Listening In

Monday, January 12, 2009

初コラム (First column of the year)

12th January 2009

Columns: too much work
to write, too much work to read.
So let’s do haiku!

A poetic form -
seventeen syllables set
in five-seven-five.

Often forgotten
kireji, the ‘cutting word’:
Haiku’s bridge or stop.

Then there’s the kigo,
signpost word to the season.
A phrase will do too.

(Haiku is…complex.
Sometimes, the rules don’t apply.
Google for details.)

When the year is fresh
A possible season word
Hatsu, which means first.

The hatsu mode
First shrine visit of the year.
Crowds in kimono.

The hatsu yume
First dream you dream in the year.
Do you recall yours?

Good luck to dream of
Mount Fuji, a hawk and for
some reason, eggplant.

The hatsu genka
First quarrel of the new year.
My hairdresser won.

‘Make it really short’
I wanted to save money
Haircuts aren’t cheap here.

‘It’ll look terrible’
My hairdresser’s persuasive
She holds sharp objects.

I forgot one thing.
You know, the verses above -
they aren’t all haiku.

Five-seven-five but
no cutting or season words -
this form’s called senryu.

Perhaps too late but
let me rewrite the first verse
for accuracy.

Columns: too much work
to write, too much work to read.
So let’s do senryu!

Poems aren’t just for
poets or those in garrets
or people who rhyme.

When you have something
to say – and you know the times –
then make a poem.

So the iambic
pentameter fills you with
Stress? Try a senryu.

Remember: if you
can count to seven, you can
try writing senryu.

(And if you can count
to 21, you can play
blackjack. Just a note.)

January’s clear
but how long will the year stay
sharp and fresh for you?

Between yesterday’s
dishes and tomorrow’s bills
the rest all a blur.

These eyes encrusted.
But the sleep sand the days leave
can be rubbed away.

Just try the new, try
a poem and see the world
For the hatsu time.

Afterword: There's a joke buried in the blackjack verse but you have to count to see it.

Auspicious door ornament for the new year, Kibune village.

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