Sisters Sing Madrigals

Twin Pink Dahlias

young sisters, grow
sing madrigals to summer
dance all the day

turn toward the starlight
chins tucked into dreaming

wayward thistledown
spirals one way then the next
chased by bluejays

more voices join madrigals
sisters betwixt and between

too close, bash heads
dreams shaken by storm wind
madrigals fade

one summer lasts a lifetime
starlight lasts even longer

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: This poem is arranged into three tankas. A madrigal is a either a medieval poem or a song without instruments in two or more parts. I like to think madrigals sung by flowers would be both poem and song. May your week be lightened by flower song.

Flowers Unlaced, An Invitation

lavender Creeping phlox

pinwheels of nectar
enjoy their moment in the sun
bees kiss and flirt

gold dusts my skin from
wildflowers unlaced

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: You are invited to add a haiku or even another tanka in the comments below. For those new to haiku and tanka: they are brief, present-tense observations of the world. They are written as snapshots of moments with meaning. They often relate to nature and the season, in this case spring. A haiku is often framed as three lines with syllables of 5, 7 then 5. A tanka contains the haiku and then two lines of 7 syllables added. These are guidelines, rather than strict rules, and I have seen haiku of only one line. These are the basic rules, but there are many, many more. You can spend a lifetime perfecting poetry, but only if you write it.



Diamond Snow Tanka

Trees knee deep in snow

pink morning light
gilds young trees, knee-deep in ice
thousands of diamonds

break light into rainbows,
blinding me to spring

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

NoteTanka is defined in Oak Leak Tanka. This photograph was taken this spring. You can compare it to a picture taken last winter of the same trees in Five Brothers Tanka. This poem is in honor of Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Check it Out.

Poetry Friday Badge

Sunsets Burning

I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.

Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.

—  Pablo Neruda, from Clenched Soul

Sunset in Newton Highlands

Black-fingered trees
Yearn to touch the sky’s palette
Aglow with sunset

Icy winter dormancy
Kindled by sunset passion

This Tanka poem was inspired by Valentine’s Day, sunsets and Poetry Friday, this week hosted by Merely Day by Day. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Poetry Friday with kids

Full Bloom Tanka


crocus embracing,
offering nectar to bees
tickling, tiny feet

petals dancing with laughter
honey blossoms with flavor

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

NoteTanka is defined in Oak Leak Tanka. Please feel free to add your haiku or tanka here, if you are moved to join in. 🙂 In the past, Japanese poets would alternative haiku (3 lines, 5/7/5 syllables) with two 7/7 lines, playing off each other’s work. It’s fun, if you want to try. 

Oak Leaf Tanka


small oak sapling sways
leaves bob in the bitter wind
frosted with snowflakes

waving to fallen leaf friends
oak leaf lingers to kiss spring buds

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: A Tanka is a Japanese poetry form that has five lines with syllable counts per line of 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7. In another way of thinking of it, a Tanka is a haiku with two longer seven-syllable lines added as a second stanza. Some purists find fault with any rhyming within the poem. The third line is intended to be a turning point, or a pivot, about which the meaning of the poem turns or changes. I don’t know if my poem achieved that or not. I enjoyed learning about it, and I hope you’ll give it a try, too.