Ku-ku: Because You Can’t Get Enough Haiku

First published in Modern Haiku 39:2, Summer 2008. Originally written in February and March of 2006, with additions throughout 2007 and 2008. I’m sure I could add more, but the microwave just beeped.       +

“I think, therefore I ku.” —Seymour Clearly

 If you join any online haiku discussion group, you’ll find that it doesn’t take long for someone to refer to a poem as a “ku” (literally, just “verse”). It happens frequently and in many places, even in more formal online haiku publications. Strangely, it nearly never happens in print, but it may indeed be an accurate description for many of the online poems that don’t have the oomph to be actual haiku. Given this persistent dismemberment of “haiku” and variations of the term with pesky new prefixes—such as spamku, scifaiku, lowku, honku, catku, dogku, guineapigku, and what have you—why not go the whole hogku and do the entire alphabet? The following are some new genres of haiku, with a few old ones tagging along, ready for every haiku poet’s dutiful exploration. They are sure to fit anyone’s obscure tastes—variations that start with or sound like each letter of the alphabet, or that rhyme with “haiku.” Go ahead, be the first on your block to write each one of these.       +       + 

A   eh?-ku                            Canadian-content haiku (Canada has laws about this).

       Abe-ku                            Haiku about Lincoln.

       achoo-ku                        For those with allergies.

       alibi-ku                            When you’re in trouble with the law.

       alumni-ku                      Haiku for your alma mater.

B   bamboo-ku                   In case you haven’t imitated Japanese haiku enough already.

       Barbie-ku                       For those who make a mean steak sauce (no wait, this goes with Ken-ku).

       bee-ku                            Apiarian haiku.

       BK-ku                               Think outside the bun-ku. I mean, have it your way-ku.

       Brit-ku                             Because the British think their haiku are different from American haiku.

       buy-ku                            Commercial haiku, to get you to buy something you don’t need (for use only on eBay).  +

C   see-ku                             Haiku limited to the visual sense.

       canoe-ku                        In case you’re up a creek without a kigo.

       cashew-ku                     For when you’re nuts about haiku.

       celebri-ku                      You know you’ve seen them—haiku on movie stars you see too much about on TV and in the papers.

       chai-ku                            Poems about tea. See also shy-ku.

       chew-ku                         Haiku limited to the sense of taste.

       choo-choo-ku              For train fanatics.       +

       Christmas-ku                Jolly poems to get you in the haiku spirit.

       cook-ku                          Culinary haiku (or maybe for bird or clock lovers?).

       coup-ku                          Haiku for third-world military leaders, or wannabes.

       compu-ku                      Computer-generated “pearls of wisdom.”

       cry-ku                              Depressing haiku.

       cuckoo-ku                      Haiku for birdwatchers, or maybe stutterers.

D   D-ku                                 Ice cream haiku (D-ku something different).

       déjà-ku                           You’ve seen this before, haven’t you?

       Dejah-ku                        Poems written by Northwest haiku poet Dejah Léger.

       die-ku                              Death poems. Haiku to die for.

       dry-ku                             The opposite of cry-ku.

       dyke-ku                          Haiku about saving Holland with your finger . . . I think.

E   eek-ku                            Scary haiku, for Halloween.

       emu-ku                           Well, why not?

       eroti-ku                          Not for the feint of syllable.

       ewe-ku                           Haiku for the sheepish.

F   fem-ku                            Ku by womxn.       +

       flu-ku                               In case you’re sick, write these. If you’re afraid of being sick, try bird-flu-ku.

       fly-ku                               Haiku for pilots.

       fry-ku                              Poems about fried food, or maybe sunburns.

G  gay-ku                             Happy haiku. No, really.

       gee-whiz-ku                  Treacly haiku to make you say, “Aww, shucks, that’s cute enough to gag me”

(think Hello Kitty haiku—and yes, there’s already a book of these).

       guy-ku                             Haiku for guys (would you believe this is actually trademarked?).

       G-ku                                 For guys who read men’s fashion magazines.

H   H-ku                                 Military haiku (must be written only by military personnel, lest they be inauthentic).

       Hallmark-ku                  Oh, please, no!

       haven’tgotta-ku          For those who still think English-language haiku is 5-7-5.

       hi-ku                                Poems for greetings.

       high-ku                           For druggies.

       Hindu-ku                        Depends where you live.

       Honolulu-ku                  Also depends where you live.

       Honolulumumu-ku    If you’re wearing a . . . well, you get it.

       huh-ku                            American-content haiku (what, you thought haiku had to be about Japan?).

       hullabaloo-ku               Poems about which there is altogether too much fuss.

I    eye-ku                            Haiku limited to the visual sense (no wait, this one already exists).

       I-ku                                   Narcissistic, self-centered haiku (or maybe you could write about a narcissus plant 

admiring itself in the mirror, since no one’s ever written about that before).

       igloo-ku                          For those north of the Arctic circle.

J    jail-ku                              Prison haiku (must be written by inmates only).

       jay-ku                              Haiku about blue jays (Stellar’s jays will do, or Toronto baseball).

       jew-ku                            No, no—this is short for haiku about jewelry.

       jive-ku                             If it ain’t got that swing, call it something else . . . like zappai.

K   cake-ku                           Haiku confined to . . . cakes? (You could write them in frosting . . .)

       okay-ku                          For those who want to write merely mediocre haiku, which seems to be too common a practice.

       Kalamazoo-ku              Surely someone there must write haiku.

       Kalamazoomumu-ku On second thought, nah!

       Kalamazookazoo-ku  On third thought, feel free to hum right along.

       kangaroo-ku                 Haiku in praise of marsupials.

       kazoo-ku                        For the musically inclined . . . er, disinclined.

       kinkajou-ku                   Look it up.

       kinky-ku                         See XXX-ku.

       kitchy-ku                        Can you say “My Little Pony-ku”?

       kiwi-ku                            Could be about the fruit . . . or by New Zealanders.

       ku de grâce                    A prize winner. Either that or a real stinker.

       kudzu-ku                        You can’t kill the darn plants, so you might as well write millions of little poems about ’em.

       ku-ku                               For when you go cuckoo from writing too many haiku—or too many types of haiku. 

Also, Kooku was the name of an actual 17th-century Japanese haiku poet. Not to be confused with kuku, an Iranian omelette or the West African women’s fishing song. But wait, there’s more! Just do your best to keep it all straight.

L    hell-ku                             Poems by the devil, or those planning a trip there.

       lie-ku                               For those who don’t care about authenticity (although, maybe you can’t always tell).

       loo-ku                              See poo-ku.

       low-coup                        The opposite of haiku (Amiri Baraka thinks he was the first to come up with this).

M em-ku                             Haiku with empathetic themes—or too many em dashes.

       Malibu-ku                      For yuppy-preppy surfer beach types with trust funds.

       Malibumumu-ku         Yeah, yeah, quit with the mumus already.

       me-ku                             For solipsists, or for those who think that no one else in the universe writes haiku half as good as they do. 

And watch out for me-too-ku!

       moo-ku                           Bovine haiku, with lots of rumination.

       multiply-ku                    Haiku for rabbits.

       my-ku                              Idiosyncratic haiku, written in abject isolation.

       myspace-ku                  What angst-ridden teen poets feel compelled to write online. Or used to.

N  Enya-ku                          Poems to be read while listening to “Orinico Flow” for the ten-millionth time.

       enviro-ku                       Haiku for tree-huggers.

       no-ku                               When you care enough to say the very least.

O  O-ku                                 Sexual haiku about seeking the Big O.

       doh-ku                            For Homer Simpson fans (why should Lisa write all the haiku in the family?).      +

       Oz-ku                               Upside-down haiku (yeah, yeah, tired joke).

Or maybe if you have an out-of-Kansas experience, sometimes known as Toto-ku.

P   pee-ku                            Must you ask?

       peekaboo-ku                Haiku for the diaper crowd.

       Peru-ku                          Haiku for Peruvians (after all, their president was Japanese).

       pie-ku                              Apple-ku, pumpkin-ku, lemon-meringue-ku? Go for it.

       pi-ku                                Haiku with 3, 1, and then 4 syllables, or words, in celebration of pi.   +   +

       poo-ku                            No, really, must you ask? Also known as haipoo.

       Pooh-ku                         For A. A. Milne fans.

       Potter-ku                       Because J. K. Rowling might as well invade everything.

Q  cue-ku                             Haiku for pool sharks.

       Q-ku                                 Star Trek haiku (Trekkies will understand).

       queue-ku                       Haiku about standing in line.

R   arrgh-ku                         Yup, haiku about pirates.

       R2D2-ku                          Yeah, Star Wars fans can have their fun, too.

       ragout-ku                       Also known as stew-ku.

       rap-ku                             Is this even possible?

       rendezvous-ku            Haiku for trysters.

       rye-ku                             Poems about bread and other doughy comestibles (sometimes confused with senryu, if they’re really . . . rye).

S   escargot-ku                   Issa would love this! Or maybe not.

       scifai-ku                          Wait, you mean people are already writing these?

       shampoo-ku                 For while you’re showering.

       Shanghai-ku                  If your name is Shang.

       shoe-ku                          Haiku for Imelda Marcos.

       shy-ku                             Haiku by the timid. Not to be confused with Chi-ku (pronounced as “shy-ku”), that untimid Chicago-area haiku group.

       sigh-ku                            Sappy haiku to tug at your heart (think one-eyed puppies and kittens, and throw in some armless homeless people, too).

See also kitchy-ku.

       skidoo-ku                       Poems about departure, or maybe snowmobiling.

       sly-ku                               Sneaky haiku.

       snafu-ku                         Haiku about military screw-ups.

       space-ku                        For the scifai-ku set. Not to be confused with myspace-ku.

       spy-ku                             If your name is Bond . . . Haiku Bond.

       Sudoku                           Shortened name for pseudo-haiku (the name, however, has recently been usurped by a mildly popular number game).

       sue-ku                             For attorneys only.

T   taboo-ku                        Not for the faint of kokoro.

       tattoo-ku                       Why write haiku just on paper?

       tea-ku                             More poems about tea. What is it with haiku and tea?

       text-ku                            ld pnd frg jmps n wtrs snd

       Thai-ku                            If you live in Thailand.

       thigh-ku                          This is one place where you could put that tattoo-ku.

       tie-dyed-ku                   For hippies at heart (be sure to wear some hana in your hair).

       Timbuktu-ku                 Haiku for poets who have been everywhere.

       try-ku                              Haiku for those who need encouragement (no, really, it’s not that hard).

U  you-ku                            Poems purely about you. See me-ku.       +

       YouTube-ku                  Keep up with the culture, people.

       U-ku                                 Written by professors (who must wear plaid blazers with suede elbow patches).

       ukulele-ku                     In case kazoo-ku aren’t highbrow enough for you.

       under-ku                        You-know-what . . . by Aussies.

       uni-ku                              One-line haiku.

V   TV-ku                               For those who live vicariously.

       vee-ku                            Poems about migrating geese.

       Versailles-ku                 European tourist haiku.

       voodoo-ku                    In case you want to send a gift haiku to a rival poet.

W Waterloo-ku                 Another name, maybe, for death haiku?

       WB-ku                             TV haiku for the young-adult television demographic (now known as myQ-ku).

       whirled-ku                     Sort of like whirled peas, which everyone wants, only different.

       woo-ku                           Haiku for marriage proposals.

X   ex-ku                               For poems that got over being haiku.

Or for those in a 17-step recovery program (list only your first name when publishing).     +

       XXX-ku                            Not just erotic haiku, hard-core.

Y   why-ku                           For those who don’t see what all the fuss is about.

       Yahoo!-ku                      Internet haiku (surely there isn’t enough of it yet).

       yoga-ku                          For when you feel yourself getting bent out of shape.

Z   zee-ku                             Haiku by zee French.

       zoo-ku                             Poems about exotic animals, furry or otherwise.

       zed-ku                             Those Canadians again (they have those laws).

Need another distraction? Check out Haikuholics Anonymous! Or Digressions! Or Nothing.