Category Archives: Tanka

Not just another Tanka Tuesday

Have you ever found yourself clearing out a craft space that has long sat unusued, only to discover a finished product that never saw the light of day?

I said the other day I’d be working my way through the handful of drafts in my draft folder. Here’s one that I found today, and it was fully written. Here it is, with zero changes. Originally written on December 20, 2016, this post dates from about a year after the lights started going out on my original spate of blogging . . . about three years solid, and five years since post one (seriously, I just scrolled through all of it; Holy Hannah Banana, I have a ton of material!) Today this blog is nearly eleven years old and I have some cobwebs to clean out, but as it turns out, I also have something left over to offer — a little look into the mood that pulled me off the page for so long . . . .

room by room
turning off the lights
unsure as to why
I get the impression
it’s time to withdraw

I’m pretty sure I’ve been islanding. I’m almost certain that it’s not entirely my fault — I blame some of it on climate change. Things aren’t the way they used to be, and I can’t tell whether that’s because I’m always either resisting or having trouble keeping up, or whether it’s simply because I am no longer a kid, and I get that now. 

Every year the ocean levels are rising, and the shores of my island become smaller. I’m being forced inward. 

Or maybe it’s supposed to be like this. As the drum beats time marches on, and as we disconnect from the Matrix of old social paradigms the tubes and wires connecting us to them pop off, leaving us cold and alone in our very own pod, surrounded by a sea of machines and trite little tchotchkes, a blip of life in a Universe drowned in invisible data.

But I can’t believe that; it’s fatalistic. It’s dark, I know — and I promise that it won’t always be this way. But sometimes to find treasure you have to be willing to dig through a mountain of trash, decaying remnants of old life, mouldering bones and offal. It’s a dirty job for sure, but someone ought to do it. 

I’ve had the good fortune to be a WordPress blogger for years, even in spite of long absences, and this place has helped shape who I am. Writing gives us an outlet and a place to put our thoughts and ideas in order. To put ourselves in order. And I must write more, or risk losing myself in the shuffle. And I guess that means getting some of this stuff off of my chest and working it out. 

I find it ironic that I use this space to talk about how I see technology as an increasingly efficient disabler of the natural social construct, leaving unfulfilled more and more the visceral call to community that built the world that made WordPress possible. 

Maybe it’s evolution, or maybe someday it will turn out that my job was to document the fall of humanity. If so, then I might be woefully behind as outsiders have already set up shop within our borders. Or maybe I’m just looking for something other than myself to blame. 

This is me, digging. 

Tanka Tuesday 2016.07.12 —

Image credit: Andrey (CC BY 2.0)


bumbling off
the guest will take
leave behind
transferring spirits
communion of souls



Nothing is better than having guests to break up the routines of our daily lives. People like Mme. Ross and I — that is, people who don’t thrive in large social circles — craft our lives day by day in the comfort of our home and our lives there. The occasional gathering of our closest friends really brings something to our home, and we do our best to give back as well. We help our friends move, we make them our neighbors, and we share what we have with them. To live that life on a permanent, unbroken basis seems like an idyllic dream.

On the other hand, to go to work forty hours a week for people with ridiculous, half-hearted, loosely-applied restrictions on the use of personal technology; who rarely appreciate what I’m bringing to the proverbial table; and who seem to specialize only in making others feel stupid for being themselves; had begun to seem like an awful chore until the plant was given the week off for the 4th of July, and while I thought that going back after that week off would be like more of the same torture, it seems as though the days are going fast, maybe speeding me along toward the next Summer adventure.

Or maybe it’s just a small respite in that tug-of-war.

I sometimes feel like a guest in my own life — like nothing I do entitles me to comfort or indulgence. As though very little that I do gives me a reasonable excuse to be the selfish person that I often see in myself. I stay withdrawn, and the work life that drives to the rhythm of hammers on metal while presenting as a music video fit for the Doors’ People Are Strange becomes the theme I take home in my head as I frustrate myself trying to pound some inspiration into the hearts of those who feel like their only purpose at work is to make a paycheck. To work as little as possible, think as little as possible, never realizing that it’s easier than they’re making it out to be. I often end up taking that unwelcome guest home with me.

A little effort goes a long way, is all I’m saying. But what if I’m putting too much effort into the wrong endeavors?

It would be interesting if every day was a different event — a parade, a carnival in the park, a bike ride along the river. Somehow our culture insinuates the fulfillment of that dream in a life that often demands more of us than we can reasonably give. It stretches us dangerously thin, like worn-out bubblegum.

Where can we reasonably say “no”?

Now there’s something to chew on.


Looking for a word to cunningly inspire the perfectly-crafted spontaneous blog post? Try the one-word prompt at the Daily Post — probably the best thing since split infinitives.

Tanka Today 2015.09.30 —

040/365v2 The Incoming Tide
(Image credit: Mark Seton)

washed out
but never washed away —
the tide
returns things mislaid



What do you do when impossible notions intrude upon your peace of mind? 

Like how recently I caught myself thinking, ‘maybe I should admit that I’ve given up on writing and blogging and whatnot, and learn to deal with the fact that I’m not the kind of person that does those things anymore.’ I think this more and more as time slips away while I make no meaningful contribution to the blogosphere, and yet I can’t pull the plug on it because I can’t stop thinking about it — about writing. It’s a silly, presumptuous thing for me to pretend like I have nothing to contribute — in effect hoarding all the little thought-gems that get mined from my mind. It’s selfish and at some point it needs to stop. 

I defy the notion that I’m a non-writer who obsesses about writing and lets the fact that he’s not writing eat away at him and his fingernails.

I’m always so preoccupied, so heavyset with goals and plans and to-dos that it’s ridiculous to think that I keep forgetting to bring a notepad with me to write down the little seeds that become ideas, leaving me wondering, “what’s the big idea?”

I think the Summer came and ran away with me!

Some of the things I have planned involve finishing the playhouse I built for my daughter before it decides to snow, slinging the kayaks to the garage wall for the winter so we can use the garage loft for storing rummage sale boxes, fixing the little hole in the roof of my Jeep so water doesn’t leak in when it rains (for now I have duct tape on it,) and building a ramp for my barbecue grill so it’s not such a pain to get from the garage to the patio about a dozen feet away — because of two stairs, it must either be lifted/lowered or wheeled around the entire house!

Another thing I’d like to do is build a rack for the kayaks that would attach to a small trailer, but first I would have to learn how to weld. So at work I’ve tried using my charm and chutzpah — not to mention putting my reputation for good work out there — in an effort to get transferred into the weld department; so far, though, I’ve gotten nowhere with that. It’s not as though I want to learn to weld for just the one project, but I’ve been interested in welding for a long time. I’m a fabricator, after all, and welding is a fabrication skill — one of the few that I don’t have under my belt. 

So for now, it’s just a plan. Between now and then if I find myself washed back out to sea and washed up on some foreign shore, or even swirling around in the Pacific Garbage Patch, there’s sure to be some adventure to find, some trouble to get into; I may be at the mercy of the tides, but I’ll be damned if I won’t find a story to tell now and again. 

Lazy Learners | The Daily Post

Double-edged, from swords to razors — Tanka Today 2015.05.20

(Image credit: Bowfinger26)

an open mouth
exposes secrets
widely prized —

a tremendous risk
for good luck or ill

Beard, beard, beard. What do you do when you have just one word with which to spark a discussion?


I cut off my beard a couple of weeks ago. 

It was glorious. 

Safety Razor Set - A safety razor, shaving bru...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been trying to get myself into the swing of wet shaving for the past several years, with mixed results. Wet shaving is where you use a safety razor, a brush, and shaving soap to shave; and in case you didn’t know, a safety razor is one old-school tool that holds those double-edged razor blades infamous for being used incorrectly on the wrists. That’s not meant to be funny or anything, though. I totally disapprove of self-destructive acts in general. 

I have been having more success of late, mostly due to the decision that not washing my face prior to shaving was proving detrimental to the experience. I’d end up looking like a crime scene, trying to stanch the blood for what seemed like forever. 

English: Drawing from US patent 775,134 (safet...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I really want to get the hang of this, because in my opinion it’s beneficial on several levels. For one thing, it’s dead cheap. The razor, the brush, and the shaving mug are a relatively small investment over the long term, because they’re more or less permanent. And my razors? They’re antiques. Oldies but goodies from as far back as the 1930’s. I can get new blades for pennies apiece, and each one is good for several shaves. Shaving soap is cheap, too.

And wet shaving is not the same slapdash affair that a plastic razor or some fancy deal with five blades and a vibrating lubricant strip were designed to facilitate; wet shaving is a meditation.

This meditative act — the washing, the lubricating, the lathering, the application of the blade with almost zero pressure in carefully measured short strokes — it all demands a focus, a mindfulness that transcends all the trite little acts that comprise the modern definition of grooming;

wet shaving is its own thing.

And see, I hit upon this realization when I was shaving once prior to shaving off my beard. Attempting to round out my ideas, I texted my friend Zach and asked him for his thoughts on wet shaving. “It’s for a blog post,” I said. “The more abstract the better.” I was dipping into his fountain of experience because I knew he had cracked the code, and he was the only person other than myself that I could draw upon for some reflections regarding the art of wet shaving.

He must have misunderstood me, however, because he came back at me with a sort of how-to — his process of shaving. This is what I mean about meditation, after all: it’s a process and I knew Zach had it down to the letter, but up to then I hadn’t realized how much I didn’t know about the process of wet shaving. Where I had researched, he must have pored over and sifted through the whole Internet. That’s what he does. He had developed his own recipe for shaving oil, for Pete’s sake, and that’s also what he does!

I replied to his email to tell him that I was looking for something more reflective, more abstract. He said he would get back to me, but he hasn’t yet. In the meantime, I did the only thing I could do with what he had sent me:

I shaved off all of my facial hair.

I left my eyebrows, of course, but I got everything else. I followed the spirit of Zach’s how-to to the letter, and afterward I felt just like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption; like I had just crawled through a river of crapola and came out clean as a whistle on the other side. I had found the missing links in my clumsy attempts to shave vintage-style, and I could practically hear Morgan Freeman narrating my triumph. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks!

Not that I have any problem with beards. I had this Lemmy thing going on for the last couple of years: the muttonchops with the attached moustache. I’d call it the ol’ Burnsides, but it just didn’t get that bushy. I’d love to grow one of those thick, bushy beards, but my hair doesn’t grow like that; it grows straight and is fairly thin. I think I’d do well with a thin beard, but right now I’m sporting what I like to call my “Summer-face”, and it does get people talking at work. I showed up that Monday morning for the department meeting and I could tell when The Sarge saw me that he approved. Everyone had something to say. Joltin’ Joe told me that I had dropped ten years, and I told him I appreciated that, seeing as how I’m pushing forty. Carlos said I was messing with his head; every time he saw me he thought I was a new guy.

But I’m still me.

Still pushing to live my adventure —

Still exploring.


(The One-Minute Writer’s One Word Wednesday: Beard | Header image by Alan Levine)

What are we trying to hide? — Tanka Today 2015.04.26

Little Frog by Bart Van Dorp
(Image credit: Bart Van Dorp)

nestled frog
back against a wall —
one way out;

just a moment’s peace
in a savage world


Sometimes it seems no matter how advanced humanity becomes, the elements of our lives will always boil down to the basic set of behaviors that early humans must have used to survive and thrive where they lived long ago. With little more than rough-hewn tools of wood, stone, horn and bone, they began carving their name into the surface of the earth. First we put our initials on this tree of life, and then over time the graffiti proliferated until it was hard to see the tree for all the carving on its trunk —

only the tree is still there.

The wilderness remains
beneath the hard, slick veneer —
the software layer —
of the modern day.
We think we’re smart;
we ranged
and we conquered with concrete
the hardware of life
that made us this way.
We tear it to bits,
inputs for the machines
that give us the warm fuzzies . . .
and we conquer all
but ourselves.

I find that society itself is a denial that this is a savage world, and that lasting, inner peace is something that must be manufactured whole-cloth within each of us; because in truth every moment of peace is a win that cannot last too long. Flexibility and resilience are two of the most valuable virtues one can possess, and analytic introspection the highest skill; yet these aren’t enhanced by our educational systems. They must be self-taught, and thus we find ourselves living in this lie, that school has all the answers to making it in the real world.

 Don’t forget about the old school. This world we’ve built is no safer than the one it was built over. There are predators all around, and you’re always being evaluated as potential prey. Learn to roll with the punches and change direction as necessary. Discover community with others nearby.

And of course, don’t take yourself too seriously. There is no inner peace until we choose to find it within, in spite of everything we dislike about the world and the way it works.



(Header image by Alan Levine)

Tanka Today 2015.03.26 —

(Image credit: Martin Fisch)


jungle’s germ
defies desert soil —

the chain reaction
is unstoppable.


Throwback Thursday: Writing About Something

Where does the time go, that time I once had in dribs and drabs — that time I once stole, that once was slated for production with ideas in mind? Did the river run dry?

Did the dunes come from nowhere, like the waves of an Ocean’s   -1   — rising, cresting, falling like water as the Sun grew hotter with ire for inspiration’s slaughter burning in my eyes?

It was a sandstorm, and it came as it went.


peeking through . . .

the hint of something

hidden for a bit, but not gone forever.

“Go ahead; take it and run.”

I am a Time Thief,


(Header image by Alan Levine)

Tanka Today 2015.02.23 —

Trees in Winter
(Image credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

foreign sights
where sunk costs are weighed —
turning points
often marked too late
for a traveller’s taste


   (Header image by Alan Levine)

Tanka Today 2015.01.21 —

(Image credit: Martin Fisch)

ways and bridges made
within realms of pure



It’s so easy for me to say that I’m fluid — that I can adapt to any given situation, because I know that’s the right thing to be; but then to avoid the chance to flow makes such a statement difficult to prove, doesn’t it?

I can be hard as ice. I expect no less from others than I do from myself, and judgement comes quick. Things can freeze overnight. I almost expect things to stay the same, even as they change — even as I wish for them to do so.

So much better would it be were I to be a fog; to attenuate the clamor of a busy, visual world until all that remains is what has always been right before my eyes. To find my way from one pillar of thought and expression to another, remaining open to whatever comes until the Sun has a chance to cut through, both saving me and revealing to me whatever new kingdom my actions have led me to. Better be a fog and remain open, hopefully to choose the right course when the time comes . . .

and then there’s that nagging question, always: is it now?

(DP Weekly Challenge: Ice, Water, Steam | Header image by Alan Levine)

Tanka Today 2015.01.13 —

(Image credit: Massmo Relsig)


stone footprint —
nature’s groping shore
exposed bones
pathfinders ancient
as the Earth herself



(Header image by Alan Levine)

Tanka Today 2015.01.12 —

(Image credit: Wonderlane)


thund’ring shore
a timeless siren’s song —
the vap’rous sigh
elicits tribute
of long-lost kindred



(Header image by Alan Levine)