Sunday, March 6, 2016

ITS OWN PACE - Waka, a Japanese form of Poetry

Not lilacs, in this case, but lilac-colored bougainvillea
Its Own Pace

Nine, going on ten
With three months of summer, then
fifth grade at St. Luke’s 

Reading assignments follow
Math class and Catechism 

Ride your bike home; don’t
dilly-dally afterwards
or you’ll miss supper 

Pies in the oven, chili
on the stove, wash your hands first 

Please, thank you, and yes.
While lilacs bloom and grass grows,
hollows slowly fill 

Moving forward, remember
your youth, forget the deep loss.

Most of my poems only bow politely to the renshi form of poetry. This poem is my attempt at the Japanese form of poetry known as waka, which is 3 lines of 17 syllables (5-7-5; this part later known as haiku) followed by two lines of 14 syllables (7-7).
The poem addresses a tragic situation in a young person’s life. The focus is on the coping mechanism of moving past the pain and incomprehensible nature of an unnatural occurrence. There are no parameters to restrict the types of tragedies that would cause such sorrow. To a child, delineations do not exist.
The hollowness that follows deep loss must fill slowly. Debilitating ache eases until only a dull throb persists as a reminder, often when one least expects the memory to rise. The challenge is to remember the goodness, the healthy body of youth, and endless possibilities of a hopeful future.
Being told to forget the deep loss does not mean to ignore the occurrence. Instead, allow the healing waters of time to gently flow through your mind, diluting pain and bitter sorrow along the way. Keep in mind, though, that poems do not offer advice. Rather, they draw from the reader’s own mind solutions already considered. In the peaceful atmosphere of quiet reading, it is possible to see solutions in a new light, and determine a course of action.


  1. I had to put Sir Poops down this past week. He will be missed. Terribly. Nice poem.

  2. I am very sorry for your loss, Shelly. You have so many good memories and wonderful pictures!


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