Inigo wrote another poem today. I hold him in front of the refrigerator and he taps or grabs words with his beak. I believe he’s telling me that although he has a cush life indoors, he could live the life of a small but fierce raptor outside and just doesn’t want to.
This is the second time he has chosen the word “mimic.” Odd, because I put the words back among their groups (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) before I brought him into the kitchen, so he chose it out of nowhere again. Then again, I was looking at the word “mimic” when I held him in front of the words. Sometimes when I hold the container of hulled sunflower seeds in front of him and ask him to make his selection, more often than not he’ll choose the seed I’m looking at. I wonder if birds read eye cues. Or maybe there is some kind of splotch on the magnet that can only be seen in ultraviolet light, as birds have UV vision and see things very differently than we do.
(Poem created with the Bird Lover Magnetic Poetry Kit.)
While going through my filing cabinet today, I found a notebook where I had written down some of the poems I created on my refrigerator with the Bird Lover Magnetic Poetry kit. I wasn’t looking for it, but I knew I had written some of the better ones down and had forgotten where they were. The poem above is one of them. I’ll probably post more here.
You might be wondering why I’m saving these as JPGs. I’m going to put them in an art book. But also, I’m well aware of internet plagiarism and blog-scraping, and if someone is going to attempt to steal my work, they’re going to have to put some effort into it!
I also found some pretty awful pieces written under the influence of Percocet while I was recovering from some surgery in 2009. Medical poetry, actually. Delusions of grandeur gave me the idea to submit a few of them to the Journal of the American Medical Association (they publish poetry, believe it or not), but I cringe to read them now and am glad I didn’t send them off. It felt great to write them at the time, though!
I have read in a few places that for English haiku to be as spare as the Japanese intended haiku to be, the number of syllables should be closer to 11, split along the lines of 3-5-3, as opposed to 17 split 5-7-5. It makes sense. Seventeen syllables in English allow for a few adjectives and adverbs that can make a haiku pretty specific. For example, I could have put “rosy” or “brilliant” before “color” on the second line, but the idea is for you to envision your own colors. Maybe you think more of orange or purple when you think of dusk approaching, or maybe you think of softer colors like pink and lavender instead of brilliant ones. I tried to leave “path” open to interpretation, too. It could mean the sun’s path in the sky, or it could mean sunlight shifting from a walking path in the garden to a stone among the plants. If you’re in a Japanese garden, the color could even be spreading over a stone pagoda. It’s really your perspective and experience that fill in the image.
As with other forms of writing, haiku tends to be more challenging for me when I have less to work with. Shorter articles are often harder to write than longer ones because you have to use discretion regarding which information to include, yet the piece still has to have substance. In reporting, you also have to make sure that leaving certain information out doesn’t render the piece inaccurate or you guilty of bias by omission. You have to decide what’s relevant versus what’s merely interesting. Often enough, I end up writing way more than I need and spending a good bit of time editing. So it was with this haiku, which did start with 17 syllables.
(Poem created with the online Nature Magnetic Poetry Kit. By the way, no, I don’t work for the company that makes magnetic poetry. I just like messing around with it. Again, limitations: They only give you so many words. If I have to pull words out of my brain, it would take me a lot longer to get those 11 syllables. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much choice!)