Tanka-Toys: A Memoir

August Kleinzahler

The planet may have tilted, if only a hint
when the shelf of cloud burnt angrily
before dusk
          jack-o’-lantern stuff

her hair the colour of her coat,
fallwear

      *******

The wet stain her bathing-suit left
on the bench
          the shape of Bolivia,
drying, drying into atolls
Ursa Minor, a thumbprint

      *******

It was at Herbie’s place, no
Pinckney’s, she showed us her pubes
and long shadow of thigh

The fresh linen smelled for all the world
What did the lady on TV call it?

An orchard of some kind

      *******

Sure it’s just like staring
out the window, Johnny
sure

but with fly eyes
and sidewise

      *******

When Pappy and Mahoney left
for dinner and a show

I was soooo a-LONE
there in the doorway, sore way
of being the phone ringing

It was summer again and green

      *******

You do turkey, baby, I like peas
snapbeans, oyster sauce, fuzzy

blonde roux

      *******

The clues to my being –
the bloody windsprint

the mashie niblick hanging
from a willow

the retreating aria

      *******

Oh, I was freed
freed, I say

kneeling, teething

chopchopchopping
like a tractor piston

like an outboard coughing up lake