EILEEN TABIOS

“I FORGOT” TANKAS

#60
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Icarus actually lived
Wings curled beneath black leather


#61
I forgot a wall
How the ellipsis elides
White butterflies rise

Mountains losing trees for books
Welcome back prodigal sons


#62
I forgot rivers
Starlings shatter blue sky
Meat falls off the bone

Between quaffs of sweet Jerez
Tremors rippling my spine


#63
I forgot darkness
Ulan Ude’s wooden door
Tattooed with islands

Float on lapis lazuli
Sky holding on to Pushkin


#64
I forgot Paris
Where passion exacts a price
Pearls yellow too soon

Girls forced to sing to repel
Quivering Sumo wrestlers


#65
I forgot singing
Notes mustered by virgin boys
Only dogs can hear

Who sings this benediction:
May you flame in constant song


#66
I forgot artists
Fold into emptied bottles
Days and days give way

I do not know the poem
Etched beneath the Vatican


#67
I forgot your lips
Reciting “lotus, lotus…”
Tuxedos prevailed

Penury forced my satires
Staring contests with ice cubes


#68
I forgot mother
Pushkin grieved against Beauty
You saw clouds thicken

Gods can never be seduced
Despite Burgundy’s warm rains


#69
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Mountains losing trees for books
Welcome back prodigal sons


#70
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Between quaffs of sweet Jerez
Tremors rippling my spine


#71
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Float on lapis lazuli
Sky holding on to Pushkin


#72
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Girls forced to sing to repel
Quivering Sumo wrestlers


#73
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Who sings this benediction:
May you flame in constant song


#74
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

I do not know the poem
Etched beneath the Vatican


#75
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Penury forced my satires
Staring contests with ice cubes


#76
I forgot my birth
Disillusion foments loss
World through slitted eyes

Gods can never be seduced
Despite Burgundy’s warm rains



Process note: I intended to write a minimum of ten tankas. Upon proofing ( a process where I split the tanka into two stanzas to reflect another (older) form of tanka), I realized I’d only written nine. So I wanted to write at least one more and, in this process, realized that one could create new tanka by simply changing the combinations of 3-line and 2-line tankas. For Tankas #69-76, for example, I used the same first 3-line stanza from Tanka #60 and substituted the two-line stazas from the others (Tankas 61-68). More combinations are possible. Readers should feel free to write out the possible permutations.