Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tanka Poems

Poet and Tanka
by Victor P. Gendrano

Reprinted from Ribbons, Tanka Society of America Journal,
Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 2007

Most of my tanka poems has a pervading sense of pain, loss, and loneliness, no doubt engendered by the loss of my wife of forty-five years. That night, on our way home from the hospital, I noticed the almost full moon and wrote this afterwards.

the August moon
starts to wane
chilling the night
my wife returns
to her Creator

For me, the tanka form is a welcome change from the brevity of the three-lined haiku which I learned to write first, with its restrained, unstated, and reigned-in personal emotions. The additional two lines can further amplify what you are trying to say with the gamut of emotions you can muster.

While the days passed by so slowly, I felt, I wrote poems everyday, in hindsight, as a form of therapy and to preserve my sanity. Also, the very act of writing has a cathartic effect on my psyche, not unlike that of confronting and disdaining your demons.

the rustle
of fallen leaves muffles
the sound of your absence
as long nights sharpen
the barbs of autumn chill

In the over ten years that my wife was in and out of the hospital, I wrote about this seemingly ordinary clinical procedure.

she nonchalantly
offers her arm
for the nurse’s needle
as I look away
she feels my pain

Much much later, I decided to join the land of the living while trying to cope and adjust to a life without a partner.

warmth of her smile
in that winter weekend
fantasy fling
am I ready or a fool
to fall in love again

I started writing poems when I was in high school, but in Tagalog, the major language of the Philippines. I am a poet in exile as I was born and raised in the Philippines. English is my second language.

I get ideas for my poems from personal experiences and reactions from what's happening around me. My poems range from the serious to the mundane, from the philosophical to the humorous.

in search of light
a moth plunges
into the flame
the heat and passion
of love unfolding

football fever
she hugs his pillow
for company
their bed grows colder
each passing game

Editor’s note:

Gendrano published a book titled, Rustle of bamboo leaves: selected haiku and other poems, in November 2005. Earlier, for 13 years, from 1987 to 1999, he published and edited Heritage magazine, an English-language quarterly dealing with Filipino culture, arts and letters, and the Filipino American experience.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Parting words

last gasp of summer
she called me
not to see her anymore

She couldn't bear to tell me face to face, that's what I thought when she phoned me not to see or call her anymore. Pressed for an explanation, she firmly and regrettably, yet unhesitatingly, reasoned, "I don't want you to get hurt." A flood of memories unfolded before me then - our happy trips together, dining out, and that unforgettable night with her in an Indian casino, gambling and frolicking the night away.

That was a year ago, today. We never saw or talked to each other since.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nine eleven

my first flight
since nine eleven
remove your shoes sir
a tacit reminder
air travel's not the same

Vic Gendrano

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Her absence

dry leaves cover
the empty park bench
her long absence

Tagalog version

mga tuyong dahon
sa bangko sa parke
kay tagal niyang wala