When a Haiku is NOT Haiku ?

Call just any old three line 5-7-5 or seventeen syllable a haiku and you could find yourself on the samurai sword point of the Haiku Shoguns. Because, gentle reader, who may now be quivering in anxiety, a haiku must have a seasonal word or kigo. It is a zen-like contemplation on the eternal wisdom of nature. With a little “Ah-ha!” of enlightenment thrown in.

Everything else is mostly senryu, which takes a gently humourous slant on human foibles. Or it might be a katauta, which is senyu for lovers. Which may segue into sedoka, a kind of three line back and forth between the two parties.

Everything else three line and seventeen syllables is zappai. Are you keeping up?

Here’s how…

Haiku 1

Gorse covered hillside
Wind drifts scent of coconut
An April's chill day

No earth shattering “Ah-ha!”, I know. I didn’t say it was a good example! I am barely awake, much less enlightened at this time of morning! The next one I wrote does have a seasonal hint (hawthorn = May), but does have the little humourous rib.

Haiku 2

Hawthorn's lace and frill
Edging pasture's boundaries
Farmer frippery

Next up is a katauta:

Over many seasons
I have watched your loving hands
I see signs - aging

which then becomes a sedoka when you add the following three lines.

Even your child-size hands
Finally have all grown up
In your magic gloves

Finally, the everything else zappai.

The house is so still
Outside barely a breeze stirs
Making me restless

So now you know when a haiku is really not a haiku. You shall be spared the haiku shogun’s samurai sword point. Just remember. 1) Don’t rhyme. 2) No more than seventeen syllables all in. 3) And use that seasonal hint. And 4) If you have reached an enlightening moment you have haiku gold!

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