Friday, October 31, 2008

Haiku, Therefore I Am

In school, we were introduced to a lot of literary forms from novels to drama, short stories to sonnets. Within the poetry realm we learned about various styles and structures of verse, rhyming and unrhymed, free verse, blank verse, epic and limerick, and pentameter iambic… But one favorite of not a few students was the haiku.

Haiku was a Japanese poetic form that was assembled in three lines of five, seven and five syllables each, totaling 17 syllables in all. The irony is that when we learned the structure of the form, we thought we knew how to haiku. That is, we… or I did anyways, assumed that getting the number of syllables right was all there was to it.

I am reminded of the children we met in Mexico City when we were there in 1981 who had learned English for years in school, but couldn’t speak a word of it. In the same manner we learned how to create a poem called haiku. In other words, there was more to it than what we were really doing.

If you really want to develop an appreciation for haiku as a form, you can learn a lot by going here.

The poems I share here, written over a period of ten years or more, are probably unsatisfactory to a purist, but they were written with a measured earnestness. It's my hope that you will enjoy them, even if only briefly. In all seriousness, my apologies to the purists.

White paper, black ink.
Words form sentences that make
no sense. Mysteries.

White paper, black ink.
Words define truth and obscure it.
Sublime engima.

VI. On the Mountain
Behold, an angel
sleeps, wrapped in tissues of dream.
No, it is a man.

XII. The Angels
There were three of them
radiating holy bliss.
We saw them, and fled.

XIV. The Word
Rich choral frescoes
flashing rhapsodies of light
infused with purpose.

XXI. Firewalkers
Pursuing our dreams,
wild hearts blazing with passion,
we walked the fired coals.

Pulled in all directions
when all he wanted
was to retreat inside.

XXX. Again
The answer to
a question he never asked
left him wondering why.

XXXII. Pariah
Grey wind like gloom dawn;
Fermin, followed by outcaste
dog, perceives his death.

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