Kerf with Mild Sri Lankan Curry: #TankaTuesday Today

This week’s prompt by Colleen Chesebro is to find a spice in my cupboard and write a syllabic poem about it. I chose a spice that I no longer use that has sentimental significance. And for the form, I chose a hard one, the Kerf. The reason I find it hard is that I think pairing syllable counts with rhymes makes it hard for the poem to be sincere and meaningful.

Kerf with Mild Sri Lankan Curry

When I was in grad school,
she was my daughter’s teacher
in the university’s large day care.

She taught my girl each rule,
was the one who could reach her.
We became friends with times and hugs to share.

We loved her native food--
curry that she loved to cook--
so she gave us dried powder at the car--

richest spices, imbued.
Now we can just hug; time took
her memories, leaving only this jar.


You can see why I want to keep the jar of curry powder, although what is left at the bottom is no longer fresh or at its peak. But when I open the jar I remember the old Elaine, vibrant and chattering and smelling of roses and fresh chicken curry.

About the Kerf: it is 12 lines with 4 tercets. Lines of each tercet are syllable counts of 6-7-10. The rhyme pattern is abc, abc, dec, dec per stanza.

This Sunday and Monday is the release of my new poetry chapbook, Our Wolves, based on the Red Riding Hood story.


Filed under #amwriting, #TankaTuesday, Poetry, Writing, Writing prompt

33 responses to “Kerf with Mild Sri Lankan Curry: #TankaTuesday Today

  1. Interesting poem and interesting story. I bet she made unusual foods!

    • Thanks, Kate! It’s so sad. I last saw her at my daughter’s wedding, and she remembered me with love. it was kind of amazing! She made delicious food! and she made it gluten free to the gardener :).

  2. Lots of emotion around this one.

  3. Luanne this is a lovely poem that touches my heart.

    FYI, will you double-check your link at Mr. Linky? It did not link to this poem. I found it by looking at your blog directly.

    • Thank you so much about the poem–and also letting me know about the link! I think what happened is that I used the template of my first #TankaTuesday post and that is what Mr. Linky decided to use. I’ve now posted the corrected one. I don’t know how to take down the wrong one, but did leave a note on Colleen’s blog post.

  4. I appreciate you can use the music of form to form a poem about a spice from someone you appreciated.

  5. Ah… a challenge indeed. I generally stay away from rhyme and meter. I think you did just fine. A lovely ode to a cherished memory.

    • Meter as it fits in places in a free verse poem is wonderful and so is the occasional rhyme. But a specific form of rhyme I find very difficult because the goal is to fit the rhyme rather than to say it as specifically as possible. Thank you so much!

      • There are times when a prompt blog I follow offers a new form with restrictios… I try it at least once. But I fall back on my favorite forms that I am comfortable with after oodles of years of writing 😀

  6. The kerf seems a tricky form to use, but I think you made it work, particularly in the last stanza.

  7. My eyes glaze over when considering form, but I get the need to keep some curry powder

  8. Well, I think you did the form well. I loved the story behind it. We are all memory keepers; our friends/family live on through us. Love your lovely heart. Blessings.

  9. Very interesting prompt and how you chose to answer it.

  10. As I read this poem, I couldn’t help but be touched by the beautiful way in which you’ve captured the essence of friendship and the memories that endure. The anecdotes and descriptions of the rich flavors of Sri Lankan curry transported me to moments shared with dear friends over a delicious meal. It makes me think about the power of food to connect people across cultures and time, as the curry powder serves as a tangible reminder of the shared experiences and memories that have now become cherished keepsakes. Your words also remind me of the bonds that are formed when someone cares for and teaches a child, and how those relationships can lead to lifelong friendships. The bittersweet feelings of nostalgia and gratitude that this poem elicits are a testament to the lasting impact that certain people and moments can have on our lives. The carefully crafted syllabic structure added to the poem’s elegance, demonstrating your mastery of language and form. It was a reminder of the power of food to bring people together and the joy that comes with celebrating life’s simple pleasures with those we love. 👍👏👌😊

    • This is such a lovely response. You are right about the power of food to connect people, as well as the bonds formed by caring for a child. Elaine understand my child from the moment she met her. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter would cry her head off the moment I left her, but rather than tell me so that I would quit school, Elaine took her under her wing (literally, really, as she kept my daughter by her side for everything). Her method really worked, and my daughter became very confident and independent! Thank you very much for commenting about my poem with such thoughtfulness.

  11. Oh, Luanne, this is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this memory with us through your poetry.

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

  12. Interesting thing about curry… as it is a mix of herbs and spices –
    each country or family can have their own mix 🙂

  13. Luanne, this is beautiful and poignant! I too, love curry. Those memories… all wrapped in a spice jar. ❤️

  14. … time took
    her memories…

    Oh no! 🙁
    That’s so sad, Luanne…


  15. A beautiful and touching piece.🙏🏾

  16. Beautiful, Luanne. I was fascinated by the story, and as well, the poem. ❤️

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