I always love the beginning of the month’s poetry challenge because poets choose a form and write about the things that mean the most to them.
As the number of coronavirus infections and deaths continues to climb in Arizona, I leave at sunrise for my early morning walks to avoid contact with others. I’ve discovered it’s the best time of the day.
The Palo Verde Weeps
The coolness of the early dawn wraps around me like a shroud of mist, palpable but unseen. Perched high above, two mourning doves murmur a soulful greeting. The sun crowns the Palo Verde trees like a nimbus surrounding the mother goddess in celebration of another day.
light reveals the morn with the first heat of summer saffron blossoms fall
My mission is to visit this place undisturbed, for I seek no human contact, only the companionship of the desert spirits who live nearby. The shady path follows beneath a tree framed in brilliant light, its branches humming with bees dressed in pollen while the golden blossoms fall to the earth like rain.
the Palo Verde weeps
For this is the meaning of all life, the feel of the land beneath, and the tears from the trees above. Let this moment witness my sorrow and joy, grief and gratitude, for I am still alive. May the spirits of the land and sky bless us and those taken away too soon.
Whew! What a busy week it’s been. I’ve struggled to find time to work on my new poetry book amid a series of events which interfered in my time, every day. Between a four-hour power outage in my neighborhood, and the daily mess and noise from a new-build next door, I’m struggling for time to work on my book. Add a day of grocery shopping to prepare for the Coronavirus scare sweeping the world, and I’ll find myself working double-time this weekend to catch up.
There’s always a ray of sunshine for me in the moments that give rise to inspiration. Such are the ways of the muse. She appears when you least expect her presence, sharing a precious moment of stillness.
I’ve written this Gogyohka in the s/l/s/l/l (short/long/short/long/long) syllable count of a modern Tanka in English, which differs from the traditional 5/7/5/7/7 count. Most poetic journals and literary contests, etc. will call this form the Tanka in English.
Many poets believed the Gogyohka to be more freeing than falling under the demands of a traditionally written Tanka. That’s not the case. The form still dictates the structure of short form poetry, as you don’t use sentences, rhyming, or punctuation. Each line is spoken in a breath, limiting the length of your phrases even though the Gogyohka claims no restraint on words or syllables.
From what my research has revealed, Tanka in English poets have abandoned the syllable counts because of differences between the Japanese and English languages, Tanka in English are functionally the same as Gogyohka in English.
We experienced the same changes in Haiku and Senryu. It appears Tanka/Gogyohka have experienced the same reduction in syllable count.
M. Key of Kujaku Poetry & Ships shares:
Gogyohka are short five line poems, which may or may not be end-stopped; that detail is not clear in Gogyohka. Since tanka in English abandoned syllable counting due to differences between the Japanese and English languages, tanka in English are functionally the same as gogyohka in English. The difference is of great importance in Japanese, but of no significance in English.
Tanka in English fulfill the definition given for Gogyohka. On the other hand, so do kyoka, waka, Japanese tanka, limericks, cinquains, and other five line forms, yet it is clear that Gogyohka does not embrace these as part of its definition and view.
The assumption of a lyric Japanese aesthetic is built into the genre without being specified. Thus, we can define five line poems lacking in a Japanese or at least a lyric presentation as not meeting the operational definition of Gogyohka, even if they meet the technical definition.