4 responses

  1. I remember Walter Cronkite asking Wernher von Braun if the Americans could have sent a man to the moon without the Germans. His answer: “Yes, but not as fast.” That’s how I kind of feel about you and several of my poems. I would have gotten there but not as fast without your feedback.

    In the meantime I’ve written several poems and haikus that mimic your one word, several words, one word lineation. For example:

    By a thorny path, lifetime to a pasture

    The sun
    The sun in me, winter shadows soul

    Mow that lawn! Scalp those weeds to grass

    Yet when I look it up, pure haiku is technically defined by a 5-7-5 lineation.

    So, I may be really writing “cliff-kus” instead of haikus. You may have addressed this before, but refresh my memory. How far is it permissible to modify the form before you have a difference in kind rather than style?



    • Also. Don’t forget. Pure haiku are in Japanese. So you’ll need to brush up on your Japanese. As far as English language haiku go, there are no pure haiku. The 5/7/5 form is largely rejected even by purists because English syllables are not the same as Japanese syllables. Beautiful, for example, would be 5 syllables in Japanese (not my example but taken from elsewhere) — be-a-u-ti-ful.
      The closest approximation to Japanese haiku in English is arguably a 2/3/2 stress count (two stresses, three, and two again)—and also not my own assertion. I consider my own haiku, in many respects, closer to Japanese originals, in spirit, than any 5/7/5 haiku. 5/7/5 are almost always too long as compared to Japanese haiku (and you can see that objectively in translation). English translators nearly always have to add words (not in the original) if they want their translations to follow the 5/7/5 pattern. That tells you that 5/7/5 five is simply too verbose.
      It’s probably self-serving to say that I love the form I’ve settled on, but there you have it. I haven’t seen any other English language haiku adaptations that feel as successful (to me). It’s all about the brevity while still capturing the tripartite nature of the Japanese originals.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks. That clears that up.

    Btw, here is my latest, spontaneously written in one sitting yesterday. I had been reciting Yeats a lot to myself lately, mainly “Sailing to Byzantium” and “The Second Coming.” You may note a slight poetic license with line 14.

    Life of Covid

    As bad as it is
    For me, it’s only
    Too much for you
    & so I keep my mouth
    Shut really, about all that
    & stay mostly to myself
    Not to spread it. One or
    Two friends is enough,
    With antibodies. It only
    Depresses me in others
    Who may lack my resources
    Of people they love,
    A mutation against suicide,
    The genius IQ, truly
    I am blessed to reconstruct
    The contexts if its horrors
    Over & over
    And somewhat keep control:
    An expedient murder here & there…
    A concentration camp at the right time…
    That leaves me normal
    In solitudes of pain
    Marching forth.


    • Your poetry always cracks me up. One never knows where the hell one is going to end up. Today we start out with a poet of thoughtful empathy and end up with an evil genius in a concentration camp. You just can’t help yourself.


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