Hike WHO? Oh, Haiku!

Dec 29, 2016 | Poetry

It’s a wonder the Japanese haven’t squished us with the giant flyswatter of disdain for grossly oversimplifying haiku. “Oh, it’s easy! Just three lines. First line’s got five syllables, next has seven, last one’s got five. See? Anyone can write haiku.”

Cultural appropriation at its worst, if you ask me. Rarely is it mentioned to the budding poet-blossom that Nature, with symbols of its changing seasons, is traditionally one of the essential elements of haiku.

Tanka – or, if you must, haiku followed by a couplet of seven syllables per line –  might be a better fit for social commentary. We act as if haiku were the poetic form of Twitter. Admittedly, trying to compose a tweet of exactly 140 characters, comprising a single, complete thought, has a similar charm. Already, I’m wondering if I could work this idea into three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, and trying to decide if it’s worth the risk of being drowned in an old pond by bullfrogs.

tadpole ripples race
returning – frog-faced, tailless –
to the sandy shore

Okay, maybe that’s not horrible… let’s try another!

froglings’ fated gig
clarified; drawn-butter bath
(tastes just like chicken)

WordPress U., I blame you!

don’ be pokey, mon –
storm’s a-comin’, soon to flood
’bout to rain frogs, here

That’s almost as bad as the time I wrote a sonnet about the Ultimate Blue-Eyes White Volkswagen. Oh, just be glad I didn’t take them up on using “amniotic fluid” as a stand in for “water” in today’s assignment. On second thought… Oh, hell – here, hold my beer:

gumbo, red beans, rice
breaking wind, the water broke
your first slip ‘n’ slide

I’m thinking I shouldn’t watch Adult Swim with my son anymore. Or Jake & Amir. I think I’m channeling Amir Blumenfeld with that last one.

And for the record, my water never broke. But my #2 pencil did.

For more serious, poetic efforts from today’s class, see Falling Leaves and Water.

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


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