I Haiku, Do You?

I was that kid in high school. The one who asked: How many pages? Double or single spaced? One inch margins? I liked knowing my boundaries. Because…inside the safety of those parameters, I could be wildly creative. I still like boundaries. They force me to be succinct. Not my strength. They compel me to choose potent, vibrant language. And even when I choose to flaunt the boundaries, it is purposeful…to achieve force or a desired discombobulation.

Haiku is an ancient Japanese form of poetry favored by Samurai. The original Renaissance men, these formidable warriors also painted, wrote poetry, and tended gardens. Japanese Haiku are usually about nature and adhere to a strict three-line form of 17 on, divided 5, 7, 5. The on has been roughly translated syllable in the English form, though it is more complex than that. English haiku take a great many more liberties, but you can usually expect three lines, with lines 1 and 3 shorter than line 2, and roughly equal to one another in syllables.

During a run last week I was framing a tweet in my head about what appeared to be the waning of the Cicada invasion in Franklin. I suddenly realized it seemed to be framing itself in approximately haiku form. So, I spent the next mile or so eliminating superfluous articles and strengthening vocabulary. It was so much fun that when the local fox crossed my path, I wrote one for her.

I invite you to play with me. Try your hand at haiku. Post yours in the comments, and I will add it to the post. To get you started, I offer here a famous haiku from the old Japanese master Basho. Also, the two mentioned above as well as one I composed on this morning’s run by the sea.

old pond…
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

roar decrescendos
cicada carnage litters
the invasion wanes

fur-clad femme fatale
tiptoes in black stilettos
foxy lady, she

sea of verdigris
white hot shimmers, frothy foam
neath cerulean sky

Your turn. Ready, set, GO!

Thanks, Patsy!

sun-speckled maple
anointed in dawns first light
full of ruffled song

From my cousin’s daughter, Emily (via Facebook)

storms roll into here
lightning strikes all around us
we are scared to death

snow covered mountains
mountains are taller than me
I sink below them