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My favorite haikus

It’s snowing this morning. It’s that lovely brand of snow that doesn’t threaten to make travel hazardous or require any shoveling.

Just a gentle, steady flurry. Picturesque and beautiful.

It brings to mind one of my favorite haikus:

First snow
the neglected yard
now perfect

– Elizabeth St. Jacques

Haikus, it should be noted, are not those 5-7-5 syllable poems you may have been taught in elementary school. The 5-7-5 format is a bastardization of the Japanese alphabet, designed by teachers who want to teach syllabication.

As you can see from the haiku above, syllables are irrelevant in haikus.

A haiku is a three-line poem – almost always about nature – wherein the first two lines establish a scene, and the third seeks to upend that scene in some way.

Haikus are essentially jokes. Some are amusing. Some are enlightening. Some are transformative. Others are laugh-out-loud funny.

But all haikus seek to do what a joke does:

Establish a premise in order to counter that premise in some clever, insightful, or amusing way.

Here are two more that I love, both by Ernest Berry:

old garden shed
the insecticide can
full of spiders

filleting cod
trying to avoid
eye contact