Sunday, December 5, 2010


Here’s a good one (written by a professional, certainly not me):

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow

Seekers of enlightenment like to find an ancient practice or foreign belief system to adopt. Maybe it must be crammed and bent to fit—because having grown out of an entirely different culture it doesn’t naturally mesh like a puzzle piece—but the enthusiastic seeker has plenty of arm strength. He is happy to beat it into submission.

Chanting and drumming were usurped from Native Americans and hawked at New Age festivals for many years. Folks lined up to beat out their rage and frustration (which worked to a certain extent, probably like scream therapy) or to bring the rhythms of the planet into perfect alignment. That didn’t work so well.

Thankfully, drumming waned, as all New Age gimmicks eventually do. If it doesn’t incorporate well into modern life it will remain at odds with everything else. People aren’t drumming on their coffee breaks or when visiting friends, and as a solo sport it left a lot to be desired. It died on the vine.

Feng shui seems to have a little more life in it, but it might just be another fad. Where to build your building, and how to decorate it by compass points, might make sense from a style point of view, but hoping such decisions affect your good luck and your life energy appear to be misguided. At least as it is practiced in modern America. Here it is put to use as soon as you pay your friendly neighborhood feng shui consultant, and it is unlikely you can buy mysticism steeped in its original glory. Mysticism ought to be something a little more natural, less wallet-based.

Haiku is another Asian hand-me-down that has been warped by modern hands. Originally haiku wasn’t used so much for enlightenment, but rather to more keenly see the natural world, to strip down to the bare essence of something, to increase quiet and increase contemplation. All good things.

Again, from an ancient master:

An old silent pond
a frog jumps into the pond
splash! Silence again

Nowadays haiku is the subject of argument. Is it supposed to be three lines, never more or less? Must it be seventeen syllables exactly? Opponents stand on either side and try to prove their case, except that is so anti-haiku. There are rules, unless the rules must yield, in which case there aren’t rules. Besides, the seventeen-syllable rationale is based on seventeen of something that translates from the Japanese as “syllable” but isn’t exactly that in the original.

I like to email my brother absurd rock and roll lyrics because they annoy him. Recently he turned the whole thing on its ear and sent the lyrics back in the form of a haiku. It almost made me sit down in the lotus position and contemplate it with my mind’s eye, except I was too busy bothering other people with my emails.

Bothering emails
to the corners of the globe
make me laugh ha ha

Okay, that one was pretty weak, but I just made it up. Perhaps the best haikus take a little consideration. Like the ones my brother can twist out of a song. He’s so good at it I put together a blog for them.

I don’t really want to advertise any of the other modern haiku blasphemies, but you can find beer haiku online, celebrity death haiku, and even online generators that make up trillions of completely random haiku that may or may not make sense. It just depends on how open your mind is, dude:

Ferris wheels whimper
steaming mud waits torn paper
lucid dreams midnight

Yeah, man. You can, like, read “whatever you want” into the poem. It “lives its own life” and, like, can “mean many things.” Yeah. Sounds like a bunch of New Age hippie drivel. You can’t find deep meaning in an art form that requires contemplation if you’re too busy rushing around looking for meaning. I don’t mean to harsh your mellow, dude, but a fact is a fact.

I think I’ll stick with my brother’s higher quality stuff. It’ll take you back to the songs of your youth. Or not. Depends on what you used to listen to. Did I mention the blog already?

Rock and roll haiku
seventeen cool syllables
subscribe online now!

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