Poetry Project – February 2018

Oooooo, we are going to have so much fun this year!
Seriously, you should see our poetry calendar.
It is chock full of good ideas.

Here’s one:
Write a tanka (a 5-line Japanese form of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) based on or inspired by one of the sonnets written by a poetry sister last month! I love how this prompt keeps us connected — to each other, and to what we’ve written before. (Thanks, Laura!)

So, I looked at Tricia’s poem DEEP BREATH. It’s a lovely mediation on breath — a baby’s first and the ones we all take each and every day to get through, well, life.

My tankas (yes, I wrote three) (no, I couldn’t stop at one) took a leap from breath and went right into the very bodily lungs that do the work of breathing. And, in particular, the fact that the left lung is smaller — has an indentation, an impression, a cardiac “notch” out of it, where the heart sits. Aren’t our bodies just wildly clever?

Anyway, enough about all that and here we go. Happy poetry Friday!

Three Respiratory Tanka
By Liz Garton Scanon, inspired by Deep Breath by Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Studying the lungs
with their wing-like symmetry:
thoracic balloons,
bronchus beautiful as trees,
dispensing and receiving.

They are nearly twins,
identical but not quite
(because of the heart).
The heart carves out its own space,
the left lung makes room for it.

Oh, imperfect lung,
the heart leaves its impression
on each one of us!
When we give it what it needs
it pays us back, beat by beat.

For more tanka, go visit:

And more Poetry Friday poems at Mainely Write!

Posted on 02/02/2018 03:59 am


  1. I adore the fact that you took a poem about breath and went into the scientific heart of the matter. And that last stanza? Breathtaking. I’m blowing you kisses right now …


    • And I love the puns in your comment!!
      Really, I couldn’t believe that your lovely, lyrical piece sent me deep into lung research but it was SO INTERESTING!!!


  2. These are so wonderful, Liz. I especially love the heart carving out its own space and the lungs as thoracic balloons. You always do such an amazing job of imbuing very concrete topics with emotions!


  3. Wow. Three! And you breathe life into all of them. Perfect mix of science and emotion. I swear, these don’t even seem like forms—just precisely lovely puffs of breath you put on the page.


  4. Oh, WOW. Wow, wow, wow.
    Last time, I linked my tankas, and I had fun with it, but decided to try the individual topic ones… but now I want to go back!!

    Liz, you nailed it. And my imperfect lung is breathless. This is really, REALLY good.


  5. Oh, thanks, Tanita.
    There’s something freeing about this form — I guess it’s the lack of rhyme scheme, maybe?
    Anyway, I could have kept going!


  6. Wow, science and soul…love this. Great fun writing responsively like that. Great connections. Thanks for sharing!


  7. Combining informational text into your tanks-wonderful and these are the lines that stand out to me: The heart carves out its own space,
    the left lung makes room for it.



  8. A wonderful link-up: science and poetry, Liz.
    The heart carves out its own space,
    the left lung makes room for it.


  9. I do appreciate this poetic celebration of the lungs so very much – as a person with a respiratory condition I know all too well how important our lungs are, and how easy it is to take our health for granted!


  10. Wow! From breath to lungs to life.


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