Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Man's Maple Moon: Heart Murmur Tanka by Michael Dylan Welch

English Original

the doctor tells us
of the baby's heart murmur --
outside the hospital window
snow half way
down the distant mountain

Honorable Mention, 2006 TSA International Tanka Contest

Michael Dylan Welch

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

寶寶的心臟有雜音 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

宝宝的心脏有杂音 --

Bio Sketch

Michael Dylan Welch is vice president of the Haiku Society of America, founder of the Tanka Society of America (2000), and cofounder of Haiku North America conference (1991) and the American Haiku Archives (1996). In 2010 he also started National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), which takes place every February, with an active Facebook page. His personal website is, which features hundreds of essays, reviews, reports, and other content, including examples of his published poetry.

1 comment:

  1. After such devastating news, the distant mountain becomes a compelling symbol, its snow indicating the chilled numbness that the parents must feel. Just as the snow is half way down the mountain, we realize this child’s life may be curtailed.

    -- excerpted from the judge's comment, which can be accessed at

    Reading Welch’s poem, we notice a turn it takes in the third line, a turn from hearing the condition of the child to looking through a hospital window and letting the natural world communicate the stunned parents’ feelings. Those writing tanka strive for such a turn, often in the third line, marking the transition from the examination of an image to the examination of personal response. This connects, Welch tells us, what the Japanese call kami-no-ku, or upper poem, to the shimo-no-ku, or lower poem.

    -- Sheila Bender’s Commentary, which can be accessed at