KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 5: Spring 2016
Tanka Tale: 232 words [R]

Ah Morelia

by J. Zimmerman

Although she hallucinates, it’s Casilda I most admire. She talks back to her dead mother, who is also (this is a telenovela) her godmother. After three seasons of woe with an increasingly rich and abusive husband, Casilda runs away with a truck driver who adores her. They load his cargo trailer with box after box of not-yet-laundered pesos that Casilda’s husband is about to grieve for. Then they add the villainess of the whole series, the woman whose deceptions, betrayals, and murders have pushed Casilda toward lunacy. In the locked trailer the villainess excitedly unpacks the money.

the pressure
of light
on ripening apples
until one by one
they fall

The trucker drives them far off the highway into lonesome country where he backs up into a thicket of desert thorns. He and Casilda detach the trailer, abandoning the villainess and the pesos to run out of oxygen and water under the ascending sun. As they drive away, Casilda asks the trucker if money is the most important thing. He grins “no” while she laughs, throwing thousand-peso notes out of her window. And there! in the dusty verge of the roadside stands Casilda’s year-dead mother-godmother in a prim white suit, smiling as they pass, everyone waving adios, goodbye, adios.

the golden-pink clouds
of a big-sky sunset
shining on our cheeks
if I knew better I might
call it the Rapture


—Second-Place Winner in the 2015 Tanka Prose Contest (A Tanka Society of America Fifteenth Anniversary Special Event); republished here with permissions from the author and the Tanka Society of America

Note from the Tanka Society of America (TSA):

Last year we celebrated TSA’s 15th anniversary with a special event, a tanka prose contest. Each submission to the contest included a title, a prose portion not exceeding 300 words, and one to three tanka. The noted writer and editor Bob Lucky (also a KYSO Flash contributor) selected first, second, and third prize winners and two honorable mentions. All five works are republished in this issue of KYSO Flash. The results and contest details are available at the Society’s website.

J. Zimmerman
Issue 5, Spring 2016

won second prize in the 2011 Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest and first prize in the 2011 Yuki Teikei annual kukai. Her haiku, tanka, and haibun have been widely published in Daily Haiku, Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Roadrunner, Runes, and elsewhere. She was one of 17 poets published by invitation in A New Resonance 8: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku (Red Dragonfly Press, 2013). She writes articles on the Japanese forms, teaches workshops on tanka, co-edits poetry at Ariadne’s Web, and in summer 2014 served as Poet in Residence at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Her poems have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, and German.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

What Haibun Poets Can Learn From Non-haikai Western Poetry Practices: The Valentine's Day Skywriter Spells Out His Own Name in Contemporary Haibun Online (October 2013, Vol. 9, No. 3)

Three Questions for J. Zimmerman (re Tanka) in Blogging Along Tobacco Road (17 October 2010)

Three Questions for J. Zimmerman (re Haiku) in Blogging Along Tobacco Road (29 November 2009)

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