25 Rhyming Kyoka

Edited by Michael H. Lester
I am grateful to M. Kei, editor of Atlas Poetica: A Journal of World Tanka, for allowing me to guest edit this Special Feature, 25 Rhyming Kyoka, and for his wise counsel before, during, and after the submission period.

Rhyming is hard-wired into the human experience, celebrated in poetry and song. Some of the greatest poets in history have used rhymes in their poetry. It is unfortunate that many modern poets and publishers of poetry disdain the use of rhyme, while the music industry continues to embrace it.

Many of the poets I have met in the Asian short form community intentionally avoid the use of rhymes in their poems, sometimes for the simple reason that their chosen or preferred poetic form disallows the use of rhyme, and sometimes from a general anti-rhyme bias, or a fear they cannot make a good poem with rhymes.

I hope the 25 rhyming kyoka I have chosen for this Special Feature will help dispel the notion that a rhyming poem is a lesser poem than a non-rhyming poem. Some of the rhymes are obvious, but cleverly constructed and unforced. Other rhymes are more subtle, taking advantage of near rhymes, slant rhymes, and internal rhymes.

The freedom of expression allowed in a kyoka, unlike the more rigid, even stuffy, requirements of its cousin, the tanka, results in poems that tickle all the senses, including the funny bone, the heartstrings, and the prefrontal cortex. Wordplay is an integral part of kyoka, so keep an eye out for it. A clever poet can squeeze many fascinating poetic devices in five short lines.

To quote the inimitable Pete Seeger:
A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think.

The poems I have selected for this Special Feature engage all of these senses. I hope they will make you laugh, think, and feel deeply, as they have done for me.

I regret having to limit the selection to 25 poems, inasmuch as the poems I could not include were equally worthy of inclusion in the 25 Rhyming Kyoka Special Feature.

I extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all who submitted their work to this Special Feature. If one or more of your rhyming kyoka do not appear in this Special Feature, I encourage you to submit them to Atlas Poetica for consideration for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

1) Dean Brink

turning behind
in line “to see the time”
avoiding each other’s eyes
they ordered “to go” and paid
then took their place in the café

2) Pravat Kumar Padhy

with great curiosity
I am thrilled
recounting Darwin’s thought
of the camels’ easy way of walk

3) Steve Black

it took a promise as leverage
to open the bottom drawer
only to discover
a photo of her first love
and lingerie that doesn’t fit anymore

4) Ed Bremson

out shopping . . .
the cut of her dress
the sway of her breast

5) Carol Raisfeld

taking it all . . .
following the hearse
in a U-haul
his Playboy collection
for one last erection

6) Autumn Noelle Hall

a super tramp, me —
hack-and-slashing my own path . . .
the world’s wrath
a nominal fee
to take the long way home

*”Take the Long Way Home” lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

7) Paul Mercken

a dictionary
does not concern diction but
the meaning of words
and how they should be written —
call it a scriptionary

8) Billy Simms

summer diet
trying to shed
my middle age spread
every day the scale and I
stare each other down

9) Patricia Prime

it’s done with knives
when the victim’s
skin opens up
death is no longer in doubt
as his warm innards spill out

10) Pat Geyer

foreign to me this
surreal world of Dali . . .
persistent mem’ry
of pocket watches melting
across soft blue space

11) Marshall Bood

another smoker
in the bus shelter . . .
I stand outside
in the bitter cold

12) Debbie Strange

street dancers
with body-popping pecs
strutting their stuff
like grouse on sunrise treks
luring hens to dusty leks

13) Joe Witt

is this a rhyming kyoka
it has five lines
some of them rhyme
it’s not a limerick as you see
whatever it is let it be

14) Christine L. Villa

in the waiting room
telling all our ailments
to a stranger
this game we play
to make us feel better

15) Dave Read

the crick
in my back that won’t
go away —
I brace myself
for middle age

16) Kath Abela Wilson

kawaii kaba
says my Japanese friend
when I tell him my nickname
what a shame he says ditto
don’t worry cute little hippo

17) David J. Kelly

time repeats
this life’s an illness
all of us
leave yet return
to stillness

18) Susan Burch

in every direction —
if this boat sunk
I wouldn’t even know
which way to go

19) Louis Osofsky

near this tree
I hear the wind chime
ring a tune of envy;
it must be listening
to Rebecca and me

20) Tracy Davidson

at the casino
down to my last dime
I pull the lever
one more time . . .
two apples, one lime

21) Adjei Agyei-Baah

returning home
a hair strand
from his one-night stand
cuts through
his wife’s smile

22) Seren Fargo

after the housing inspector
checks the bathroom drains,
in plain sight
on the seat
a pubic hair I missed

23) Paula S. Zwenger

barn doors should be shut
when business is ended
lest some deluded
wanderer finds entry,

24) Jon Best

the fortune teller
poses fate’s question
the answer
betrays a grievous doubt
the end game is revealed

25) Joy McCall

such a small thing
a kiss on the cheek
of a musing man –
decades later I recall
that’s how it all began

Biographical Sketches

Michael H. Lester is a business manager for high net worth individuals in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is the author of a book of poetry, Notes from a Commode, Volume I. You can find his poems in Atlas Poetica and many other poetry journals. Michael teaches a poetry class to recovering addicts at Beit T’Shuvah in Culver City, California.

Dean Brink, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Foreign Languages & Literatures, National Chiao Tung University. He is the author of Japanese Poetry and Its Publics: From Colonial Taiwan to Fukushima. London: Routledge, 2018. www.routledge.com/9781138304024, http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1800-1004, http://nctu.academia.edu/DeanBrink, http://interpoetics.blogspot.com.

Pravat Kumar Padhy hails from Odisha, India. He holds Masters in Science and Technology and a Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology (ISM), Dhanbad. His haiku won Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Honourable Mention, UNESCO International Year Award of Water Co-operation, The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Award, IAFOR Vladimir Devide Haiku Award, 7th Setouchi Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Award and others.

Steve Black lives near Reading (UK). He recently discovered there are no safe spaces in the ‘school of hard knocks’ yet somehow he remains optimistic.

Ed Bremson is an award-winning haiku poet. His haiku have been published in Croatia, Mongolia, Australia, as well as in the Japanese journals Mainichi Daily, and Asahi Shimbun. In 2017, many of his poems were featured on the Japanese TV show, NHK Haiku Masters, and he was chosen three times as their Haiku Master of the Week. Ed also writes other short form poetry, including gogyoshi and haiga. He lives in Raleigh, NC, USA.

Carol Raisfeld lives in Atlantic Beach, New York, US. Her poetry, art and photography appear worldwide in print, online journals and anthologies. Website: www.Haikubuds.com Twitter: @carol_red

Autumn Noelle Hall hails from Green Mountain Falls (that’s Colorado, in Pikes Peak’s shadow). Her first response to rhyming kyoka was, “Really Michael? Oka doka . . .” But given time and room for gaffs, she found the challenge good for laughs, as well as plain creative fun; she admits she’s written more than one . . . Such challenges are calls for rising to occasions most surprising! So thanks to those with open minds — readers, writers, and editor-kinds.

Paul Mercken is a Retired Reader Philosophy, linguist & medievalist, °Leuven, B, 1934, Ph.D. Leuven (1959); Firenze IT; Cambridge & Oxford GB; USA; Utrecht NL. Member of the Oxford and Cambridge Society of the Netherlands. Committee member of the Haiku Kring Nederland 2004-2016 (HKN – recently merged with haiku.nl).

Billy Simms is an artist who lives in Hamilton, OH with his wife and four cats.

Patricia Prime is editor of Kokako, reviews/interviews editor of Haibun Today and reviews for Atlas Poetica and Takahe.

Pat Geyer lives in East Brunswick, NJ USA. Her home is surrounded by the parks and lakes where she finds her inspiration in Nature. Published in several journals, she is an amateur photographer and poet.

Marshall Bood lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. His poetry has recently appeared in Stacking Stones: An Anthology of Short Tanka Sequences, Scryptic, bottle rockets, and others.

Debbie Strange (Winnipeg, Canada) is a short form poet, photographer and haiga artist. She is the author of Warp and Weft: Tanka Threads (Keibooks 2015) and its sequel, Three-Part Harmony: Tanka Verses (Keibooks 2018). Please visit her at http://www.debbiemstrange.blogspot.ca.

Joe Witt resides in Altadena, California, with his wife, Roz, and their two cats, ShadieLadie and Mouse. They have one son, two grandsons and two step grandchildren, who keep them busy. Retired from JPL in 2002, he is currently learning to kiteboard. He is in Dr. Mira Mataric’s creative writing, class at the Pasadena Sr. Center and has had 2 tankas, a haiku, and 4 poems published.

Christine L. Villa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. She was a dedicated math tutor for many years until she migrated to Sacramento, California in 2003. Here, she discovered her two great passions—writing children’s books and Japanese short-form poetry. Chrissi is an award-winning haiku and tanka poet and is also the founding editor of Frameless Sky, the first haiga, and tanka art video journal. If she is not busy writing, you can find her taking photographs, doing crafts, or playing the ukulele. Website: www.christinevilla.com

Dave Read is a Canadian poet and a winner of the 2016 Touchstone Award for individual haiku.

Kath Abela Wilson says writing poems since she was five years old has made her bold. She is married to Rick Wilson, mathematician and flute player and collector of flutes of the world. They found each other late in life and carry on with world travels and poetry and flute performances abroad, hosting visiting poets and meetings of local poets at their home near Caltech in Pasadena, California.

David J Kelly lives and works in Dublin, Ireland, where he finds scientific and artistic inspiration in the natural world. He has been widely published. His first collection, Hammerscale from the Thrush’s Anvil was published in November 2016.

Susan Burch (USA) is a good egg.

Louis Osofsky: passionate about life: a loving partner: follows the intensity of emotion: traverses landscapes: enjoys the pleasure of precise writing and intricate musical compositions: a reader that pauses: a food preparer: finds wonder in sharing words: curious: embraces slowness: opens his heart: experiences a passing present: illuminates from the past, future and dreams: processes the world through tanka.

Tracy Davidson lives in Warwickshire, England, and writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in various publications and anthologies, including: Poet’s Market, Mslexia, Atlas Poetica, Writing Magazine, Modern Haiku, The Binnacle, A Hundred Gourds, Shooter, Journey to Crone, The Great Gatsby Anthology, WAR, and In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights.

Adjei Agyei-Baah, is poet, editor, translator and lecturer at University of Ghana School of Continuing & Distance Education, Kumasi Campus. He is the co-founder Africa Haiku Network and co-editor of The Mamba, Africa’s first international haiku journal. Adjei is widely anthologized and winner of several awards. He is the author of two haiku collections, Afriku (Red Moon Press, 2016) and Ghana / 21 (Mamba Africa Press, 2017) and looks forward to publishing his third collection Tales of the Kite in 2018.

Seren Fargo, once a wildlife researcher, now writes poetry, particularly Japanese-form. She finds this form best satisfies both her creative side and her scientific side. In 2009, she founded the Bellingham Haiku Group in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Her work has won several awards and been published in many journals in the US and internationally. She lives in a haiku-inspiring wooded setting.

Paula S. Zwenger wears multiple hats, the most playful of which is that of rhyme loving writer. Her joy manifests while wrangling words that roll the tongue with rhythm. She lives in the American Mid-west (Nebraska) with her high-school sweetheart, Patrick, and her hobbies include reading, writing, singing, and playing word games. Her work has been featured at Pelican’s Breast, Wordsowers, and the cherita, rhymelovingwriter.com.

Jon Best is Cornish proud, an amateur poet on the cusp of fifty having fun exploring with words.

Joy McCall lives in Norwich, England. She usually writes serious tanka and ryuka – many books full – but has been persuaded to try writing kyoka by some poet guy in Los Angeles.

© 2018