by Andrew Bowen

Tanka by Andrew Bowen

Tankas for Shannon

The crescent moon floats
on lavender bands and I
wonder if your eyes
are still as green as lazy
rivers beneath summer trees.

Truck quits running, late,
bosses get pissed, I owe much
money, lightning with
wind buffets house, and I’m fat.
I think of you. I’m happy

Half-a-crème-pie moon
drifts through the Western clouds and
I wish I could heal
your pain as easily as
it takes light from dew-soaked fields.


Red-winged blackbirds perch
on gently waving reeds and
sing as the breeze piles
up rain clouds and I wish you
were here to watch them with me.

I watch the day wind
down over the parking lot.
The shops close, people
stand and gab as the sun nears
the horizon. I miss you.

The full moon rises
from the silver sheets it spreads
on rippling waters
and I remember how your
eyes shone when you were 19.


On a gloomy day
of cold, darkness, and wind, one
kind word from you shines
brighter than moonlight glinting
on a billion bits of snow.

Sodden buds, red as
new bricks, carve gashes in the
cold drizzling mist which
veils the leafless treeline and
I wonder at your silence.

The cares of the world
oppress me, but thoughts of you
relieve my soul like
streetlights bring cheer at the end
of a cloudy winter day.


A scrim of clouds parts
to show the stars, headlights pass
over sleeping cows,
deer scatter across the road.
I drive home and think of you.

I cross three rivers
in light and dark, reminded
of you (curves, eyes green
like summer streams) but you are
more lovely than a river.

Frost withers flowers,
shriveling pale lavender
and bright yellow blooms.
Would that I could warm your heart
like the sun restores flowers.



I know not what fire
destroyed the home that belonged
to this old chimney,
as red as dried blood, guarding
yellow fields of skewed corn stalks.

You spurn me in fall
as rain relieves the drought and
I feel more lonely
than those last two bloody flags
atop the sodden redbud.

My pick-up shelters
the ground from the swirling snow
that blankets the land
and, beneath it, four small birds
dance for food on withered grass.


Three states claim these: trees
scratching sky, clouds embracing
rocky tops and swoops
into valleys of towns and
farms. The mountains remain one.

The kitten flushes
a covey of small birds, a
brief flight before the
dog trees the scrambling cat. Life:
one creature eats another.

The palomino,
alone in acres, stretches
its head full-length through
the west fence to nibble, but
is the grass any greener?


Duck squadrons circle,
black against the peach and rose
and saffron sunset,
land, and send their mating calls
across the choppy waters.

Fireflies flicker through
split-second constellations
as the night jet, a
giant tracer bullet, burns
against the unchanging stars.

I dream of lying
with you beside still waters where
birds bivouac. I
dream of kissing her on my
back seat. I do not feel guilt.


Red withering leaves
wave in a winter breeze and
their shadows dance. The
clouds come, the shadows go. We’re
just shadows dancing through life.

Ponytail bouncing
beneath strobing red and green,
reflected in the
mirrors, she dances, a wild
colt frisking in its first spring.

My fingers process
paperwork as the dreary
work day ends. I hear
you laugh. I wonder how deft
they would be undressing you.


Fat squatting genies
of clouds laze above trees, grass,
and earth fresh-washed by
rain, as clean as your hair on
good mornings when we say hi.

Translucent patches
of ice sketch pale amoebae
on the green river
as it flows past snow-frosted
sentries, the tentacled trees.

Gray skies and bare trees
frame autumn’s last flaming tree
as rain drizzles down,
but it’s warmer outside then
in here where you ignore me.

These bedraggled ferns,
dark green on mud, beaten by
recent rain, clutch the
gully’s perpendicular
sides like sailors near drowning.

A low blanket of
gray robs the evergreens of
their luster and snow
covers the ground, but you smiled
at me and now it is Spring.

The crow rocketed
off the road at my approach
as a squirrel darted
back and forth like a madman
on speed. My truck saved its life.

Feet crunch dry grass. Hot.
Bank sign says 101. Hot.
I dream of you. Hot.
Drought parches the land, but it’s
never too warm for romance.

Bayonet leaves aimed
at the sky, corn stalks stand at
attention beneath
slanting sunlight, green soldiers
awaiting orders to yield.

You picked a new guy.
Seven clicks on my cell phone,
all correspondence went
into the void. Can I
wipe my heart that easily?

Sunset’s golden haze
limns fractal branches on nude
trees beneath flying’
saucer clouds tinged saffron and
lavender. Snow’s on the way

Tanka by Andrew Bowen


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