Gogyohka, a Five Line Poem

The first snow perhaps the first freezing temperatures have gone. Until late November the salvia were blooming blue and Gerber daisies were full of warm colors.

Here’s a go at composing a gogyohka.

the autumn rose
dry leaves resist the wind
bruised seed cases
recall the bloom
recall the bud

© 03-12-20

Gogyohka (go-gee-yoh-kuh)

This poetic form was developed by Enta Kusakabe and means a “five-line poem” in Japanese. In that they may resemble the tanka or the cinquain.

The format is mainly five lines, however, four, or six lines are allowed and employs a free-verse style that seldom rhymes.

Each line is one breath in length.

These poems are usually untitled.

Leaving the Winter Woods

Leaving the Winter Woods


the winter woods

light strikes all the way through

still darkness, shadows in plain sight —

fox barks


I copied Adelaide Crapsey, a twentieth-century poet, who wrote cinquain with 22 syllables in five lines as a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 pattern. 

Her poems feel similar to Japanese tanka, another five-line form, and share a designed focus on imagery and the natural world.

Brittle Oblige

The ordinary room clear rigid

that broken glass, you said,

that broken glass on the floor.

Familiar as more glass in disarray

slight fear un-guilty moving

away from that spot on the floor

avoid danger, clear out—be shy

noblesse oblige broom and pan

glass room rigid un-tidy danger.

That broken glass on the floor,

turn a page of the magazine.

Familiar even, leave the floor

remedy apparent transparent—

you said, broken on the floor, again

again, glass shines, danger, even

warns this floor spot, broom and

pan oblige, un-said moving away

broken glass spot shy noblesse.

The Art of Surprise

Once upon a time (or more than “often”) a verse gives me fits. It lacks that punch I like to read.

“It needs some space?”

“Yes or no.”


“Not helpful.”

“Of course.”

“Substitute words, find a better, no, different arrangement.”

“Count out the stresses. Enough, in correct rhythm, then proceed.”

The poem is still unruly, distemperate, like a rolling train-wreck, murderous meter and parts are flying off.

Once more, polish a stone, not a poem, it needs to breathe, to exhale the words of poesy.

Forget the deeper personalized meaning(s), make it approachable to a reader who gardens her own angst, swims his own deep drama.

“Leave this part. That is good. Remove a bit, be gone.”

Sometimes insight is as dull as a mis-spelt word, use that cherished gift.

The eureka comes through the mayhem, a beneficence of persistence, from some unknown place with no legible road markers.

Now, this poem sings, it sits up up and purrs, strong as coiled steel, sparse, smooth as chocolate mousse.

The wheedling, work, and worry turned out a pretty-good poem. How it really happened is to my surprise, unknown—although intimate with the scribbled page how can he, she, we, they truly be sure. Poets and I, I mean.

And that is fair and fine enough.

c. Lemuel

22 July 2018

Scene Change


Scene Change


Obligatory social gatherings, work colleagues,

over rated, really abysmal.

He watched her with the intent gaze of a hair stylist.

She touched the sleeve of her dress–

Distress code for, “Let’s leave.”

He winked and touched the bridge of his nose–

Reply: “I know.”

An hour later they spooned, old clothes luxury,

popcorn munching, old movie watching,

date night belated, ethereal.


© Lemuel

01 May 2018

Daily prompt