Whittled Words – Gogyohka Poem

Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:




Gogyohka was a form developed by Enta Kusakabe in Japan and translates literally to “five-line poem.” An offshoot of the tanka form, the gogyohka has very simple rules: The poem is comprised of five lines with one phrase per line. That’s it.

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.


Examples of Gogyohka Poems:


by Bhumphreys

Gentle Brunette curves
Over olive features
Frames subtle beauty
And God’s gift
I am breathless in your wake.


By Walt Wojtanik

Autumn’s elves are artists.
They paint with broad brushes
through the trees and rushes they stroke
and evoke the colors to explode.
The mother lode; her palette full!


By Marie Elena


Barely detectable –
Than the one
Taking up residence
In her throat


By Brad Osborne

Vivid colors roar

With line and curve

A captured moment

In acrylic

Lives on the canvas


By Brad Osborne


 Be not lukewarm

Not tepid of mind

Shoot for the moon

Leave little behind

Grasp the brass ring


I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Gogyohka poem. Thanks for reading!


12 Responses to “Whittled Words – Gogyohka Poem”
  1. beth says:

    Yes, I like your go for it approach

  2. sudrakarma says:

    Interesting. The form evokes creative constraint and economy of words, yet immense freedom in within its tight boundaries. It’s like someone handing you the universe within a thimble. I think I need more coffee. ; P

  3. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    Interesting…five lines, no other rules…have to say the examples were lovely and yours was brilliant, as acrylic colours tend to be…so, here it goes, this is my sample:

    “May they never close your favourite bar,
    Fish swim through the city streets as people passing by
    Raindrops seal the holes of all our yesterdays
    smoke from cigarettes I smoked so far away create a rainbow
    Bartender serve us two more dry martinis…”

    Love this series Brad, learning much from it and also loving the samples you write as well as those you provide from other poets.
    All the best,

  4. Jim Borden says:

    this seemed a bit easier than other forms you have tackled. I liked the inspirational nature of both your poems…

  5. Harley Reborn says:

    I read all your stuff in your voice now

  6. jonicaggiano says:

    Oh this seems a bit easier than some of your more difficult varieties Brad. I loved the example Lump and yours were splendid. Yours are almost always better than your examples. I love that Francisco wrote one too. How fun. You do work so hard to teach us new forms and methodology of writing poetry. Very kind of you Brad. You are so disciplined in your writing and I do so admire that. I like to read my favorites when no one is around and it is very quiet. Lovely words my friend. An encouraging spirit. Love ❤️ and hugs 🤗. Jonikins

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Brad Osborne ~I remember reading Brad’s first comment on my post “A Lone Traveller” and being absolutely overwhelmed. That one comment was one if the best compliments I could’ve ever received for my writing and I think I was happy about it for a week or more hehe. Brad is one of the most authentic and professional writer you could ever find here. He has an ability to convey his messages in the most unequivocal and poetic manner that’ll leave you staring at your screens. While he can articulate so gorgeously, he can analyse other’s writings equally well, it’ll baffle you how amazingly he can decipher the messages between the lines, connect the dots and read what the author wanted to convey. RobinRobin is that extremely talented and easy going person we’d all wanna be. There’s something for everyone in each of his pieces. He’s also such a genuine, caring and charismatic person. Every time I go to his amazeballs blog to read, I find something relatable and something to ponder about in each piece. Often, it leaves me in smiles how someone across the world who doesn’t know me could write about something I’m going through so accurately. Winnie & Issabelle~My OG friends! Winnie and Issabelle are one of my first friends on WordPress. Winnie is an incredibly strong, warm and artistic person. Every poem I’ve read of her, I’ve either been in awe or found myself inspired. Gosh I need to catch up on her lovely works. Issabelle is a self taught artist. She creates stunning digital art like god believe me they’re so beautiful that I can’t even think of any more adjectives. She’s a lovely person with dexterity and finesse. PS. She has great taste in music too! Visit her Instagram page to see her lovely artworks. – Belle’s Nook […]

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