Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NPM: Western Haiku

Well, I got a new computer AND salvaged all my old files. (Related: if anyone knows how I can quickly make $800, please let me know immediately.)

And so, we return to our National Poetry Month festivities, and it appears as though I'm going to have to update every day this week to make up for lost time. Let's get right to it, then. Since our last update concerned Mr. Ginsberg, tonight we'll be spending some time with one of his closest literary associates.

My feelings toward Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) are decidedly mixed. I've had such a hard time penetrating his fiction; I only managed to get through the first chapter or two of The Subterraneans, during which my feelings were polarized between "well done, fine phrasing sir" and "JESUS CHRIST WOULD YOU GET OVER YOURSELF PLEASE." However, I very much enjoy what poetry of his I've read, especially his Western Haiku. Let's let Jack explain it himself...

A few
By Jack Kerouac

The "Haiku" was invented and developed over hundreds of years in Japan to be a complete poem in seventeen syllables and to pack a whole vision of life in three short lines. A "Western Haiku" need not concern itself with seventeen syllables since western languages cannot adapt themselves to the fluid syllabic Japanese. I propose that the "Western Haiku" simply say a lot in three short lines in any Western language.

Above all, a Haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi Pastorella.

[Alternate introduction]

American Haiku is not exactly the Japanese Haiku. The Japanese Haiku is strictly disciplined to seventeen syllables but since the language structure is different I don't think American Haikus (short three-line poems intended to be completely packed with Void of Whole) should worry about syllables because American speech is something again...bursting to pop.

The rain has filled
 the birdbath
Again, almost

Elephants munching
 on grass — loving
Heads side by side.

Shall I say no?
 — fly rubbing
its back legs

Thunder in the mountains —
 the iron
Of my mother's love

The summer chair
 rocking by itself
In the blizzard

Useless, useless,
 the heavy rain
Driving into the sea.

Early morning yellow flowers,
 thinking about
the drunkards of Mexico.

Perfect moonlit night
By family squabbles.

The taste
 of rain
— Why kneel?

Neons, Chinese restaurants
 coming on —
Girls come by shades

November — how nasal
 the drunken
Conductor's call

Now that you know how it's done, click on "comments" and compose your own Western Haiku! The one I like best wins a Magic: the Gathering card -- the mighty SCALED WURM. It's a 7/6 (that's really good) and it's a really old card, so it's probably worth at least five hundred dollars. And maybe I'll even throw in my copy of Final Fantasy III DS if I get enough people participating (let's say ten) to necessitate raising the stakes a bit.



  1. Lucy meows
    furiously and loudly
    by my feet

  2. Marital animosity
    Foreign airfare
    tickets non-refundable

  3. fingers entwined
    one fleeting
    forever moment


    (this haiku was brought to you by pat's virtual gun at my virtual temple.)


    Rare Magic card prize?
    I've never played it, but
    I'd tap that

  5. Alright, you asked for it...


    Quick! Determine
    The scent of morning
    Before your nose awakens


    The botanical garden
    Of women
    I seek a maraschino cherry


    An elected official takes office
    Like I am at work
    Realizing I missed a spot shaving


    Organs fit together
    Arms move freely
    I love both of these ways


    Shelter seeking
    Shelter seeking


    "Amoeba me", she said
    Not with
    A knife


    My appetite
    Misses breakfast
    Most days


    Roll me in carpet
    Throw me down a well
    Sexual frustration


    Sun burns through
    Its wealth
    of clouds


    My window pane
    A graveyard
    For crispy insects

  6. haikus are easy
    but sometimes they don't make sense

    free at last, free at last
    free from winter's
    icy grasp

    the seasons change
    winter recedes
    it's about time

  7. Time to express myself
    Looking for inspiration
    Time for bed

  8. Holding his hand,
    his chest ceases to move.
    Goodbye, Dad.

  9. What about the syllables?
    When I'm free to do as I please
    I tend to do less

  10. The thump of boot-prints,
    and bead of sweat,
    and rising suns and

    Oho, silly me

  11. Eh, for fun:

    Four white mages
    walked into a bar,
    their orbs lukewarm with destiny

  12. Macbeth comes undone.

    What's done cannot be undone

    Once Duncan's done in.

  13. the creek flooded
    square concrete stones make
    soft shapes under it

  14. I would like to submit two, if
    that's alright. No? No, no
    no matter. Rules must be

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Yes. It was a not-so-clever joke. >_>

    I guess more accurately a not-so-clever play on words. But that's not really it either...huh.

  17. The maple flowers
    never long enough
    for me.

  18. Osode: The fault may not be on your end! I am a bit dense.

  19. Aw. I left the blog on Tuesday thinking I might write a haiku, but I didn't notice the Wednesday deadline and now its too late. I blame Valve.

    Whatever. Onwards to my no-doubt weak attempts at a long established art form!

    In the caves
    walls close in around me
    must move forward

    On the cliffs
    beautiful view
    don't slip

    Pet tarantula
    of that which frightens us

    Darkness around me
    stars in the sky
    beautiful shadows

    Pool filter
    dead frogs, dead insects
    clean pool

    Reading all of the submissions has revealed to me that I like Haiku! I might pick up a collection at my next Borders run.

  20. If anyone is browsing the archives and has scrolled this far down the comments section, you owe me a haiku. Compose and post!

  21. Really poured my heart and soul into this one;

    This entire page
    I read, well, skimmed
    While watching porn

  22. o god got this from a friend and feel that this should be said:

    You guys are all morons
    Scaled Wurm isn't five hundred
    It's only 25 cents

  23. Dan: Plaudits!

    6f250: Reader, meet joke. Joke, meet reader.