Urban Tumbleweed: From a Tanka Diary

Along the roadside, someone has spilled
pink Styrofoam peanuts. They add color
to the grassy green, but I still prefer flowers.

Ninety-nine dashing dots crisscross
the walk, red ants converging on a spot where
someone’s dropped a greasy bite of pepperoni.

Intrepid, worldly, and sophisticated food critic
laments she’s found no wine pairs well
with scorpions or tarantulas.

Airline passenger detained was no
fanatic hiding explosives, but a smuggler
with expensive lizards in his pants.

Though they can’t help flaunting their
vulnerability, I imagine that creeping snails
are trusting me to spare their fragile shells.

Yesterday we talked about your favorite
poem. Today you brought a gift
of fully ripe persimmons in a paper bag.

Harryette Mullen is the author of the poetry collections Recyclopedia and Sleeping with the Dictionary, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her new book, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press. She teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles.