July 9: 1-3: One-liners


waiting for someone to speak first        the moon deflates


ankle deep     the conversation turns    to drowning


the sting of raspberry brambles        ask me again

16 thoughts on “July 9: 1-3: One-liners

      • That’s funny. I had absolutely no idea how many syllables these were. 🙂 How interesting that they all ended up being the same … maybe that’s why they seemed to go so well together.

        I frequently don’t count the syllables in my ku at all (unless I’m concerned that there are way too many, but usually you can tell that just by looking or listening).

  1. yeah. i like #1 and #2. that spacing works really well as a pause. i like that. it feels very natural to me.

    @ angie too – i’ve found in my 3 line ku that i often like the ku when it’s in 11 syllables. it just seems to feel right. enough and not too many. the often work out that way when i get what i like and then i count the syllables. so it isnt just me trying to do 11s. i also get a lot of 9s too. when it’s less than 9 i feel like it’s not quite there. and i get higher counts too of course – but 11 often seem right. curious yes.

    this one line ku stuff seems to work well from you Melissa. i like how easy they are to read in my mind speaking voice. the pauses just come naturally to me with the breaks – almost more so than with lines… curious and cool.

    summer tea the temperature of moonlight

    i dont know if that will break right.

    summer tea
    the temperature
    of moonlight

    actually. …there’s no real reason i should put it in one line is there.

    ha. i went through several variations to get it the way i liked it. before counting. and i just now counted the syllables.

    • howdy, rick!

      I just seem to think in that number and I don’t really know why. I do a lot of “american sentence” type things on my ‘feathers’ blog and I think I’ve just gotten so used to them that I think that way without hardly trying. I agree about the spaces — I am all about space in my poetry, the long and short poems. I don’t like the look of punctuation (the look of the poem is important to me in my longer pieces) so I use them to replace that, but the biggest thing spacing does I think (like here in #1 for example) is control the pace, to force the reader to pause and to breathe.

      I do know of a few poets (I remember dave bonta discussing this, maybe on facebook) that wonder if the spaces should be considered a syllable in the haiku. back to the viewpoint that “what isn’t said is as important as what is.” but then again, the trend seems to me to be away from counting the exact syllables at all in some places. if we start counting spaces too, I’ll be more confused than ever!

      I think I need to drink my tea and stop this early-morning typing.
      (see??? 17!)

      • here, I found what I think I was thinking of — he doesn’t really say to count the spaces so much as acknowledge the space as part of the haiku.

        “Full disclosure: I have used 5-7-5 as a guideline from time to time. But I feel that treating it as the main thing, as the pop-culture version of haiku does, misses the really essential ingredient: some genuine poetic insight, usually signalled by a pause. Seaonal markers (kigo) strike me as less essential but haiku should have a strong sense of location in a particualr time and place.”
        July 6 at 11:50 / Dave Bonta / facebook

        • Thanks for your thoughts, both of you. So much to say … so little time. 🙂

          It is definitely true that some ku (most I think, or maybe that’s just because that’s how we try to write them) want to be three lines and some want to be one (or two, or four … but one or three seem to be the commonest options). Interesting that you both liked #s 1 and 2 better, I wasn’t sure whether #3 should be one line or not. I originally wrote it as three.

          the sting
          of raspberry brambles
          ask me again

          Yeah, I think it’s better that way. But dammit, I was writing one-line ku on the subject of communication and I wanted that one in there!

          I agree that your ku here is better as 3, Wrick. I keep trying to analyze why some work better as one line. Sometimes it’s because there really isn’t a good way to split them up into 3 lines in a harmonious way (#1 here, I think). Sometimes it just seems like the ideas they express will be more readily graspable if seen all at once, in one line (#2 here — which I also originally wrote as 3 lines but I do like better as one).

          Yeah, space is important. If I don’t put spaces in it’s usually because I don’t think there should be spaces, not because I’ve forgotten them or decided it looks better without them or something.

          he walks by carefully balancing a teaspoon of dust

          Is that even a ku? Sometimes if there are no spaces I wonder about that. Maybe for the reason Dave gives in the passage you quoted, Angie. Ku to me are about revealing insight by putting two things together — if there’s only one thing, it might be poetic, but is it ku? If the reader can’t pause somewhere in the middle, to get his bearings (and then have them switched on him 🙂 ), it seems too slick somehow to be ku to me. Your head should be reeling slightly when you finish reading a ku, I think …

          around the puddle/carefully balancing/a teaspoon of dust

          • aloha Melissa (yikes – i think i’ve gotten my comments out of order – my reply to Angie was supposed to have been connected to her reply. oops)

            yeah Melissa – i like your #3 one-liner as a 3-liner much better, in fact it really changes for me a lot. so yeah, some do seem to work better one way

            or the other.

            one thing i look for in my ku – or check (usually) is to see if the entire thing is a sentence. whether it’s in 3 lines or one line i think that if it’s a sentence then i’ve missed my haiku mark. if it’s a sentence then it’s all one thing. i think that is what happens with the way you have the first example here:

            “he walks by carefully balancing a teaspoon of dust”

            that’s really a sentence isnt it? a curious sentence but still a sentence. and still a sentence which changes meaning depending on where punctuation might be added (by author or reader):

            He walks, by carefully balancing a teaspoon of dust.

            He walks by, carefully balancing a teaspoon of dust.

            He walks by carefully, balancing a teaspoon of dust.

            where as your second one:

            around the puddle/carefully balancing/a teaspoon of dust

            that’s not a sentence. if i read it all together it isnt a sentence no matter how i might punctuate it (i think…). of course that doesnt mean that everything that isnt a sentence is ku either. still i think this version with the breaks qualifies as ku (for me) – in fact, i’d accept it as a one line ku even without the slant breaks – or if they were spaces – even without the spaces.

            yeah. it’s late. i shouldnt be doing this. bwahahaaha. which is normal.

            …so please excuse all infringements.. and i’ll try again at some point …

      • aloha angie – yeah, i can understand that “thinking in 17 syllables” stuff. i dont know about the term “american sentence”, but yeah, i suspect 17 is probably the american sentence essence. …or may be not. ha. i’ll have to look in to it. …that’s a wish list item tho.

        i’ve seen some of your blog entries and found them intriguing altho not being a writer i’m not quite sure what it’s about without delving into what you’re doing deeper than i’ve had time to do – yet.

        yeah. i like that idea of space pauses in writing – poetry in particular but other forms too. for me i think there are lots of possibilities with that – the longer the space, the longer the pause so that a rhythm can be built based on the length of the spaces. and a line jump is a longer pause too.

        yeah and the look of writing. i like that as well. i think that’s partly why i often use letters and words in visual works. a long time ago i understood that letters are just a specialized pattern of line. which means in my way of thinking all writing is a stylized form of drawing. i like the visual aspect of letters. which is why even a language i dont know has a beauty to it when i see it written. a long time ago i did drawings that were inspired by the look of a hand written letter (as in mail). i’ve had one of those works from that time on my studio wall for years and still like to look at it. there are no words or letters – but looking at it, a viewer can tell it has the feeling of a letter – well… plus there are some other clues. ha. way off topic here. but i do appreciate the way a poem looks on a page. – it can be a beautiful drawing to me as well as finding beauty in the word combinations.

        i do occasionally use punctuation. but i like the idea of not using it too.

        interesting thought on spaces as syllables. yeah, i can see that, especially if it is beyond the usual pattern of one space between words. yeah, again, on the “what isnt said being as important as what is said” – again that is also true in visual art. it’s often what is around an object/subject – color or items, texture etc – that makes the object or subject zing. and at the very least as an artist i think you have to consider that negative space (or background) as just as important as the positive space (or subject/foreground). when that happens and both areas work, the entire composition usually functions quite well. which is the idea of course. everything is important – whether it is there or not.

        bwahahahaha – yeah, counting syllables – or using the right number of syllables is minor compared to some of the other considerations in haiku (at least imo…) but then syllables do have a weight in one way or another. so for me… i like to know the count in my haiku. …even if i am confused. i usually trust the count in other ku tho. because it really isnt the issue.

        bwahahaha – tea-up. since i tend to ramble and think in non-sentence form… i’m not going to count my sentence syllables – yet. i tend to write in comments and so on the way i think. which is why i rarely use capitals unless there is a reason that i can appreciate – and punctuation… ha. i use it the way i want to use it. – there is of course a reason for the rules of writing – which i do see a place for, and i try to follow in appropriate places. here… i’m just being me. so. eh. i do it my way. altho i have to admit… some people have difficulty in following me. …okay, may be a lot of people find me difficult. to follow too.

        yeah. enough for this chapter. have fun.

        • hey, rick: here you go —
          this is a pretty well-accepted explanation of the “american sentence” if you’ve got time to sit and read through it. the “as” is essentially allen ginsberg’s adapation of haiku to the american speech pattern/lifestyle. there are groups of people who write these, just like the groups who write haiku.


          words, words, words — all around us.

            • thanks, melissa.

              viewed in this context — I’m thinking that your original “he walks by carefully balancing a teaspoon of dust” works as an ‘as’ because the flip of insight is in there.

              I think a lot of this gets down to the differences in the languages — there are so many multiple layers of meanings in an english word (and not knowing japanese, I don’t know if that carries through to a japanese word) that you can create a metaphor/insight/a sudden flip in perspective with just a single word. like your word dust:
              is he making instant tea? cleaning the house a spoonful at a time? or he is trying to walk the precarious line between life and death?

              it’s all there in that single word.
              and now, I really need to go to the store!!

              • That is a great insight, that you can have the 2 things set against each other in 1 word in English (though I think this is also at least as possible in Japanese) —

                Maybe I will get brave enough to try some AS’s like Wrick — for some reason I am very intimidated by them, they seem deceptively simple — the kind of thing that you could set out confidently to do and end up making a complete fool of yourself, kind of like, oh, haiku. 🙂

          • wow Angie, thank you. that is an interesting read. i set up a place so i can try some American Sentences. i can see it does alter how i think – and after attempting two – it’s affected my haiku. bwahahahahahahahaha. sheesh. what a whimsical fickle being i am sometimes. heck if i know anything at all. …other than of course to just keep right on bouncing from stone to feather and all points in between and back again.

            i wrote down some of the thinking behind AmSens. process and so on. and i’m not going to call them rules – i’m calling them considerations.

            the last thing i wrote down was a question tho. it’s because i try to get my ku to flow as if i were saying the phrases in my normal way of speaking – my common speak language… so i wondered about it in AmSens. altho already (after 2) i can see that words like “the” are going to get old fast. ….still:

            15. Question: is it better that the sentence rolls off my tongue easily more like as in the way I’d speak – or is the slightly odd wording that is sometimes allowed in poetry more appropriate?

            so i’m going to have to think on that too now. bwahahahahaha.

            as Melissa pointed out, your sentences were great before i’d read the interview article. now i have an entirely new level and depth from which to explore and enjoy them. way cool. ty. and heck. i’m still thinking on this one line stuff. …okay as well as 3 line stuff. sheesh. may be i need to sleep.

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