“A Tanka Trio (11)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


my exhausted faith
flows just as the drift ice flows
breaks and melts away
heaven’s reflection blurring
in the sea’s saltwater tears



I catch the water
dripping from the icicles
in a mason jar
as a gentle reminder
that I do not weep alone



moon paints snow angels
on forgotten midnight fields
only clouds can see
sleeping souls oblivious
to shy winter’s artistry

“A Tanka Trio (10)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Sere crone winter sheds
Iced waraji at the door
Hangs her hiemal veil
On the windows, frigid laugh
Desecrates the sacred place



Silver-throated winter-borne
Yuki no tori
Huddle in Hokkaido chill
Little clouds alight on branch



Weeping winter’s tears
Cannot cloak in drifts the rift
Between earth and man
Frigid hearts and bitter souls
Bury world in human shame

“A Tanka Trio (9)

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Old stones squander heat
In the fire pit at night
After flames have died
Wrapped in fading embers’ arms
Love succumbs to apathy



I pick up the eggs
Fallen from a sparrow’s nest
Observing the cracks
There is silence as the earth
Contemplates what might have been



In the summer lea
Fluted vessels spill their mead
Amid buzzing drones
Yellowjackets drink their fill
Humming raucous tavern tunes

“Hana no Niwa (Garden of Flowers)”

“Hana no Niwa (Garden of Flowers)”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

In the restless nights
In the small flower garden
Spider lilies weep
Mournful beneath midnight moon
Dreaming higanbana dreams

They cry in silence
Do they know for whom they grieve
Do they remember
It was you who planted them
It was you who gave them life

They are not alone
In the soil of memories
In their moonlit tears
In my hana no niwa
In my place of remembrance

Magenta sweet peas
Bow their heads and bid farewell
To the one whose hands
Long-fingered and delicate
Caressed suitopi blooms

When the frost has come
Ivory chrysanthemums
Lay to rest your name
In autumnal kiku tombs
In dark chambers of my heart

In the pallid glow
Of tsuki and winter stars
Camellias die
Shed their crimson petals in
Snowy tsubaki lament

In the spring voices
Of sakura sing of you
Cherry blossoms mark
Your fleeting days in the sun
When skies were forever blue

In opposing climes
Doleful daffodils remain
Solemn sunflowers
Suisen, himawari
Pay respects with humble hearts

There’s a hidden place
In my hana no niwa
In my broken heart
Where my love for you still grows
Flowers bloom eternally

You are always there
Kneeling in the fertile loam
Under summer sun
Tending our flower garden
Where skies are forever blue

“A Tanka Trio (8)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Propaganda, lies
And conspiracy theories
Are killing people
Your rights end where mine begin
Wear a mask and vaccinate



Lone bristlecone pine
Bears the scars of lightning strikes
But has not succumbed
Wise old man on mountainside
Wizened by millennia



Will the earth miss us
After we have killed ourselves
Earth will carry on
Healing slowly over time
Once human virus is purged

“A Tanka Trio (7)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


When I sought knowledge
I opened my eyes and ears
When I sought wisdom
I opened my mind and heart
Rain and sunshine for my soul



In my winter dreams
I walk barefoot in the spring
Sink my toes in loam
In the green konara copse
Gathering the brown acorns



Near the red footbridge
Piebald koi drowse in the shade
Of lotus blossoms
As cicadas call my name
Welcoming me home again

“A Tanka Trio (6)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


I would gladly give
All I have or ever will
For the simple truths
Of the frog in Basho’s pond
And Williams’ red wheelbarrow



On a cattail
A dragonfly preens his wings
There is beauty everywhere
If only my heart could see



I am the mountains
I am clouds and sea and trees
I am wild flowers
I am all thing of the earth
And sky; stardust enfolds me

“A Tanka Trio (3)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


My eyes hear what my
Ears cannot see I wash my
Mouth of bitter taste
Of memories long past and
Chase scent of elusive hope



Distant memories
Hide like frail columbines
Shade-bound ‘neath the firs
Fragile petals woe-dappled
In the meadows of my mind



To open my heart
Is a mighty task I am
Not prepared to do
I no longer hold the key
To what’s locked inside of me

“A Tanka Trio (2)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley



Northern memories
Chill my heart as bitter cold
Crystallizes tears
Frozen shame adorns my face
Wind howls in my lonely soul



My heart spills itself
Upon the ground like untied
Bags of grain carried
Carelessly upon the back
Thoughtless birds feast on my tears



Can my heart hear what
Deaf ears cannot, can my soul
Sense what eyes can’t see
Can I feel alive when all
I love has abandoned me

“A Tanka Trio (1)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley



My empty heart holds
More of you than I can bear
There is no more room
For mem’ries of mountain song
Sorrow-blossoms weep for you



In chill morning air
I wake up the sun and set
The breeze in motion
Wafting heaven’s incense through
Sleeping earth and drowsing sky



In the depths of night
I reach through the years for you
With each passing day
Time takes you away from me
Dying echoes in the dark