Refugee Memories: A Tanka Sequence
I. Precious memories Drawn upon in times of need Of those bygone days Days of tight togetherness Days of happiness and peace II. Days of calm beauty Days of small, mundane pleasures Days of great laughter Days of friends and families - All those days before the war III. Before the fighting Before conscription happened Before the bombs dropped Before all the suffering Before you fled for your life IV. When you had great dreams When you had a full belly When you had purpose When you had a loving home When you had a bright future V. Now all that is gone As air raid sirens echo And you find yourself In a nebulous limbo With just memories
Previously published in Poetry for Ukraine Anthology from THE POET.
Strength: An Ode to Refugees in Tanka
I. Leaving home behind Children and grandma in tow You flee so quickly Hoping to one day return Knowing it may not happen II. You may not go back Or it may not be the same Still, you leave it all Putting both past and present So very far behind you III. Fleeing for your life With just what you can carry Leaving memories Embarking on a journey Its end completely foreign IV. The not knowing hurts As does the thought of the life That you leave behind Yet, you find the strength to go To push past all of the pain V. Forward you progress Knowing suffering awaits Knowing tears and grief Knowing uncertainty lurks Knowing that you must survive VI. Just trying your best To live another dark day You have no comfort All you know is misery And fear - so very much fear VII. But you still persist Calling on the great power Of your freedom sweet Calling on your ancestors Calling on internal strength
The Indian War Canoe: A Tanka Sequence
I. Prepared for battle, Both God and Mother Nature Firmly at her bow, The Indian War Canoe Glides across the blue waters, II. Sailed by warriors, All of whom will gladly die On this fine fall day As they shoot so skillfully From their right front hip pockets. III. The dirt scrapes her hull - A foul taste deep in her soul - As they drag her hard. Finally, she feels water And is at her best once more. IV. She is old and wise, This Indian War Canoe - Very trustworthy. As anger fills men’s black hearts, Battlecries will rend the skies. V. Animal paintings Adorn the canoe’s bark sides. Grease-streaked faces focus. Some will live to tell the tale Of the bloodshed and the waves. VI. Others will perish, Consumed by rage and water. When the blood is spilled, The Indian War Canoe Will drift solemnly to shore.
Previously published in Issue 24 of Fireflies’ Light on September 7, 2021
©2022 Rose Menyon Heflin
All rights reserved
Rose Menyon Heflin…
…won a Merit Award for her poetry from Arts for All Wisconsin in both 2021 and 2022, one of her poems was performed by a dance troupe, and she had a CNF piece featured in the Chazen Museum’s Companion Species exhibit. Her recent and forthcoming publications include Deep South Magazine (Ode to Summer Rain and Gone), Fireflies’ Light, Hare’s Paw Literary Journal, Isotrope, Of Rust and Glass, Pamplemousse, Poemeleon, Red Weather, and San Antonio Review.