from “Tankas Excavated from Ashbery’s Convex Mirror”

—where all poems, source poem or tanka, begin with 1 or 1-2 lines from “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” by John Ashbery


Eileen R. Tabios





Witnessed in the Convex Mirror (#27): Beyond the Stars



Something like living occurs, a movement

out of the dream into its codification

like a mother’s grieving transformed into

a daguerreotype of a black swan perched

on a boy’s shoulder. But the moment’s

significance evaporates as the round

mirror widens its circumference until

the tips of its diameter melts into—you

choosepools of blood or the relieving

blackness of outer space. Your choice

will reveal something about youit may

not be relevant, or be the breakthrough

long rumored as regards psychology

Trees always fall alone in thick forests

They remind All has been foretold, if not

told. Recall when Captain Kirk eagerly

pointed the starship USS Enterprise

towards the star archipelagothe cheesy

albeit charming song observes, “Beyond

the rim of the star-light: a woman.” Just

another romance? How often does desire

for the modern lapse to the archetype?




Tanka #148


Something like living

Occurs: a mother’s grief forms

A black swan’s profile

When a tree falls, it’s alone

Beyond the rim of star-light







Witnessed in the Convex Mirror (#16): Blind Physicists



In suspension, unable to advance much farther

than your look intercepting mine. I was tiptoeing

through a book, looking for a way to express

my smile. I was contemplating the energy of

a curve. I was transcending night dampness

I was curing a cup of yogurt with mashed Bing

cherries, thus appreciating yet again the

recognition of contexts. Where we all exist, we

are bound by the same gravitythere is no

such thing as vacuum. As it turned out, it was

yogurt curing the cherries for my palate, not

the other way around as the cherries were

sour. Physics cannot exist without observation

and, often, the blind most keenly observe




Tanka #149


Unable to advance

Your look intercepted mine—

A curve quick with energy

We are bound by gravity

Physics exist when we see







Witnessed in the Convex Mirror (#59): Hay naku!



Photographs of friends, the window and the trees

merging in one neutral band that surrounds

a memory of you until I no longer recognize

the face, the gestures, the scent of this same

memory—so much Sturm und Drang only to end

with a beige whimper? But it’s all for the best

for your body, thus mine too, to evaporate into

a song lyric. These boy bands, girl bands, trans

bands emote so well into microphones. Plus their

dances! Plus their outfits! So many sequins!

There could be a worse ending to romance—

I know you, too, are sitting by a window watching

yourself watching the moon slip away into haiku




Tanka #150


Photographs of friends

Merge into one neutral band

Who recognizes

You Who, lingering by windows

Watching moons fall to haiku









Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace.  Her 2018 poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator, the bilingual edition (English/Spanish) of One, Two, Three: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems and TANKA: Vol. 1.  She is the inventor of the poetry form “hay(na)ku” whose 15-year anniversary in 2018 will be celebrated in the United States with exhibitions and readings at the San Francisco Public Library and Saint Helena Public Library.  Translated into eight languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays as well as served as editor or guest editor for various literary journals.  Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies.  Eileen R. Tabios is online at