The Phoenix Rises in Fall: #TankaTuesday

Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing a syllabic poem about the mythological Phoenix or Thunderbird.

Because I live in Phoenix, Arizona, I wanted to write about the city. Phoenix was named after the bird of myth, but is often associated with it because of the extreme heat of the summers. In reality, it earned the name because it was a new city built on the ruins of the Hohokam civilization. I wrote a double tanka so I could work with both notions.

With flat-roofed houses

and white adobe mission,

they built a city

on the ancient vill ruins

of the Hohokam nation.

In celebration

of the fiery eponym

the city’s named for,

every summer it burns

to ash, then rises in fall.


Fall brings perfect weather, new and colorful flowers, and relief after the hellish summers.

City of Phoenix flag

As we move into summer, though, we do have lovely cactus flowers.

Grand dog Theo (love to babysit him)

When I take Theo out I try to walk in shade because I am very aware of the danger of heat to his paws.


Filed under #amwriting, #poetrycommunity, #TankaTuesday, #writingcommunity, Arizona, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Poetry, Writing, Writing prompt

52 responses to “The Phoenix Rises in Fall: #TankaTuesday

  1. An excellent poem combining origins of the name

  2. You stay up late to write! 🙂
    I never thought about the origin of the city’s name before. Thank you.

  3. This is amazing, spiritual and educational, I love it 💜💜

  4. I’m wondering how those Hohokam ruins came to be. Is their story the subtext of the poem?

    • Well, they disappeared about 700 years ago. It might have been a disaster but some experts now think it was actually immigration which put a strain on resources. The Hohokam had a very sophisticated irrigation system by the way. But there still was a limited amount of water.

  5. Looks like a fun dog! Great poem too!

  6. Amie

    Well done! Maybe you can work “monsoon” elements into an upcoming prompt.

  7. Lovely. Sweet dog too.

  8. Excellent poem, Luanne. We struggle with paws in the summer too. Over 100 here today.

  9. Love this post, Luanne – and thank you for my introduction to the Hohokam nation. I can’t remember ever hearing about them before. Your poem captures the essence of the Phoenix and your city, too.
    When we were in Phoenix in 2008 we brought our dog Annie with us – it was the summer heat in full swing, but we didn’t think about her paws like you are so helpfully doing for your adorable Theo.
    We finally got it, but your Theo is one lucky dog.

    • Thank you, Sheila. The Hohokam were an amazing civilization that completely disappeared without a trace. They were the people of the Phoenix valley, whereas the cliff dwellers north of here were Sinagua. The Hohokam built an elaborate irrigation system in Phoenix that served them well for hundreds of years.
      What you say about Annie is exactly why I think visitors to Phoenix need to be handed a manual when they arrive! How to Survive a Phoenix Summer or something like that hahaha. We get so many tourists and their dogs in trouble on the mountains because they go hiking at noon on a summer day! Sometimes they die. They’ve made new laws, but tourists don’t know!

  10. I love the way you worked with “Phoenix” in two ways in one poem. There’s a sense of past, present, and future — and of cycling through seasons. I love the cactus flowers as well. 🌵

  11. Excellent poem! Theo is quite adorable…You do need to watch their little paws in the extreme heat!

  12. This so interesting and a great poem Luanne

  13. I didn’t know that about the city origins. I can certainly attest to the second part! We went to Mesa to get our van when it was 114. Even parked in shade, we had to give up on the notion of spending the night in it and find a hotel – crowded and in the midst of Covid.

  14. Luanne, what a lovely poem you’ve written to honor Phoenix. I love the cactus photos… that was my favorite part of living there. Just so you know, it’s 67 degrees in EL today. Just perfect weather. 😍

  15. Amy

    I particularly like that last line “then rises in fall.” The double meaning of fall there made me smile. (The ashes do fall, don’t they?) And what a cute dog!

  16. Good to hear some on the origin story of Phoenix (the city.) Seems an appropriate name.

  17. HI Luanne, I actually know a little bit about Phoenix because two other blogging friends live there. Now I know a little more. Thank you.

  18. Bee

    Thanks for sharing this. I often wonder what will be built on the ruins of our civilisation. Will we be forgotten, cursed or glorified or a little of all. 🙂

  19. A great poem and you’ve taught me something about Phoenix.

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