Amina Alayal     Oz Hardwick


Close as Second Skins


ISBN 978-1-909357-74-7


Indigo Dreams Publishing




138 x 216mm


34 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


PUB: February 2015












     love like a dragon

settles upon her   tolls him

     away like a bell

chimes break   rapt and remote  

sink in the waters of night


     red roofs sleep softly

shuttered windows like closed eyes

     doors yawn   lazy

on mountain paths boys drive goats

     young girls splash in icy streams








The Turning


     shadows gathering  

reaching out their old black arms                                     turning their blind heads    

in a dried-up riverbed

a woman dances by herself

     footsteps stir up dust

fingers draw patterns in air

her feet crush flowers

behind her paper-skinned men                        

stab out her life-blood with pens


a rabbit races

shadows fly on grassy fields

a hawk in her mind

swoops out of icy futures

nothing but vapours this time







The Child and the Man


under the same sky

children play at the lakeside

fold paper boats    charms

ride across the still mirror

the long voyage reflected


proud in their colours

nobles and servants stride streets

small under mountains

in imperial shadows

voices are lost    forgotten







     a heron standing

above its own rippling shade

     dips down its long beak

sees a fisher throwing hooks

smack   dabble   sending out rings


     toy bridge reflected

mirror embedded in moss

     in this pot garden

beyond the sill in the sky

huge pots and bridges float by










     world warps into sky

sea-bite   salt-sting   upside-down

     hard water rains stones

houses forget foundations

walls swim through clouds   hold their breath


     boats fly to hard stone

sails slashed   matchstick spars snapped

bones rattle   brittle

air buffets air   deals debris

a house of cards   fanned and lost


brittle bones bite cold flesh

head in hands and heart in hands

pulse beat   rush of red

rush of waves and memories

warped horizon’s lines unloosed


ships snap   red rush   blue

eye blinks   eye blinks   looks upward

sees a world of sky

falling clouds   curl and shadow

stark lines shiver   eyes blink   blue

Close as Second Skins


     cranes cut sharp through clouds

night’s unpredictable song

     lost without rhythm

my heart resides in pine needles

merging with stark shoreline trees


     two planes streak apart

leaving robust plumes fading

     you are miles away

but there are universes

close to us as second skins








Hillside Village


     warm air shivers

mist crowns distant mountains

     heady scent seeps through windows

yellow leaves curl    forgotten

flowers fade in empty pots








Origami Love Letter


     flowers become pens

in the hands of the poet

     hills become paper

he folds the landscape to swans

sets them silently swimming


“True heirs of James Kirkup and his pioneering development of the tanka form in English, Amina Alyal and Oz Hardwick add a refreshingly Romantic cast to an old poetic mould, creating images and evoking emotions that will resonate in the reader’s memory.”

Kevin Bailey  

The Haiku Quarterly  



“Any reader who doubts that tanka is a language of beauty and emotional expression should read Close as Second Skins. These lyrical poems invite us to savour them as one would a cup of delicate tea in a leisurely Japanese tea ceremony.”

Dr Debjani Chatterjee MBE

poet, writer & storyteller  



“the words within take you on a spiritual journey into the inner quiet of shared space . . .”

ai li








Amina  Alyal is a poet and scholar, with interests in myth, folklore, performance and poetic forms.


Oz Hardwick is a poet, photographer, musician and academic, who thrives in collaboration with other artists in various media.


They both work at Leeds Trinity University, and have been writing and performing together, creating sequences of linked tanka, since 2011.


The authors have been working with these poems for about three years, in performance with the taiko group Kaminari UK, and with string instrumentalist Michael Graham as Sankakei, performing anywhere from literature festivals (including a sold out 140-seat venue at the York Literature Festival with Kaminari) to the centre of a maze (with Sankakei).


After each performance, they always get asked if the poems are available in a book. This is the result.