her gentle spirit ~ gogyohka

For Mother’s Day and Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday
#Poetry Challenge No. 224, #Poet’sChoice

her gentle spirit
a mother’s essence
etched into my heart
missing her
peaceful soul

Gogyohka (pronounced go-gee-yoh-kuh)
~ a form of Japanese poetry pioneered by Enta Kusakabe in the 1950s
~ 5-line poetry ~ like tanka, but with freedom from restraints
~ no fixed syllable requirement
~ no conventions regarding content
~ brief lines in keeping with the tradition of Japanese short verse

This gogyohka started as two senryū, but I wanted to express it in one verse.

her essence
etched into my heart
loving soul

a gentle spirit
memories that never leave
peaceful soul lingers

held firm ~ palinode

held firmheld firm

every moment, consumed
not by memories
by each moment with you
always on my mind
always embraced

 This poem, my first palinode, is in response to MTB: Palinode, the prompt from Grace at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. A palinode or palinody is an ode or song that recants or retracts a view or sentiment to which the poet wrote in a previous poem.

In this case, the original poem is the first poem I posted on WordPress, Grasping, as my first poem for National Poetry Writing Month, on 01 April 2014.

Heir to Disaster

Heir to Disaster

CedarvilleJust fifteen years out of the Navy.
I’ve done it plenty of times.
What could be so hard?

Stop into the dive shop and ask
about charters. On something deep,
of course. That should be no problem.

So I’ll flash my certification,
rent every piece of gear, down to the fins,
and show up at the dock next morning.

Three two-man buddy teams.
What’s one more man? Make one three.
What could possibly go wrong?

Nice backward roll into the water,
gather my senses and start the descent.
Man, those other guys move fast!

That is one big freighter!
And there they are waiting at the ship’s rail.
Wait a minute. Why is it so hard to breathe?

What does a guy do to get attention?
Maybe someone will notice my panicked look.
Someone checks my gauges. There’s an idea!

Almost out of air. At least they have some left.
Nothing left to do, but buddy breathe and surface.
Maybe I’ll have better luck on the other dives.


This is my response (more narrative than poetic) to Poetics: Exploring the Narrative Voice, the prompt from Ingrid at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to write a poem in the voice of a fictional character.

Let’s call this fictional, since I don’t identify the diver, but this actually happened on a dive in the Straits of Mackinac. I chartered a dive boat so that five of my friends could join me, wreck diving in Michigan’s narrow strait between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. At the dock, the boat captain asked if a guy could join us. He had done plenty of dives while in the Navy. We were doing three dives, so we agreed he could be a third man with each of our teams, on separate dives – one team in the water at a time. As the deepest of the wrecks (110 feet to the bottom), the Cedarville was to be our first dive, and he joined my dive buddy and me. When we reached the rail of the ship at 70 feet, I could see he was having difficulties. I checked his air gauge and saw he didn’t have enough left to make the ascent with a decompression stop, let alone to explore the wreck. We had to abort the dive, and he ended up breathing from my tank, until we reached the surface. Air in a scuba tank will expand with ascent, and when he saw his air gauge rise he bolted to the surface as we stayed at the decompression stop.

Images source: Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve Asociation

Generations ~ quadrille


GenerationsLove, hope,
faith of character.
Seeds planted long ago.
Thoughts, expressions,
kindness a lifeblood
offered freely.

Satisfaction in the reward
returned without hesitation,
passed on with the same
love, hope, and kindness,
from a place in each heart.

No parent could ask for more.



This poem is my response to Quadrille #127: Planting Seeds, the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use a form of the word seeds in a 44-word poem, with no required meter or rhyme.

Images source: dreamstime

Earth Shaman’s Plea

Earth Shaman’s Plea

I cast my thoughts to the heavens,
seek succor from the stars,
that they might hear my plight,
send solutions to a soul
wounded to its core, yet unwilling
to cast from its presence the scourge
that has brought this plague upon it.

Earth Shaman's PleaAre not all elements essential to being,
each one a part of my whole? While some
have fallen to circumstance, making way
for others with a nature more fitting
to my own, these place upon me
scars that cannot be erased,
that jeopardize their own existence.

Should they exhaust all that I have
to offer, leaving nothing but desolation
in their wake, what is their next course?
To die with me? To leave me behind,
leaping from world to world, then on
to the very stars to whom I beseech?
Are they destined to know the same fate?

This poem is my response to Wounded Healer: Songs of the Earth Shaman, where Brendan says, “I can’t help wondering if the wounded healer for such global malaise is the Earth herself, a damaged wholeness, borne of human madness and the terrible spells of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice — air conditioning and solo vehicles, plastic wrappers and nuclear bombs. Maybe the song we need to hear and emulate is the wounded Earth’s?” “What and where are the wombs formed in the wounds of sea level rise and wildfire, mass extinction and ocean acidification? What then are the Songs of the Earth Shaman?”

Image source: vox.com

moon-filled dreams ~ haiku, senryū

moon rises
in a cloudy sky

branches dance
to tree frog chorus
pale moonlight

morning plans
hopeful for success
moon-filled dreams

rise early
to see setting moon
clouds return

This haiku/senryū sequence is my response to Twiglet #224 – moon rises. It sums up my attempts to take photos of this month’s “pink” moon/super moon. Monday’s photos yielded trees silhouetted by an obscure moon. The second photo is a 30 second exposure that shows how windy it was. Tuesday morning presented a beautiful amber moon that was already dropping behind clouds well above the horizon. It was totally obscured within three minutes. After taking the night photos, I mentioned to my wife that the tree frogs were the loudest I’d heard in my nine years in Missouri. She reminded me that it was my first time hearing them since getting hearing aids. It’s a loud new world.

(Click images for larger view in new tab)

Post Na/GloPoWriMo 2021

NaPoWriMo 2014-2021

The start of this blog goes back to 2014 and National Poetry Writing Month. 2021 marks the eighth time I’ve met the challenge of writing a poem for every day of April.

I wrote 39 poems for the month. 21 of those met the prompts from Maureen Thorsen at napowrimo.net. (I also met the early bird prompt on March 31.) 12 were in response to other prompts, including those for dVerse ~ Poets Pub, earthweal, Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday, and a haiku sequence for Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge. Six of my poems followed no prompt at all. Four of the poems included audio, and one was a magnetic poem.

I enjoyed reading the many wonderful prompt responses from other poets at napowrimo.net, and it was nice to see that recognition was given to many of the poets I’ve come to know over the years. Thank you to all who read my poetry this past month and especially to all who commented.

Ken G.


Find Your Way

Find Your Way

Follow your path as it opens
before you, and your direction
will become clear

crossing to recrossUnder
any and all

to your own devices
you must persevere

come any obstacles
that come your way

or wrong,
you will know

In the end
you will achieve
a new beginning

Perhaps too subtle for the prompt, this poem is my response to Day 30 at napowrimo.net, where the challenge is to “write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. … Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.”


~ Day 30 ~

Image source: freepik.com

Dreams of Sawdust and Smiles

Dreams of Sawdust and Smiles

It’s been thirty-three years since you lived
in the country home built in your retirement.
Moving to the country had been your dream for years,
but the distance from family became too much.

Five years later, you were gone from our lives,
so you wouldn’t know this. Jason bought the house
a few years ago as one of his projects as a contractor.
It had gone into foreclosure. Empty

for many years, it was left open to the elements.
Much of the interior was weather damaged,
so he gutted and refinished it. He then sold it,
so, sadly, it left our family, once again. Even so,

he did a great job, and it belongs to a happy family.
I can still see it in my mind, one wall
of the basement exposed in the hillside
with its wide window in the block wall.

I like to think I could look into it at any time,
see you working in your wood shop, running a board
across the planer or trimming a piece on the band saw,
turning the board to make the precise shape you need.

I can still see the dust flying from your router,
feel the vibration of that hum through the glass
as I press my face closer, see your smile of satisfaction
at the results. And I smile.

This poem is my response to the prompt for Day 29 at napowrimo.net, which is to imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. I helped my father build a few of the structures, including a barn, on the property my parents purchased in retirement.

Dreams of Sawdust and Smiles

Jason (holding the hammer), many, many years before restoring the property


~ Day 29 ~