Haiku: The Wordless Poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

for sale
a sparrow slips into the attic
trailing toilet paper

 

watching fireworks
from the car
chickenpox

 

screen door
song of the birds
cry of the cat

 

a sudden fall
of acorns—

chipmunk looks
at me

 

I’ve been focusing on haiku again, preparing submissions for Modern Haiku (deadline July 15) and Frogpond (deadline August 1). (Hint, hint…) I set these aside to post here because they were the most kid-friendly.

Haiku are sometimes called “wordless” poems. The idea is that the reader connects directly with the experience being depicted, not with the words of the poem. For me wordless also refers to all the words that might have been included but weren’t–words that the reader constructs for herself. We know from the words in the second haiku that somewhere there is a screen door, birds singing, and a cat crying but there are no words explaining that the cat is crying because she is on one side of the screen door and unable to hunt the birds happily singing on the other. According to Cor van den Heuvel, the poet Ogiwara Seisensui once described haiku as a circle–half provided by the poet and half provided by the reader. This is just the kind of active reading I hope to inspire in kids.

For more Poetry Friday visit Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty.

Little Blue Egg

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I found
on the ground
a little blue egg.

On the egg
I found
a hole.

There is no bird
in the little blue egg.

I wonder
where
it’s gone.

 

In my favorite Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin digs a hole. He finds rocks, a root, and some grubs, announcing with delight, “There’s treasure everywhere!” I love that he thinks of these things as treasures, in part because I do too. These are exactly the kinds of treasures I look for when I go for walks. And every time I go out and look for them, I find them because Calvin’s right–there’s treasure everywhere.

When I was in Boyds Mill, PA for the Highlights Foundation workshop last week, I found this egg outside the door of my cabin.

I’ve broken some poetry “rules” with this poem. I’ve set up a bit of a pattern in the first two stanzas, but I don’t follow the pattern throughout. Also, though it’s a poem for young readers and has a strong meter, it doesn’t rhyme. I tried many drafts of this poem, following the usual rules, but I kept coming back to this version, which seems to sing the right song for this slightly sad and mysterious egg.

What treasures are outside your door?

For more Poetry Friday visit Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.

(c) Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved

Haiku for Kids, Questions for Bloggers

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pay dirt—
under the roses
a soccer ball

 

late at night—
a cricket sings
in the lizard’s cage

 

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved

 

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve had two recurrent questions: Who is my audience? And why do I do it? It’s been a year and a half now, and I’m still not sure I have any good answers. Am I writing for poets, teachers, kids, friends? Is my goal to write more, share more, promote more, connect more?

I’m the kind of person who likes to talk through questions like these. So, fellow poet bloggers, I ask you:

1. Who is the audience for your blog?

2. Why do you blog?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

March Madness–Round 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend I participated in the second round of Ed DeCaria’s March Madness Poetry Tournament. I had 36 hours to write a poem using the word exertion, a truly ugly word in my opinion. The first thing I did was sleep, giving me about 24 hours to actually write. I kept my notebook by my bed, and first thing in the morning I wrote the poem I entered in the tournament:

 

Hitting the Snooze Bar

I lie back down across my bed.
I pull the pillow over my head.
I desperately need these minutes of sleep
After the exertion of stopping that

BEEP!

 

That’s pretty much how it came out. I agonized a little over these minutes of sleep, ten minutes of sleep, more minutes of sleep. I went with these because it seemed to work well with need. I liked the poem, but it felt light to me. It’s a moment, familiar and funny, but not much more.

My next move was to consider possible rhymes. Assertion and coercion leaped to mind.

I also started thinking about sloths because sloths are known for their lack of exertion.

Thus I found myself writing this couplet:

 

Swaying Sloth

The swaying sloth makes no assertion—
Standing up entails too much exertion.

 

The couplet has more going on than the snooze bar poem, but dare I enter a couplet? It’s so minimal! Also, no one I showed it to seemed to get the double meaning of the swaying and the standing up. I felt I needed something more.

So, for hours and hours, between kids’ activities, meals, chores, etc., I worked on this poem:

 

Sloth’s Weekly Exertion

 

Languorous sloth lives a life of ease,
Hanging around in rain forest trees,
Nibbling on leaves between long naps,
Moving so slowly nobody sees.

Yet, once a week the sloth must creep
Down to the ground to find some relief.
Exhausted by her great exertion,
She climbs back up and goes to sleep.

 

I really liked the first stanza, but the second one bothered me. I didn’t like the rhyme, and it didn’t seem to match the first stanza.

I kept at it, and hours later I wrote this draft:

 

Sloth’s Weekly Exertion

 

Languorous sloth lives a life of ease,
Hanging around in rain forest trees,
Nibbling on leaves between long naps,
Moving so slowly nobody sees.

But even a sloth can’t hold it forever,
So down the tree he must endeavor.
Exhausted by his great exertion,
He creeps back up to sleep whenever.

 

I still didn’t like it. It just didn’t seem to polish up nice and shiny the way I wanted it to, so I threw it back in the drawer and went with the snooze bar poem. Though the snooze bar poem doesn’t do as much, it does seem to do it well.

I was trounced by Dave Crawley and his clever poem about clichés. I am out, but the madness continues! There are many more poems to enjoy and votes to cast.

For more Poetry Friday visit Greg at GottaBook.

I’m going on vacation next week and I’m not taking any electronics! See you in April.

(c) 2013, Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved