Haiku and Haibun Fun

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As I wind down toward the light at the end of the tunnel of this eight week poetry class, which has been a wonderful experience all around, these have been my favorite forms so far!

Haiku was awesomely freeing. I loved writing haiku (even though I sort of hate that the plural form of haiku is haiku; it just seems so pretentious, doesn’t it? Just me? Oh.). Anyway, I feel like I could write haiku all day long. Not just the word “haiku” though that’s fun, too, but haiku themselves. In fact, yesterday when I wrote my haibun/haiku, my husband and I started randomly free styling haiku. The game got old (rather quickly, especially for him) but we both had fun.

Even though I read it’s not necessary to stick to the 5-7-5 format, I somehow found safety and comfort in counting syllables and always felt finished once I liked the poem itself and landed on the correct, so to speak, count.

I also really enjoyed the haibun aspect of this. It was different than my typical prose in that I felt it needed to sound more poetic, if that makes sense, so I worked to include images and descriptions. Still, I wanted to stay true to my style so I kept it as tight and concise as possible and I tried not to go overboard (for me) with the flowery descriptions which aren’t quite me. I went as far into the descriptions as my skin would currently let me. I’m comfortable writing prose though and I’m no stranger to present tense so for me this was natural and fun.

Content and form seemed to play equal roles in haiku/haibun. This week’s class activity was to wrote a haibun containing haiku (see my previous post for the product of said activity). For me, while the haiku portion was easier, for lack of a better word, to write, the haibun grew naturally out of the haiku. While the haiku is a sort of clever and mysterious little poem, the haibun was like the haiku’s helper. It broadened the message, added clarity and together, I found, they told a real story.

I really love where I ended up with this and I want to write more of these. The haiku (man, I really want to write/say “haikus”) just spilled out of my brain! On that note, what a wonderful way to rev the creative engine and get pumped up to write more? I think haiku would also work well to get the creative juices flowing and maybe even serve as a weapon against writer’s block.

Since I’m usually writing longer projects, like novels and screenplays, this was a refreshing break from the norm. While some of the longer poetic forms, like the sestina, frustrated me, there was nothing frustrating about haiku. It was simply nice to write something so small and yet still so meaningful and creatively fulfilling.

Of course, I can’t speak for the quality of my haiku since I’m so new to poetry in general and am learning as I go but I truly enjoyed the process of writing it and I’m happy with my results. I wonder if I could write a haiku a day… I bet I could!

This poetry class has been a great experience for me and this week was the icing on the cake. It’s hard to believe that in just one more week it will be over. These eight weeks truly flew.

(Not So) Deep Thoughts on Billy Collins and on Writing Sonnets

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I really enjoyed Billy Collins’ poetry book Sailing Alone Around the Room. To me, it felt like stories and there was a casual quality to it that I truly enjoyed. Also, I found many of his poems/stories so relatable that I can’t help but think how awesome it would be to sit at the same table as Billy Collins at, say, a wedding. It seems to me there’d never be a lull in the conversation… though who am I to say? Maybe he’s better on paper than in person! In any event, I loved this book and have added it to my list of books I won’t sell or give away.

Regarding writing a sonnet, I struggled with this form at first. I started and stopped several poems before finally being inspired to write and complete my sonnet about being hung over. That one came to me quite easily the day after my family’s annual Independence Day party. To that end, I think when I’m inspired to write something the writing comes easily despite any particular format, genre, rules or instructions. Once the inspiration for this poem hit me, the words came and sort of slid into the sonnet form. It’s hard to explain, but I imagine you will understand what I’m trying to say here.

I think the sonnet itself has been such a lasting form because it’s fun. For one, it’s short and although that brings with it its own struggles and complications, for the most part I found that the length itself and the rules brought about an interesting and playful challenge. Even though writing the sonnet wasn’t an easy task, it was a fun challenge and I enjoyed it. Also, having rules helped to set parameters for the poem and that was nice in that it allowed my thoughts to be presented in a neat little package. In other words, knowing the rules gave the poem a shape to strive for—much like having a diagram helps a pile of wood eventually look and act like a book case. Knowing I needed to write a sonnet helped my words become one. Without these rules, I’m afraid I might have gone on and on about drinking and being hung over without ever finding a form. In fact, I’m not sure I would have written this poem at all.

After writing a sonnet myself, I can see why so many poets write sonnets and also why so many seem to write them specifically to get their writing gears greased. The sonnet put me in the mood to write more. In a way, it reminded me of the 3AM Epiphany and 4AM Breakthrough books which are full of writing exercises meant to battle writer’s block and inspire writing students to write. As I sit down to write more poetry in the future, I think I’ll try a sonnet from time to time just for fun and for the challenge of it, but also to see if they positively affect me and my writing as they seem to have positively affected so many other writers and poets.

Hangover Mimosa (a sonnet)

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Hangover Mimosa
We laughed till the sun rose
Memories and wine were to blame
You couldn’t feel your nose
I might have forgotten my name

Ceiling spins and it rushes back to me
Stomach erupts as cartoons pierce my brain
Reminds me of responsibility
Oh how we now need to breathe through the pain

This time the hair of the dog won’t fix it
When the new puppy pees on the floor
Unsupervised minions run rampant
We must be Mommy and Daddy once more.

Plop plop fizz fizz in our OJ sure hits the spot.
A relief it is… though a mimosa it’s not.

Autumn Alarm Clock (poem)

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Autumn Alarm Clock

Mother tapped on my window this morning

Seizing my skin with her breeze and my mind

With the click-clack of leaves falling from trees

Still I squeezed my pillow in denial

My eyes holding on tightly to slumber

And pressing hard on my subconscious snooze

My loving mother found another way

She sent the rain to trickle and tickle

Sweetly on my subconscious mind with its

Dripdropdrip Dripdropdrip

Autumn sensations replaced with those of

Coffee and cream and delicious caffeine

Suddenly I’m awake.

Fun with Images

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1. He was as happy as a bag of wet cats
2. She plopped down onto the plastic couch with the thump of a ripe melon
3. Cannibalistic carnivores playing Russian Roulette in an herb garden
4. A psycho clown smiling while dancing barefoot on the sun
5. The shark-sharp teeth of a puppy nipping at your ankle
6. Crabs in a bucket climbing, clawing, falling on top of one another
7. Demons laughing at you from the foot of your bed
8. We sat and waited patiently for the locusts to come
9. Her ego makes mine look like a speck of cracked black pepper in a sarcastic sea of salt.
10. The determined beagle sniffed and sniffed searching the streets for a chicken bone
11. A blood thirsty black cat with hair up hissing wickedly at the witch of the west
12. Then I choked on a thick dark cloud of Aqua Net
13. As she sucked the nectar from the mango’s core its juice dripped up to her elbow
14. Swollen and pursed to burst like a gangrenous gallbladder
15. Alley cats screaming profanities under the starry night sky
16. Sticky fingers smashing overripe bananas in a cereal bowl
17. Pimply adolescent faces hormonally bonded by braces
18. The lunch lady glumped the decomposed paste onto the plate and said, “Eat up.”
19. Is that a pubic hair stuck to the tip of your tongue?
20. Red rose petals painted on a child’s chubby pink cheek
21. She sipped champagne through a swirly Minnie Mouse straw
22. Fancy frozen ponies galloping up and down frolicking round and round forever forward
23. One lonesome wish floating across a sea of weeds all waiting to come true
24. Inhaling the last lush lavender breeze of springtime
25. The final child’s death blow caused candy canes to rain from the sky
26. Two sisters laughing while stirring anxiously making melted Neapolitan soup

My Darling Niki

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I chose to write a poem for my creative response to the novel A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I really enjoyed the novel but with all that happened in between the lines, it was a challenge for me to fully process the whole story, both what was said and unsaid. I wound up reading the novel twice (and listening to the audio book once) to fully wrap my head around it.

When I’m feeling highly emotional or confused, I like to write poetry to help me work through my thoughts and feelings. Since poetry can be somewhat nonlinear and ambiguous, writing it helps me draw my focus both inward and outward simultaneously. By that I mean I can sort of feel the topic in a less structured or organized start-to-finish type way but more so in an all-around big picture type way before diving deeper into the nitty-gritty of it.

For this project, poetry helped me process my feelings about the heavy themes (i.e.: murder, depression, abuse, war, loss, destruction, death…). I lean toward light humor when I write so tackling something so dark was interesting for me. Creating a poem allowed me to work my way through the darkness. It also helped me process what Ishuguro wrote and what he didn’t write. The novel itself was nonlinear, like poetry, and it quickly became addictively confusing and, at times, I struggled to fully understand it. I think that was Ishuguro’s intention because just when I thought I grasped what was happening, something would change. For example, at one point the tense and POV shifted entirely and that caused me to lose my footing. Prior to that I thought one thing (that Etsuko was telling a story about an old friend, Sachiko) and after I thought something different entirely (that Etsuko and Sachico are the same person). At that point I knew I had to reread the novel to make sure I didn’t misunderstand entirely what had happened and to catch whatever else I was sure I’d missed. So much was left unwritten and unrevealed in the story that poetry allowed me to work comfortably through the confusion and ambiguity until I eventually arrived at the heart of what I think actually happened. It also gave me the opportunity to fully process the many feelings the author and his story gave me.

The poem is titled “My Darling Niki” and my intention was to write it from the main protagonist Etsuko’s point of view as though she was processing her feelings and writing to her only surviving daughter, Niki. I used elements from the novel itself to pull it together.

My Darling Niki:
It’s so strange
How the brain
Triggers dreams
Tramples truth

Grief does strange things to the mind

When the bomb fell
Hope exploded
Life imploded
My thoughts shifted

Split entirely in two

There was nothing left
In that wretched place
But pain breeding pain
And death breeding death

Helpless… hopeless… less and less

No one left to love me
No place for children so
I chose death to end their
Suffering and my own

I wasn’t the only one.

But fate had other plans
With blood still on my hands
I got another chance
To be a good mother

But it was too late for her

Your sister witnessed death
I looked up and saw her
Standing, waiting her turn
But her gaze changed my mind

Those eyes looked into my soul

I wished they wouldn’t have
For she suffered slowly
Like kittens left to starve
When drowning’s more humane

I knew she’d never be happy

I vaguely recall a
Time when I was happy
When I lied to myself
Waiting for a better life

I met your father, then I

We decided to start over
Leave pain and death behind
One world for another
But they followed me here

We thought our love would fix it

I ran off and played house
When I should’ve saved her
The rope around her neck
Was the one I gave her

New life suggests new hope but

We blamed her for the pain
When it wasn’t her fault
She’s a victim, like you,
Like me, products of war

With infinite destruction

The dead have it easy
Those who remain are left
To pick up the pieces
Or hide them behind doors

Your sister’s Purgatory

My Love, it’s a riddle
You’ll never comprehend
For there are two of me
And too many of you

Too many secrets to hide

I have the answers to
The questions you won’t ask
Hidden deep but instead
You request a postcard

Of a place you’ve never been

A picture for a friend?
You say you’re proud of me
Now how can you be proud
When you don’t know the truth

And you won’t let me tell you?

If I told you my truth
Would you even hear me?
If you could see my soul
Would you follow her lead?

Could you ever forgive me?

The nightmares never stop
Lifeless child on a swing
Body dangling from a bridge
Noose tied around her neck

Madness sets in to save me

Memories loop my mind
Dreams and lies intertwine
Make me confess, repent,
Absolve me of my sins!

Unconditional love is

What I took from them
And gave to you but
If you knew the truth
Would you hate me, too?

More so than I hate myself?

My darling Niki,
I’ve lost it all
But somehow you’re
Still here with me

Doesn’t that mean something?

Please don’t leave
Me alone
In this house
With nothing

But a pale view of the hills.

My New Year’s Resolutions (More or Less)

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Take less
Give more
Procrastinate less
Write more
Thirst less
Drink more
Spend less
Save more
Snack less
Workout More
Whine less
Smile more
Cocktail less
Wine more
Ache less
Sleep more
Dry out less
Moisturize more
Worry less
Meditate more
Nitpick less
Celebrate more
Cry less
Laugh more
Dislike less
Love more
Bitch less
Adore more
Sit less
Play more
Limit less
Imagine more
Fear less
Dream more
Want less
Be more.