Friday, April 4, 2014

One Man's Maple Moon: Soldier Tanka by Joyce S. Greene

English Original

the soldier
walks across campus
on his uniform
a Purple Heart
and a student's spit

Ribbons Tanka Cafe: "History,”  February 2013

Joyce S. Greene

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Joyce S. Greene lives with her husband in Poughkeepsie, New York.  A number of her poems have been published in various tanka journals and tanka anthologies.  She works as a Senior Accountant for an insurance company.


  1. The thematic shift in L5 adds emotional weight and sociopolitical significance to the poem, provoking the reader to ponder over American Militarism.

    For more info., see "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War" written by Andrew J. Bacevich and published by Oxford University Press in 2005.

  2. Your comment has left me scratching my head, Chen-ou. This tanka is written about a soldier who served during the Vietnam War – I was a teen and young woman at that time. Few soldiers were seduced into the military because of the esteem soldiers gained by their service. They were drafted. (In fact, very few who serve today are either.) Most soldiers are serving because it is a way out for them financially and they hope to gain job skills that they can not attain in college. College has become too expensive. I wrote this tanka from a purely non-political viewpoint, and it was not meant to be a commentary on America’s involvement in military conflict. Personally, I believe Americans are valiant in their efforts to help countries that are being oppressed by terrorists or other aggressors. Returning soldiers are now treated with the honor and respect they deserve for their service.

    1. Hi! Joyce:

      The contrasts (soldier vs. student and Purple Heart vs spit) are foregrounded in your tanka.

      A 'purely non-political perspective' carries 'political connotations.'

      Just some thoughts for your consideration.


  3. When a poet publishes a poem he or she loses control over it - a reader can and will interpret that poem from his or her own viewpoint. When I wrote this tanka my concern was for the Vietnam Vet, not for the politics of the Vietnam War. Thanks for your input, Chen-ou.