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!


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

    love your ode to art, and i might actually be able to do this form!

  2. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    A most impressive and beautiful acrylic painting that you’ve created with this very nice style of poetry my friend!

  3. petespringerauthor says:

    Love the power of your second one. I was watching some baseball today and the saying “go down swinging” seems apropos.

  4. jonicaggiano says:

    Beautiful style, I must say a bit easier than most. I really loved the first example and both of your. The last was particularly hopeful and inspiring. Beautiful work Brad my kind friend. Sending you lots of love ❤️ Jonikins 🤗❤️💕😘

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