Poetry? Let's Do Haiku!

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Composing their very own three-lined poems stands out as one of the all-time favorite activities for philosophers of all ages and interests. Everybody has poetry within! Grab a pad and pencil. Go outside if you can, look out a window perhaps, or dig into memory’s treasure box. Take a deep breath, exhale, you know….

This poetic form comes to us through the centuries from medieval Japan. Here are the rules: a total of 17 syllables, using exactly three lines. The first line consists of 5 syllables, the next one 7 syllables, and the last line contains 5 syllables. The only other requirement is that you include something from the natural world. Rhyming words at line’s end—who cares?! Getting it right—who knows?!

How? Your 3 lines present a snapshot, capturing a moment in time. Click! Basho, seventeenth century Zen Buddhist monk and haiku champ, chose among dewdrop, heron, rain, cicada, camellia, sparrows, ant, tree branches…. Basho traveled most of his life and his short poems served as his camera, diary, and his legacy. I keep a slim volume of his “photos” at the ready. Two I spy in the bookcase right now: On Love and Barley, (Lucien Stryktrans) and A Haiku Journey, (Dorothy Britton, trans).

I’ll go first! I love watching “grownups” writing with one hand while counting with the other, or fingers drumming the number of syllables on their knees or dinner tables. Presently I’m tallying with a heel-to-toe beat keeping score.

Plum blossoms blowing Hearing wild cries just for me Birds birds birds birds birds.

Mac listens at full attention, watching the birds up close.
Mac listens at full attention, watching the birds up close.

Ocean the teacher Trust is the name of the game Rolling, rolling dance.

Paying attention Look! The moon kissed the North Star I’ve got friends on high.

Winter holding on Spring tugging at its tail Forget me not not.

Beach, ballgame, roses Peaches, childhood back again Time for my curve ball.

One last click from me and off you go!

Stubborn terrier Dogged dogged squirrel dogging Big-eyed canine love.