Trying the Ronka Form

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Last February, I posted my ronka form as the writing prompt on Poets Online. That is a site I have been doing since 1998 and it offers a monthly prompt and publishes selected responses.

I imposed my form on readers in the hopes that some of them would also like the idea of a form that resembled the haiku, tanka and other short forms, but wanted to try something new.

I gave the basic instructions:

  • These poems are meant to be one observation on the day that should come from paying close attention to the outside world from earth to sky or from inside – inside a building or inside you.
  • There are 5 lines, each having 7 words without concern for syllables. Like traditional tanka and haiku, the ronka uses no rhyme.
  • You want to show rather than tell. You want to use seasonal words – cherry blossoms, rather than “spring.”
  • I suggested that Western writers have a problem staying out of their poems – lots of “I” – but most of those eastern forms have fewer people walking about in the poem and fewer exam[les of navel gazing. But even I didn’t follow this rule all the time, so…
  • The ronka is just 5 lines, but I suggested that you might write several on a single theme and chain them together renga style, and a few poets did just that.

Here are some the ronka poems that were submitted and published on Poets Online.


An ice storm subdued the unruly bamboo
its bend now architectural, space becoming place,
a momentary home, refuge for no one,
topped by errant grackles tired from flight.
Somewhere icicles crash, and they are gone.

Peter Goudaman



A steel grey sky, swollen with clouds,
hovers over the tall green spruce trees,
the air alive with fresh falling snow.
I am surprised to catch the sparrows
feasting on the rose glow barberry bush.

Marie A. Mennuto-Rovello



Deer tracks on old snow and now
Purple skies warning of yet another storm
After the last, two deer came ’round –
Mother, munching pine needles staring at me,
over oatmeal. I staring back at her.

Beverly Rosenblum



A majestic orchid stands by my bath
dressed in royal purple, its branches arced
as if waving to its subjects. No
need to peer in the mirror to
question its beauty, angst over age lines.

Barbara Whitehill



Snow fell hard and heavy all night.
Cold but pristine, the glittering white blanket
covered all the world in quiet beauty.
The frigid silence, so fragile as glass,
was shattered by the hulking city plow.

Letitia Minnick



Walk the Live Oak Trail and you
will come upon a crumbling concrete circle.
Why is it there? for what purpose?
Those ancient live oaks will not say
They will not give up their secrets.

Bobbie Townsend



As Mother shuffles along the garden path
Waiting for me to hold up roses
She no longer sees, she is awake
To gifts her dead husband brought her,
More than my arm she leans upon.

In the nearby pines, a pileated woodpecker
Routinely knocks his head against a tree.
She talks of her lonely married nights:
Her husband’s insisting respectable women avoid bars.
From over our heads the woodpecker laughs.

Ron Yazinski



Maze of boulders on the hill’s backside.
Old tin cans glow red with rust.
Lost pocketknife, bottles burned blue as sky.
No rain. Tunnels appear in dry soil.
The calendar claims that winter’s almost over.

In neglected corners, the shelter of rocks,
weeds without names weave their thin lace.
My dog has learned a new dance.
A leafless oak blossoms with blackbirds singing
Spring, whether we deserve it or not.

Taylor Graham



Waiting for the ice to come, the
too early robin feels the scent of
rain looming on the wintry western horizon.
She huddles nearer to the scent of
life hiding in buds, tiny as hope.

Her twig dances in clueless play, jostling
with the wind’s first breath before the
rain arrives, falling into metamorphosis through a
sky gray as instinct’s failings. Feathers tremble
‘neath the icy weight of spring deferred.

Linda Watson Owen



Opera of a time in the park,
a day when diva trees are new
full and green luminescence plays pretty footsie
with dew. Iris tenor pantaloons purple meets
tulip coloratura, duet love scene is lilacs.

Mary Orovan



No, it’s not the Apollo Lunar Module
inside the moon’s Bay of Tranquility crater.
It glows in the gloom. Liftoff scheduled
tomorrow at noon — separation of lower left,
back-most molar from its curved jawbone home.

E.E. Nobbs



Sweet, salty stink of the duck pond;
bold, salmon pink of the western sky.
But we walk east, toward the darkening.
Shadows of fir branches blacken eastern skies.
Young walkers welcome warm dusk in August.

R. Bremner


You can find these poems and many others along with the prompts that inspired them in the Poets Online archive.  The prompts and things poetic also appear on the Poets Online blog.