{p7 poetry friday ♦ sedoka form}

Not to be confused with the math game Sudoku, the poetic form Sedōka is also mathematically based, but it’s a words-and-numbers logic game, rather than being numbers alone. It’s best described as shadow poetry; conceptually parallel, echoing the same syllable length as haiku, but in a different order. Inasmuch as a haiku is syllables organized as 5-7-5, the Sedōka is 5-7-7. Each grouping is a standalone stanza, but joined, they complete the stanzas complete each other.

The haiku-like form allowed several of us to race and just begin to work on them right before the deadline. Unfortunately, sometimes the shorter the poem is, and the tighter the form, the harder it is to be happy with it! When I’m stuck, often poetry I already know begins to ring in my mind. This one came from Whitman’s “Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking,” and the images of a fractured lullaby and a disquieted wandering nagged at me. I love the direction it’s going, but I’m not convinced that this is my best work – it’s hard to pack much of anything – for me, anyway – into such tight forms. I left the poem untitled, as the 1950’s era ad jingle seemed to suggest too much to some readers, and I wanted to let you draw your own conclusions. Anyway, the point of the exercise is to FINISH, so:

Sonoma County 178 HDR

A blanket of foam
Unfurling hypnotically
The surf roars a lullaby

Home is the sailor.
Landlocked. Sleepless; he listens
As the wind shrills sharp like gulls
2015 Benicia 54

the poetry seven

There are more pithy little poems from the Poetry Seven littering the landscape. Laura’s was written in Taco Bell. No, really. ♦ Sara, caffeinated, nonetheless managed to settle in, after a few jokes. ♦ And Andi’s back with a little poem to bring on the Spring. ♦ Tricia stopped by with a little background on the recent space return. ♦ Finally, Liz continues to be adored by her dog.

More Poetry Friday submissions can be found at the Teacher Dance blog, and stay tuned for another ekphrastic poetry series from the Poetry Seven next month… a ceiling fresco from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

14 Replies to “{p7 poetry friday ♦ sedoka form}”

  1. I logged in with Google, strange about the numbers. This is Linda, today’s host! I’ve enjoyed every one of the sedoka that the sisters have written, such a delight to see all that you all take as challenges. I love that second part, wondering if the sailor home is always restless to return. And I love the ocean, only get to visit, so that picture and the first part makes me yearn for it. Thanks, Tanita.

  2. This poem makes me sad. In a good way. It’s that land-locked sailor, I guess. I really think it’s moving and I find THAT kind of miraculous within these confines. Go you!!

    1. It’s got an elegiac feel because the line I stole from Robert Louis Stevenson’s epitaph (Here he lies where he longed to be/ Home is the sailor, home from the sea) is indeed a requiem – but I find it arguable that the sailor would want to be home from the sea, if his whole working-life had been spent going out there and only coming to land briefly. (The Paris Review has a great piece on how the whole “This be the verse” which Phillip Larkin also steals is a lie.)

      The sea is like a heartbeat… maybe to cease to hear that is, indeed, a little death. A little grief.

      Wow, now I’M shoving huge meaning into a very brief verse! But, I think this form really lends itself to that.

  3. I really love your poem. Somehow I see myself in it, although I have never been to sea. Maybe it’s the sleepless part… Anyway, you’ve done a marvelous job on this short form! Great photo too.

  4. *Snort*
    I love your beginning. And I’ll glad admit I prefer sudoku to sedoka. I’m with you in short forms being hard. Give me a sestina or villanelle any day. (Did I really just say that?)

    This landlocked sailor loves your second perspective. There’s such longing there for some, while others do enjoy the lull of the surf.

    This is lovely.

    1. Ah – you’ve identified it. It’s a poem about longing – maybe longing for sleep?! – and that’s why it’s such a weirdly familiar theme to me, though the form changes. I seem to write about this in poems a great deal.

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