Saturday, May 31, 2014

missing clothes tanka

missing clothes,
but I don't have money
on my mind...
seed-pods blowing
off the sycamores

days so bad tanka

days so bad
I couldn't afford
a meal…
has a price tag

Friday, May 30, 2014

you are everything tanka

you are everything
I ever closed a door on,
the closet
of my childhood where no one
could ever find a broom

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just Published in Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor 
Volume 8, Number 2, June 2014


Sergio Ortiz 
San Juan, Puerto Rico

A Murdered Woman
She prepared for the Via Crucis by putting the white silk mantilla on top of the peineta buried in her azabache hair. La primera estación, hands clapped in dissonance, torches set on fire. Brunilda emerged from the shadows chained to the wall, un alma en pena. She dragged the long, heavy fetters a few steps before she tore off the bolero jacket and exposed her small white breast. Then she darted into the crowd, her little feet hammering the wooden floor with a flamenco, arms outstretched until the chains gave out and her body threw itself to the ground. Her sisters grabbed the chains around Brunilda's wrist, wrapped them around their own arms. The guitarist's widow grabbed the fetters too. All the women danced and flung themselves at the crowd. They pulled on the chains to haul their bodies up against the wall. With arms still wrapped in shackles, they ran into the crowd repeatedly until they were drenched in blood. No man saw fit to help.
a shot in the dark
flamingos scamper
on the white sands

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

another art tanka

the history of air—
this silence to its edge
and you will hear me

art tanka

begins with a lie,           
that’s the legend,
a sharp speck
in the eye

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

the bridges tanka

the bridges  
we have failed
to build
between us... my ink,
the color of veins and arteries 

Monday, May 26, 2014

he's been texting tanka

he's been texting
me all night...
is that a booty call?
I need to go to the bathroom
but first let me take a selfie

the normal heart tanka

the normal heart
an ocean of tears  
against the tide…
in the ruinous summer of a epidemic 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

winter camouflage tanka

in the arms
of winter camouflage
we can be
anything we want--
a spot of warmth in an icy world

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shame tanka sequence

Colonial Shame

words amassing faults--
a bird
trails its shadow
on the ground

my injured
airy forest at war...
bought & sold
a gallant extortion
of the past

I have no choice
but to use blended words...
I know
there's something better
down the road

must I learn
another language...
I stand
upon your back
to face your destiny

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

to all the seashells tanka

to all the seashells—
I set fire 
to the rain,
watched it fall
as I caressed your face



And I, have runaway to tell you– tonight
God weeps in my hands. Call me, exiled tonight.

Where are you now? Who lives in your arms tonight?
Whom else from rapture’s street will you unarm tonight?

My contenders for your love– you’ve invited them all?
This is mere offense, an alarm tonight.

Your treacherous love will be my harm tonight.
I can’t flee your imaginary charms tonight.

Love will not be familiar to my arms tonight.
I’ll try to break out of your arms tonight.

aroma of history Tanka

aroma of history,
boiling water and a pinch
of sage—
life's triumph in the thick
forest of a Japanese town

Van Morrison - Madame George

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

above sorrow's tree second tanka

above sorrow's tree
a flutter of wings
in the rain clouds...
we live our lives
in an oasis of language

the board tanka

this board
of curly maple –
a map
of the last age of my life
in its wandering grain

Sunday, May 18, 2014

rumble under your feet tanka sequence

rumble under your feet tanka sequence

I'm coming up from hell
with all you've suppressed--
hermetic texts
with stories of hot & dangerous

I'm coming up now 
with all that was hidden
get ready, big boys, 
I'm pushing up the ground
O censorious ones

I'm thrusting 
into your point of view, 
your private parts
O men of losing battles

Saturday, May 17, 2014

in the city of dust tanka

in the city of dust
you walk with your face
turned from me
I guard my goblet from the moon
amid the blooming roses

two boats moored tanka

two boats moored,  
rocking between nowhere
and nowhere...
two men wrestling nude  
in Lawrence’s Women in Love

Friday, May 16, 2014

because it is night tanka

because it is night
the lotus is nervous…
he waits for me
to say what might
awaken him from his dream

if this wood board tanka

if this wooden board
were a map, it would be
the atlas
of the last age
of my life

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I also published this other book of tanka: From Life to Life

I also published this other book of tanka:

From Life to Life

I just published a new book of poetry at

I just published a new book of poetry at

So What If I'm Wounded

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

in the city of dust tanka

in the city of dust
you walk with your face 
turned from me
I walk amid the late-blooming roses
and guard my glass from the moon

Monday, May 12, 2014

above sorrow's tree tanka

above sorrow's tree
a flutter of wings low in the
we carry our lives  
like a true oasis of language

Sunday, May 11, 2014



The door slams shut
and once again I'm driven back
to empty pages.
No rain or street voices,
nobody calling to someone else,
my fingertips touching reality’s face,
my own face streaked with tears
in the mirror at dawn.

Miles away—in time and space,
you offer your adieu and move on.
I stand in the desert where the cacti
bloom. Something strange gathers
in the sand below me.  A mystery
governed by those sacred absences  
that make the spirit soar.

In the desert far beyond the city,
one hears the cadences for which one longs,  
the lyrics of those half-forgotten songs…
some of them poignant, some of them witty.
The words come rushing back like songbirds.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

I keep calling and all I get
is an answering machine.
She’s eighty-nine and someone
has had the bright idea of getting her
an answering machine.
She probably doesn’t know
how to use it. Or maybe she can’t remember
to call back. She might have forgotten
where she put my phone number.
Anything could have happened at her age,
and I am furious, no livid, and full of anxiety.
I remember the birthday party
she had for me when I was seven.
The toys were all bigger than me.
The cake was a carousel, a huge carousel
with big beautiful horses. No one in town
had ever seen anything like it. Now I fail
to be grateful on mother’s day.
How can I forgive myself?



I saw myself 
before an empty stage.
I saw myself in galleries 
of laminated clippings 
declaring war on Boko Haram,
I saw myself on the subway 
in stinking clothes during rush hour 
with balloons attached to my ears.
I saw myself simulating masturbation 
while the Governer of Puerto Rico,
Alejandro Garcia Padilla, drove by.
I saw myself waking in the place 
where women die giving up  
my dream of being seen.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Broken Dolls

Broken Dolls


They enter the skin of painted leopards
to reveal mysteries, voodoo magic.
Then they gaze at the world from broken constellations,
sitting directly across temptation
and tittle-tattle about retiring in style.


She looks for her dealer,
keeping a vigilant eye on Icarus
ready to escape into exile.
Suddenly she’s one
with the concrete.


She doesn’t want to be a calendar queen.
She wants to be a doll and spend her day in silence.
She has body art;
cranes floating through pines,
lustrous yellow leaves.


She was happy to bend, raise her hand on camera,
but men and silicon made her sick.
Now she swims silently in heaven with a blue mantis,
sings praises to her king.


Nothing shocks anyone anymore.  Callous is the fad.
It is no wonder some end up living on the street.
Ten million baby girls swallow sand every decade
before their first scream while Barbie plays
with medical technology.


She started her career collecting porno 
hanging it in her bedroom.  She’s a woman of gold,
a character from a Joaquin Sabina song; Barbie Super Star.
When night is weighty with desolation
she swims
When her voice leaves me untouched
she flutters
When I hunger for at least one reprimand
she stops begging
When the sky forces her lips to lose the smile
she shivers
When I glare at the portrait of her parting life
she wonders:
Did I ever have a real friend?

My Shadow

My Shadow

Today I sit by the window
my delusion
spreads—nothing I think
has the quality
of a wounding experience.
I'm lonely because I allowed
you to step on my shadow.
But now that I've crawled out
of the ground I think I'll dance
on your grave.
Is this an angry statement?
You are dead like a great white wolf
who cannot sing, dead
sonofabitch, always mean to me.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Honorable Mention in April's IBPC Competition

Honorable Mention
by Sergio Ortiz

your name is missing—
it circles
in the shadow-world,
a wind-blown ghost

a salamander
crawls up my skin–
my tongue
tangles with aphasia,
ready to confront

his mouth
full of fumes -
I blaze up
like the ruff
of an offended bird

prisoners left
on the wall —
in a mass grave

Thursday, May 01, 2014

La Jaula Rota

La Jaula Rota

Un río de dimensiones míticas
puede inundar el corazón con luz …
Sin embargo lo que veo son pétalos
de cerezo cayendo.
Dentro de mí la jaula está rota.
Fuera de mí hace falta la parte que florece
con palabras en la primavera.
El río se convierte en dragón
cuando mi alma se convierte en espejo
inundado de luz.

A Broken Cage

A Broken Cage

A river of mythical proportions
can flood the heart with light…
yet all I see are cherry petals falling.
            Inside me the cage is broken.
Outside me, I miss the part that blooms
with words in spring.
The river turns into a dragon
as my soul turns into a mirror
flooded with light.          .

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