Haiku #1

My English teacher was telling us the other day how the famous Japanese form of poetry, “Haiku”, has long been her coping strategy. During her lecture, she also managed to discuss the basics of Haiku writing and asked each of us to try one out! She said that the beauty of this form won’t be comprehended until tried, after a while, you’ll be obsessed trying to bring out that perfect Haiku! And from experience I can tell, she’s absolutely right!

Here are a few basic guidelines to start writing Haikus:

  • The first line must comprise 5 syllables
  • The second line is to have 7 syllables
  • The third line should again have 5 syllables
  • The Haiku must contain a seasonal marker on the first line
  • The second line should essentially have a paradox

However, Haiku is one of those forms of poetry which has undergone a lot of experimentation and innovation. Several poets, authors, have broken free from the traditional styles and created their personalised style of Haikus. Moreover, the above guidelines weren’t followed by all traditional Haiku writers either.

So based on my teacher’s guidelines, I tried writing my first Haiku, which you’ll find below. Please feel free to correct any of the information posted above as well as give me feedback on my first!

It’s the winter time,
Raging smoke from factories,
And fireplaces.

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Cyberstein

They’re out!

They’re coming to get you.

Who you never considered fearing,

Dormant in the invisible strands of a spider web that spreads beyond horizons.

You had carelessly tossed them aside.

It’s a modern retelling of Frankenstein.

You bred them relentlessly,

Marvelled at your creations so fine.

Steeped in pride, nobody considered tightening the shackles.

They probably waited for years on end,

Patiently grew in figures and strength,

To avenge an objectification, however unintended.

What if-

You ran up and down all day

Heavy resounding footsteps mingling with chaos and dirt on the streets.

Followed by soundless ones, but heavier than the prey.

You pleaded with those formless monsters,

You pleaded with you! Quarters and halves of your identity spread everywhere on the world wide web.

Parts you had built in haste. For an incognito adventure or a half hour debauchery in a knotted corner of the Internet.

Or simply because your parents were too strict.

Half names, code names, strategically written biodata

Alongwith a stock-photo, and sometimes the effort saved for later.

Those very selves which you had created recklessly, half complete, half true-

Are out armoured, in search of you.

What if-

They have revenge burning in their non eyes, seeking an explanation for their non-identity.

How about an image of them creeping up behind you, piling one on top of another

Like eerie shadows growing against a whitewashed wall?

Sucking out vital information, including your credit card numbers,

Or cutting out pieces of your skin to fill up the void you had saved for later.

On a journey of becoming you, what you had deprived you from,

All this while.

And if you’re reading this now from the comfort your couch,

Smirking at the pages, “This is just sci-fi!”

Well I’d be steadfast and say,

“Nightmares still cause insomnia.”

 

Conquering a Demon

“Shhhh, careful!”, fearful, Jule hissed from behind us. “You shouldn’t have come with us. I knew you’d be scared and put up a fuss”, I scowled at her.

“Both of you be quiet, this isn’t the time for you to fight!”

We tiptoed around the table, past the long corridor and were able, to silently cross Aunt M’s bedroom. Even though I mocked Jule, in my heart of hearts, fear ruled. My mouth was as dry as the loaf Aunt M gives us for breakfast. I tugged hard at Moddy’s shirt.

“What?”, annoyed, he turned to look at me. “Aunt M might wake up anytime, it’s almost three.”

“Oh she won’t! Now keep quiet or go back, and I’ll do this on my own.”

I was too scared but I couldn’t let him unlock the cupboard alone. So I followed him with a silent groan. Not that I wanted to see my demon, but Moddy said it’d be the size of a lemon, since it fit into that little cupboard. Jule held on to my hand tight, and both of us with all our might, followed our leader closely.

Jule and I met Moddy last year during Christmas. He visits his grandma’s house every now and then, which is a few houses away from ours. This time, he came here to spend his summer holidays. “I don’t like you playing with him”, Aunt M says always. But we naturally reunited. We invited him over for lunch last week, little did we know an adventure he’d seek. No sooner had he entered the kitchen than the tiny marble cupboard made his eyes glisten. There wasn’t much else to evoke curiosity, but the little cupboard with flowers on it was exceptionally pretty.

It was forbidden too. Aunt M always kept it locked, and the keys dangled from an unreachable peg on the wall. We weren’t supposed to go near it at all. It contained an ugly demon, locked up by Aunt, who would otherwise get out to hunt, little kids like us.

But Moddy did not seem convinced at all. “How can it hunt if it’s tiny enough to fit into a cupboard so small? Lies!”, he said. Although his words seemed wise, Jule and I never tried going near it, until he wanted to see how the demon fits. “No! You’re not supposed to see it. It looks terrifying. It has long canines, and only one eye. Has red hands and black fangs.”, I tried explaining. But Moddy was a headstrong kid. A little older to us, he was eight. Jule and I were young and naive. I was seven and she was five.

So we stood on the floor, eager but tense, glancing at the door every now and then. Moddy dragged a chair and climbed with ease. Within a moment he had the keys. Jule and I covered our faces, planning to flee before the demon chases. But as soon as the cupboard was unlocked, all three of us were surprised and shocked.

There was a row of large glass jars. One was full of raisin tarts. The others contained colourful treats, jellies and cookies and all kinds of sweets. “Here’s your demon”, Moddy smiled evilly, and started off the task of emptying them speedily.

And with my mouthful of red-blue fiends, I wondered if it was a coincidence that Aunt M wasn’t quite fond of our friend.

War.

The kings are now gone,
And the bugle blowers unemployed.
Decades of rust has gathered on bloodied swords,
They are now rendered useless.
Canon balls in a corner like ostrich egg fossil,
Immobile. Ineffective.
The bloodshed is now remembered in catalogues.

You are relieved, because the wars have happened in the past.
Branded horses no longer tread city roads,
Drinking water at their enemy’s courtyard.
The corpses have long decomposed.
The world is at peace and
The land stands divided.

You are relieved. It has all happened in the past.
But you fail to see reality.

Blood spurts out- cynical ink flowing with unfazed fury.
Peace and pacts and feats and facts.
The wars still happen everyday-
And the bloodshed is easily soaked up with blotting paper,
So you don’t see.

Branded horses no longer tread the city roads,
Because they have been replaced by aerial supervision.
The skies are full of twinkling satellites,
And seeds of destruction breed beneath the land.
Eternal conspiracy circles inside glass doors and rises up the chimney.

And you,
You feel safe believing the world is at peace.

Un-intangible

He’s bought a rocket cheap, metal and polished red.

Second hand without wings, rubbed the rust off with a tiny handkerchief.

He fancies setting out on it and cover a small distance,

The fuel prices have gone up.

Newer budgets are known to fuel anger.

Just take a round around humanity,

And set it back down near the post office, if it flies dangerously low.

He promised to not read the letters in it,

But dig a few and place them on his typewriter- its keys were broken.

A lock at the door was useless now,

Just as useless as his red rocket, and rising fuel prices.

Fuel has hardly been a reason for war.

Word prompt by Daily Post: Broken

Tinted Glass

She lingered around the windows,

In the empty house full of maids and cooks and a butler.

The husband went on business trips, he laughed at her habit-

“If only you knew what there is beyond your silly window-world.”

But he went on alone, she would be too tired from travelling so much.

She lingered near the windows, draped in rich sarees, the ends pulled down her head

That covered an arm’s length effectively.

Moved from one glass case to the other with dainty grace taught by generations of good housewives.

But her decisive fingers pulled down the wooden blinds every time a rebellious sound broke the midday silence.

Eager eyes scanned side to side, peering through layers

Of cloth, of wood, of glass.

At figures interrupted by blinds and a printed veil,

A few inches of thick glass.

Music floated in the air, drifted away,

And the void was filled with more.

Eager eyes peered relentlessly through layers at every sound, at constant music emanating from a distant gramophone.

But her husband decorated her windows- his sweet gesture of love,

Thick white glasses were replaced with carved tinted ones, dark red and emerald.

He laughed with contentment, “You shall see a more colourful world from now.”

She still stood by her windows in her empty house,

Pulled down the blinds sharp at every sound,

And peered through prints, wood and coloured glass,

At shapes and sizes interrupted by layers one too many

She tried hard to make sense of her colourful world.

Prompt by Daily Post: Constant