Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Black Spot Tanka

a dark spot
on the winter moon
back again
from the hospital
my wife says nothing

Third Place, Mandy's Pages Annual Tanka Contest, 2018

Judge's Report by Shrikaanth K. Murthy: Another powerful poem that transposes the dark spot from the moon to the uncertainty the future holds. Why does the wife say nothing? Is it because the truth is too disturbing to digest? Or is it to protect the husband? Clearly, this isn’t the first time this has happened. A nice backstory to it that is left to the reader to fill in. Tanka sing stories, and they also offer lot of contemplative space to the reader.

Female Body and Moonlight Tanka

her body
stretched out on the sand
with moonlight
slanting across her breasts ...
she looks at me, me alone

NeverEnding Story, July 27, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018


old bartender
gone with the bar . . .
on the way home
thirsty for the things
I’ve never had

a glass
and a bottle of wine
in the dawnlight
with my demons

Atlas Poetica, 33, 2018

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Selected Haibun: A Woman Who Enjoys Reading Orlando

first kiss --
behind the bookshelf
her scent lingers

Her parting words scribbled in pencil on the back of a transfer ticket:

Elizabeth and I finally enter the caves -- warm, damp, and fold upon fold -- that are bigger than your mind can hold. With my mouth, I swallow her and myself ...

Alone on the road to our favorite beach. It twists along the edge of the ragged coastline.

waves lapping  ...
that night her fingers
caressed me

Modern Haiku, 45:3, Autumn 2014

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

Diamond Ring Tanka

down on one knee
with a diamond ring
I wait ...
in the cloudy sky
starlings shape-shifting

Ribbons, 14:2, Spring/Summer 2018

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Child Refugee Tanka

the breeze
scented with a hint
of spring ...
the face of a child refugee
wreathed in smiles

Ribbons, 14:2, Spring/Summer 2018

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Selected Tanka: Parrot Tanka

I sit alone
on New Year’s morning
the parrot
the snowy silence

Bright Stars, V, 2014

Monday, August 6, 2018

Selected Tanka: Revolving Door Tanka

an old man
in ragged clothes
in cagy combat
with a revolving door

Bright Stars, V, 2014

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Selected Tanka: Playboy and IKEA Tanka

my classmate
used to sit in the bathroom
with Playboy ...
now feasts his eyes
on the IKEA catalogue

Bright Stars, V, 2014

Selected Tanka Prose: A Portrait of the Poet as an Immigrant

Drunk on moonlight from Taipei I stand alone under the Toronto sky.

My mind is schizophrenic, but my hand is steady as I pursue a would-be poem on this wintry night.

my anguish
crumpled into a ball  ,,,
I keep writing
as the wastebasket waits
for another throw

Sunlight drifts through the window and settles on the worn cover of A New Practical Chinese-English Dictionary. My heart, that lonely hunter, seeks the page where the odor of words is strongest.

every day
tastes a little
my hunger for words
to picture a poet

Haibun Today, 8:3, September 2014

Friday, August 3, 2018

Canada Day Fireworks Tanka

Canada Day fireworks --
this roller coaster ride
of emotions
up, down, and up again
to reach my immigrant dream

Kokako, 28, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Selected Haibun: I Am a Poet Nevertheless

if you die poor and young,
your poems may be worth something ...

her dimpled smile

After she left me for a man with a 9 to 5 job, I say to myself, at least I have two loyal readers: my drunken shadow and the black hooded man holding a scythe.