Two Haiku and a Tanka by Marilyn J. Dykstra

Two Haiku and a Tank
by Marilyn J. Dykstra

Haiku and tankas are Japanese forms that work well in English. They are short unrhymed poems. Haiku have three lines, consisting of a two-line phrase and a single line fragment. In English, the recommended number of syllables in each line is 5/7/5, but the actual number of syllables may vary if the lines are all reasonably short. Haiku are usually written about nature with a hint at a season. Tanka are often love poems. They have five lines with the syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7. Again, the line length may vary slightly. The key is economy of words: to say a lot in few words describing a moment in time.

September 20, 2021

A caravan of creatures
with big bright eyes lumbers
to harvest vineyards.

October 7, 2021

Blond tarantula
seeks the lacy perfumed den
of an older woman.

October 5, 2021 

My flashlight reveals
outhouse walls covered
with shadows on stilts
giant black spiders searching
for love in the night.

As these poems demonstrate, they often have a twist at the end. Try writing your own haiku or tanka! Children are especially good at writing haiku. Their natural curiosity and observations make them better at writing haiku than adults.

Hear Marilyn J. Dykstra, and other selected poets, read their poems on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

The value of poetry workshops: nine poets recite original poems Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast

Submit your polished poetry for the opportunity of being published on and being interviewed on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast.

Marilyn J. Dykstra

Marilyn J. Dykstra has been passionate about walking in nature ever since she walked out her backdoor as a child growing up in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York. Now as an adult living in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two young adult children, she is combining her two passions of walking in nature and writing poetry. She has a B.A. with a major in Spanish from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. She has lived all over the US in upstate New York, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Georgia, and California. Wherever she goes, she enjoys hiking and backpacking with her family and dogs, in addition to Nordic skiing, snow camping, and

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