Episcopal Haiku

My department made the shift a few years ago from teaching “western” to “world” civ. I had mixed feelings about it at the time—I thought the students lost as much as they gained—but one advantage for faculty such as myself was a (re)acquaintance with non-western cultures. In preparing to teach something about Japan to freshman, I thought to consider that classic form of Japanese poetry, the haiku.

The classic haiku has a 5-7-5 syllabe format (not always observed and not always preserved in translation from Japanese). Japan’s greatest poet, Basho of the 17th century, could thus write:

On the withered branch
A crow has alighted—
The sound of the water.

This has led in recent years to something like an international movement, especially, it seems, in English, and has resulted in football haiku such as

The fumble bounces
Distant, a racoon sneezes
Oh, dive for the ball


On Brett Favre’s helmet
Beer falls, and the cup crumbles
Sideline in autumn

And then there are the computer haiku:

No keyboard present
Hit F1 to continue
Zen engineering?

The Tao that is seen
Is the the true Tao, until
You bring fresh toner

Windows NT crashed
I am the Blue Screen of Death
No one hears your screams

Having been erased
The document you are seeking
Must now be retyped.

And so on and so on.

This got me to thinking. What about Anglican/Episcopal haiku, especially under the current circumstances? Some of it might make us laugh. Some of it might make us cry. Some of it might do both. But it seems worth the effort, if only as a way to express our feelings.

So, here are a few offerings:

Gene Robinson bishop?
Temple turns in his grave
All faith has been lost

New Hampshire elects
Inestimable sadness
Impaired communion

Bishops have voted
At General Convention—
What now for our faith?

I now offer to anyone to send in more to my via e-mail. It can be serious or utterly silly, but it must adhere to form! I will wait a few weeks a put up what I consider the best.


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