242. Hiya, Haiku

At least two of the contributors to this blob write poetry: Linda Lewis, and my granddaughter Josie Warden. I happened to read this one by Josie today and decided it was time to give this blog a little class.  

 If you’re older than seventy, you may have the preconceived idea that poetry is either (1) what appeared on the Burma Shave signs, or (2)  ponderously long and tedious poems like Milton’s “Paradise Lost”.  Apparently, it’s not.   What’s hot in the poetry world today seems to be brevity. And its name is “haiku”.

From what I’ve been able to glean from the internet, haiku in English is a development of the Japanese haiku poetic form in the English language. 

Haiku poetry has strict construction rules. Each poem is supposed to have only three lines, 17 syllables: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third.

I read that the objective of haiku is “to communicate a timeless message often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity — the essence of Zen.”

I don’t know what Zen is, but it might mean “laid back”.  The reason I think this is because of an incident in our family room the other night.  

Ever since we had laminated flooring put into our family room a few years ago, slugs keep coming in at night.  I can’t begin to tell you how gross it is to share our television time with these creatures.  Slugs seems to enjoy slithering around on our wonderfully smooth laminated floor – especially when “Dancing With The Stars” is on.  When they hear samba music, those slugs really get their groove on. 

Normally, as soon as I see one, I belligerently head for the recyclables to find cardboard, transfer the slimy animals onto it, and – outraged – throw them outside. 

Until last week.  I’m fed up.  I’m not taking them outside any more.  Usually they come in about midnight, slide around for a couple of hours and then return to the great outdoors.  What’s the use in speeding up the operation?

So, when I heard son Matthew say that there were three slugs on the floor, I went into the family room, glowered at the creatures, and announced, “That’s it.  I’m not escorting you out anymore.  Just make sure you’re outta here in the morning.”

With that, my granddaughter Arden cried out with admiration, “Grandma!  That is so Zen.” 

That’s when I found out what a cool cat I am.  How else would I know how to practice Zen (whatever it is)?

Anyway, in case you want to practice your own Zen, here is Josie’s poem. The poem is about the four seasons and I think all the stanzas are written in the haiku format.

The Mockingbird’s Song
by Josie Warden 

Deep mahogany leaves
fall from fox feet and raccoon tongues
under Autumn moons,

There are candlewicks in 
your eyes, burning like witches magic
in September lights. 

Fall falls to winter
and we fall to ten below zero,
frozen and apart, 

Snow touching bare skin 
like phantom fingers touching your neck,
breathing through the void. 

Defrosting in spring,
drinking from pools of milk and honey,
nourishing fresh wounds,

With backwards blooming hearts
the snake skin falls off and the goosebumps
sprout garden flowers.

Blood of a lion
runs through this August born body,
pumping through thirsty lungs,

Summer curtains close, 
mockingbirds radiate through my pores,
singing “I am free of this”. 

The genius of haiku is said to be using an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered painting, without “telling all”.  Or as one expert put it, “The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of.” 

I don’t know what Josie’s poem means exactly, but I’m sure she’s going to get an “A” on it.  If we were supposed to understand it, it would be in a user manual, right?  

Just in case you’re not convinced that haiku is the clearest form of communication, consider it’s potential as a brief and concise instructional tool.

I read that in Japan, for the sake of PC users, they are considering replacing the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft Error messages with haiku poetry messages.

Think how much more effective these will be. 

Windows XP crashed. 
I am the Blue Screen of Death. 
No one hears your screams.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Website you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting: 
Close all that you have worked on. 
You ask far too much. 

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand-dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
“My Novel” not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao-until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you’re seeking
Must now be retyped. 

Well, that’s it for today.  I hope Josie or Linda will write a haiku poem for me about invading slugs.

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5 Responses to 242. Hiya, Haiku

  1. Josie says:

    I will definitely write you a poem about slugs in the near future 🙂

  2. Linda Lewis says:

    Haiku not easy
    Being brief and subjective
    Torment my poems.

    Talking about slugs, on the other hand
    Requires little thought to expand.
    I can only imagine their slimy goo
    In your family room with so much ado.

    When Matthew roared ‘They’re attaching our house!”
    What could be worse than a little grey mouse?
    Well slugs are much slower. They do not run
    And whoever heard a slug could be fun.

    Since no one has slugs for a pet, no siree
    I wouldn’t think twice about setting them free.
    You may gasp at my thought, to hold them at bay
    With a path of Bait Line along their way.

    So this is much longer than the ‘hot’ Haiku
    Which leaves much to ponder and not what to do.
    So I hope you find my old fashioned jingle
    A help to get rid of slugs, every single. …one!

  3. A relative says:

    I just love the idea of the slugs using your laminate floors for their ballroom! And I enjoyed the poem about this missing data also. It is a good reminder to do frequent backups. You never know when any computer might just die with all your valuable photos, documents and videos. Josie’s poem is awesome. It gives me the sensations of the seasons while dealing with lost love and rebirth of human spirit.

  4. Josie says:

    thank you for changing the picture 🙂

  5. Debby says:

    So funny about the slugs dancing – Although I know how gross they are! They’ve destroyed my garden, unfortunately. I was looking online for a good repellent and came across this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMssG-66oTE

    You will probably appreciate it… I’m still looking for a good repellent though 🙂


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