My Conundrum, #Gogyohka

This week for the poetry challenge,  Linda Lee Lyberg selected some interesting synonyms: nimble, for which I used the word lithe; and for the word enigma, I used the word, crux.

First, how has your week gone? I’ve had a week of false starts, computer issues, WiFi and phone problems, miscellaneous errands, and other crazy issues that stifled my creativity. For example, it’s taken all day to get this one post finished. The last I checked, there were at least three planets in retrograde. Read: Retrograde Season: A Time to Reflect and Decompress

In between all of this chaos, I’m trying to lose weight by watching what I eat and walking at least two to three miles a day!

I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a child, so this is not an unknown subject for me. As I’ve gotten older, it seems harder to lose and to keep it off. To make matters worse, the more I exercise, the more I gain. I blame it on my ancestral farmer genes. When I don’t exercise too much, I’m able to lose weight. Don’t ask… it’s just the way it is for me.

The results of my experiment slipped out in poetic form today. I wrote this tanka in a s/l/s/l/l/ format, which is basically a Gogyohka in English.

So, here’s my humorous humorless take on the prompt words:

My Conundrum

here lies the crux
of my current problem
to stay lithe eat less
to lose pounds exercise more
at the risk of gaining weight

©2020 Colleen M. Chesebro

It turns out that exercise is useless for weight loss. Read: Why Do I Gain Weight When I Exercise?

I’m off to meditate the weight away! Pounds be gone! So, Mote it Be!

“The New Moon,” #Gogyohka

For months now, it’s been my goal to join in some other poetry challenges, other than my own. Today was finally that day! Many thanks to a chance encounter on Twitter, Frank Tassone reminded me he would be at dVerse, the Poets Pub. Just click the link below to learn more and join in:

Frank says:

“This month is National Tanka Month or #NaTankaMo. In honor of this celebration of tanka, I would like to focus on three of the 5-line Japanese forms: tanka, kyoka and gogyohka.

New to dVerse? Here’s what you do:

  • Write a five (5)-line Japanese-form poem of your choice: tanka, kyoka or gogyohka.
  • Post it on your personal site/blog.
  • Include a link back to dVerse in your post.
  • Copy your link onto the Mr. Linky.
  • Remember to click the small checkbox about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.

I’ve been writing more Gogyohka, as of late. I like the breathy phrases. I also like the freedom to follow a s/l/s/l/l syllable count.

Today, May 22, 2020 is the new moon. You can read about that here. Be prepared for changes…

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

“The New Moon,” Gogyohka

Gemini new moon— 
dreams and illusions set adrift
heading into the unknown
shadowy communications 
boundaries challenged

©2020 Colleen M. Chesebro

Read: This Jupiter Retrograde Has A Spooky Coronavirus Connection, HERE.

“Love is,” #Gogyohka

Let’s talk more about the Gogyohka syllabic poetry form which uses the 5/7/5/7/7 Tanka line structure. Instead of counting syllables we write in phrases consisting of one spoken breath.

I can hear you all now… how can this form fit into the syllabic category if we don’t count the syllables?

The Gogyohka form by Enta Kusakabe was developed in the 1980s in Japan, which literally translates to a “five-line poem.” (

The Gogyohka is an off-shoot of the tanka form with some simple rules to follow. The poem contains five lines, with one phrase per line.

OK… So, How Long is a Phrase?

Each line of a Gogyohka comprises one phrase with a line-break after each phrase or breath.

Please read the instructions for the Gogyohka on the Syllabic poetry cheatsheet below:

A phrase is not a sentence. It is one breath long. If you have to inhale to say the next word, that word belongs on the next line.

Japanese words are made with short breath sounds, contrary to our English syllables. Japanese syllables are also short like pronouncing the word Jo, instead of Joe. However, shares:

“Japanese words nearly always tend to have more syllables per word than their English counterparts (compare “hototogisu” to “cuckoo” thus making Japanese haiku use up their syllables more quickly with less content or information than is possible if you write 5-7-5 syllables in English.”

This syllable difference between English and Japanese is one reason why the poetic communities have moved from the 5/7/5 Haiku to the 3/5/3 Haiku. It all has to do with the syllable count and the sounds. And, just when you have it figured out… another syllabic poetry authority will suggest you are doing it wrong.

From everything I’ve researched, the differences between the Gogyohka form as compared to the 5/7/5/7/7 Tanka form is that each line should only be one breath long. Remember, these forms are about brevity, not long free style poetry.

Example of a sentence: My love colors me pink.

Here is a phrase: love is pink

Even though this form appears unrestrained, it really isn’t. Say your Gogyohka poetry out loud to get the breaths right. Write in phrases, or quick thoughts, not sentences.

Here is my Gogyohka for this week’s poetry challenge. I used spark for love; and oneness for harmony.

Love is, #Gogyohka

in your arms
sparks fly
passions soar
our oneness

©2020 Colleen M. Chesebro

Notice how my phrases are only a breath long. If you added more words to each of the lines, you would have to take a breath in order to say them. When writing Gogyohka, write in breaths and phrases. Brevity is key.

“Promises,” #Gogyoka

Thanks to Ken Gierke, I’ve added the Gogyoka in English to our syllabic poetry forms, bringing the count up to ten.

The Gogyoka (pronounced go-gee-yoh-kuh) form is a five-line Japanese form with no restriction on length. Created by Enta Kusakabe in 1983, there are five rules:

  1. Gogyohka is a new form of short poem that is based on the ancient Japanese Tanka and Kodai kayo.
  2. Gogyohka has five lines, but exceptionally may have four or six.
  3. Each line of Gogyohka consists of one phrase with a line-break after each phrase or breath.
  4. Gogyohka has no restraint on numbers of words or syllables.
  5. The theme of Gogyohka is unrestricted.

Robert Lee Brewer from Writer’s Digest shares:

What constitutes a phrase in gogyohka?

From the examples I’ve seen of the form, the definition of phrase is in the eye of the beholder. A compound or complex sentence is probably too long, but I’ve seen phrases as short as one word and others more than five words.

So it’s a little loose, which is kind of the theory behind gogyohka. It’s meant to be concise (five lines) but free (variable line length with each phrase). No special seasonal or cutting words. No subject matter constraints. Just five lines of poetic phrases.

Robert Lee Brewer

So, using this week’s #PhotoPrompt image from my poetry challenge, I’ve written the simplest of forms – The Gogyoka in 5 lines, short phrases:

Image ©2019 Willow Willers


blossoms bring happiness
buds produce fertility, joy
peacock reveals beauty
vines promise longevity, perseverance
soul awakens from the lotus

©2020 Colleen M. Chesebro