“Simple Tanka Prose for the Seasons” by Charles Tarlton

Charles Tarlton



On the probing black finger ends of maples now the palest buds where someone has dusted them with green icing sugar.

as from a distance
when the faint sounds of voices
come to you
before you’ve been through the gate
and into the stadium



Atsui Natsua

The breeze that urged the curtains to and fro was thick, hot, and wet, and a single buzzing bee was caught there between the wire screens and the partly open glass.

weddings being planned
under a sweet profusion
of flower scents
intoxicating even
more than the purest love




On both sides of the street these tall deciduous crowns are electric with color—the reds like scarlet church glass, yellows dense as new butter, and purples, O purples like heavy old wine.

sun in such clear air
there’s a bite and a crunch
under foot out here
beauty of unmasked pigments
the sugared ruby sap




Everyone aboard the ship was anxious. We were late leaving Southampton and now there was a danger of storms in the north Atlantic or maybe even a wandering winter iceberg. We watched the land sink into the ship’s cold wake until there was only the sea around us.

late winter, the ice
around Lake Ontario
hovers in wind-wave
sculptures frozen in the air
not cresting until spring

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms


Charles Tarlton: “I have been writing tanka prose for the last seven or eight years. Before that I wrote poems mostly in a neo-modernist style, some of my heroes being Wallace Stevens, Pound, and John Berryman. My purpose is to develop and bend tanka prose to the larger services of contemporary poetry in English.”

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