At Home ~ gogyohka ~ senryū

At Home

What is a trip to a place left behind,
one that always lives in my heart?
Have I returned home when I visit there,
or when I leave?

This is my response to Twiglet #308: returned home.
As an exercise, I have also written this as a gogyohka and a senryū.
(Also shared with Colleen’s #TankaTuesday
Weekly #Poetry Challenge No. 303, Senryū.)

always present

a trip to a place left behind
always in my heart
at home in two places
past and present as one
never gone


have I returned home
when I visit the past
or when the trip ends?

Senryū are similar to haiku, but they tend to be about human nature, rather than nature.

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

Memories on the Downslope

Memories on the Downslope

It was winter, early 1966.
Do you remember where?
Of course you would,
but you’re no longer here to say.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania.
A grandparents’ farm, family friends.
We camped there several times,
but for that visit we stayed in the farmhouse.

All for a fun day of sledding for the kids.
Why shouldn’t a dad join in?
Diving onto that wood and metal glider
you raced down the hill, unstoppable.

Until you found the one bare spot
on that long slope of a farm field.
The sled came to a dead halt,
but you rocketed forward.

We found your metal frame glasses coated
with blood from the gash in your brow.
Just like that, the cold seeped into all of us,
so we went inside while you were taped up.

But the day was early, so once our bones
were warmed by hot chocolate
we loaded up the grandparents’ van,
ten of us packed into a ’64 Econoline.

We headed for an old logging road,
snow covered and perfect for sledding.
Of course, you were more than content
to let the kids have all the fun.

This is my response to Twiglet #298 – a bare hill.

Shared with OpenLinkNight #324 at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Image – Lightning Guider sled

Open Secret

Open Secret

The sky leans in
to whisper in my ear.

It speaks of clouds
that dance in the wind,
of rainbows that dance
within a misty canyon.

Heard even above the roar
of a mighty cataract, it speaks
of blue water that returns
the favor of the sky,

of a river that knows
my return is inevitable
when it flows through me
even when I am away.

The sky shares with me
what is a secret to no one.

This is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: AN ATMOSPHERIC RIVER ROARS AT US
and is inspired by Twiglet #293 – the sky leans.

The last leg of our recent trip took us to western New York to visit with family, and, of course, the Niagara River. Parking on the American side of the river, we walked across the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls to view the falls from the Canadian side, which is always a delight.

Missed, in Any Weather ~ memoir poetry ~ with audio

Missed, in Any Weather

The farthest thing from my mind
when I’m chipping away
at the frozen layer on my driveway
on a chilly, mid-Missouri February morning
that, as usual, has as much rain as snow
is to wish for more of the same.
But here I am on a ninety-six degree day
in August crossing a Target parking lot
as I wade through heat waves
rising from the asphalt that remind me
of that Vegas hospital parking lot
in early June of ’93 after visiting Dad
and thinking he’d be flying home soon –
we know how that worked out –
wishing I could have one of those
ice-crusted snow days. Or better yet,
just one more minute working beside Dad
at Overland Express back in Buffalo
in the ’70s with the snow blowing
between the trailers and across the dock,
his face just as red from the cold
as it would get if he were here with me
on this hot, August Missouri day.

This is my response to Twiglet 290: ice-crusted snow.

As it happens this also meets the challenge for Poetics: Sometimes August isn’t recognized, the prompt from Sanaa at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Prismatic Pragmatism

Prismatic Pragmatism

Absent the agony of your companion,
the white heat of pain temple to temple,
my pleas for mercy falling on ears deaf
to everything but a ringing magnified tenfold,
you were a welcome distraction,
courting fascination with the pulsation
of lightning through a prism.

That you are now absent as well,
I wonder. Should I miss you?

This is my response to Twiglet 289: lightning colour.

For years, I was plagued with sinus headaches, often several times a month, that would start with a pressure buildup behind my eyes. A migraine would follow if I didn’t immediately treat the headache with ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine. These days, those headaches are few and far between, and I haven’t had a migraine in many years. I can’t say I miss them. On the other hand, sometimes I would have an ocular migraine, an arc of light with a prismatic effect in my peripheral vision, very seldom accompanied by any discomfort. Those could be fascinating. The last time I had one I wrote about it, here.

~ click image for larger view in new tab ~

Embers to Stars

Embers to Stars

On a still night, with ambient light
nothing more than flames rising
from ash and maple into thin smoke
that wafts upward in a loose spiral,
coaxed ever higher by glowing embers
that lie in the pockets between
those slowly settling logs,
we sit in a circle, feeling the warmth
seep into us as it pushes against
the chill pressing into our backs.

Talk of the day’s events behind us,
we gaze into the sky in awed silence,
a wordless communion blessed
by a blanket of stars, those flames
now as if nothing. Even as the fire
is reduced to embers, the night’s chill
has no effect, for what could rival
a brilliance that inspires the imagination,
kindling wonder that knows no bounds
as it blazes across the sky?

This poem is my response to Twiglet #273: across the sky.

Off prompt, but also shared with Day 8 at



There is dignity, even in hauling coal,
when masts stand tall with sails unfurled
as they hold the wind as their own.

But treacherous waters care not
for dignity when the wind howls
and waves rise to meet a bowsprit.
You drew the short straw in that lottery,
your life cut short after eighteen years,
your graceful lines no match
for the rocky shore that met them.

Within the shallows of that narrow bay
where you’ve lain for a century,
you know no wind, yet you have
a view of the sky that holds it,
so blue during days of calm, or darkened
gray when those winds swirl. The water
around you, cool in any season,
steals from you that rippled view
in winter, yet offers a cool blue light,
nearly electric, filtered through its icy ceiling.

And though we may walk above you
in your winter obscurity, we can still imagine
you as we might on ice-free days,
when, though your masts are gone,
you are still known as Sweepstakes, your lines
still graceful before the winds you held so dear.

This poem is my response to Misky’s Twiglet #259: cool blue.

I started scuba diving in 1981, and during the 1980s I made several trips to Tobermory, Ontario, and the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Twenty-two shipwrecks (and likely more) can be found in this underwater preserve where scattered islands create a hazardous passage into the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The two-masted schooner Sweepstakes, built in 1867, struck Cove Island in 1885 and was towed to Big Tub Harbor at Tobermory, where it sank in twenty feet of water. The shallow dive was always enjoyable, and I even made a trip to Canada to dive on it as a part of my Ice Diving certification.

Image source: screenshot from YouTube (Sweepstakes in the winter) ~~ click for larger view
Map source: Wikimedia Commons