Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Many people have said that I am the finest haiku writer of my generation. Here is some long-lost evidence.

Nearly all of the haiku I wrote in 2002 and 2003 was lost at the end of 2003, when the original Daily Dave mysteriously disappeared somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle.  While we have lost all hope of ever reclaiming the original content that made up America's Favorite Blog Before Anybody Knew What A Blog Was, a team of forensic poets have been working since early 2004 to reconstruct all of the haiku.

After five years and nearly $5 billion, 99.8 percent of the haiku has been recovered and is ready to present to the public. These poems will illuminate the aesthetic and zeitgeist of an America that existed long ago—and provide fresh insight into our own time, values, and morals. Reposting these haiku to the Web might prove to be the most valuable contribution to literature in the information age.1

On Tuesday, February 12, 2002, the very first Daily Dave post combined my two greatest loves, donuts and haiku:
And now, my first senryu for the Tally office:

Golden glazed donuts—
Treats for your heart and belly.

They're from Krispy Kreme.

A second post later that day included another haiku:
Today is Florida Space Day in Tallahassee, and any organization or company with ties to NASA has set up a booth in the Capitol building. Here's a nice litle senryu to celebrate the occasion:

Astronaut squeeze toys,

"Ground control to Major Tom"—
Free ballpoints for all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Friday the 13th,
Unluckiest day of all.
Wednesday? No problem.


So, what exactly is the difference between haiku and senryu? The way I understand it, both are Japanese poetry forms that follow the 5-7-5 syllable scheme, but haiku generally deal with nature and senryu can be about pretty much anything else. Therefore, if you're reading a poem about cherry blossom leaves, you're mostly likely looking at haiku. If the poem mentions dental floss, Derek Jeter or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that it's senryu.

Speaking of donuts, let me just state for the record that little powdered donuts are quite tasty. I've probably written a half dozen senryu about these torus-shaped slices of heaven at Simanoff.com. Sadly, all of these were written in the unenlightened days when I called all 5-7-5 poems haiku because I didn't know any better. I must thank Gregg Easterbrook and his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column at Slate.com for lifting me from the abyss and showing me the senryu light.

According to my former Japanese history professor, Mark Ravina, this is how you pronounce senryu:

It is actually tricky because the ryu is one syllable—not "ree-you" but something that would rhyme with "shoe." Then the final sound "u" is lengthened. So it rhymes with "shoooo." The sen rhymes with "pen." Hope that doesn't clarify anything—it's not like you're still paying tuition or something.

Of course, most of my linguistic crusades are short lived, and you should expect me to drop this one pretty quickly and revert back to using the word haiku so that people know what the hell I'm talking about. That's probably a good thing, since explaining the difference between haiku and senryu would take time away from my single-handed effort to keep the subjunctive mood alive in American English.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
The Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Productivity this afternoon inspired not one but two senryu, which I have lovingly copied out of my reporter's notebook for your enjoyment. Here is the first one:

Chunky lobbyist,
Swolen with power and pride.
Pig nose. Toothy smile.

This next senryu talks about the various hair styles I saw:


Combover and toupee,
Bleached poofy Southern hairdo,
Distinguished gray, bald.


Here's a haiku inspired by a front page story in today's newspaper. Let me be absolutely clear on this issue: I want no part of this trend.

Pantyhose for men—
It's not just for cross-dressers,
Says Wall Street Journal.

Monday, March 4, 2002
A Republican senryu, inspired by a beggar in Tallahassee on this bone-chillingly cold day.


Homeless guy, freezing,
In the Capitol's shadow:
"Got any change?" No.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
A beer truck hit a school bus in northeast Tampa this morning. There were no children on the bus, but apparently beer is spilling all over Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Here was my haiku-style response, which I filed on the Trib's message system:


Precious tasty beer,
Spilling all over Bruce B. Downs—
Where is my straw please?


Here are some of the responses:

A haiku? Geeze, I'd forgotten what a haiku was since gradeating 
hi skool!
(YHAMMETT, 3/13/02 11:23)


beer on a school bus? shocking!
(COPS, P MORGAN, 3/13/02 11:24)

RE MSG 3/13 "Where is my straw, please?...": Who drinks beer 
with a straw? Be a man.. go out there and drink from the 
source.
(NGREGOIRE, 3/13/02 11:26)

big beer truck go crash/I spy cans rolling on ground/think I'll 
call in sick
(COPS, LENGELL, 3/13/02 11:32)

beer spills; down drainpipes; bypassing consumers
(COPS, BRENNAN, 3/13/02 11:36)

suds pool languidly/ slaking canine, feline thirsts/ tempting 
reporters.
(COPS, BARRY, 3/13/02 11:40)

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
A Tallahassee senryu:

Senators babble.
Meeting enters fourteenth hour.
So bored. Butt is numb.

Friday, March 22, 2002
It's supposedly the last day of the Legislative session here in Tallahassee, and the bureau chief here sent the following message to his reporters:


Be bold with your strokes and scrawls today boys. Let's make 
it all forward-looking and highly energetic reading 
tomorrow...Weave show-don't-tell details with sharp analysis 
and perfectly chosen quotes. Like we do every day, but more so.
(TALLY, WARK, 3/22/02 13:32)

My response, of course, was to suggest that we instead write all of the stories in haiku form. 

The bureau chief's reply:



Instead, let's write every story in haiku form. (TALLY, DSIMANOFF, 3/22/02 13:38) See, and you all thought that reminder was un
warranted.
(WARK, 3/22/02 13:42)



Wanting the last word, I responded with this message:

Haiku are more fun
Than inverted pyramids,
Whatever the story.

Thursday, April 4, 2002
My latest Tallahassee senryu:

Lawmakers—source of
Limitless stupidity.
And they're boring, too.


Friday, April 5, 2002
After four months of disgust up here in Tallahassee, my faith in our political process was restored today when the Florida Senate, forced into an all-or-nothing situation by the House of Representatives, decided to throw out an important, 1,800-page school bill.


Their reason? The bill contains a very short but broadly worded section that allows religious proselytizing in schools. Since the Senate couldn't excise that small provision, they stood up for their principles and dumped the entire bill, despite heavy pressure to adopt it from Gov. Jeb Bush.


It was a justifiable case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, in my opinion.

Here is a haiku I wrote earlier today, when things were starting to heat up on the Senate floor. I have been informed that "conference" is three syllables, although it sounds like a two-syllable word when I say it.

Done deal comes undone.
Conference bill has blown up.
A big clusterfuck.

Monday, May 20, 2002
A haiku on the 13th anniversary of Gilda Radner's death:


Riotous Gilda!
Exuberant, beautiful—
It's always something.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Today's haiku, written as I stare longingly out of the newsroom window:

Tuesday, 3:40.

Across Hillsborough River,

Tiki Bar beckons.




Andrew Meadows' response, in haiku form:


Dave buys the first round,
Seconds thirds fourths fifths. I pay–
Time for a cab ride.


Jerry Stockfisch's response:


I curse the Tiki Bar for taunting me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Here's a little senryu about weblogs I wrote for Pauly McGuire:

When you have a blog,

Everything is blogworthy ...

Except this haiku.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Just for the hell of it, here's the plot of "La Boheme" in haiku form:

Joyful poor artists.

Mimi's hand is freezing cold.
Now she's dead. Life sucks.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Today's iPod opera is "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. Here is my synopsis in haiku form:

Time for a smoke break.

Hey, look, it's the bullfighter!

José kills Carmen.


Miss Cherizon suggested I write a haiku about "Les Misérables." Here's what I came up with:

Run away, Cosette!

Here comes the Revolution.

2-4-6-0-1.


America's Favorite Personal Finance Writer Scott Nelson suggests three more haiku-worthy operas: Beethoven's "Fidelio," Verdi's "La Traviata," and Mozart's "Le Nozze Di Figaro."


Fidelio:

Husband imprisoned,

and lady looks like a dude.

Great overture, though.


La Traviata:

Tuberculosis

used to be called consumption.
Either way, the girl dies.




Figaro:

The count wants his way

With the barber's fiancee.

Comedy ensues.

Miss Cherizon gets the credit for the last line of this one:

Die Zauberflöte:

On Tamino's quest,

Papageno finds fowl love.

Magic glockenspiel!


Okay, here's the last one for today -- I swear:



The entire Ring des Nibelungen series:

The fat lady sings.
Her Viking helmet sprouts horns.

Wagner hates the Jews.

Monday, January 20, 2003 (MLK day)
Connor's dogs are dead.

Ignorance, stupidity,

Are enemies still.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Assistant Business Editor Katrina Ferreira brought a box of snack-size candy bars to work today, prompting me to write my first staff haiku in a long time:

All hail Katrina,

Bringer of sugary treats.

Alas, no Twix left.



I hope we get Kit Kat bars next time!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
It looks like Lord & Taylor is saying bye-bye to the Tampa market. Here's a haiku that's made up of snippets of a message Miss Cherizon sent me:

I never shopped there.

Um, did you ever shop there?

Oh wait. Once. That's it.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
A haiku for Thursday afternoon:



A missed gayness clue:

Social dance course in college.

One, two, three, cha-cha!

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
And now, just for the hell of it, here is a senryu composed entirely of anagrams for "Ohio State Buckeyes" —

Beastie coke youths.

Ethics: yoke to abuse.
I see buttocks, oh yea!



The syllable scheme is 5+6+6, which isn't perfect haiku form but still adds up to 17. Another good anagram is "Touchiest obese yak."

_______
1 Actually, that's a complete and total line of bullshit. I'm posting these as a reminder to Lee Barnes2 that I'm quite proficient with three lines and 17 syllables.
2 That's right, Barnes. I'm talking to you. Writing one clever haiku about Harley-Davidson owners several years ago doesn't even put you in the running to be considered as one of the finest haiku writers of your generation! So there.

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