five tanka

below the moonrise
at a neighborhood diner
an old man sits alone
waits for his order
to be taken

this morning
no birdsong
instead I listen to
the chirping of
my wife’s hearing aids

on a nature hike
where roots grow deep
elders with trekking poles
amble forward
surrounded by birdsong

nonagenarian poet
regrets to keep missing
the monthly readings
her dance rehearsals
scheduled at the same time

in the garden
birdsong and buzzing bees
while you pull weeds—
it’s never too late
to grow young

Interconnecting Circles

John Rowe
Born 1964

At age 25, I was an aspiring poet wanting to make sure I had time and space in my life to create poems. This desire developed in college, where I received my BA in English with creative writing emphasis. However, at that time I wasn’t comfortable with answering yes to the question: “Are you a poet?” I was working alongside my father in a small business (Mail Boxes Etc. franchise) in my North Berkeley hometown neighborhood, that we had just started the year prior.

Advice to my younger self: Don’t worry about what you imagine other people think of you. Be brave and speak your truth.

#John Rowe


  1. Ruth Fleak - April 22, 2024 @ 7:54 am

    You are an inspiration, my beloved nephew!

  2. Karen Hunt - April 18, 2024 @ 12:16 pm

    I’m reading this lovely poem “in the garden bird song and buzzing bees.” Fortunately my hearing aids aren’t chirping at the moment. Thank you especially for the line “it’s never too late to grow young.”

  3. David Schweidel - April 14, 2024 @ 4:47 pm

    Love the wit!

  4. Mardith - April 9, 2024 @ 3:23 pm

    These are lovely, John. I especially like the second tanka, with wife’s hearing aids.

  5. Carl - April 8, 2024 @ 9:05 pm

    What a wonderfully peaceful poem. And yes the “hearing aid chirping” and ” birdsong and the buzzing of bees”. It is a pleasure to become acquainted with your poetry.

  6. Daniel Danzig - April 6, 2024 @ 6:26 pm

    Love this style. I only just recently learned of this haiku like – tanka. Form.

  7. bruce Bagnell - April 6, 2024 @ 10:22 am

    Clap, clap. Your usual succinctness and observation. Thanks, John.

  8. Martina Reaves - April 6, 2024 @ 7:48 am

    I love the poet missing meetings to dance! And the chirping hearing aids. A delightful poem.

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