Haiku Hai-jinks

Over the years, I have become quite taken with haiku, the Japanese poetry form. Often attributed to the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, the haiku (singular or plural, it’s just “haiku”) was in fact already a well-regarded variety of poem by the time Basho turned his hand to verse in the late 1600s. There is no question, however, that Basho brought the form into prominence, and four hundred years on, he is still the undisputed master (a couple of examples: Another year is gone / a traveler’s shade on my head / straw sandals at my feetAn ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water).

Haiku is set to a rigid meter: three lines, the first of which is comprised of seven syllables, the second containing five, and the third reverting once again to seven (observant readers will likely notice that Basho’s haiku, above, don’t quite follow that form; in the original Japanese, however, they did). Haiku are zenlike in their original iteration, evocative of nature and tranquility, compassion and peace. So, in other words, just ripe for parody.

One website, http://cad.ece.ut.ac.ir/~sohail/Fun/Funny%20Haikus.htm, reports that Microsoft Japan is considering replacing computer error messages with haiku, thus conveying a certain gentle spirituality to an otherwise irksome experience; for example:

Your file was so big / it might be very useful / but now it is gone…

The website you seek / cannot be located, but / countless more exist…

Three things are certain / death, taxes and lost data / guess which has occurred…

Having been erased / the document you’re seeking / must be retyped

You step in the stream / but the water has moved on / this page is not here

Yesterday it worked /today it is not working / Windows is like that

Another website, http://www.allowe.com/Humor/book/Redneck%20Haiku.htm, offers a look at Redneck Haiku, a hitherto unheralded variation on a theme:

Seeking solitude / Carl’s ex-wife Tammy files for / a restraining order…

Naked in repose / silvery silhouette girls / adorn my mudflaps…

In early morning mist / Mama searches Circle K for / Moon Pies and Red Man…

Here is one a friend turned up, which I know will resonate with many of you: Eat the goddam thing / and put an end to those lame / Geico commercials…

How about a dog haiku: Dig under fence, why? / because it’s there, because it’s / there, because it’s there…

Or a Star Trek haiku: Precious green liquid / pooling upon alien soil / Bones says, “He’s dead, Jim.”

An entire website, sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (http://mit.edu/jync/www/spam),  is devoted to haiku about SPAM. Not the computer variety, but Spam, the ham-oid canned meat:

Empathize with them / cut your finger on Spam top / pigs must feel that too…

In my dream, a room / four tin walls, rounded corners / I wake up screaming…

There is even a haiku website dedicated to seventies’ icon Mr. T (http://www.infinitefish.com/haiku/). Hooda thunk it?

Mohawk and gold chains / the best bouncer in the business / my prediction: pain…

And finally, in the time-honored tradition of saving the best for last, here’s one from mystery writer John Lescroart (I bet you didn’t know his last name is pronounces “Less-kwah”); this haiku is perhaps the be-all and end-all of haiku-dom, and deserves a place in the poetry hall of fame:

Haikus are easy / But sometimes they don’t make sense / Refrigerator…

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