These poems are my first attempts at tanka. Tanka is a Japanese form of poetry, which I learned about here from Murisopsis! Tanka consists of 5 phrases with a syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7 and it does not need to rhyme. In Japanese it’s written in one unbroken line but when written in English it’s broken into 5 lines.

Pepto Bismol sips
My stomach churns on and on
Undigested lies
Require better treatment
A prescription truth serum

She calls my cell phone
Since her story is like mine
The seats are vacant
Midnight on the Big Blue Bus
I wait for my phone to die

He doesn’t suspect
That I have my suspicions
About the sock bin
If there is something hidden
Christmas morning will reveal

Poem 1 is about a time when I was a teenager and I felt physically sick because I was keeping a big secret from my parents. I was sneaking around behind their backs and telling lies left and right to cover my tracks. Looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self: “The guilt is not worth is, just come clean and everything will be fine!”

Poem 2 is about a time a few years later, when I had a traumatic experience and everyone seemed to find out about it. My family, my friends, my friends’ families. At the time I wished my story was a secret. I still wonder if I would have healed faster in privacy.

Poem 3 is about the present time, when I’m blessed to only have happy secrets. Like getting surprise presents!

Thank you for reading. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder, does it add a layer to the poems when I explain what was in my head when I wrote them? Or would it be more interesting to post the poems without context and trust them to tell a story on their own?

22 thoughts on “Poems about secrets

  1. I like the explanations at the end- after I finished the poems the first time and after reading your explanations I reread the poems and it read differently which is kind of cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s what I thought too, the meaning can really change depending on the perspective. With just a few syllables there is not a lot of room to tell a story- I guess that’s the beauty of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all very strong poems!! Great use of the form! As for the question about exposition on the background/history/meaning behind the poem, that is your choice. I generally do give some point of reference but it isn’t always necessary. It is a very individual decision… Poet’s choice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly the phrase I was looking for: a point of reference. Whether it’s more for myself or for the reader I’m not really sure…
      For me one of the challenging things about poetry is not being able to control the meaning as much, because there’s more room for interpretation.
      Thank you very much for reading, and inspiring me to try new poem forms!!


  3. Lovely poems from different stages in your life! Iโ€™m only familiar with haiku and it was interesting learning about this difference type of Japanese poetry structure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, these are BRILLIANT TAnkas, especially when you explain the context and meaning behind them. So splendidly written. Iโ€™m especially fascinated by the one about your teen self hiding secrets from parents. ๐Ÿ˜€ Lovely TAnkas, my friend! ๐Ÿ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked them and thank you for letting me know! I was hoping for that symbiosis between prose and poetry because I also have trouble reading standalone poems and understanding what the author meant.


  5. I like the insight provided with the poems. It made me even more curious about your journey. I also respect the transition from shameful to happy secrets. That takes self-awareness and strength to change and evolve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿงก I felt gratitude as I wrote this post, reflecting on how I used to be so sneaky and guilty, and now my only secrets are fun surprises for loved ones. It is a beautiful freedom!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the addition of the explanations, but I’d like to see the explanations in poetic form so that you could write one grand poem interspersing two styles like the melody and chorus of a song.

    I wonder sometimes whether the Japanese forms are really appropriate in English. Traditionally, written as a one line song in Japanese, I’m thinking that to be in the spirit of the thing, it might be better if an English form could be proposed that is equivalent in feel to whatever a Japanese speaker feels when reading in Japanese. They say the last two lines should have metaphors. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to go. But I’ve seen sample tankas in English where the grammar has been arranged so that actually it is possible to read it as a single line. It’s interesting to play around I suppose.

    Pepto Bismol sips, my stomach churning on bad undigested lies requiring better dogs, a prescription truth bark.

    Google does interesting things with translation of English to Japanese and back to English. I don’t know if you could sing this as a short song or not. The computer voice is very plain, but maybe it could be an opera: Pepto Kabuki or something.
    Peputobisumasu wa hitokuchi nomimasu, watashi no i wa shลka sa rete inai warui uso o kakimawashi, yoriyoi inu, shohลsen no shinjitsu no juhi o hitsuyล to shimasu.

    Peptobismus takes a sip, my stomach stirs undigested bad lies and needs a better dog, the true bark of the prescription.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for giving me the idea to write one big poem including explanations as poetry, it sounds like a challenge and I will give that a try next time! I agree that Japanese forms don’t have the same essence when written in English. It makes sense that tanka needs the last two lines to be metaphor for it to really work. And I like your update “Pepto Bismol sips, my stomach churning on bad undigested lies requiring better dogs, a prescription truth bark.” It does flow as one line! Thanks so much for your great comment and ideas. I love to learn. ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

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