Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Erotic Haiku--Show Off Your Briefs

So, they’re having an erotic haiku contest over at Lust Bites and of course as the author of an erotic book about Japan, I felt duty-bound to compose a few poems. I also had fun doing it, too. Something about counting syllables (5-7-5) gives you a focus that allows surprising images to sneak into your head. Just as fun was reading the other entries for the contest. One of my favorites is by Jeremy Edwards—very sensual and cozy. Jeremy always makes me smile!

Buttocks on my lap—
Squirming heaven, oven-warm.
My playbill wrinkles.

Here are the two I composed on my morning walk, counting fives and sevens on my fingers:

Love hotel lobby
The bondage rooms all taken
Sunday in Tokyo

"I'll wash you," he says
Soapy hands between my thighs
Men's bath at midnight

Now, these are by no means classic haiku. They don’t have a seasonal word (kigo), for example. The classic haiku has a seasonal word, which doesn’t have to be as obvious as “cherry blossom” for spring. However, you do have to be aware of whether your word conjures early spring, mid spring or late spring. A frog suggests the entire spring season, but a colt conjures late spring. Cats “in love” are early spring (a good image for an erotic haiku?). Check out The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words—it’s oddly compelling reading.

The classic haiku also has a certain dynamic that I’m not sure my poems achieve. Ready for a quick haiku lesson? You’ve probably seen this famous poem by Matsuo Basho, the great 17th century haiku poet:

The ancient pond
A frog leaps in
The sound of the water

The translation isn’t five-seven-five, but the original was, so trust me on that. Anyway, back in haiku grad school, my teacher told me that this poem illustrates the classic haiku dynamic: a fixed situation, a surprising action, the consequence of the action. And it does so literally, which makes it a favorite example for teaching. Still pond, restless frog, PLOP! Not all famous haiku express this in exactly the same way, but I mention it here to suggest that there’s more to haiku than just syllable counting. But pop over to Lust Bites and you’ll see exactly what I mean! You can enter the contest until June 27--and don't forget to add a few haiku in the comments right here on sex, food, writing or all three for our own little poetry party.


Anonymous said...

"I mention it here to suggest that there’s more to haiku than just syllable counting"

Indeed -- the vast majority of my poetry is free verse, but I did write a sonnet once, and in doing so I followed the directions that went far beyond syllabic count and included what tone/occurrence/order/etc. each line/section was to represent. It was quite involved! Also fascinating, to me, to have such a meticulous structure for a poem. While I quite appreciate the existence of free verse, I enjoyed that incident of working within the structure to create a sonnet.

Thanks for the poetry study! :)


Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you, Donna!!

I wasn't familiar with the static/action/effect format or the seasonal aspect of traditional haikus (or, if I was, it was so deep in my memory as to be inaccessible) ... but it looks like I accidentally sort of complied with the former—if we assume that my companion at the theater is initially sitting still on my lap, and only begins squirming in line 2.

And kinetic buttocks are considered a harbinger of spring, yes?

Donna said...

Hey Emerald--thanks for your comment and especially for your comment on Clean Sheets! Structure is nice now and then, kind of like being tied up on occasion, but I myself prefer freedom most of the time.

And yes, Jeremy, if you check out the haiku web site, it confirms that kinetic buttocks are a spring image. Still buttocks, perhaps a pair bent over a kitchen table waiting for...the seasonally appropriate activity...are a winter image. I'm sure the list goes on ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Structure is nice now and then, kind of like being tied up on occasion, but I myself prefer freedom most of the time."

Nicely stated! (And you are very welcome -- it is true of course. :) )

"And kinetic buttocks are considered a harbinger of spring, yes?"

Still LOL just reading it again as I pasted it here!!

EllaRegina said...

Wow! I learned something today. Thank you for that informative seasonal link and for giving the ins and outs, so to speak, of haiku. Fascinating.

I'm imagining "Haiku Grad School."

Were people only allowed to speak in Haiku?

Donna said...

Yes, we were only allowed to speak in haiku but the final exam was a breeze!

Maryanne Stahl said...

In Haiku Grad School

Our Donna Storey excelled

Now she poems for us!

Craig Sorensen said...

Great post, Donna!

I'll toss one in the mix:

Plum juice glossy chin
Tongue erect slurping deeper
Plummets to the pit

It doesn't really conform to the fix / surprise / consequence thing, but I'll keep practicing.

I promise I will, Professor!

Maryanne Stahl said...

Crisp white linen sheets
Your lips, neck, shoulders, open thighs
You taste of warm salt

Rain in pine forest
We fall to the sodden ground
Dripping everywhere

Donna said...

Well done, fellow poets!
Plums--spring, rain--Forgive the Moon
Basho would be pleased....

Okay, that's not great, but I love the haiku. Yummeee!