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by Zettel 

Posted: 06 February 2019
Word Count: 53
Summary: Not intended as a single piece. Just 4 efforts at exploring the form. Seemed pretentious to post them separately

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Women marry for love
Men for passion, thinking it love
No right no wrong
Just life


I am the love of your life
But not your desire
Friend, mother, wife
Flames but no fire


a hungry animal
prowling round my city


a sheep
in wolf’s clothing


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Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 17:49 on 07 February 2019  Report this post
It is good. I like it. It can't really be a haiku with two haiku endings but with the top turmed into prose and one haiku ending it could be a Haibun!!

James Graham at 20:06 on 08 February 2019  Report this post
Well, you began by writing a haiku, unintentionally I think, then took the basic principle of it – conciseness, multum in parvo, not a word wasted – a step further. In trying to assess short forms my first instinct is to look for anything, even a single word, which is still superfluous. (I do this with my own work too.) The only instance I can find here is ‘Just life’. Poetry is usually about ‘life’, implicitly so, and usually there’s no need to make it explicit. Your line ‘No right no wrong’ is easily strong enough, and thought-provoking enough, to end that short stanza. But so far I can’t see any other line or word that is superfluous in any way.
I’ve counted syllables and the poems are pretty irregular in that respect. It’s of no consequence whatsoever. Even haiku poets, in Japan I think as well as the English-speaking world, are saying that 5-7-5 is no longer legally binding. Syllable count doesn’t matter; what we are trying to do is simply to say a great deal in a very few words.
However, I would like to take a little more time to do these poems justice.  They are thought-provoking and deserve more attention.

James Graham at 20:47 on 09 February 2019  Report this post
Poems in such a short form do make the reader think – because only so much is said. Each poem says to us, ‘Here’s a thought. Now over to you’. A prose essay, on the other hand, would develop the idea or argue the point.
I read your first two lines and wondered if this was true. Do men not sometimes marry for love? Still, I know what you mean about passion being uppermost. Love is a compound of affection for and admiration of the other person, plus a wish to support and care for them, and with men it may come later. There’s no doubt about ‘No right no wrong’, certainly in the sense that we should be sparing in our moral judgements on human relationships. For instance, in my view (I don’t know if you agree) we should not pass judgement on homosexuality, but accept it as a natural phenomenon and respect gay people. On the other hand, moral judgement is called for in the case of rape – I mean, where the woman is blamed. The woman is almost never to blame.
There’s not so much to say about your second poem – it just rings true. ‘Friend, mother, wife’ covers a lot of ground. ‘Flames but no fire’ is quite a paradox. How can there be flames without a fire? But again I see what you mean. Perhaps ‘A flame but no fire’ would be better – i.e. a little flame, as in striking a match!
The third poem I find the most memorable.
prowling round my city
This is surely the best line in the four poems. No wolf is mentioned, but it clearly is a wolf;  the reader is allowed to imagine a wolf, to visualise it making its way though city streets looking for prey: to see the literal picture, and then contemplate what ‘my city’ means – my inner life plus my external, daily life as I go about my business. The wolf is around every corner. A very striking image.
Your wolf in sheep’s clothing is something of a cliché, but I suppose int the context of ‘desire’ it can trigger thoughts about how dangerous and harmful male sexuality can be.
Well, these are some thoughts ‘provoked’, as it were, by your free-style haikus. You may be interested in the link I’ve given in the Poetry Group forum, which leads to an essay on haiku.
I think the third of these poems is good enough to be published, though I’m not sure where. If you’re interested, I could try to find out.

Zettel at 02:08 on 12 February 2019  Report this post
Generalisation, especially abbreviated, can be misleading and unfair. It certainly must not be read as a logical, empirical assertion - for there will always be counter-instances. Nothing is ever true of all people all the time but we can agree that some tendencies and dispositions are commonly found to such a level that they justify, and usefully be identified*. Your point about homosexuality it well taken: but it is for me part of a wider moral issue: the value of human life it seems to me should be regarded as absolute not because of any quality or characteristic; be it sexual orientiation, gender, race, nationality, colour, or even personality is it just being human. One does not have to buy into religious metaphysics to see the truth in "judge not lest thou be judged" and many other Christian moral sentiments and precepts. One of the reascons why I think this distinction is important is that for example film and other censors will be rigorous to the point of absurdity about explicit sexual representation but pass the most horrendously graphic images of violence (albeit often perpetrated by men on women). 

Our society conflates to our cost some key ideas: two very potent ones are:
Intimacy is conflated with sexuality
Love is conflated with desire 

The first two of the poems are linked.   You are right of course that many men marry for love: but as the second one tries to indicate that there is a difficult second half to the obvious truism that one can have desire without love - this being that one can also have love without desire. It is hard to decide which perhaps leads to most unhappiness.

I would love to have something published: who wouldn't? However while the form and conjuction of ideas on 3 are mine somewhere long ago I was struck by an image similar to, but not identical with a hungry animal prowling round a city as a metaphor for one's inner contradictions. So I'd rather wait till something that doesn't rest on vague memory in this way.

As ever thanks for the comments.


* eg. It is a standard joke and accusation that men are preoccupied with sex: indeed often it is used as an aprior truth that is used to define men. There is some evidence to justify this but for me a deeper motivation in men, stronger even that the desire to procreate; is the deep desire to protect - at least as strong a drive in men as in women.

James Graham at 13:12 on 13 February 2019  Report this post
Thank you for this thoughtful account of the ideas behind these poems. Whether we are Christian or not, we would do well to live by that precept: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’. I can also see more clearly now in what way the first two poems are connected. On the evidence of these poems, your venture into short haiku-like forms has been successful; you may wish to follow these up with more of the same – though it would be good to see something in your longer, more discursive style too.
If you feel No.3 isn’t original enough, we’ll just let it be. In future, if you feel you would like anything to be published, I may be able to help.

Zettel at 01:41 on 15 February 2019  Report this post
Thanks JAmes. Much appreciated.



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