Mandy's Contest 2020





a smell of sea salt

in gale winds

mussels hug the pilings

and gulls plant their feet



The poet here welcomes us to use our physical senses of smell

(of the sea), touch (of the wind), and sight (of mussels and gulls) to allude to something outside the tanka. The mussels and gulls in the face of forceful winds bring me to my own challenge to hang on in the face of difficult conditions. The pandemic is an immediate one, but forces outside our control challenge each of us in personal ways throughout our lives. I confess that for me this tanka was a much-needed dose of medicine.

a twilit lake

with wispy mares' tails clouds

twisting about

in the deepness of sky-

my worries seem shallow



In these clouds that are generally sparse and thin at high altitudes, there is movement in natural phenomena that personify the flux in our own lives. I could relate to this perspective-taking pause in the day that I fathom other readers might, too, at low points in their lives. This tanka prompted me to take measures of priorities. A bonus: this tanka is a model of lyrics.--Neal Whitman, Judge