Whittled Words – Imayo 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:




The imayo is a 4-line Japanese poem that has 12 syllables in each line. If a 12-syllable line sounds unique for a Japanese poetic form, do not fret. There is a planned caesura (or pause) between the first 7 syllables and the final 5. The 5/7 syllable splits are the familiar patterns found in other Japanese forms like haiku, tanka, and senryu.

The imayo was originally written to be sung, but that is not a requirement. Also, poets have free range on subject matter.

Note: My attempt at this form shows my predilection for rhyming, but rhyme is not a requirement of this form in any manner.


Examples of Imayo Poems:




By Robert Lee Brewer

Her feet flow along the path – deer watch from the trees
Hair pulled in a pony tail – birds fly over head
Her eyes on the horizon – fish swim in the creek
Her mind replaying the past – a tree falls silent




By Judi Van Gorder

Monday’s march of La Raza, Mexican flags wave,
laborers walk off their jobs, intersections clogged,
plain white T-shirts on brown skin, immigrants shout out,
“We are Americans too!”, some papered, some not.




By Walter J Wojtanik 


I hear the song that she sings – so sweet a sound heard
Each word bringing me such joy – in the morning mist
a melody soft, lilting – I will hum along
Strong emotion resides there – this song that she sings



By Brad Osborne


Why does love even exist…but to give away

When our caring does persist…there the brighter day

On kindness we should insist…every word we say

No greater world could be this…heart on full display


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 Imayo poem. Thanks for reading!


15 Responses to “Whittled Words – Imayo Poem”
  1. beth says:

    beautiful, vulnerable poem, brad

  2. I like this form of poetry! And of course, I like yours the best!

  3. Splendid job my friend! And a nice form of poetry!

  4. SelmaMartin says:

    Oh I like this. Never seen this form before. Wowed me.
    Of course, yours is amazing. Loved this line most of all:
    “On kindness we should insist…every word we say”
    Oh yes. Oh yes. Xoxo thanks.

  5. Wonderful poem, Brad. “Her Song” by Wojtanik is not too shabby either.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you, Geoff! I thought “Her Song” was a wonderful example of the form too. And as this form is not well-known, finding great examples can sometimes be the hardest part.

  6. K.L. Hale says:

    Yours is my favorite. 🥰🙏🏻

  7. jonicaggiano says:

    Beautiful piece and lovely form. 🦋 Jonikins

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