Week Forty-One: The Kimo

The Hebrew Haiku

The Kimo is yet another variation on the Haiku which focuses on imagery and strict syllable count. Israeli poets adjusted the syllabic requirements of that traditional Japanese form to accommodate for the unique characteristics of the Hebrew language.

Key Features of the Kimo

Content: like haiku, usually image-specific and acts as a still life, or snapshot, of a single moment

Form: made up of a single stanza of three lines

Syllable Count:
[Line 1] 10 syllables
[Line 2] 7 syllables
[Line 3] 6 syllables


An Original Kimo

at my desk

beside a leaning stack of old notebooks
one hand rests on empty page
one on warm coffee mug


Want to Learn More? Start Here:

Kimo – Writer’s Digest
Kimo – Poet’s Collective
Kimo Poems – Poetry Soup


Come back every Friday for a new form!

~ Creative works are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws ~

Write your own Kimo and share in the comments!

Week Twenty-Two: The Haibun


The Haibun features a fascinating paring of prose poetry and haiku. It was invented and popularized by 17th century Japanese master poet Matsuo Bashō. The prose and haiku of the haibun are often in communication with each other in direct or subtle ways.

Haibun Example

LAKE SADDLEBAG by marie a. mennuto-rovello

I walk the north end of the lake this time every summer. Listen to the murky green waters slap up against the weather beaten dock. In the distance, the sound of children skinny dipping.

from a navy sky
sound of cicadas calling
full moon on the rise

Requirements of the Form


– Titled, unlike traditional haiku

– Begins with a small number of short paragraphs (typically one to three) written in prose poetry style

– Ends with a traditional haiku that reflects or is in some relationship with the introductory prose poem


Common elements and themes include:
– Strong sense of place through natural imagery and sensory detail
– Travel or sense of journey
– Autobiographical elements
– Economy of language
– Sense of presence and immediacy typically found in haiku
– Haiku follows other rules typically found in form

Syllable Count

– For the haiku, syllables needn’t be counted 5-7-5 as in the English Haiku. Rather, aim for a short first line, followed by a longer line, ending with another short line. This approach more closely reflects the spirit of the traditional Japanese form.

An Original Haibun

October 28, 2019 [a haibun]

October is ending. The blazing reds of the sugar maple have begun to yellow. I stand at the front window, still in my bathrobe though noon approaches, still fighting a cold with rest and medication. A small grey cat brushes against my leg and then the curtain. Beside her, a fat tabby dozes on a quilt on a rocking chair. Beside the rocking chair, a wastebasket full of crumpled tissues waits to be emptied.

I refill my coffee mug, warming my hands with it as I return to the window. The leaves on the lawn are beginning to brown, reminding me of the promise to rake. Last year we let them lay and they choked the irises. At the feeder, only the occasional finch returns. The water in the birdbath is not yet frozen.

October ends
orange leaves and white snowflakes 
fall together

Links to Online Resources

Haibun – Wikipedia
Haibun Poems – Writer’s Digest
Matsuo Bashō – Wikipedia
A Closer Look at Writing Haibun – Poets.org
Haiku – Wikipedia


Come back every Friday to see the next form!

~ Creative works are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws ~

Write your own and share in the comments!

Week Eighteen: The Somonka


If you enjoyed last week’s form, The Tanka, you should enjoy The Somonka twice as much! It is simply two tankas written in conversation with one another. Traditionally, the somonka reflects upon a theme of love and is written by two authors. But you may find modern somonka written by a single author in two voices. The theme of love may also be adapted and expanded beyond purely romantic sentiments to include love of friends and family, a precious object, or even the world itself.


“Sugar,” by Robert Lee Brewer

I’m waiting to die;
I think it will happen soon–
this morning, I saw
two bright hummingbirds battling
over some sugar water.

I know; I was there.
I chased after them for you
until thirst stopped me.
Fetch me some water. I have
a little sugar for you.

Requirements of the Form


– Consists of two five-line tankas for a total of ten lines


– Usually revolves around a theme of love
– The second tanka responds to the first in some way

~~For all other requirements, see last week’s post~~

An Original Somonka


You love the winter,
the delicacy of snow.
I love your warmth,
the lightness of your fingers,
your perfect paper snowflakes.

You love the autumn
a golden world unfolding
I love your growth
dexterous like a spider
weaving into creation

Notes on Our Original Somonka

Special thanks to my lovely wife, Emily, who contributed the second tanka of this somonka.

Links to Online Resources

Somonka – Writer’s Digest
Somonka – Poet’s Collective
American Tanka
Tanka – Writer’s Digest
Tanka – AHA Poetry


–Creative works are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws

Week Seventeen: The Tanka


The Tanka is a Japanese form closely related to the haiku. It’s a slightly longer form–made up of a quintet rather than a tercet–but maintains the haiku’s somewhat strict syllable restrictions. While some of the conventions associated with the haiku are still present–such as the focus on imagery–the tone of the tanka may be more conversational. Restrictions on the use of poetic devices such as metaphor and personification are also more relaxed.

Tanka burning Buddhist statues – Wikimedia Commons

Two Paths to the Tanka

There are two ways to approach the syllable requirements of a Japanese form such as the tanka when composing outside of the original language.

One approach uses the syllable requirements of the English haiku (the well known 5-7-5 rule) as a guide. Following this pattern, the syllable count for the tanka would become 5-7-5-7-7. Strict adherence to this method would result in a tanka of exactly thirty-one syllables. Since the way that syllables are counted in the two languages are not directly comparable, this is only an approximation of the original form.

The second approach is to use what I’ll call the short-long-short method, in which the length of the lines, and the difference between them, is more important than the actual syllable count. Using this method, the lines of the tanka would be written short-long-short-long-long. Using this method, the tanka is often shorter than thirty-one syllables (the number of syllables per line is more likely to be lowered than raised). Some would argue that this method is more in the spirit of the original Japanese form.

*Visit American Tanka for more on the history of the tanka.*

A Tanka by Saigyo*

Beside the roadway
a flowing of clear water
in a willow’s shade
I thought for just a short while
to linger and take a rest.

*12th century Japanese poet and priest

Requirements of the Form


– most often made of a single quintet


Similarities with haiku
– focus on brevity, immediacy
– use of natural imagery
– often features an unexpected “turn” in the final lines of the poem

Differences from haiku
– allows figurative language such as metaphor
– may have relaxed, more conversational tone

Syllable Count

– Option One (Based on English Haiku): 5-7-5-7-7
Option Two (Truer to Japanese Form): Short-Long-Short-Long-Long


– not typically metrical


– not usually rhymed

Requirements Breakdown

[Line 1] 5 Syllables (short line)
[Line 2] 7 Syllables (longer line)
[Line 3] 5 Syllables (short line)
[Line 4] 7 Syllables (longer line)
[Line 5] 7 Syllables (longer line)

Three Original Tanka

The Artist Knows

The artist knows
the bee in the sunflowers
shares a great lesson:
keep collecting that nectar
and the honey will come.


The volcano,
long covered by the blue
ice of the glacier,
will soon strike out with fiery
eruptions of consequence.

Like a Child Moving

Like a child moving
endlessly from game to game
without tiring–
in the hummingbird’s garden
our hearts dance from joy to joy.

Links to Online Resources

American Tanka
Tanka – Writer’s Digest
Tanka – AHA Poetry


–Creative works are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws

Week Sixteen: The Haiku Sonnet


A unique experimental form born of the mashup of eastern and western poetic traditions, the Haiku Sonnet combines the syllable count and three-line stanzaic structure of the English Haiku with the fourteen-line structure of the sonnet. I first learned of the form –and many of the forms collected for this challenge– from David Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest, but the form appears to be an invention of Chicago poet David Marshall.

David Marshall on the Haiku Sonnet

Conceptually, it’s an attempt to wed two like and unlike forms. To me, the sonnet seems the quintessential western poetic form, defined by the order and rationality of its problem-resolution organization. Depending how you see it, the haiku might be just as organized—haiku certainly have strong rules and conventions. Because haiku can rely, just as a sonnet does, on a sort of reversal—a “volta” in sonnets, a “kireji” in haiku—they may be distant cousins. However, haiku are eastern, and, where sonnets are rational, haiku are resonant. Where sonnets solve—or attempt to solve—haiku observe.

David Marshall – Haiku Sonnets

A Haiku Sonnet by David Marshall


I remember winter
now that it’s here—the next word
in a song, a plea

for love you forget
until a character speaks.
Now I remember—

outside this window,
one leaf clung all winter. Wind
set it fluttering

like a hummingbird.
Its sociable flicker was
like life. One day

it flew away, and I thought—
it wouldn’t ever come back.

Requirements of the Form


– Four three-line stanzas (tercets) followed by two-line stanza (couplet) for a total of fourteen lines


– Written in the present tense
– Syntax may be incomplete to maximize power of brevity
– Refers to time of day or season
– Focuses on a natural image
– ‘Show, don’t tell’ approach
– May contain a ‘volta’ or turn of thought
– Captures essence of a moment
– Aims at sudden insight, spiritual illumination

Syllable Count

– Begins with a sequence of four tercets with a syllable count of 5-7-5
– Ends with a couplet with a syllable count of either 5 or 7 syllables per line


– No meter


– Unrhymed

Requirements Breakdown

[Line 1] 5 Syllables
[Line 2] 7 Syllables
[Line 3] 5 Syllables

(repeat for lines 4 – 12)

[Line 13] 5 or 7 Syllables
[Line 14] 5 or 7 Syllables

An Original Haiku Sonnet

Among Cottonwoods

The autumn wind blows–
the storms of summer did not
drown the cottonwood.

From the hollow trunk,
monarchs fly away from death
and the coming frost.

They will return when
the soft white snowdrifts of seeds
burst forth in April.

The artist seated
at the roots will have to wait
to carve the soft wood.

Among cottonwoods,
the soul climbs and reaches out.

Links to Online Resources

Haiku Sonnets – David Marshall
Haiku Sonnet – Writer’s Digest

Week Fifteen: The Lune


The Lune–also known as the American Haiku–is a thirteen-syllable variation of the English Haiku created by American poet Robert Kelly (it may also be referred to as the Kelly Lune). Kelly’s adaptation of the better-known English Haiku–which also features a tercet, but with the 5-7-5 syllable count we all learned in school–shortened the syllable count from seventeen to thirteen and opened up the form by not requiring some of the haiku’s distinguishing features, such as the focus on nature.

One source proposes that Kelly chose the word lune (the French word for moon) to describe his adapted haiku form because the syllable count matches the thirteen lunar months of the year.

A Lune by Robert Kelly:

thin sliver of the
crescent moon
high up the real world

Requirements of the Form


– Consists of any number of tercets, though a single tercet is most common


– Open, but generally has a sense of immediacy
— Often lacks punctuation, capitalization

Syllable Count

[Line 1] Five syllables
[Line 2] Three syllables
[Line 3] Five syllables


– No requirements


– Typically not rhymed

Three Original Lunes

the woods by the creek

the woods by the creek
all our best
silences were there


she watches, wonders

she watches, wonders
in silence
the child in the leaves

who will comfort her
as she cries
as her forests burn


from ancient darkness

from ancient darkness
sudden light
galaxies of soul

Links to Online Resources

Lune – Writer’s Digest
Lune – Poets Collective
Poetic Forms: Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and Lunes – lestersmith.com
Robert Kelly – Poets.org
Robert Kelly (Poet) – Wikipedia
The Lune and Robert Kelly – The Line Break
Various Moons – Poetsonearth.com


–Original creative works are owned by the
author and subject to copyright laws