New Year's Poetry



The goban is flat
Like one page of an old book,
Or a treasure map.
Like a huge unexplored plain
Stretching away out of sight!

Aliens Play Go, They Say

With one tentacle
Thraag the Annihilator
Played self-atari.

The Sage’s Game

“These are just pebbles!”
(The Emperor to the Sage)
“Where’s the jade and gold?”
The Sage took a coconut:
“Would you judge this by its rind?”

Go A Journey

Airport plane Japan
Tokyo metro kanji signs
Door club table board –

The Old Izakaya

In Kyoto, it’s said
There’s an old izakaya
Where the lights are warm
And the Go players gather.
Clicking stones and cicadas…

Leave the Rug Where It Is, Says Jowa

"Leave the rug right there,
We have the whole night ahead –
Now, another game?


Go According to McCluhan?

Is it hot or cool?
Such density of info,
Such space to explore.
Like a roadmap that leads you
Everywhere yet nowhere.


Gollum and the Goban

“Riddle me this, then:
Three hundred doves and ravens
On a cornfield.
Two blind snakes are there fighting:
One-eye will swallow No-eye.”

A Message from Shin Jinseo, on Becoming the Champion of the World

Go is my father
Lover friend companion
My sun moon sky world –


The Goban and the Tomb

The oldest goban:
Was it carved for a dead king
For eternity?
Or the rough-scratched floor tile
Used by the guards of his tomb?

[Stone Go boards have been found as grave goods in the tombs of Ancient Chinese nobility. As for the tile board, there’s some speculation repeated at :

"Chinese archaeologist have discovered a porcelain chessboard [read goban, probably a translation error] from the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 24 A.D.) in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. This is the earliest discovery of a chessboard ever unearthed in China. The Chessboard was found at the ruins of a watchtower at the tombs of Emperor Jingdi of the western Han Dynasty. The chessboard, slightly damaged, and unequal measuring 28.5 cm to 5.7 cm long, 19.7 cm to 17 cm wide and 3.6 cm thick. the chessboard is carved with 17 ordinate and 17 transversal lines, Li Gang, a researcher with the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Research Institute, said that this chess board might be made from a floor tile and it does not belong to the royal family since the carvings on the chessboard are too rough. Li said the chessboard could have been made by the tomb guards who played chess to pass the time. “That proves that chess had been played not only by nobles, but also by ordinary people like tomb guards more than 2,000 years ago, " li noted.”]

Games with the Kami

Playing with kami,
Centuries passed quietly
Like wandering clouds.


The Mountain

“Climb not the mountain
Where the weeping willows grow;
There the Go Sage dwells.
For having once learnt his arts
You will not care to descend.”

Shortage of Liberty

Grasping at your wrist,
The invisible spirit


Imamura Toshiya

Go analysts say
He plays a very thick game.
I just like to say his name.
One has to cling to something.


Transcendental Globalism

We stood on the moor,
Before a great stone circle.
My father spoke then:
“Each rock is like a Go stone,
Laying claim and keeping guard.”

Go in the 21st Century

I took the side then
I got guards and attack dogs
– just need a death ray.


Don’t Blame Me When They All Get Eaten By Tigers

Don’t introduce it.
Earthlings cannot understand
The beauty of Go.
They’re primitive savages
Who can’t even pronounce :space_invader:.

The Season of Go

Go shows us winter
Snowflakes falling and melting,
Exposing dark rock.


Aquatic Go

Amongst the wave-stones,
A deadly shark-group lunges
At a slow sea-cow,
And a shoal of anchovies
Hems in a huge octopus.

Jowa’s Go Advice

Study the right way –
Refuse greed and cowardice
To play like kami.



There’s an old Go club
In the heart of Chinatown.
Take a big red bus
And we’ll spend the evening down
At the club in Chinatown.

The Shogun’s Dream

Nameless, faceless stones
Voicelessly unquestioning,
Following orders.


Re: Impressionist Study

Call it lack of faith,
Call it whatever you will.
It’s how my mind works.
Got to grind it, play by play.
Fleeting forms just fade away.

Okay, I think I’m done. Go bugcat!


Crafting a goban
A challenge of touch and feel
The haiku awaits


My Father’s Board

The crone said to me
“This is your grandfather’s board.”
It was all dented,
Marked and marred with dark tea stains
And criss-crossed by an inked sword.

Celestial Go

Look at the night sky
The spirits are playing Go
With bright stars their stones.


Oh the Good Times of Old Edo

Inside a castle,
Two kimono-clad young men
Kneel on a rug.
Between them stands a goban
On four carven yellow feet.

Ode to Tsumego

A good tsumego
Is like a finely-cut jewel
Glinting from the page.


Should they actually kneel on a carpet? :wink:


Better than on the floor, right?


Yeah that only has one syllable as well :smiley: :smiley:


I owe a tanka


We come to play go
And the battle takes its toll
We come to relax
And ponder why we bother
And rather by surprise, find
Words of exquisite beauty


Oops - one too many lines in that one! Darn - misunderstood what tanka is. But it’s out there now, kinda says what I had to say :slight_smile:


The Stadium

The board’s four great walls
Encompass fine golden sand.
Dark wheel-tracks cross
Speaking of sport long since passed
And waiting, patient, for more.


Mould on an old board
Is stretching out pale roads
Making new patterns

Tongue Fight

“This stone’s a falcon –
It can see all of your plans!”
This stone’s an eagle –
It will chase down the falcon!
[But both are swept off the board…]

In this pdf, Peter Shotwell describes how verbal confrontations like this would accompany games of Tibetan Go, calling them “tongue fights”.

The Eternal Chase

Centuries later
The dragon is still running
On and on through time