16 July 2012

Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge: Challenge #3 --- Haiku

Welcome to week three of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. So far we’ve played with poetic meter and rhyme … now it’s time to get down to the real grunt work of this challenge and jump into some actual forms of poetry.

The OLJ Poetry Form Challenge #3: Haiku

To be totally honest with you, haiku has never been one of my favorite forms of poetry. When I was younger and in elementary school we would be assigned the rigid “5-7-5” haiku and I balked because the translated Japanese haiku we read were never 5-7-5 --- those syllables lost in translation seemed entirely unfair to my young mind. As I got older, I grew to the same traditionalized argument that a haiku has to have 5-7-5 syllables. When in doubt, I would count, and demand corrections. Even now I find myself a whiny haiku writer, demanding more frequently than I should that everyone should write based on the short-longer-short rule of haiku. (I won’t even go into what happened when I heard the “rules” about nature, seasonal references, sensory images, and actions.)

Defining it

All that is to say: For those who find the haiku form a major challenge, you’re not alone. But for the sake of this challenge, you’ll be writing at least three haiku, following this basic coverage of what a haiku requires:

1. A haiku is an untitled poem with three lines (they do not have to be complete sentences)
2. Though many argue that a haiku must have 5-7-5 syllables, for our challenge we’ll stick with the short-longer-short rule: the first and third lines are shorter, and the middle line is “slightly longer” than the other two
3. Haiku does not rhyme
4. Haiku does not use (or, at least, avoids) metaphor and simile (this can sometimes be the trickiest rule for a lot of poets!)
5. Most haiku deal with natural topics and include a seasonal reference
6. Many traditional haiku have a juxtaposition of two sensory images, with some kind of “shift” in the third line

There are more rules, if you want to do the research (you can also read more about the form here), but for our sake I recommend simply spending some time with some great haiku; you can check out some of the most famous haiku here.

Doing it

For this challenge, write at least three haiku. Try to follow the “rules” you know, but also play with the form and see where your unique voice can enter in. By all means share more than one; they are so short, you can share all three … or five … ten might be pushing it, but whatever floats your boat.

Fun it up!

Because these poems are so short, I would love to feature more than one come Friday. Share your attempts in the comment box below or email them to ourlostjungle@kharahouse.com. Remember, to be featured on Friday, you need to have your submissions sent no later than 10pm (EDT) on Thursday (7-19)!

Good luck!

PS: Robert Lee Brewer, a phenomenal poet who has inspired much of my poetic journey over the past several years, wrote a fantastic (and short) post back in 2007 on haiku. It’s a quick, and very insightful, post … check it out: “Haiku: Easy or Hard?


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Get caught up with the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge!


  1. I LOVE me some haiku humor. However, it seems contradictory to the rules. Is haiku humor shunned?

    Marie Elena


    the very thought
    fills me with terror and dread
    empty roll; no spare

    lunging at me with brute strength
    my washing machine

    Oh my, what to do -
    piggy toes peeking through.
    Darn socks.

    ice skate
    twirl on single blade
    spin on bottom


    two names, one note
    enharmonic interval
    forever in tune

    horizontal rain
    with inside-out umbrella
    she waits for the bus

    clear blue sky, warm sun
    satin gown of white with veil
    blood, shrapnel, wailing

    head nods agreement
    eyes tell me otherwise
    I see what you mean

    deep inside me
    a child peers out the window
    pining for puddles

    1. Whoa! Marie--how did you make it look so easy? These are wonderful!Number seven hit me in the gut.

    2. Thanks jlynn! I wrote #7 a while back, when there was news (complete with horrific photos) of a suicide bomber who blew up a hotel where a wedding reception was in progress. The contrast of love/white/music/life with blood-red death/wailing/hate gave me nightmares for a while. I cannot even fathom.

  3. Here's three from me:

    good morning
    a gentle breeze blows

    a day at the beach
    body surfing, crested waves slap
    jellyfish on my ass

    wisps of cirrus clouds
    chalk on blue the letter Z-
    skywriting 101

    1. Nice collection, Laurie! I'm so glad to see you used some humor as well. :D

  4. I did it, but do NOT bother. When I say that I am bad at haiku, it doesn't mean I'm angling for compliments

    1. Barbara, you're so stinkin' cute! :D Are you going to post them here? We all might have to disagree with you! ;)

    2. Barbara, I'm with Marie! You never know!! (And I'm a bad haiku-er myself ... I'm prone to like anything I think is better than mine!)

  5. I have a few for you.

    To stone, water drops,
    With time water erases,
    Always, time shapes stone.

    Blossom white and pure
    Spends self to produce a seed,
    Seed becomes mother.

    Winsome gets what sum
    Wins get, while all means are one
    With ends in middle.

    Sorry, I don't know what came over me. That last just popped out. Haven't a clue. Take for tongue twister value.

    Everyone has some really fun and good Haiku.

    1. Love that first one, Clauds. I had to read the first line twice to get the visual, though I don't know why. Now it seems so obvious. I had to turn it around in my meager brain to "Water drops to stone." Good stuff here!

  6. slick prairie-dog
    heads popping from grassy homes
    buttered field corn


    sky teardrops
    on sun-drenched sand
    pixie footprints

    floating lily pad,
    high-kicking leaping pliƩ
    classical frog ballet

    (I know it isn’t suppose to rhyme. But, can it rhyme?)

    1. Your first one is soooooooo cute and visual!

  7. Here are three from me, too.

    June rain wets mittens
    July overcoats and thermals
    greenhouse rules warming

    a long gasp swallowed
    holding back a flood of tears
    yawning toward sleep

    shattered hearts broken
    water under burnt bridges
    broken fences smoulder

  8. water roars
    rushing to make the fall
    mist rises

    hot and humid
    plants shrivel and turn brown
    rain refreshes

    1. Thanks, Marie Elena. I loved that you wrote some haiku with humor!

  9. Thanks for this prompt! I mostly write limericks. But I do enjoy the occasional haiku too. Here's a haiku quintet.

    An ancient postcard
    shows a place I'll never see,
    which I now call home.

    Driving through the fog,
    I search for safe passageway---
    Mist, at last, relents.

    We simmer with hope
    that we won't be withered
    by summer's weather.

    Hot temps and tempers
    belt out dissonant duet
    in climate change hell.

    My favorite prompts
    lure my muse to stop hiding
    and come out to play.

    1. Mad, I'd say you are as good at haiku as you are limericks! I especially like #s 3 and 4.

  10. Hi Khara! I've awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Stop by my blog to accept it. :D


Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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