My Life in 17 Syllables

**disclaimer:  I’ve spent the last two hours trying to format this freaking post. I give up. It is what it is**

At the beginning of January, I accepted an invitation to join a Facebook Group, the premise of which is that each member will write one haiku a day for the year. Since leaving my job in late summer, I’ve been struggling to put words to paper (or computer), so I joined this group with two thoughts: the accountability and peer pressure would be good for me (not that anything untoward would happen if I didn’t perform), and surely I could manage 17 syllables a day. If I couldn’t manage three lines, then maybe I needed to reconsider this whole writing gig.

So, January 1 being what it is, the first day of resolutions, I set out to meet two of mine: a haiku and healthier eating. The two goals collided into this:

 
First resolution 
Fails Rice Krispies taste icky
With coconut milk
 
Not deathless poesy, but good enough for a couple of LOLs in the comments section. At first I felt kind of bad because some of the haikus were awesome and heartfelt—I thought maybe I was playing a little too fast and loose with my allotted syllables. I persevered nonetheless, and as the days passed, I really started looking forward to not only posting my own creations but to reading other members’ haikus. Each day felt like a treasure hunt, each little poem, a gift, a bit of insight into lives I hardly knew, and some I didn’t know at all, reflections from around the world on death, politics, weather, climate, gardens, families, words (always on words), jobs, teaching, writing, and lots and lots of snow.

My own haikus began to reflect what was going on in my life, from the simple things like travel:

 
Pesky roundabouts
Gordian knots of travel
Complicate my drive
 

To the more complex emotions that I couldn’t otherwise articulate (and that make The Little Woman slightly crazy—because she truly wants to understand the creative, writer me and make me feel less anxious): 

The wanting, a bloom
Like ripples across the pond
Mysterious ache

I started doing body work, massage and acupuncture and physical therapy in search of ways to lessen my anxiety and annoying/mysterious physical symptoms I’ve been having since last spring, which led to haikus like these:

Poetry loosens
the tight place in my center
a deep word massage
 
Knead me with language
Releasing tightly coiled,
Naked emotions

(and this one, when my massage therapist returned from a trip to India):

Massage therapist
Returned from enlightenment
Lay your hands on me!
 

There have been haikus as a result of therapy and hypnotherapy sessions as I’ve struggled to come to grips with the new course my life seems to be taking—or as I’ve tried to take some control of my life as I contemplate changing careers:

 
Face my face. Reflect.
Self love trapped in the mirror.
Eyes see naked fear.
 
Trust Occam’s Razor
That’s right. The simple answer
Is likely correct.
 

Haikus as I’ve wrestled with self-doubt: 

Invisible girl
Becomes an opaque woman
Turn toward the light
 
Spinning syllables
Like so many sticky strands
snaring self esteem
 
Face down my deep fear 
breathe deeply, write word, word, word
sentence, paragraph
 

And more on writing:

words, flat black squiggles
unequal to the challenge
litter my pages
 
writing: like pulling
quarters from your ears or like
your head from your ass?
 
strings of syllables
strung across the abacus
clacking back and forth 

There are clusters of 17 syllables about family:

 
Visiting Mother
Our past. My future. Her womb.
Cord blood, still tethered
 
Freshly cut cedar
Takes me back to childhood
Dad mom brother me

And then there are those that I can’t explain—the ones that come as I’m deep in thought pondering images and metaphors and playing with words. Some of these are my favorites, though if pressed to explain them, I don’t think I could, and that’s what I love about this process—I don’t know what is going to show up day to day, but every day I get something:

Words like locks tumbling
Falling into place just so
Speak the key to me
 
This rucksack’s stuffed with
IOUs and promises—
words, my currency
 
Play me for a fool
Or like a Spanish guitar
My heart strings, your song
 

And everyday, I am excited to see what others in the Haiku Room have posted—to read, 17 syllables at a time, what we are all making of this journey:

 Sunday morning mass
in the haiku room, poems
our catechism

This is a place I can worship. Like one of the group members commented when I posted the haiku above:

Oh, this filled my heart with joy! And it reminded me of one of my favorite Hafiz quote: “The great religions are the ships. Poets the life boats. Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”

Posted By Blogger to Putting on My Big Girl Panties at 2/04/2014 11:41:00 PM

14 thoughts on “My Life in 17 Syllables

  1. WOW, buddy – your haikus are WONDERFUL! I love that you’re doing this, and am so glad you shared them in this collection. Beautiful, powerful, funny; you’re sharp, my friend. (Hmm… I’m visualizing haikus at the start of your chapters, summarizing the takeaways… 🙂

  2. These are fantastic!
    It’s a book in the making.
    And write it, you have.

    Sorry to be silly, but I love Haiku! These are just wonderful, Pam… and I really do think they’d make a very interesting book, along with occasional commentary– as you’ve done here. Really beautiful!

    • Thanks Dawn! High praise 🙂 I really like Tele’s suggestion to put them at the beginning of my memoir chapters . . . and maybe a book of their own by the end of the year! Thanks for commenting!

  3. I know someone else who took this challenge. I think it will be fun to see how different themes emerge without being coerced, y’know?

    • That’s been a challenge, to let the words come without forcing them. The haikus that arise organically are so sweet! Thanks for commenting and for reading.

  4. Pam…love these…it is really beautiful to have seen them day by day, and then to see them again here assembled with your thoughts as a bridge inbetween. They don’t need the bridge…but it is an added bonus to see the journey that accompanied writing them. What a transformational way to start the year…glad to be in the Haiku Room with you.

    • Thanks Tania. . . I’m so happy to be a part of this adventure and happy you are there too. I read some of these at a gathering of writers last weekend and had such great feedback, I wanted to shed some light. thanks for commenting!

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