Thursday, March 15, 2012

Still trying to write poetry

This morning, as I walked from the house to my pick-up, parked up on the street, the sky held a moon glow in front of me. The moon was in the west, a half moon, not yet close to setting, with clouds between me and it. The clouds must have been kind of thin and moving briskly across the sky, for before long the white glow turned into the full half disk, only to disappear again in a few second and the glow resume.

I knew I had to write a haiku about this. That's the only kind of poem I can compose as I drive. I'm not saying haiku are easier to write, but just that the shorter length makes them easier to remember. The last few steps to the truck had me trying to form the first line.

Let me interrupt to give my "rules" for writing haiku. I've given them before on this blog, but I'm too lazy to find the link. I basically follow the Lee Gurga rules. Lee was editor of one of the two main haiku mags, and has studied the haiku in Japanese and how to adopt the rules into English. What he says the Japanese haiku requires is (not in any order of importance):
  • a reference to nature
  • a reference to a season of the year
  • two images
  • the images are linked, yet at the same time distinct and of different subjects
  • the link and division is done with syntax only. I suppose that would include punctuation.
That's a lot to put into three lines and 17 or fewer syllables. To these, I have added one more rule that I follow most of the time.
  • The first and third lines contain the two basic images, and the middle line contains description that could apply to both images. Thus the reader won't really know if the poet intended for that description to go with the first image or the second.
That's an added degree of difficulty. I don't always follow it, but I usually do. Here's an example.

parking asphalt weeps
days after strong spring rains
bank dwelling bugs drown

I won't explicate this. The reader can take the time, if desired, to see how all the rules apply to the example.

So I began trying to form a haiku, and found it a little difficult. The haiku is all about images, not metaphor. I've been concentrating on metaphor of late, so dropping that in favor of images was more difficult than I expected. I suppose a real poet will glide between both with a seamless ease, but not me. Here's what I wrote so far.

backlit clouds race
across the bright half moon

That's as far as I've come. I made the mistake of leaving the radio on, multi-tasking by driving, writing the haiku, listening to the radio, and not being able to put the coming work day out of my mind. I have the first image. Maybe I'll work on it some more today, when work becomes wearying. Or tonight, when I should be adding to my work-in-progress, or alternatively taking the next steps on my income taxes. Having gone this far, I'll finish it.

It's good to have some poetry come to mind, even if it's just a haiku.

5 comments:

Poppy-Poet/Writer said...

I have written a few haiku and enjoy the form, but like you, it's hard for me to turn that metaphor switch off. I'm sure the words will come when they're ready. :)

Gary said...

backlit clouds race
across the bright half moon
deer in the headlights

David A. Todd said...

Hi Poppy. Thanks for the comment.

David A. Todd said...

Good finish, Gary. That third line wouldn't fit in with my extra rules, as the deer in the headlights couldn't go with "across the bright half moon". But it is a fitting third line based on Lee Gurga's interpretation of how we fit the Japanese language poem into a workable English language form.

Gary said...

Yeah, "Pigeons on the roof" just didn't seem to fit.