Choka, dVerse, Poetry

to capture a journey

img courtesy

Our dVerse prompt today comes from Bodhirose.

The Choka or Long Poem is believed to be the most intricate of Japanese poetry and was used to tell a story; many were epic with over 100 lines.  This form was popular between the 1st and 13th centuries, the earliest example was discovered in the 1st century and described a battle.  It was 149 lines long.  The Choka had a tradition of being recited in a high-pitched voice.

This form is based on a series of Katauta joined together. The Katauta is considered the basic unit of Japanese poetry using either the 17 (5-7-5) unit onji or the 19 (5-7-7) unit onji.  In Western terms an onji is what we call a syllable.  Many of us are familiar with these particular onji as we have used them in writing haiku, tanka and sedoka.

The Choka is an unrhymed poem alternating five and seven syllables that ends with an extra seven syllable line. You can use the 17 or 19 onji (syllable) style.  It can be any number of lines that you choose.

So today our prompt is to tell a story in the Choka poetic tradition.

My Choka is below and is a remembering of a journey which I undertook in 2015 and which I blogged about at the time  but never ‘wrote’ about.

I have for some time thought about where I might go with that, in writing terms, and the Choka seemed the perfect form to begin something. I have also contemplated writing the story of Drum Trek in the Basho style made famous in the Narrow Road to the Interior and perhaps producing my first book.

This prompt has given me plenty to ponder.


To capture a journey

How does one begin

a journey of great distance?

do not think on it

but move forward step by step

realising that

the present moment is all

and so i did this

making a choice in the now

to undertake a

rhythmical odyssey ride

to places calling

to people who had answered

no thought to time’s glance

ignore the tick and the tock

leaving from the North

John of the Groats they call it

a windswept world’s edge

i traveled many miles South

to the end of land

dipping like a giant’s toe

into the ocean

i drummed with many a folk

old friends and more new

deepening community

finding my story

in the rhythm of this place

hidden in plain sight

woven in the landscape’s dream

meeting myself here

in memories of a life

lived on this green land

since before i knew of it

whose ancient voice was

calling to a deeper part

elder’s being heard it

wise and serene seeing  all

holding space for me

to see it too and to heal

deeply from old wounds

that threatened to blind my eyes

to ancestral truths

to ancestral chains that bound

to freedom waiting

whispering a long lost song

calling my spirit to soar

a beauty of tears

gifted this heart note i sang

my song with heart bare

soul aflame wordless wisdom

to my soul of now

knowing that this moment was

eternal and true

gratitude poured through my veins

it was all so clear

i had traveled many miles

to discover that

which i sought had always been

in my own story

in the bones of who i am

here where i stood deep within

dVerse, Poetry, Quadrille

time twirls

It’s 2017 and a Happy New Year to all of you. Bjorn is back with the  Quadrille #23 prompt for dVerse, which I am late responding too ( still very much in Holiday mode).

Here is my effort to write a 44 word poem on the theme ‘curl’

~~~~~~~~~         ~~~~~~~~~         ~~~~~~~~~


curl back pages of the poet’s mind


unfurl words of times past as


that swirl with the melody and rhythm of echo


upon the parchments of yesterday twist and twirl so that


may hurl them into this paperless future



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dVerse, Philosophy, Poetry

The Road

Tis Poetics night at the Bar tonight and Bryan has set us a wonderful challenge.

“Today I would like you to “cover” a poem by a poet whom you admire. Honestly, I don’t know what this might look like, therefore this prompt is fairly open to interpretation.”

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Here is my attempt at a cover of Mary Oliver’s, The Journey

Photo: Maria Savenko. Creative Commons BY-SA (cropped).

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It dawned upon you then

that you must act and you did move

despite the nagging voices

calling you to take no such risk

though the world about you began to tumble down

and gnawing doubt whispered

‘stay safe, stay here with us’

you moved anyway


though the wind bit hard and cold

and your footsteps were heavy

and those voices pulled you back

into safe discomfort

‘The day is passed

There is no time

The wild night builds a barrier to your path

Go back’

But step after precious step

you walked

and they did not

the night sky revealed itself

and you remembered

with clarity

who you were

and heard just that one voice

and as you strode deeper and deeper

into the new dawn

passion burned within

and doing the only thing you could do

saving the only life you could save

was all there was left

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dVerse, Elemental, Poetry

Goodbye Fall

I’m running late with everything bar work at the moment but here is my Poetic Tuesday entry ( It’s Friday)

Thanks to Walt for the prompt over at dVerse and good luck to him on the next part of his journey. Our theme is goodbye.


Autumn is hanging on.

Leaf by golden yellow brown leaf.

Each drop, a gentle gravity called ceilidh.

Toward that final moment.

That last, grasping, fingernail moment.

Of that last leaf.

On that last tree.

That last fall.


No longer



Photo by ME


Paul's Rhythm Journey

Finding my voice

Life has been busy of late. Running another Expressive Rhythm Stories training in Malaysia, going to see Crosby, Stills and Nash Live in Singapore, running a Rhythms of the World workshop in Newcastle, watching Thomas Truax perform, Mentoring Drum Circle work in Hull and The Wee Drum Gathering here at Wiston…next stop Dublin for more drum circling.

Seeing Crosby,Stills and Nash inspired me totally….to maybe pick up my guitar more and sing…fortunately whilst visiting Hull to mentor my good friend an upcoming Arthurian DCF Donna Smith, I was presented with a wonderful opportunity.

Donna can play and sing beautifully and suggested prior to the trip we might spend a day playing together. She is an avid recorder of music and so set up a couple of mics so we could jam and see what we got. She played back the first recording to me and it surprised me….I’d never listened to myself sing before and the good quality mics had picked up all the tonal range….it moved me…she encouraged me to open up my lungs and sing…to find my voice…and so I did…there is work to do…both on the playing side and with the vocal but I feel encouraged by what we created in our first jam.

Here are the recordings. I hope you enjoy.

image credit

Poetry, Spirituality

Roses, Late Summer, Mary Oliver

What happens
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens

to the singing birds
when they can’t sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?

Do you think there is any
personal heaven
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,

the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the foxes keep teaching their children

to live in the valley.
so they never seem to vanish, they are always there
in the blossom of the light
that stands up every morning

in the dark sky.
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness

and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.


Kahlil Gibran

A favourite writer of mine. Some inspiration for you all to read.

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Finally this piece…It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Who is your inspiration? Share some of your most treasured words here in the comments section if you wish.

In Peace

Paul x