This week for #TankaTuesday, I asked Terri Webster Schrandt to share a photo from her collection for our poetic inspiration. What a beautiful scene! Read the challenge post HERE.

This year, I’m working on improving the imagery in my poetry. My goal is to eliminate wording that sounds like sentences in my syllabic poetry.

Good poetry is full of word images. I’d like to eliminate more articles like: the, a, etc. unless I need them to make sense of the line of poetry. If all I’m doing is satisfying the word count, I need to choose better words.

Another thing I’m working on is my use of passive verbs: is, are, to be, etc. It’s so easy to get in a hurry when I’m composing a poem. I’m really trying not to use words which only satisfy the word count of the syllabic poem. It’s always a work in progress… I edited twice to get to this tanka:


blue twilight descends
snow-light fades, shadows flourish
remains of the day
hearthstone warmth invites me home
where your memory lingers

© Colleen M. Chesebro


Tanka poems should contain two images. Somewhere, there will be a line that pivots between the two images or meanings.

The first image:

blue twilight descends 
snow-light fades, shadows flourish 
remains of the day

The second image:

remains of the day
hearthstone warmth invites me home
where your memory lingers

The first three lines of this tanka describe the photo and my perception of the time of day and the season.

In the next portion of the tanka, I pivot to a more poignant perspective. The color blue made me feel reflective, so I wanted my words to reveal that imagery.

One tanka poem, two images. The pivot: remains of the day acts as a bridge between the two.

P.S. I’m having trouble with my eyes… bear with me while I find a theme I can see. Thanks. 🧡🤓

66 thoughts on “The Gloaming, tanka

  1. Beautiful imagery, Colleen, and I appreciate your how-to on the poem’s composition. Yours is so beautiful in how it invokes the feeling of home.

    I am truly enjoying reading the amazing poetry inspired by my image. I’ve been humbled to think my home inspires these gorgeous poems. Something I didn’t expect. February photo may not be so emotional but it will suit the love theme ❤️ I’m having a blast!

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    1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear you’re having a good time. I thought of you and your photos last year, got sidetracked and forgot to ask you! I’m so glad I remembered to ask you for photos this year. It’s all about the inspiration. Thanks again, Terri. 💛

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    2. Tankas are so much harder than haikus and this one nails it! That pivotal line, I find , is the difficult one. Well done and I definitely will be back to read more! Bernie

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      1. You’re so welcome, Bernie. I try to think of the pivot line as the bridge between the two meanings. I like a bit of surprise, but admit that is hard to accomplish all the time. I keep working at these poems. A haiku is written basically the same, with a pivot that ususally is broken by the kigo (season word). We still want to find two meanings—that’s the aha moment we always read about.

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  2. Wonderful Colleen… and I also like the colour of your theme too… As my eyesight is not 100% these days, one of the reasons I keep my computer time to a minimum ..
    Sending LOVE and well wishes Colleen.. ❤

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  3. Thank you so much for explaining the Tanka! Even though I don’t write poetry, I like to learn more about and read it 😃 I love the Tanka you wrote. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. You’re welcome Robbie. I realized many of those words (is, they, it, etc.) don’t tell us anything—they’re filler words. When I take those words out, my poetry improves. I love tanka. They are so visual. I have occular rosescea and forgot to take my antibotics! I set a reminder on my iphone so I won’t forget again. It’s always worse in winter when we have the heat on. The darker background really helps. Lesson learned. 🤓

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    1. Thanks, Merril. It’s my own fault. I have ocular roscsea and didn’t take my antibotics. I’ve set a reminder on my iphone. The darker background really helps. All that white space is hard for me to read.

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  4. Beautiful poem, Colleen, and I like the way you detailed your thoughts in executing the poem.

    I like this theme and use it for both of my blogs. It’s easy on the eyes and has color choices for the background. I love the structure of the comment section as it is larger than some of the other blogs and easy to read. 💖

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    1. Thanks so much, Franci. Yes, I went to your blog to figure out which theme you used. I have ocular rosacea and forgot to take my meds. But, a good lesson in that I need to use the darker background. I get little to no strain this way. You saved my eyes again! 😀

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      1. I hope you get relief from your eyes, Colleen, and glad the theme is helpful. I’ve had issues with light sensitivity since I was a child and darker backgrounds are comforting.

        I’ve changed themes many times and always come back to Shoreditch. 😊

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        1. Same with me for light sensitivity, Franci. My doctor said people with green eyes often have a sensitivity. This is all wrapped up with allergies and auto immune issues. I feel for you for sure. I agree. Shoreditch is the only theme that doesn’t drive me crazy. LOL!

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          1. I have green eyes too! And also, seasonal allergies. Speaking of themes, some of those I follow have had the same theme for years (even though the theme is retired). Perhaps, not a good idea for security but makes me wonder.

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          2. WP told me not to keep using a retired theme. I don’t know if there are security issues, but if you have glitches within the the theme they don’t fix it. Not that I think they fix much of the themes anyway. LOL!

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      1. Rules are good guildelines. I guess though I’m not hunting for meanings, but rather the creative enjoyment. I didn’t learn grammar very well so I go by intuition more.

        I’m not against rules. I suppose if I don’t know them I don’t worry about breaking them. 💚

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  5. Your poem is exquisite, Colleen. I don’t think your challenge to yourself is going to take very long to accomplish, since you’ve already nailed it. 🙂 And thanks for the lesson on structure, that was interesting and effective. ❤

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    1. Thanks so much, Diana. I know if I can get those two mind images in my haiku and tanka, I’m heading in the right direction. I want to submit more poetry this year to journals. I just keep writing. LOL! 🧡

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