Category: Poetry

A Little Verse for a Friday

A Little Verse for a Friday

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Thought maybe we’d try a sonnet this week. Shakespearean, more or less, but the subject is a little less traditional.

 

There is a place for each of you, and more

In the depth of my ever-growing heart

Away from prying eyes, I’ll keep you for

My memories. Nostalgic, and apart

From living life, each moment as I may,

I will recall the times that brought me joy

As well savour heartache, clutch cherished pain

Each artistic scrawl and forgotten toy

An instant on the path from then to now

An on into the dreams and years ahead

The paths you’ll take, the choices showing how

You’ll walk a winding path of thrill and dread.

To lives and families you’ll build. I’ll see,

With bursting heart, just what you’ll come to be.

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Haiku on Friday

Haiku on Friday

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Or Friday Haiku. Fri-ku, if you will.

 

Wrapped in a blanket

A warm, comfortable jail

While claws are trimmed

Safe inside the hide

The kale begins to vanish

Guinea Pig’s victim

Social animals

Find value in being kind

So do some humans

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Friday Haiku for 20 May 2016

Friday Haiku for 20 May 2016

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  • haiku-verticalInterceptions done
  • Engines lost to history
  • Voodoo rests alone
  • Crisp, crackling stems
  • The bones of last year’s garden
  • Slowly pushed aside
  • Grass newly shortened
  • Birds landing for a fresh hunt
  • Insects search for gaps
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Friday Haiku

Friday Haiku

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haiku-vertical

 

Three recent scribblings by me.

Clouds obscure sunset

Hiding horizon’s rainbow

A sprinkle of drops

Soft through the kitchen

Paws, nearly silent, pacing

Waiting for dinner

Under clear blue sky

Rushing across the fresh grass

Rabbit feels the sun

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Haiku and Away!

Haiku and Away!

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haiku-verticalHaiku: a traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, usually concerned with nature.

Okay, dramatically oversimplified. I’ve left out cutting and kigo. And I’ve left out how haiku been imported to half the languages on the planet, doesn’t have to conform to the traditional 5-7-5, and how it doesn’t have to be seasonal in nature anymore.

I love haiku, reading and writing. One of my writing goals this year, and the one I’m most likely to hit, is to compose 500 of them. As of this writing, I’m over 100 so far for the year, and there are two books on the form in my reading list for this year.

I mostly like the forced 5-7-5 structure, even though you can argue that English has a higher information density so that should be cut back a bit to a total of either 11 or 12 syllables. While I’m considering experimenting, the 5-7-5 is easily recognized by pretty much everyone as “standard haiku”.

For subject matter, however, while my haiku don’t always reflect the natural world, there’s nature everywhere. Sometimes (fairly often) it’s nature. Sometimes it’s human nature. Sometimes it’s (science) fictional nature.

The thing is, I’m not sure where the fascination came from. There was a time, ten years or so back, when I was in the middle of a long term experiment with a variety of poetic forms, as much to stretch myself as to find forms I like. (Side note: free verse, so beloved of modern poets, is not poetry. No structure = not a poem. Feel free to argue if you like.)

I did find other forms I like, but the haiku keeps coming back, so this year I’m embracing it.

Three of my favourites from January:

.

Multiple mushrooms

Dance to fall under the knife

Protein for the soup

.

A fistful of rage

Denied the right to oppress

True righteous anger

.

Bound by gravity

A thousand spinning stars wait

Pale, blue-tinged cotton

Be well, everyone.

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Thank You, Robert Service

Thank You, Robert Service

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On mornings like this, when my commute is marked by temperatures under -20 C (-4 F for those using the imperial system), and a wind chill, and it’s at least a handful of degrees warmer than when I got up, I somehow always find myself reciting an old Robert Service poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. Specifically, the third stanza.

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.

Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.

If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;

It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And it’s really that one line I’m thinking of: “Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.” Because it’s really cold. Really cold.

But then I remember that I’m sitting in my wife’s Pathfinder, which isn’t much more than a year old, with heated seats and hot air pouring out of every vent, my high tech winter coat unzipped, hat and gloves lying on the passenger’s seat. I compare that to Yukon Gold Rush era cold weather gear and being pulled through northern forests on a sled by a team of hungry dogs, and I realize that we’ve got things pretty good.

Either way, it’s a great poem. Possibly Mr. Service’s best, but certainly my favourite. I wonder if I still know the whole thing.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun…

robertservice-portrait

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She Comes to Me At Night: A Poem

She Comes to Me At Night: A Poem

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In honour of national poetry day in the UK:

She comes to me at night
With darkness all around.
Some half-remembered fright,
Or half-imagined sound
Has pushed her from her bed.
I comfort quiet cries,
And gently rub her head
To close her tired eyes.
The fear and tears now gone
But dreams are yet too deep.
With hours yet to dawn,
She drifts back into sleep.

 

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To Haiku or Not to Haiku?

To Haiku or Not to Haiku?

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If it’s not the question, at least it’s a question.

For reasons known to only my subconscious, I’ve been writing a lot of haiku lately, and I’ve decided to focus the efforts into a pair of poetry projects.  Some of the haiku I’ve been posted, one per day, to Twitter and Facebook, under the #dailyhaiku hashtag.  Yes, strictly speaking they’re not all haiku.  Some are senryu, some are scifiku (or scifaiku, but I don’t think the ‘a’ is really necessary and I want to pronounce it differently), and some are, well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

Crash course:

Haiku = traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively, 17 total.  Haiku need to contain a seasonal or natural reference and often catch a single thought and/or image.  There’s a lot more to it than that if you look at things in depth, and there’s been a lot written on the subject in many languages.

Senryu = traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively, 17 total.  Wait, what?  Isn’t that haiku?  Well, yes, but where haiku looks at the natural world, senryu have to do with human affairs.  Again, I’m oversimplifying, but I’m not an expert.  Many people lump them together, anyway, as evidenced by a quick Google returning 13.8 million hits for haiku but only 338,000 for senryu.

Veering back from the tangent, 3 lines, 17 syllables.  Well, in Japanese.  When you’re looking at a purely syllabic structure and porting it from one language to another, the relative information density of both languages comes into play.  English is, apparently, a little denser than Japanese.  You can have fewer than 17 syllables; 13-15 gives about the same information content in English as 17 does in Japanese, but anything up to 17 is fine.  (Russian, I’ve read, is a little less dense than Japanese, and haiku tend to the 20-21 syllable mark.)

Clear?  Ish?

So I’m calling this project Daily Haiku.  Now, a nice numerical conjunction would be to think of that 17 classical syllables and write one each day for 17 days.  But that seems a little short for a project, doesn’t it?  Well, how about for 17*17 days (289)?  Less than a year, but still a fairly hefty project, even if each individual piece of it doesn’t take very long (a couple have taken only as long to compose as they’ve taken to type).  And yes, because I am a total geek, I did stop to figure out what 1717 days works out to, and the universe will be cold and dark long, long before that many years have passed (2.266 x 1018), so no.

A non-17-syllable example from the 13th of April:

The sump pump runs hard

Trying to keep my basement

Above water

That’s haiku project Number 1, which began on April 1st this year and will theoretically end on January 14th 2012, if I feel like stopping.  Haiku project Number 2, The Star Trek Haiku Cycle, comes under the heading of Scifiku (Scifiku, by the way, to my mind constitutes a sub-class of senryu.  SCIence FIction haiKU, or SCIence Fiction hAIKU, depending on how you want to spell it).  I’m writing a single haiku for each episode and movie of the original Star Trek series.  Yes, really.  And why not?  I’m a trekkie (and you should be, too).

Will I move on to the other Star Trek series when I’m done?  Well, the animated series, probably, but if you stop to add things up across all of the shows, there are 725 episodes and 11 movies.  That’s a much bigger project.  We’ll see.

It’s hard to encapsulate an entire episode in three lines, but you can grab a moment or a concept.  Some are obvious, some not.  But see if you can guess what episode this is from:

Not morg, not imorg

Brain and brain, what is brain?

Who can say?

Haiku anyone?

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