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Winter haiku

by Patricia | 12.15.09

[Post edited 12/17.]  Since this haiku chain launched itself before I had a chance to lay groundwork, I thought I’d backtrack and provide some perhaps useful information.

A haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but I understand that there are longer and shorter forms.  In English, haiku usually take the form of one short line of 5 syllables, a long line of 7 syllables, and a short line of 5 syllables.  I’ve misplaced all my haiku notes, but you can find out more here or here.

Here’s my beginning haiku:

Colorful beads drape
Desert grasses–frost parsing
Light’s long white sentence.

34 Responses to Winter haiku

  1. Patricia

    A discovery I’ve made during my first year of all-season hiking: Winter has its own signature colors. Besides gray and white, I mean.

  2. karen

    Beautiful, Patricia! I love the last line.

  3. Patricia

    Thanks, Karen. And stick around, if you can. The solstice is coming up and in celebration (Yay! Days getting longer!) I’m planning a poetry chain, open invitation. I’ll probably prescribe a short form, maybe haiku, maybe another Japanese form–something people can weave in and out with, should they feel so inclined.

  4. greenfrog

    The fallen leaves leach
    Faded hues into snowmelt,
    Staining the sidewalks.

    I think I like yours better. The end of year seems dark to me. I like that you find light there.

  5. greenfrog

    Woops. Cross post. Maybe this should be saved for your open invite chain?

  6. Th.


    Pffft. Let’s start now. Winter haiku….okay. Go.


    The wind passes through
    My fingers and the pages
    Of my book, now closed


    Hmm. Okay. Somebody else.

  7. Patricia

    Well … looks like we’re on. Such a hunger.

    greenfrog, the haiku at the head is from one of our old chains. And I still owe you one over at IL.

    Who’s next?

  8. greenfrog

    “thou,” I think Buber would write.

  9. Patricia

    Sorry for delay, down with a cold.

    Snowblink’s glass flowers
    Glisk in cold, white fields beyond
    Barbed wire’s grey bramble.

    greenfrog, I’ll bet Buber would write, “Du.” His translators write, “Thou.”

    FYI, the entire “primary word,” according to Buber, is “Ich-Du,” since there is no Ich sans Du. Ich sans Du = “Ich-Es,” “I-It.” I-It is plain icky.

  10. Patricia


  11. Winter haiku chain running on WIZ | A Motley Vision

    [...] December 21st, A Motley Vision’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone has launched a haiku chain, an open thread whereon haiku-ers might skip and dance together in 17-syllable [...]

  12. Th.


    Boxing Day’s up soon
    So hug a Canadian
    And then: back to work

  13. Wm Morris

    My breath mists the scarf
    caresses it like a cat’s
    tongue cleaning ritual

  14. Tyler

    winter dawn:
    the juniper shudders, drops
    her white gown for the sun

  15. Tyler

    winter dawn: this
    snowflake drops differently
    than the one before

  16. Tyler

    writing by moonlight
    no snow in the sky, but
    a storm on my paper

  17. Lora

    Soft light tabby cat
    purring cool and snowing white
    winter settles in

  18. Lora

    Toasty toes in socks
    window frosts with winter breath
    silent thought in snow

    And Patty, in winter, grey and white mean so very much more than only two colors.

  19. Lora

    Oops, I meant Patricia. Forgot who I was talking to…

  20. karen

    okay Patricia, you got me to try one~

    Willows pose for Dawn
    in white chemise, and lace
    the pond’s reflection.

  21. karen

    humm- I already see a flaw, only 6 syllables in line 2?

    does this work-

    Willows pose for Dawn
    in white chemises, and lace
    the pond’s reflection.

  22. Tyler


    Me, I like the first one better. Adding the extra syllable in version two throws the rhythm off.

    Which points me to the observation that the 5-7-5 pattern of the haiku is a good structure to begin writing around, but that too strict adherence to the syllable-count-per-line can warp the poem a bit.

    Many of the best haiku I’ve read don’t adhere to the 5-7-5 pattern. Some, in fact, are one-liners. (I’d offer up a bit more about what I think makes a haiku a haiku—beyond the syllable pattern—but I’ve got a paper to write for school; time to stop avoiding it!). Here are some good recent examples from Simply Haiku ( and Modern Haiku (

  23. Lora

    if we’re voting, I like the first one better too. It was lovely and had a smooth flow to it. fergit the syllable!

  24. Th.


    Time comes to an end
    As Night becomes eternal
    The ice breathes its last

  25. greenfrog

    Angles slant sunlight
    In from rare points. Southing
    slows, hinging back north.

  26. Patricia

    white arrowheads deer tracks inlay the packed snow soles of weathered boot prints

    (w’s for hoofprints)

  27. greenfrog

    Blue, green and white orb
    Decorates the darkness. Sun
    breathes hallelujah.

  28. Tyler

    winter morning gray on gray deerhide framed by sage, sand, snow

  29. Tyler

    Just realized that reads rather poorly. I’ll try again, this time with line breaks:

    winter morning gray
    on gray: deerhide framed by
    sage, sand, snow

  30. greenfrog

    She vinegars the
    last of the beets and carrots.
    Sharp winter colors.

  31. Patricia

    In fog of waking
    I wake to fog forming twixt
    White sun and fresh snow.

  32. greenfrog

    Paperwhites breathe their
    unexpected light into
    the protected house.

  33. Patricia

    That feathered coyote,
    Raven, cocks a chiseler’s
    Eye at winter’s shell.

  34. Elle

    Today is quite warm
    There are rocks and shells around
    I like the hot beach

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