The Unknown – a Tanka

Secrets and questions
Never asked; never answered
Alone in darkness
Flickering flames on the wall
Drawn out toward the blinding light.


My response to Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 119 “Mystery & Attract,” #SynonymsOnly.

Shining City Covered in Shit

Pale bloated
Puss filled slugs
And spineless jellyfish
Senators selling souls,
Guns, and national parks
To the highest bidder.

Stair stepping
Spinal chords
Of citizens, soldiers,
Scholars, and saints
To grasp the laurel leaves
Atop the Temple of Dis.
Now dry and brittle
Dusted with mold.

Sun-dried spray-tanned
Miniature mushrooms
on Mussolini’s balcony
Bankrolling the Ministry of Truth,
Redefining the length of an inch
So his paws don’t look
Quite so small.

Ossified arthritic
Vampiric leaches
Slithering calcified
Marbled hallways,
Bathing shining statues
Of founding fathers
In a darkness only
Diogenes’ lantern
Could cut through.

But Plato’s
Cave dwelling
Plucked chickens
Are blinded
By even the softest light.
Shackled to the
Shadow puppet show
In Caesar’s cellar,
Fuzzy flickering images
Distorted dancing shades,
Source of all that’s known
And nothing that’s real.


A Message from Big Brother


The truth is not the truth,
Facts, a convenient lie.
History is what we tell you,
And 4+4=5.

Nobody is honest with you,
Nobody, but me.
I’ll tell you what is real
And I guarantee you’ll be free.

An ally today
Is an enemy tomorrow,
And every day before that,
And every day to follow,

My enemies have always been our enemies,
History is immutably true.
Anybody who says otherwise
Is just peddling fake news.


Image found at 1984: Big Brother is Watching You1984: Big Brother is Watching You.


Visions (a tanka)

Possessed by visions,
Unwilling and unwanted,
Beautiful nightmares
Of terrible, wonderful
Truths, changing our perceptions.


My response to Colleen’s 2018 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 82 – BELONG & DREAM #SynonymsOnly.

A Lone Voice

A lone voice cries in the night,
Echoing through the wilderness
Down canyons and through caves,
Dissipating into darkness.

Ears deafen themselves
To what they’d rather not hear:
Hard truths that disturb the soul
With the simple taste of truth,
But open to easily digestible
Sugar coated lies
And pleasant fantasies
That sooth and numb
Like opium
Without changing
A single thing.


Beyond Belief

Beyond belief,
Above opinion,
Supporting true knowledge,
Composed of indisputable facts,
Informing wisdom,
Is the Truth.


Looking for Truth

You can look in your books,
Old and new,
Of beginnings and births,
Journeys and exiles,
Looking for truth
In a burning bush,
Or hanging on a Roman tree.

Search the history of time
For big bangs and clouds of gas,
Using probability and fuzzy logic,
Rationality and intellect,
Dialectic and dialogue,
Searching for truth outside the cave
In the depth of a black hole;
In the cry of a baby universe.

You can look inside,
Examine the depths of your soul,
For compassion and humility,
Poetry and purpose,
Knowing the only thing
You can truly know,
Controlling the only thing
You can truly control,
Be present
In the only moment you have,
Looking for truth
Under an Indian fig tree,
With an Athenian gadfly;
Between the pages of an emperor’s journal.

You can look outside,
At starving children on the streets,
At parents slaving to survive,
Living in quiet desperation
At the pleasure of the oligarchs
In the castle on the hill,
500 yards from urine stained crack houses,
6 miles from Robert E. Lee’s hoouse
And the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Looking for truth
In the eyes of a stranger
Or the hand of a friend.



Plato’s Cave (Tanka)

Shapes on the cave wall
Mind-mist, distorted; unreal
Crawl into the light
Eyes adjust to sunlight
Reality seems insane


This was written in response to Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 53 – MIST & SHAPE.

There’s a Dream I Keep Having (For Tom Petty (1950-2017))


A ten year old boy from Gainsville,
Whose uncle introduced him to Elvis
On a movie set in Ocala,
And traded his Wham-O® slingshot
For a stack of the King’s 45s,
Saw the Beatles on Sullivan,
Bought a guitar, joined a band,
And never looked back
As he ran down that dream
Through the mud, across America
To L.A. for a date with Heartbreakers.

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
With his guitar, his band, and his southern accent.

Never giving in, never backing down,
Learning to fly with the stars;
Still singing with the voice of the people,
The voice of the poor,
The humble salt of the Earth,
The voice of the lonely,
The downtrodden, the unheard.

A rebel with a cause and a conscience,
Writing his truth,
Singing our lives,
Living his dream.


The Hunt (tanka)

Searching for answers
To questions forever asked.
Seeking only truth
Following the path ahead
Finding myself on the way.


This is my response to Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge # 44 – #Haiku #Haibun or #Tanka: HUNT & FIND