Monday, January 20, 2014

One Man's Maple Moon: Sad Ghost Tanka by Jenny Ward Angyal

English Original

I lay your sad ghost
in the west room
of my heart ...
the mockingbird sings
what he doesn’t know

Second Place, 2013 Tanka Society of America International Contest 

Jenny Ward Angyal

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

的西廂房 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

的西厢房 ...

Bio Sketch

Jenny Ward Angyal lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in Gibsonville, NC, USA.  She composed her first poem at the age of five. Her tanka and other poems have appeared in various print and online journals and may also be found on her blog, The Grass Minstrel 


  1. Below is TSA judge's comment, which can be accessed at

    The somewhat illusive “sad ghost” of this tanka could be a younger brother or sister. Or one’s wayward offspring. Or a mate that didn’t work out. It is a person beloved, but not approved of. The mockingbird memorizes the songs of all the birds it hears, then splices them together into an astoundingly confused medley delivered at high volume. The babbling music goes on and on, repeating like a looped tape. We can perhaps envision the sad ghost as someone affectionate, charming, and honest to a certain depth, yet ultimately not deep, pulled this way and that by fad and whim, a life with no tiller, tragically flawed. Anyone old enough likely has at least one of these beautiful self-destructs resting in a special place in the heart’s chamber of memories.

  2. The contrastive acts depicted in the two parts of the poem are poignant, and the unconscious act of singing described in the lower verse tonally enhances the upper verse.