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Urban Tumbleweed: The Dust That Clings…

“It’s just another day, another episode.”Van Hunt, Dust


Zadi Diaz tweeted this the other day in a retweet:


That resonated with me as I’d been slowly making my way through Urban Tumbleweed, Harryette Mullen’s tanka diary released late last year. Like Americanah, I read this as a physical, rather than e-, book. Poetry seems like something you should be able to squeeze between your fingers or hear spoken aloud.

It’s entirely possible I don’t know what I’m talking about, though. I don’t read much poetry. My interaction with poems are more of the rhythmic american variety.

But I tumbled an LA Times review that featured one of her tankas and it was clear something in it was meant for me. So, I’ve been reading it during rides to and from work and finding myself attempting to capture my observations of the happenings on the metro in verse.

Tankas. Longer than the haiku that are more common in the US. These are my poor attempts at that form.

A trio of girls take selfies on the speeding train, 
Quick flashes of light and dark as background 
I could learn from their artistry

The toddler and the old man next to each other but unrelated 
One in stroller, the other with cane 
Neither on sure footing

Loud youngsters drink and intimidate until they reach their stop
As the doors close
Quiet kindness returns for the relieved riders

Two girls pantomime being fisherman and prey
Giggles, smiles, and finally an embrace oblivious to all 
I smile too.

The world makes more sense in a poem.

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