Tanka with Paint Chips

It’s Friday again (well, actually Thursday when I’m writing this, but for you readers it’s Friday). We are into the T section of the poetry dictionary and the entry I’ve selected is the tanka. It was hard to choose because I also love the terza rima, but I decided we’ll do a second round in the T section next and do the terza rima then. For now, the definition of tanka, for those who aren’t familiar with this fun little form, is:

TANKA (tahn’-ka; also called waka and uta) Japanese verse form consisting of five lines with a syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7 (or thirty-one syllables in all).

Numerically, a tanka is like a haiku with two seven-syllable lines added on. As might be imagined, the form is less concentrated than haiku, more casual and conversational, less mysterious, less spiritual. Imagery is important, but there is ample room for statement and declaration, too.

Influenced by Chinese poetryy a few centuries old, tanka succeeded the “long poem” (or choka), which alternated lines of five and seven syllables. The new form gained popularity in the seventh and eighth centuries.

the poetry dictionary, p. 314-315

The Challenge

Your challenge is to write a casual tanka using at least two of the seven paint chip words and phrases. I’m in the mood for silly, so bonus points if you write something that makes me laugh.

The paint chip words and phrases you have to choose from are ivory, tip of the tongue, dappled sunlight, spinach, new leaf, gargoyle, and dumpling.

You also get bonus points if you can fit four of these words and phrases in a single tanka and have it still make sense.

My Tanka

A creamy dumpling
on the tip of the tongue tastes
delightful and free
Savory treat with gravy
like warmth of dappled sunlight

Your Turn

Okay, most of you know the drill, but for any newbies I’ll remind you. Share your tanka in the comments if you like. Or you can post it on your own blog or website and post a link in the comments. Please link back here so your readers can come join the fun.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


19 Responses

    • I don’t think I’ve ever made dumplings, but this might inspire me to give it a try. But I’ll have to wait for cooler weather. We’re expecting a high of 113 this Sunday so I won’t be cooking much hot food.

  1. Oh gosh, Linda! This one spoke to me and I had to try! Haha!

    ivory gargoyle
    nicknamed “dumpling” by his peers
    in dappled sunlight
    ponders retort stuck right there
    on the tip of his stone tongue.

  2. If this doesn’t make anyone smile, it is only five lines long.
    Grumpy Gargoyle Grumbling in the Shade

    Ivory gargoyle groans,
    “Me, why me? I’ve got to know!”
    None dare answer why.
    “Dappled sunlight, new leaf tones,”
    grumpy gargoyle grumbles so.

  3. Not sure it will make anyone laugh, but I did use four paint chips.


    A new leaf is a page turned
    In dappled sunlight
    It may look like choice ivory
    Or just a bunch of spinach

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