NaHaiWriMo May 7th Haiku and Haibun Prompt: Fear

Mr. Takahashi was an Japanese immigrant in the US when WWII broke out. He desired citizenship which is why he served in the Merchant Marines for four years. But this did not help him in his goal. He joined the US Army, was taken prisoner of war in Japan. Yet when the war was over and he returned home … no citizenship. A congressman stepped in and got him his citizenship. He became a doctor serving US veterans of WWII. He and his family returned to Japan to visit … his tears did not stop flowing.

prisoner of war returns to japan – mixture of sweat and tears

Gogyohshi …

Today I shall write a gogyohshi about my daughter who is visiting. Then for NaHaiWriMo I shall write a haiku extracted from the gogyohshi.


Daughter’s Visit

it is yet early
my daughter sleeps soundly
soon she will awaken
we shall have coffee together
sharing the whole day

sleeping daughter – smiles in the sunlight

Taro Aizu and I have been sharing and communicating on Facebook. I have been learning from him. As I have earlier mentioned he is from Fukushima. When I read his story of Fukushima about his home, his loss, his disaster, the whole tragedy of Fukushima came much closer to me. His story was written in a combination of prose and gogyohshi poetry. Initially I did not know this. Being a beginner with Japanese poetry I thought perhaps that he had written a haibun, even though I knew that it included no haiku. Perhaps prose and tanka, I thought to myself. But no, Taro informed me that it was a poetry form called gogyohshi. I love this form as it has only one restriction, that of 5 lines. Otherwise it is a free form poem … right up my alley. Below is the explanation of what a gogyohshi is, copy and pasted from Taro Aizu’s comment to me on Facebook that can be found here:  Taro Aizu has just shared with me the WiKi article on gogyohshi, spelled differently.  He also has a gogyohshi poem in the wiki article found here.  His poem is beautiful and so very sad.

In the words of Taro Aizu Gogyohshi is:
What is Gogyohshi?

Gogyohshi is a poem written in five lines. Writing a poem in five lines is

its only rule. The content of gogyohshi is free, its themes are chosen by the

poet. There are other five-line poetries in the world, for example, gogyohka,

tanka, cinquain, and limerick. These poetries have certain rules such as number

of permitted syllables, line lengths, and rhyme. Gogyohshi has no such rules.

It is the freest form of five-line poetry in the world.

But gogyohshi doesn’t permit to be written in 4 or 6 lines, though gogyohka

occasionally permits this. Gogyohshi is written only in five lines. If the

poem is written in four lines, we should call it “Yongyohshi”meaning a poem

written in four lines. If the poem is written in six lines, you should call it

“Rokugyohshi” meaning a poem written in six lines.

As for a title, some Japanese poets add it to gogyohshi and others don’t.I will

always add a title to my Japanese and English gogyohshi because I can’t tell one

gogyohshi from the other. If I add it to my many gogyohshi, I will be able to tell

them apart. I will write a short title in all capital letters so that readers don’t

misunderstand the title as one line of 6 lines poetry. Gogyohshi is for me 5 lines

poetry with a short title. But it isn’t the same as cinquain because it has no

syllabic restraints unlike cinquain.

While Gogyohka is trademarked in Japan, gogyohshi is not so. Because gogyohshi

doesn’t belong to any special person but to everyone. Most Japanese gogyohka poets

belong to gogyohka groups and follow the leaders of such groups. Most gogyohshi

poets do not belong to any group and write as they please. In conclusion, among

world five-line poetries, gogyohshi is closest to gogyohka in form. The primary

differences between them lie in gogyohshi’s adherence to the rule of 5-line. Adding

a title to them depends on the poet. A gogyohshi poet has no rule except writing

a poem in five lines. This is a Declaration of Gogyohshi.

Fukushima – Haibun

I met Taro Aizu on Facebook. He is a haiku poet of five years. His home is Fukushima.  Although he has cousins there, he has moved.  I read his story: My Hometown, Fukushima. This story was done in the Japanese story/poem tradition of haibun, yet the poem itself looks like a tanka. He spoke of the tradition of Obon. He spoke of his hesitation to return due to the Cesium, invisible, everywhere. He forgot his dosimeter during his visit.  Because he writes so beautifully and because it is the heartbreak of Fukushima … I was there within his story.

fukushima blanket of cesium – taro returns for obon

Photo Credit Taro Aizu “My Hometown, Fukushima”