Cicada. Wikimedia.

summer cicadas /
make love on every branch – /
frustrated poets /
sit alone in the shadows /
writing refrains with their quills //

Image: Wikimedia

This is written for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, where my blogging friend Georgia (from Bastet & Sekhmet’s Library) is today’s Ghost Writer!   I will also share it with Heeding Haiku with HA since I (accidentally!) used a classical summer kigo – cicadas – and that was the goal of the July 30th prompt.  The kyoka is a “close cousin” to the tanka so I hope HA will accept this poem.  

Georgia introduced us to the kyoka and the background information is very interesting.  I hope you will visit the prompt and visit Georgia’s blog.   I wrote one several months ago but wasn’t comfortable with it – you can visit and deliver the final verdict.  Perhaps with Georgia’s information and examples this one will be better – but then, while I have a great sense of humor, writing humor is not my strongest suit!

Georgia tells us that kyoka means “playful verse” and there were three types of kyoka:

  1. Kokin: tries to use all the rules of waka (tanka) but ends up being comical;
  2. Tenmei: tries to impart an artistic flare to the poem whilst using colloquial language and writing about every day subjects and emotions; and
  3. Honka-dori: parodies an existing waka (tanka).

These are the guidelines for kyoka:

1. syllable structure of 5-7-5-7-7;
2. two parts – the kami-no-ku (upper phrase) in 5-7-5, and the shimo-no-ku (lower phrase) in 7-7;
3. a subtle, unexpected turn in the middle of the poem, usually after line 2 or 3;
4. syllable count of 31 or fewer syllables;
5. humorous verse or parody of a famous waka (tanka);
6. may contain internal rhyme but avoids end rhyme; and
7. uses little or no punctuation

Here is an example from Yomo No Akara:

In Yoshiwara /
the women are showing their wares /
This evening – /
Blossoms glowing in the echoes /
of vesper bells //

© Yomo No Akara (Translated by Steven Carter)

(In other words, the women of Yoshiwara are plying their wares in the red light district.)

Here is an example from Georgia:

in Busch Stadium /
the pitcher smiled then let loose /
smashing the batter’s arm /
he sure balled up that inning  /
two others’d been based on balls* /

© G.s.k. ‘14

Quite clever, don’t you think?  Especially with the puns and word play. 

I chose to make my kyoka a parody of Issa’s “Summer Cicadas”, even though I probably should have parodied a tanka and not a haiku.

koi wo seyo koi wo seyo seyo natsu no semi

go ahead, make love! /
make love! /
summer cicadas //

© Issa

What exactly do mating cicadas look like? (Skip to 1:08.)  [Warning – this is steamy stuff!]

Okay, it wasn’t *that* steamy.  But you’d be “really animated” too if you’d been captive that long…  A better soundtrack might have improved the video.  Just sayin’.

Image: Wikimedia


23 thoughts on “Summer Cicadas (Kyoka)

  1. Brava!!! Loved the kyoka and just the right amount of word play here to leave something to the imagination. Great choice to parody. Thanks also for giving info about the form … it is such a shame that the kyoka has become nearly extinct … well actually, it’s having a slight revival in the west (I don’t know about Japan).


  2. So, you thought the film of the cicadas getting it on needed a Shaft soundtrack to do it justice…? Good call! 🙂
    (Sorry, I meant to talk about the poem but you will insist on turning your posts into multi-media events and I just get distracted).


  3. It’ll be great to see what you come up with — glad you liked this and were inspired 😀

    Georgia couldn’t comment on Managua’s post either … She ended up commenting at the CDHK page.

    Thanks again 🙂


  4. I think you did very well – writing humor. And bonus that it fits two prompts. The video is funny too!

    Thanks for stopping by my Koyka one can have a bit of fun with this form. Just depends on what seeds one plants… One can have some good clean fun without getting too …um… detailed.


  5. I remember the last time the cicadas were out and about in our area. I took the boys to the forest preserve – they were considerably younger at the time. Let’s just say there was a lot of bug whoopie going on and the inquiring young minds wanted to know what was taking place. Honestly I have no recollection as to what I said. I seemed to have blocked it out;). I think they are cute -ours had orangey eyes;)


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