This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
MODERN ENGLISH TANKA PRESS
P.O. Box 43717 Baltimore, Maryland 21236 USA www.modernenglishtankapress.com firstname.lastname@example.org
OUCH: Senryu That Bite (A Collection of Senryu 1979–2007) Copyright © 2007 by Alexis Rotella. All rights reserved. Cover Art by Alexis Rotella. Acknowledgments: Red Moon, Simply Haiku, Modern Haiku, Point Judith Point Light, Raw Nervz, High/Coo, MIDDLE CITY, Muse Pie Press, The Haiku Anthology (ed. Cor van den Heuvel), A String of Monarchs , Yes, Eleven Renga (all three renga books with Florence Miller, Jade Mountain Press), SASSY (with Carlos Colón, Tragg Publications), Musical Chairs (A Haiku Journey Through Childhood), Jade Mountain Press, Rearranging Light (Muse Pie Press); a number of links from these collections were revised Refilling our squirt guns, Red Pagoda Broadside Series Winner, 1988 Adonis looking man, renga with ai li, Nothing Inside, Raw Nervz poetry pamphlet Obscene phone call, Kaji Aso lst place senryu contest 1991 At the pool hall, Beneath a Single Moon (Shambhala) Café in Autumn (Modern Haiku Special Mention Award, 1983) The Messiah, Robed Swami, Mental patient, After his last patient , Haiku (Public Radio Broadcast, Terra Infirma), Poems set to sound, Colorado State Council on the Arts Grant, 1993, University of the Trees, Boulder of Colorado grant) Mexican jumping beans,2nd place SF International Haiku Comp. 1991 Full moon/a luxurious voice, Haiku on 42nd Street Quickly I powder my nose, Hawaii Education Association Contest, 1986 In the café, Honorable mention, moonset’s first senryu competition, 2007
Printed in the United States of America, 2007. ISBN 978-0-6151-6318-5 email@example.com www.modernenglishtankapress.com
For Al Pizzarelli, Fellow Goat
A special nod to the memory of the late Bob Speiss who published many of these poems in Modern Haiku. A heartfelt thank you to Publisher of Modern English Tanka Press, Denis Garrison, for his linear thinking (something I do not possess) and his sense of humor which makes getting a book to press a pleasure. And to Al Pizzarelli and Cor van den Heuvel, dear old friends, copious thanks for their keen eyes in their perusals of the original manuscript. And a special kiss blown to Al for inviting me as his special guest reader to the Haiku North America Conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. (2007).
He walks on eggs around me— the kung fu master.
Acupuncturists— the chiropractor calls us all a bunch of quacks.
Latinos preparing the Peking duck.
Blowing a kiss to his boyfriend, captain of the rugby team.
Husband home from work— haiku for dinner again.
As he works away at the income tax— his cow lick.
One glass of the bubbly— she puts in her contacts with Krazy Glue.
Oh, great, my new shrink looks like a werewolf.
In a button-down collar he leaves the asylum.
River baptism— his first bath in weeks.
Pumping her own gas woman wearing Versacci.
Once this box of toys was my whole life.
Adonis-looking man— nothing inside.
Sidewalk café— the gigolo pokes a bigger hole through the comics.
Cussing— she gets custody of their St. Bernard.
High note— the soprano stands on tip toe.
Trial attorney sucking on a Charm.
On the master’s shoulder pigeon shit.
Reaching toward heaven, the chi gong master breaks wind.
Tower of Pisa— the old Father leaning on a younger priest.
During dinner, he tells us we’re not in his will.
As the medium tells me my future, she tries not to yawn.
Funeral over— we order pizza with everything.
Archaeological dig— a yellow jacket the first to enter the crypt.
For the better, the cat rearranges my tarot spread.
In the cemetery— why are we whispering?
Cleaning lady sweeping us out of the house.
After a visit to the john, the diabetic’s chocolate smell.
Anniversary— he gives me pajamas, the kind with the feet.
Is it male or female— the bird watcher?
Happy hour— the pianist plays in a cloud of smoke.
Ava Gardner movie— my husband’s face softens.
Tending the hat check, I give the Stetson to the wrong guy.
Phone conversation— when it’s my turn to talk, hearing him chew.
You used to be so pretty, says a woman to my overweight friend.
He tries to give me his disease— the hypochondriac.
After shaking my hand, the doctor wipes his fingers on a sterile pad.
In the stroganoff, our guest puts out his cigar.
I snap at my mother— the full moon made me do it.
The pick-up filled with old tires has a flat.
Your foot shouldn’t have been there, a man says, after stepping on it.
Chamber music— this, too, shall pass.
Bent out of shape, she rearranges pots and pans.
The new baby comes home— again the dog gives his paw without being asked.
Yachts all docked— the tinkle of ice.
Last day at work— already someone has taken the stapler from my desk.
Traveling circus— my friend asks a gypsy if she’ll ever conceive.
Up with the rooster and raring to go— the house guest.
With Necco wafers, I offer my dolls communion.
After his last patient, the psychoanalyst stares at the gibbous moon.
Not yet done with our dessert, the host around us vacuuming crumbs.
Old couple’s picket fence— half of its teeth missing.
Illegible— he asks the pharmacist to decipher my letter.
Turbulence— the flight attendant’s rosary beads.
The hitchhiker gives me the finger.
At the Christmas party three wise guys.
Gypsy violinist— I wish he’d get lost.
Old pumpkin— its look of regret.
One too many Twinkies— she just makes it into her kayak.
California friends— here today, gone today.
State trooper— his hat too big for his head.
Traveling West— the wide-open spaces are only in me.
Pushy waitress— her arm in a sling.
Second-hand shop— on the hat with cherries, tooth marks.
Dressed for safari— first stop, Starbucks!
In a pool of water, the young waiter places our check.
This bunch of sad sacks gathered round the turkey is my family.
Windy morning— can can at the bus stop.
Selling bride dolls, the woman with bruises.
Three weeks since we moved in— still no pie.
For Christmas he gives her his used VCR.
The bore— she’s early.
Follow your bliss, I tell him— knowing I’m not it.
Wedding video— everyone having a ball without us.
Back from the deep-fried South, my jeans too tight.
Oops the guest dropped our binoculars into the Bay.
The chimney sweep cancels because of the flu.
Truck driver— our eyes meet again in the side-view mirror.
Blackbirds spring from a bolt of silk.
Selling turnips— the farmer lady shaped like one.
Rising over the pizza parlor, Harvest Moon.
A man asks directions, hand over his mouth.
Hiccoughs on the answering machine.
On the dresser, a guest signed his name in the dust.
Cigar on the fence post smouldering away.
He forgets our anniversary— pond scum.
Full hunter moon— the line to play the lottery makes a circle.
Again my husband’s Jockies come out of the washer pink.
Yellow jacket in his backyard— the doctor calls pest control.
Dr. Chin doesn’t have one.
After he worked for the company thirty years— a chicken supper.
Blowing smoke in my face, the young psychiatrist.
Next to the cemetery travel agency.
Haiku reunion— some frogs louder than others.
Seven feet tall the short-order cook.
Black bull— the power it takes to just sit and glare.
After our guest plays a sonata, his boarding-house reach.
Before surgery, the atheist patting Buddha’s head.
A few days before Yom Kippur— the boss so sweet.
From the graveyard a hearse in tow.
Again he refuses a cup of coffee— Sgt. Friday.
Eat everything on your plate, I tell my elderly mother.
* Sgt. Friday was a character in the t.v. show, Dragnet.
Dad dying— Mom tucks in the loose ends of his sheets.
My father’s last meal— his fist in a piece of carrot cake.
Running across the millionaire’s lawn topiary poodles.
The doctor’s chocolate poodle gets a new nanny.
Last dance— a skeleton waltzes me across the floor.
On the line doing a jig bib overalls.
Walking around in a grown-up body, the brat.
Guests early— things in the kitchen start to drop.
Morning coffee— she reads his horoscope first.
Menopause— I write a nasty letter to everyone I know.
Filled with white lace handkerchiefs— Sr. Mary’s drawer.
Old dentist— bourbon on his breath.
At the pound again, childless couple.
Dali museum— my watch stops.
Digging the garden, I find the silver spoon I wasn’t born with.
Ironing done— the cat climbs aboard.
As he chokes I ask, Are you all right?
A toy sail boat takes off for Alcatraz.
A photo of me as a platinum blonde with what’s his name.
Sick friend trudging along in brown.
New young boss— he’s learning to strut.
Trying to forget him— stabbing potatoes.
At our wedding, his mother’s iced kiss.
Again his mother refers to me as SHE.
Vegetarian— until he smells the roast lamb.
Three pumpkins on the same vine— relatives.
Kigo schmigo— another dictionary?
Aging gigolo— he even flirts with the dolls on her bed.
Wash day— in her son’s pocket, a bra.
Persian take-out— the delivery boy drives a Mercedes.
Class reunion— my high-school sweetheart shows up with a younger babe.
Pornographic note— I lift it with tweezers, walk it out to the trash.
To see what I’ve been up to, I google myself.
Never say never— I just said it, twice.
The painters arrive and so does a mosquito.
The painters forgot the ceiling— what flakes!
The nun picks her nose— old habit.
Archery class— a tick’s bull’s eye on my arm.
Archery class over— I quiver in his arms.
The mother rewards her brat with yet more sugar.
Toddler strapped in the back seat guzzling a Dr. Pepper.
How’s business? I ask the undertaker.
Strip poker— I take off.
The moon a mango— wanna tango?
Grandpa’s false teeth are missing— and so is my brother.
Bloomingdale’s credit card— once it was the answer to everything.
Mammogram— sharp angles of the technician’s face.
To the limo the Noh actor follows his stark white breath.
Halloween party— the little boy goes as Snow White.
Once a trial attorney— comics wrapping homeless feet.
Hanging Christmas lights— a string of four-letter words.
Dinner party— the cat comes down to be admired.
He tells me I talk funny— kid from the Bronx.
Fingering every cookie before choosing, the uninvited guest.
Receiving a bonus, his spine straightens.
Family portrait— all at attention, even the cats.
Bachelor— again he orders chicken soup.
Haiku poet— a frog in his throat.
Erotic art exhibit— is it the green tea that’s making me sweat?
In the “take five” picture frame— Jesus on the Cross.
Outhouse— page missing from the dream book.
Year after year the same cactus doing the jerk.
Blue moon— two saguaros shaking hands.
Our dog gone— every carpet in its place.
By the champagne punch a fight breaks out.
Now that I’m dying, she says, he pays attention to me.
Answering my letter, his long silence.
Duck for this one Before tossing the frisbee, the gorilla craps in it.
Riding the dumb waiter, mouse.
For Dad’s 72nd birthday a tombstone.
On all Dad’s secrets the casket shuts.
Summer beach— a mechanical bird flies across the lake.
Fry cook— his sweat salting our sweetbreads.
Old boxer telling a joke, forgets the punch line.
On the secretary’s desk another picture of herself.
Widow’s first date— he brings along a can of snuff.
Before jumping, the suicide takes off his gold watch.
While doing the tango my wig slides off.
When a cat appears from the master’s brush, someone’s sneeze.
The surfer looks into the mirror— an old man staring back.
His best man— the town Casanova.
Nursing home— the paralyzed woman cheers me up.
Blind date— he forgot his wallet.
Cricket in the wall— the motel guest complains.
While the nurse draws an old man’s blood, he reaches for her breast.
Tourist trap— a waiter tosses plates onto the tables.
With a straight face, he straightens my halo.
Before the parade, the bagpiper chews down his nails.
After the eulogy champagne bubbles.
With my hair pin he fixes his engine.
Setting the table, clearing the table— this is my life.
First class— the flight attendant forgot a corkscrew.
In morning sun my lame friend practicing pleies.
Husband’s cough could be my father’s— winter night.
The atheist’s sneeze— I bite my tongue.
A week’s wages gone— silk shop.
With a straight face, the plumber charges 200 bucks.
Sweeping around the cat.
Practicing flamenco on bubble wrap.
In the shadow of a clock-tower, elderly prostitute.
Wandering through the gypsy tent, a tipsy gent.
In the privy, crossword to be continued.
From the frat-house mailbox, the postman pulls lace panties.
At the yard sale— all the gifts she gave her daughter-in-law.
Old-lady doll— years she sits on the country-store shelf.
Through the window screen another piano lesson.
Out the pick-up, the landscaper tosses his Slurpy cup.
I thought you were eating them all— dog’s banana breath.
For this illness, who can I punch in the mouth?
Before his father’s funeral, he skims the stock-market page.
Car rattle— my husband falls apart.
Cruise ship— a floating geriatric ward.
From our dumpster, a neighbor furnishes his apartment.
Dad’s tombstone finally arrives— Mom’s, too.
Still flailing her arms, the woman a wave brought ashore.
After Dad’s last rites, the nurse draws yet more blood.
Get me out of here, Dad says, in a coma.
Recess— the boy from home room swallows another earthworm.
Not invited to his wake— the common-law wife.
You’re acting like a child, says the father to his little boy.
Lying in the gutter Santa Claus.
In the bidet bachelor soaking a week’s worth of socks.
I was a safety patrol boy, says my husband in a hallowed voice.
From the sales clerk in the angel shop, a scowl.
In the shut in’s room ship in a bottle.
From their second story gazebo, they look out over the new landfill.
Among her valentines divorce decree.
Last cherry orchard— the developer wins.
Superbowl Sunday— I remember not to call my brother.
No hook for his hat, it goes back on his head.
An hour before their vows, he hands her a prenup.
The shrink telling me her problems.
The person I wrote the book for doesn’t buy a copy.
On my new gypsy skirt, the klutz drops a meatball.
Lady of the night with a black eye lowers her price.
Come on in! blurts little brother to the Bible seller.
Gourmet Club dinner— sauteeing kidneys, the urologist.
With all her might, the spurned woman throws the wedding rice.
Still waiting to be happy— friend with a face lift.
Less zazen I tell the patient with hemorrhoids.
On the anniversary of my father’s death, no one mentions him.
Men laying tar— our white cat goes out to watch.
From a hat, I pull my major— philosophy.
Flash in the gypsy’s eye when she sees my gold cross.
Toothless now— the boy who wore tight leather pants.
Old bikers on their way to Nirvana.
Stuffing himself with chocolate-chip cookies, the vegetarian.
Tightwad clenching his fists.
His mean streak— everyone sees it but him.
Stained-glass chapel— seeing the boss in a different light.
Old dressmaker— above her bed a photo of her with Loretta Young.
Addressing MENSA on astrology— all arms tightly crossed.
While his dog poops on our lawn the neighbor looks the other way.
Rush-hour train— a prostitute reading the obituaries.
After his suicide, she says he did it all for her.
All rumpled the psychic’s clothes.
Petting an alley cat lady of the night.
Eyes of the old prostitute slits.
To the potluck Aunt Sophie brings her sharp tongue.
Her hello— hearing the goodbye in it.
The gynecologist walks into the examining room wearing a micro-mini.
In the unemployment line a mink.
Our cat runs to greet them— Bible ladies.
Mozart! my doctor orders, twice a day.
I tell the doctor it was powerful— sugar pill.
Swiss clinic— even the sausages are white.
Ouch I scream before the shot.
Office Christmas party— the prude shows a little cleavage.
On the quote I need, the cat asleep.
Birthday card— all day the glitter on my hands.
Floating along in priestly robes, the pedophile.
Remembering his laugh, the friend who jumped off this bridge.
From peep show to peep show, man with an angelic face.
Grave side— widow all in white.
Midnight— calling a cab to go buy cigarettes.
Voting booth— I close my eyes.
Christmas morning— Santa forgot my tiny transistor.
Football star— he lets his mother mow the grass.
A nice effort she says about my book.
Before they say hello, guests bowing to our white cat.
Morning after the poetry reading— phone silent.
Thunderstorm— the widow in bed fully dressed.
Their tombstones leaning on each other— Grandma and Grandpa.
He can’t look me in the eye— office spy.
Hedges in perfect squares— tailor’s yard.
In a loud voice, the secretary tells everyone her mantra.
In my pocket the snowman’s eyes.
Elvis— too bad you blew it, you old hound dog.
Bonsai demonstration— another person starts to snore.
In the dirt, two astrologers drawing lines.
The master’s fart— we all pretend we didn’t hear.
All around the war memorial, marijuana sprouts.
Dropping in on the clam bake, a sky diver.
Homeless man— comics his quilt.
Thanksgiving dinner— for his chubby sister, he pulls out two chairs.
In the phone booth a little girl talking to God.
Garage sale— the boy next door looking for girls.
In the potting shed the potted priest.
She’ll start her diet just as soon as she finishes her sub.
Daddy, come and get me— voice in the nursing home.
After dinner men telling fart jokes.
On vacation— this beanie with the propeller is definitely me.
The gay acupuncturist— his specialty, menopause.
The three-legged dalmatian hops down the road— forgetting my problems.
Unable to look at him, the classmate who flunked yet another exam.
Together they push the mower— frail mom and dad.
Newly wed— before bed she makes up her face.
Scooping my curls from the beauty shop floor, my young mother.
Snooping in mom’s girdle drawer, a book on how babies are made.
And where, pray tell, did the stork come from?
The long hair my husband loved— the sound of it falling onto the floor.
The psychic’s third husband also a philanderer.
Our prized flaming maple— the neighbor says it’s hers.
At the nurse’s station late at night, talk of horoscopes.
Power outage— she refreezes the piece of cake from her first marriage.
After I make him three dinners, he takes me out Dutch treat.
Don’t call me elderly screams an old friend.
Spinster airing out her dead father’s pants.
First time— no one tells me how great I look.
Obscene call— our old aunt asks, Could you repeat that?
In the café— the beautiful young face not mine.
Hospice nurse— her sweater inside out.
My spade hits a blue marble from my father’s childhood.
Chronic fatigue— someone sends me War and Peace.
New medicine— today I’m looking for my feet.
Shrink’s waiting room— stuffing popping out of the couches.
From her neon window, the crystal gazer stares into winter rain.
At the pool hall spouting zen, the young stud.
Gingko for memory— she forgets to take it.
Retired— he watches his wife prune the hedge.
In a trance the widow changing channels.
At Uncle’s grave, only the cleaning lady sobs.
No one tries to catch it— bridal bouquet.
They get married in sweats— the 80-year olds.
No one touches them— the cleaning lady’s homemade chocolates.
Thumbing her nose at the rapids— white-water rafter.
Every day he visits the Mona Lisa— pick pocket.
Letting him sleep— my husband with all-white hair.
In the deli chunks of the moon.
Wine improving my French.
Another birthday— fewer and fewer visitors.
California neighbors— one makes wine, the other rain.
In an old ballroom cats sunning.
Army helicopter motionless in front of the moon.
Waking up— the dream goes on without me.
Accountant eating fudge.
Finding comfort on an old dog’s back— tired feet.
It meant nothing? The black eye he gave her.
The China Airlines jet lifts off, heavy with ancestors.
Midnight perfume by Skunk.
Get a life I tell the heavy breather.
Over breakfast, he consults the Dow, and I the Tao de Ching.
In a dream I serve him rat.
Wet cement the possibilities.
Spring morning— a homeless woman wears a tiara.
Out of work— the CEO bosses his wife around.
She’s running for office— for the first time, my neighbor waves.
After heart surgery, someone sends him a shaker of salt.
Old man— first he asks to die, then for a ham sandwich.
Before visiting the cemetery, Grandma irons a handkerchief.
Quickly I powder my nose, my mother staring back.
Leave a message, my dead uncle says on the answering machine.
Robed swami— I hear he beats his wife.
On the shady side of the street, the lawyer’s office.
In the soup line an aristocratic nose.
The messiah is coming— call Ticketron.
Rich kid on his motorbike— price tag still attached.
In Filene’s basement, tug-of-war over a red brassiere.
I thought you’d be prettier, says my blind date.
In the index the names without caps do stand out.
Breakfast dive— chlorine smell from the jasmine tea.
49th birthday— I send myself a dozen roses.
Mid July— a Christmas wreath still on the doctor’s door.
He watches me paint my toenails red— binoculared boy next door.
Feeding the goldfish, how some try to get it all.
Yesterday’s headlines printed on a trout.
Emergency Room— bride with a migraine.
Halloween— Count Dracula in the Superstore shrink wrapping steaks.
Before going downstairs, I adjust the stars on my tiara.
I buy him two balls— our dog who just got neutered.
Hitching to Vegas, she marries the guy who gave her a lift.
The juggler’s fly open.
Senile priest— telling the congregation our secrets.
Gallery owner— her dress the color of fog.
Dad in a coma asking for his hat.
The weatherman’s face— long today.
Put-putting into town— watermelon truck.
On our short walk, her long list of maladies.
From the pulpit, the preacher’s saliva strikes my cheek.
The pool guy struts, like he thinks I’m watching.
No one home at the old-age home.
My husband’s new boss— a boy.
Annual conference— the boss praises only the wine.
For Christmas in-laws bring their colds and flu.
Again all new faces California Christmas.
His lover has a sex change— now what?
Two yuppies puffing on stogies— tears in their eyes.
He keeps looking at his watch— the psychiatrist.
The fiddler on her lunch-break orders crab.
If only this friendly ghost could pay some rent.
Leave it, I tell the gardener— spider web.
A poster of Mt. Fuji this craving for an ice cream float.
60's style diner— the waitress an oldie.
Brigitte Bardot has gotten old, my husband says— his own double chin.
In my mashed potatoes the waitress leaves her thumb print.
Guys at the class reunion— their bellies precede them.
Bus gone— and so is his toupee.
Morning espresso— how I’ll miss it when I’m dead.
Aunt in the casket still wearing bifocals.
Dude ranch— Bhagavad Gita in the head.
Spring cleaning— a long letter from someone named Jim.
Old woman misting her orchids, and her husband.
Staunch atheists— their only child a minister.
Sitting out the winter in the outhouse— stone Buddha.
Café in autumn— the waiter wearing Buddha’s face.
Pumpkin people on a front porch— one waves.
Wonton soup for one to go far away.
Still thinking of the dog in the pound named Troubles.
Mexican jumping beans— I thought they were my vitamins.
After the neighbor cuts down our hemlock, I invite him in for tea.
He said he spent the night alone— hairpin on the floor.
To the divorce court she wears her highest heels.
Aunt Millie’s hope chest— hopeless.
After the exam the doctor washes his hands of me.
Refilling our squirt guns at the baptismal font.
First day of fishing— his wife catches the larger trout.
Hanging out his pink panties— guy next door.
Not invited to their wedding— all night the band playing.
Both tongues hanging— bulldog and jogger.
Morning fog— I go to vote.
Damn you for leaving, cries the widow stoking the fire.
His dog gone— the codger starts to drink.
Harpist plucking notes from morning air.
In the mail, Valentine special from the plastic surgeon.
Plastic surgeon carving pumpkins— one of them not too happy.
Call me, he says, when you feel like talking pots and pans.
The toddler tells a neighbor, We put a lot of money into this house.
Phone rings— the poem gone.
In a sunspot new widow.
Waitress with a shiner showing off her diamond.
From patient to patient the doctor hums, thanks to insurance.
The David we traveled so far to see— a copy.
One day old— his aunt buys him a dictionary.
Prayer group sending Hurricane Charlie out to sea.
Shucking corn— I scream at a worm.
Breast-side down— the widower puts in the turkey.
Mental patient howling at the moon.
I flunked spelling, smirks the witch.
Three hundred pounds, but the boy can boogie.
Old hippie talking hip replacement.
Over the threshold the bride carries the groom.
Handsome butcher— I like his mutton chops.
Psychic hot line— he’ll call in two days or two weeks.
Leaving him— he waits with me for the train.
Spam— I’d rather eat this poem.
Size of a sleeping pill— the moon.
From the carousel a man in a turban waves.
In the mountain stream a pair of dentures.
The kitten takes off with my powder puff.
Where the theater burned down, still finding quarters.
No curlicues on the electric chair.
Ex Lax— you ate the whole box?
Gypsy shooing a fly.
The widower next door stands her up—Mom’s first visit to the land of fruit and nuts.
Family gone— my back goes out.
What? No pastries? blurts our guest.
Dotting the I of the Olympia Diner— the moon.
Philosophy major driving a Good Humor truck.
Dalai Lama— even he’s afraid to fly.
In my new binoculars the neighbor with a more expensive pair.
In a pink sari a woman floating through KMart.
Wearing gold chains, the garbage man leaps off the truck.
The voice of a call girl velvet.
My umbrella sprayed with cat urine— boy, am I pissed.
A Navajo sprinkles a yellow powder from the Eiffel Tower.
Sold to the only bidder, casket with a window.
After taking a claw, the redneck throws back the crab.
Into his martini I drop a hailstone.
After his apology the letters stop.
Wife gone— the old man staples the cuff of his pants.
Crossing the Atlantic two strangers converse in Latin.
Full moon— a luxurious voice on the answering machine.
The hot dog vendor eating a tuna-fish sandwich.
After I walk him to his car he walks me to mine.
Redwood house— everyone in it tall.
In red elevator shoes, the pimp calls me baby.
Married— but he’s out doing the camel walk.
Going to yard sales, finding the same faces.
Royal wedding on T.V.— my mother vacuuming.
Ring imprinted on his wallet— What’s that? his mother asks.
Witch’s hat— it was made for me.
Eating his liver, the rooster who jumped me.
Mom away— Dad paints the cellar Pepto Bismol pink.
We laugh on the phone— friend with the same illness.
I’m happy to do it— gutting the prima donna’s trout.
At the Plaza, I treat myself to the ladies room.
Tourist— fishing her purse from the New Hope Canal.
Humid night— an old woman’s legs spread apart.
On my needlepoint moon, the lawyer rests his case.
Red stilettos— I won’t break my neck for any man.
Dripping with sake, his goatee.
A little ghost trips up the steps.
A real people-person— the mortician.
Bride’s leg in a cast— still he tries out all his moves.
Red the coal miner’s pinkie nail.
After Matisse skaters in Central Park.
He asks me out— Sen-Sen rattling in his pocket.
Expunging my sins, priest’s garlic breath.
Tiny woodpecker rattling the house.
D D D Dat’s all, folks!
Haiga by Alexis Rotella
Calligraphy by Alexis Rotella
BY ALEXIS ROTELLA: Butterfly Breezes (An Anthology of Haiku), Jade Mountain, 1981 Clouds in my Teacup, Wind Chimes Press, 1982 Tuning the Lily, High/Coo Press, 1983 On a White Bud, Merging Media, 1984 After an Affair, Merging Media, 1984 (Merit Book Award Runner-up) Camembert Comes from the Sea, White Peony Press, 1984 Harvesting Stars, Jade Mountain Press, 1984 ASK!, Muse Pie Press, 1984 Rearranging Light, Muse Pie Press, 1985 (HSA Merit Book Award Runner-up) Closing the Circle, Muse Pie Press, 1985 Polishing a Ladybug, Swamp Press, 1985 Middle City, Muse Pie Press, 1986 (N.J. State Council on the Arts grant) Beards and Wings, White Peony Press, 1986 Moonflowers, Jade Mountain Press, 1987 Drizzle of Stars (with Scott Montgomery and Bob Boldman), Jade Mountain Press, 1988 The Lace Curtain, Jade Mountain Press, 1989 Antiphony of Bells, Jade Mountain Press,1989 How Words and Thoughts Affect Your Body, Jade Mountain Press, 1989 The Essence of Flowers, Jade Mountain Press, 1989 The Rise and Fall of Sparrows (A Collection of North American Haiku), Los Hombres Press, 1990 Star Power (Haiku Poetry Pamphlet), Haiku Canada, 1991 Carousel (30 Senryu), Juniper Press, 1991 (Third Place, Merit Book Awards) An Unknown Weed, King’s Road Press, 1991 (Merit Book Award Runner-up)
Voice of the Mourning Dove, White Peony Press, 1991 Looking for a Prince, White Peony Press, 1991 Eleven Renga (with Florence Miller), Jade Mountain Press, 1992 Haiku (Public Radio Broadcast, Terra Infirma), Poems set to sound, Colorado State Council on the Arts Grant, 1993 Musical Chairs (A Haiku Journey Through Childhood), Jade Mountain Press, 1994 A String of Monarchs (with Florence Miller), Jade Mountain Press,1994 YES (with Florence Miller), Jade Mountain Press, 1994 No One Inside ( a linked poem with Carlos Colon), Proof Press, 1996 Sassy (with Carlos Colon), Tragg Publishing, 1998 Blue Burqas ( a kukame with ai li), Proof Press, 2002 In Dubuque: Haiku and Longer Poetry Meet, unpublished Round Faces and Nesting Dolls, a tanka renga sequence on growing up Orthodox, with an’ya Lip Prints: Tanka and Other Short Poems 1979–2007, Modern English Tanka Press, 2007 Eavesdropping: Seasonal Haiku, Modern English Tanka Press, 2007 Ash Moon Anthology (tanka on aging) co-edited with Denis M. Garrison, Modern English Tanka Press, 2008 Elvis in Black Leather, Modern English Tanka Press, 2008.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexis Rotella served as President of the Haiku Society of America (Japan House) in 1984 and edited Frogpond , Brussels Sprout and The Persimmon Tree. Her haiku, senryu and tanka have won many awards and recognition. Her work appears in numerous anthologies including Global Haiku (Twenty-five Poets World-wide), George Swede and Randy Brooks, Mosaic Press; How to Haiku, Haiku Moment, both by Bruce Ross, Tuttle; Beneath a Single Moon (Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry), Johnson and Paulenich, Shambhala; The Haiku Anthology 3rd ed., Cor van den Heuvel, Norton; Haiku I (Poesies Anciennes et Modernes) Jackie Hardy, Editions Vega; Haiku for Lovers, Manu Bazzano (MQP); Czeslaw Milosz/ HAIKU (Krakow, Poland); Synesthesia in Haiku and Other Essays, Toshimi Horiuchi (University of Philippines Press) and Haiku in English, Hiroaki Sato (Simul Press, Japan). Rotella’s longer work and Japanese related poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and magazines including The New York Times (Metropolitan Diary), Christian Science Monitor, Family Circle, Glamour, New Letters, The Paterson Literary Review , Chiron Review, Blue Mesa Review, The Madison Review, Lynx, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Simply Haiku, Red Lights, Wisteria, Ribbons, and Bottle Rockets. Alexis is author of the poem Purple which appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul (1st ed.) and Love, Magic and Mudpies by Bernie Siegel, M.D. (Rodale Press). Alexis Rotella lives in Arnold, Maryland where she is a practitioner of Oriental Medicine. She is also an ordained interfaith minister and a member of The Church of What’s Happening Now.
ABOUT LOOKING FOR A PRINCE: SOMERSAULTING THROUGH THE UNIVERSE “Alexis Rotella’s work reflects the wide spectrum of the Creation itself—glowing with the special light of art. With just a few words, she catches life’s revealing moments with an insight and depth that the movies—if they were able—would take millions of dollars and the talents of hundreds to capture. “Some of her poems throw off stars like a wand in a Disney cartoon, drawing pictures of the Cinderellas of this world as they try to balance their romantic dreams with reality. Others lay bare, as in a Capra comedy, the foibles of all kinds of people, from heart-surgeons to innkeepers, from upper-class matrons to feminists. She can create darker moods, too, reaching out a hand to open the curtain on psychological dramas of silence and repression like those found in Bergman. Or she may direct a love scene with such a bittersweet mixture of emotion and humor it rivals one of Chaplin’s. She opens our eyes to nature, too, with the kind of love of rain and sunlight that stains with beauty the films of a Kurosawa. You may even find a few Hitchcockian mysteries! “She can do all this using only words—in haiku, senryu and in longer works. Here in LOOKING FOR A PRINCE, she does it all through senryu—the witty, tender, funny, sad, sometimes MERCILESS younger sister of haiku. So, though there may be a few haiku-like backdrops, the focus is on the human being—the paradoxes, the inconsistencies, the wisdom and foolishness, the sweet and sour of this often-times absurd creature somersaulting through the universe somewhere between the angels and Donald Duck! “Enter this theater of senryu and you will search for a prince and tell lies, feel the pain of seeing a lover’s face light up for another, see the irony in a brothel’s candy dish, grin at a little girl’s blunt honesty, and groan over an inconsiderate house guest—and then smile at him and yourself, too, for most (all?) of life is funny when looked at from the right angle.
“Rotella has a genius for finding that angle—even when looking at herself—and that genius spotlights scenes from the human comedy throughout this remarkable book.” — Cor van den Heuvel, Editor, The Haiku Anthology (Simon and Schuster) “Ever attentive to what’s going on around her, Alexis Rotella has recreated here some of the passing moments of her life that are at once funny and wistful.” — Hiroaki Sato, From the Country of Eight Islands (Columbia University Press) “Alexis Rotella is one of the best haiku poets in the United States. She has a born talent to capture the haiku moment in nature and in the human world. If she had been born in Japan, she would have become a leading haiku poetess. In this collection of senryu, she shows her deep and poignant insight into human nature.” — Kazuo Sato, Professor, Waseda University; Director of International Division, Museum of Haiku Literature (Tokyo) “I have often wondered why senryu has not become as popular as haiku in America. Wit and humor have always been an essential part of American literature; the Americans in general have a more independent, critical mind than the Japanese. Alexis Rotella has been one of the few Americans who has experimented with this traditional Japanese verse form, publishing a good number of them in magazines. Collected herein, these mini-poems explore the poetic potential of senryu in English to the full, inviting others to smile, grin or laugh with her—and perhaps, to reflect on their own lives and to write a senryu or two.” — Makoto Ueda, Professor of Japanese and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University. Author, Modern Japanese Poets and the Nature of Literature (Stanford University Press)
Modern English Tanka Press
P.O. Box 43717 Baltimore, MD 21236
Modern English Tanka Press publishes fine short verse.
Visit us online at www.modernenglishtankapress.com. Most titles are trade paperback, 6"x9", perfect binding.
Tanka Teachers Guide, compiled by Denis M. Garrison. Articles by Michael McClintock, Amelia Fielden, Jeanne Emrich, M. Kei, Jean LeBlanc, and Denis M. Garrison. 108 pages. 8½"x11" paperback, price $10.95. Ebook is $2.00. Five Lines Down: A Landmark in English Tanka, Compiled and edited by Denis M. Garrison. All four issues of the original Five Lines Down (1994-1996) tanka journal edited by Kenneth Tanemura and Sanford Goldstein. 160 pages. Price $18.95 ISBN 978-0-6151-5621-7. Sixty Sunflowers, Tanka Society of America Members’ Anthology for 2006-2007, Edited by Sanford Goldstein. 108 pages. Price $15.00 ISBN 978-0-6151-5228-8. Modern English Tanka V1 N4 [Summer 2007] Quarterly journal edited by Denis M. Garrison & Michael McClintock. 256 pages. Price $12.95 ISSN 1932-9083. The Dreaming Room: Modern English Tanka in Collage and Montage Sets, Edited by Michael McClintock and Denis M. Garrison. A companion volume to The Five-Hole Flute. 120 pp. Price: $17.95 ISBN 978-0-6151-5083-3.
Haiku Harvest : 2000-2006, Compiled and edited by Denis M. Garrison. A compilation of the eleven issues of Haiku Harvest: Journal of Haiku in English, plus two issues of Haiku Noir and one issue of Ku Nouveau. 468 pages. Price $29.95 ISBN 978-0-6151-4797-0. Eight Shades of Blue (3rd Ed.), Denis M. Garrison’s first haiku collection. 96 pp. Price $12.95 ISBN 978-0-61514798-7. Modern English Tanka V1 N3 [Spring 2007] Quarterly journal edited by Denis M. Garrison & Michael McClintock. 252 pages. Price $12.95 ISSN 1932-9083. The Salesman's Shoes, Tanka (a first collection) by James Roderick Burns. 96 pages. Price $13.95 ISBN 978-0-61514396-5.
The Five-Hole Flute: Modern English Tanka in Sequences and Sets, anthology edited by Denis M. Garrison & Michael McClintock. 116 pp. Price $13.95 ISBN 978-0-6151-3794-0. Hidden River, Denis M. Garrison’s second haiku collection. 184 pages. Price $15.95 ISBN 978-0-6151-3825-1. Modern English Tanka V1 N2 [Winter 2006], Quarterly journal edited by Denis M. Garrison & Michael McClintock. 252 pages. Price $12.95 ISSN 1932-9083. Modern English Tanka V1 N1 [Autumn 2006], Quarterly journal edited by Denis M. Garrison & Michael McClintock. 260 pages. Price $12.95 ISSN 1932-9083.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.