f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 8, 2006

AEI, oh, you?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:22 am

I’ve got to stop being surprised when people don’t fit into the little

pigeonholes that still inhabit the nether regions of my psyche. That’s

especially true when it comes to who does or doesn’t take a shine

to haiku poetry (or to this website).  After all, it was your humble editor

who penned yes, lawyers & haiku”  twenty-five months ago, when

ethicalEsq was transformed into a punditry+haiku-advocacy weblog.


This post memorializes my most pleasant surprise over the intense  umpireG umpireS umpireS

interest in haikai (and its many controversial/conflicting rules) demon-

strated this evening by Will Wilson, the Editor of AG WatchAG Watch

is “the Eye on Attorneys General” of the American Enterprise Institute’s

Federalism Project.   We communicated for the first time on Jan. 5th,

when I sent Will a heads-up about our post on The State Center.  Will

thanked me for the information with a “haiku” — that he admitted was

“bad.”  Unable to resist, I suggested Will read >is it or ain’t it haiku? for

tips on writing “real” haiku.


stepping on

sidewalk ants     the boy

everyone bullies


       george swede


Tonight, I found out how dangerous it can be to willy-nilly turn someone

on to the mysteries and miseries of haiku, and its definition and creation.

The result was the AG Watch post Let’s Zappai the Whole Thing (Jan. 7,

2006), in which Will uses George Swede’s guidelines for writing haiku

as the framework for questioning the wisdom of having 50 state attorneys

general enforce the antitrust laws.   After pointing out the similarities

between haiku and antitrust (especially their superficial simplicity, which

makes them seem “easy to do”), Will says:

“Given the general similarities between antitrust and haiku,

perhaps George Swede’s five guidelines of haiku, read broadly,

can illuminate state antitrust oversight as well.”

No matter your perspective on antitrust or federalized antitrust, Will’s tour

de force is a great read, and is thought-provoking.  I’m pleased to have

instigated his burst of creativity (while suspicious that he might have

been avoiding some other deadline), and grateful that Will has become

a fan of haiku and this website and is exposing both to the readers of

his weblog.  And, I was just trying to be a smart-aleck.



update (Jan. 9, 2006): Will’s application of the rules of haiku to

antitrust, inspired Bert Foer of the American Antitrust Institute 

to reread The Spell of the Gherkin, a stirring poetic tale penned

in 2002 by former FTC Commissioner Tom Leary (with apologies

to Robert W. Service’s “The Spell of the Yukon“).  In Leary’s

“Gherkin,” heroic civil servants (armed with their equations),

struggled to keep the price of a pickle within arm’s reach of every



Here are two sample verses (haikuEsq won’t let me show



We here unveil a gentler tale,
Which still will stir the blood,
Where heroes try, in coat and tie,
To serve the public good.


. . .


I’ll say: “My lad, you’ve never had
A moment so sublime
As that shining hour when market power
Was checked in the nick of time!”

You can find some serious materials on antitrust,

consumer protection, economic analysis and more

by Com’r Leary on his FTC speeches page.


“tinyredcheck” What a great excuse to highlight George Swede’s

haiku and senryu!   Some may even be relevant to the great

AG debate.




nobody on the street

stray dog stops to bite

its wagging tail







abandoned factory

a cloud rests

on the smokestack










windowless office

a fly buzzes against

my glasses




spider web small


in the howling wind

under the full moon

the snowman, headless







The beetle I righted

flies straight into

a cobweb









one button undone

in the clerk’s blouse    I let her

steal my change










town dump

two magpies jabber

on an old brass bed








fierce wind

street sweeper has

another coffee









statues in the square

the raised hand of the war hero

fills with snow








putting holes

in my argument

the woodpecker





All of the above poems

  from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000) 





High in the bare tree
with the ocean view
a nest full of leaves


         mainichi news (No. 679, Jan. 2, 2006) 






Abandoned barn

one bale of hay with twine



         loose change: HSA 2006






p.s. Here are George Swede’s Five Basic Rules

for good haiku:

1. haiku must be brief: one breath long  

2. haiku must express sense of awe or insight

3. haiku must involve some aspect of nature other than

human nature

4. haiku must possess sense images, not generalizations

5. haiku must present an event as happening presently,

not past or future





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