terrible self-revelation
meets no judgement, only caring
others tell their stories too
all are healed in the sharing...

Step by Step we journey onward
toward a Higher Power's light
talking, sharing, growing, living
recovering from addiction's blight.

Generation Gap

In the mind of a little girl, a moment is forever
and acts of harshness leave deeper scars than they were meant to do.
The rift between us started long ago, and the gap has increased;
but which of us has let it?

Some scars I bear are from honest hurt;
that happens to kids as they grow up.
But other scars are imaginary or self-inflicted;
like the times I shut you out, and then felt abandoned when nobody came.
For all the times you shouted, how many more did you help?

Now I'm faced with that part of myself
that has resisted loving or trusting you for so long...
I've placed all the blame on your shoulders,
you've carried it for years without complaint.
Can I still believe that it was only duty
that kept you reaching out, despite my rejections?

I've kept my distance from you for so long, opposed you so many times;
clung blindly to old habits instead of responding to present reality...
I don't need to be a little girl anymore: fighting phantom restrictions,
angling for affection, needing permission to be who I am.

The support you have given me, over the years
I've taken unashamedly, like royal tribute due.
Denying its true nature as offerings of love
so I wouldn't have to face my moldy, long-kept grudge.

What have we lost through my pride and rigidity -
how many years of our lives?
Times when I sensed you reaching out
and unbelieving, brushed haughtily past...
you had a right to resent my callous ingratitude.

You're only human, just a fellow person
with your own set of dreams, wants, needs, and trials;
doing your best to take care of yourself,
making choices that are right for you -
ones I've never really tried to understand.

An apology isn't much, but this one finally is sincere
Maybe it can be a beginning - of what, I don't know
But if I make the approach I sense you're willing to allow
Maybe we can both explore the answer together.

My Garden

fog thins to mist, sunbeams reach
across the frozen wasteland of my life.
springtime warmth coaxes flowers
of friendship and serenity and love
to bloom in my garden.

i am still the only one
who has ever seen this place.
flowers now outnumber weeds
but still i hesitate
to invite others here.

i dream of a day when multitudes
can mingle in quiet reverence
among the roses and lilies and sunshine,
the brilliant colors and scents and sounds
i am learning to want in my life.

Sapling in the Wind

changing direction, like a sapling in the wind,
discovering precious new treasures at each turn
easy to lose myself in fascination
at this colorful world i find myself in

how long can i stay here, enjoying entrancement
before the demands of my life encroach?
i wish i could stay until i'm ready to go
but the world turns beneath me; life goes on

the harder you grasp, the sooner you lose,
this clear, brilliant joy, too dazzling to sustain
how do i savor this celestial enchantment
yet not begrudge its inevitable departure?

dare to feel joy, but always remember
it cannot be captured, the glow must fade;
nurture self-discipline to get you through
the muted shades of everyday existence.

Copyright © 2000 Arlene 'Callie' Hills All rights reserved.
The URL for this page is http://www.echoschildren.org/Callie_poems.html
It was created by Cat Faber (cat(at)echoschildren.org). It is maintained by Arlene "Callie" Hills (callie(at)echoschildren.org).