2006 Form Challenges
#12 Early Japanese Poetry Forms


Katuata

Introduction
Japanese poetry seems to be gaining greater and greater popularity with Western poets. The much abused Haiku of course has worn the brunt of this assault by everyone from first year poetry teachers and students, to Microsoft and office jokes, but serious poets recognise that this little poem is a truly remarkable art form. The Tanka is also gaining in popularity and rightly so and both of these forms will be dealt with later. Before dealing with these two forms however, there are two other Japanese forms which in my opinion should be discussed, and may interest poets looking for something different. The first form is called the Katuata, and the second the Choka.

Katuata.
The Katuata originally consisted of a poem consisting of 19 sound units or onji, (in the west we would describe this as having a syllable count of 19).
There was a break after the fifth and twelfth onji and this would give us a form structure of. 5 - 7 - 7.
Later poets also wrote using only 17 onji and this gave a form structure of 5 - 7 - 5.
There were two Japanese poetry forms that use this form, the Mondo and the Sedoka.
The Mondo and the Sedoka are similar in that they both use one pair of Katuata, with the difference being that the Mondo was written by two poets and consisted of a question and answer, and the Sedoka was written by a single author. See the two examples below.

Mondo

Why is there no rain
the land cries out for water
but cannot shed tears?

There will be no rain
because you wept times before
when there was some rain!

Juan and Chu

Sedoka

A small boy sees hills
then he will make them mountains
he will have to climb.

If he can climb them
what will he have overcome
that he did not make?

Teagan


Early Japanese Posts



Lorraine Dafney

Boughs

Spudmick Murphy

Camouflaged
Greetings
Love's Aerie
Regenerated

Lanaia Lee

Land of the Dead

Ryter Roethicle

Dark Red Rose
Nocturne
Westgate Bridge
Zen Storm

Leny Roovers

Mars (Tanka)

Dana Rowe

Narangansett Mist

Nia Wynne

Naiad in Twilight


Lorraine Dafney

Boughs

Trees have their branches
extensions of their beauty
that sway in the wind.
When there isn't wind
to move the branches waiting
will they become stone?


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Spudmick Murphy

Camouflaged

You airbrush anger
over my mural's meadow.
Flowers and sun disappear.
Red alone remains.
An ugly shade fanged with hate
and strength to break fragile bones.
The canvas will dry
a darker winesap color,
like blood spilt on battlefields.
I will hang it high;
prizing its spoken secret.
Who'll crow it's murderous art?

-----

Greetings On This Hallowed Eve

Hail all saints, all souls!
Your signatures color night;
footing trails to after-life.

Spangled stepping stones
laid as stars; splayed across skies
as eternity's address.

You are bright witness
when fractured hearts fail reason;
collared by lone existence.

For to chance moment
'neath your venous canopy
re-fortifies worn spirit.

Your gathered voices
choir zealous hymns and canons
no blind mortal can deny.

Receive my smallness.
Know you wield song and atlas
to ease mortal discomfort
through beyond's portal.
Hail all saints, all souls!

-----

Love's Aerie (Tanka)

I- The Eagle

I am air and fire;
governor of flight and flame;
lord of heaven's heights.
Climb atop my opened wings.
I'll feed you solar secrets.

II- The Sparrow's Reply

I am but small song;
dressing air with melody,
fragranced by heart's needs.
Bring me, Love, your fiercest burn.
Melt me in your sweeps and turns.

-----

Regenerated

Eyes open to words
planting paths to rich gardens
blooming seeds' musk and music.
Arms raise to welcome
soft breezes strong in promise;
vowing firm hold when stars fall.
Lips part to sun's warmth;
inhaling buttered sweetness
memory claims is god's taste.
Ritual cycles.
Gravity shifts. Lift me, Love,
high inside your stratospheres.

-----

Regenerated (Ryters Response)

Sparkling eyes create paths
leading higher and higher,
sky is Heavens floor.
Touch me, hold me close
Heavens wind blows strong tonight,
stars light reflecting eyes.
Freshness, first days kiss
creates dawn and daily warmth
winter is without.
Smiling, lighting life
lips promise what eyes fulfil
heaven becomes floor.

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Ryter Roethicle

Dark Red Rose

You came in smiling,
Clutching a dark red rose
That you had found
Holding out your rose
Offering it to me to smell
I put it to my nose
Sharing your pleasure
A lovely fragrance made more so
By your gentle touch

-----

Nocturne

Night creatures abound
sleep deprived fathers stand guard
shadows move free around rooms.
Spirits know better
feeding on young tender minds
blankets provide protection.

-----

Tigress

Tigress of the moon
our roars have been heard tonight
jungle echoes calls
as lesser beasts share our joy
jealous of greater passion.

-----

True Selfs

Searching within
today two souls touched in time
discovering depths
each others soul finding peace
bonded for eternity

-----

Westgate Bridge

Bright yellow glare
slows traffic down once again
once scenic view stays hidden.
North winds buffet cars
ignoring far safer speeds
truckies cursing, smoking tyres.
Volvo assume rights
Angels, and lesser mortals
strive occasionally to attain.
Fate is waiting there
Kinetic energy wins
human stupidity loses


-----

Zen Storm

Sonorous grey clouds
passing under white cotton
exchange angry crashes.
Huge raindrops threaten
earth below waits in welcome
clouds pass on their flashy way.
Dark mountains echoing
counting delay of flashes
wondering if here to stay.
Sirens contrast now
Nature defeats man again
no victory without water.

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Leny Roovers

Mars (Tanka)

Abide, brave warrior;
hot flames cast shadows
over reddened earth.
I trace rivulets of sweat
on skin, perfumed by passion.

Tongues tickle and lick
sweet morsels of flesh,
trembling bodies sigh;
tails of comets light the sky
as souls travel to heaven.

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Dana Rowe

Narragansett Mist

Gold late afternoon
bay laden in burnished mist
western shore wavers distant
braced by island pair
glowering, brass disc hovers
becalmed in the reach,
lone sloop, sail close-hauled
mere vertical line
frozen, airbrush-gilded time

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Nia Wynne

Encantado

Haunting river banks
awaiting their human loves,
joy is then taken.
awaiting transformation
we revel at their coming.

Enchanted one dreams,
no reason to fake his screams,
they result from joy.
no reason to fake our dreams--
better to wish them alive.

-----

Naiad in Twilight

Meeting like moon-stars
Playing at lagoon lakes edge
Creatures flow in moonlit wreathe
An owl hoots, startled
At twinkling green-blue leaf-eyes
So near, yet gone on moonbeams
Haste, lightspeed quicker,
Raindrop splashes, trickling slow,
Where we'd go, if love took us


-----

Coffee

Wasn't going to have
This columbian black brew
Today or ever.
Why is my cup now empty?
Why are joys now gone away?

Tried to give up once,
That stirring scent of amour,
Forevermore's call.
Then Dis came on roses wind
And took pain from ravens brow.


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