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

December 29, 2006

2006: let it wane, let it wane, let it wane

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:02 pm

It’s December 29, and I still haven’t been able to utter more than one “ho” at a time.  Christmas Week has seemed gray and sluggish (or, is that me?).  I’d complain about there being no snow, but I really don’t like dealing with snow, other than looking at a picturesque scene or two.

umbrellaV Given this lack of holiday spirit and inspiration, I’m more than ready for the year 2006 (of the Common Era) to end, and for 2007 to arrive, with its tenuous promise of new attitudes and aspirations.   Meanwhile, a few more seasonal haiku and senryu might be in order, followed by a bath of poems from my friend Yu Chang, who has been battling a nasty holiday flu — contracted in L.A. and brought back home to Schenectady, thanks to our highly-mobile populace and life style.



steeltown Christmas
drizzle blurs
the neon welcome


christmas night
a candle burnt
half way down

. . . by MATT MORDEN                              
“steeltown Christmas” – The Heron’s Nest, Valentine Award (2002)
“christmas night” – morden haiku, Dec. 25, 2006

week after Christmas  SantaSleighN
an empty throne
in the mall



cold moon —
a moment of hesitation
years ago


. . . by John Stevenson – “cold moon” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:4 (Dec. 2006)


christmas eve
i give the mall santa
a jump



christmas eve…  
    we yank two ton
from the # 4 mine

    there ain’t enough coal
to put in the stockings

. . . by ed markowski  snowflakesnowflake

the year’s first sky
gives a gift…
snow flitting down

no one to give
New Year’s presents to…
little hut


the chicken is treated
to one…
New Year’s herbs

even our fleeting snow

. . . by Kobayashi Issa,  translated by David G. Lanoue


small sad face
in the puddle —
last weekend’s snowman


wintry mix –
a snow buddha
and a mud buddha  



last week of the year
ice floes rush
to the waterfall


. . . . by dagosan
“small sad face” – a procession of ripples; orig. Simply Haiku V4N3
“wintry mix” – Clouds Peak #1 (July 2006)
“last week” – Roadrunner Haiku Journal  Issue VI: 1 (Feb. 2006)


 ChangY  Yu Chang, featured poet, Dec. 2006, Mann Library Daily Haiku


winter sun-
through my office window
amaryllis in bloom



starry night
biting into a melon
full of seeds


cold morning
a pair of ducks watching me
watching them



left behind
at the mountain lake



still thinking of her    yinyang
the sticky threads
of the severed lotus root



time for breakfast
my cat’s tail
in the headlines


deepening dusk
a canoe comes in
with the fog



winter moon
through the grape trellis
squares of light


first frost
a homeless man appears
in the new development



mountain lake-
in your reflection


. . . . . by Yu Chang, from Upstate Dim Sum, etc.  gullsS


p.s.  I just found a shiny, unwrapped package under my tree — the latest edition of the Roadrunner Haiku Journal –  let’s open Issue VI: 4 together and share.  


lawyers appreciate good haiku

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 6:23 pm

Our often tardy and absent Editor tagged his f/k/a alter egos this afternoon with an invitation to the Lawyers Appreciate Countdown — a ten-day event, in which lawyer webloggers have been closing out 2006 by discussing “what lawyers appreciate” (find links here).   Mr. Editor posted at the shlep self-help-law weblog today, neglecting loyal f/k/a readers and colleagues (as he’s been doing since the summer).   You can find his resulting shlep contribution to the Countdown in the posting “lawyers appreciate pro-se-friendly courts” (Dec. 29, 2006).

yinyang Because we have only until December 31st to fulfill our Appreciation obligation, Prof. Yabut and dagosan have decided to plagiarize/reprise a posting by Mr. Editor from December 2003.  In Yes, lawyers and haiku, he explained, from his perspective as a retired lawyer-mediator, why

Lawyers [Should] Appreciate Good Haiku:

I wish I had found haiku when I was a busy, driven lawyer-mediator.  Like many other attorneys, I rarely found time between career, family and civic activities, to enjoy art or literature, and couldn’t even conceive of creating anything artistic.   But, haiku is perfect for the hectic professional, or any other overwhelmed member of our hyperactive society.   And, it is especially perfect for the busy lawyer:

  1. brevity removes the not-enough-time excuse — open a good haiku book or web page and in a few moments you can have a worthwhile artistic experience (insight, joy, humor, serenity, etc.);
  2. lawyers love words — especially words that have layers of meaning, connotation, and denotation, where distilling an image to its essence is crucial, but a little misdirection is allowed (and even encouraged);
  3. and rules: not only are there lots of rules, but they are in dispute, constantly evolving, often misapplied, and frequently defended or attacked beyond all reason.
    creation: lawyers often feel (and are often told) that they don’t make or create anything (besides controversy and money).  The haiku concept is complex enough to be a challenge but manageable enough to be mastered by anyone who gives it a little quality time.  Every lawyer may not have a great novel inside her or him, but every lawyer can create some very passable haiku, and maybe even some great haiku.
  4. balance: haiku can help lawyers achieve the balanced lifestyle prescribed by Professor Patrick J. Schiltz, in his landmark article , On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871, which we discussed at length here last September.

gullsS I hope you’ll catch haiku fever from this weblog and the resources mentioned here.  Since most Americans are mistaken about the “rules” of English-language haiku, please take a look at “is it or ain’t it haiku?” to learn more about the haiku genre, and its cousin “senryu“, which focuses (often with humor or irony) on human nature. [Senryu can be particularly enjoyable for lawyers and other city folk — who are frequently far more attuned to human foibles than to the human connection to nature’s essence.]  Browse this site, and our Guest Poet Archive, for examples of fine modern, English-language haiku, and related genre.

Quick (draft) Definition of Haiku:  Haiku is an unrhymed “one-breath” poem (no more than 17 syllables) that relates nature to human nature, and usually compares or contrasts a pair of images, which are separated by a pause.  At its best, haiku lets the reader share in the poet’s “haiku moment” — a moment of insight or awe.

Quick (draft) Definition of Senryu:  Senryu is a short poem similar in structure to haiku but featuring ironic, humorous and/or coarse observations on human nature.

[Yabut Note:  As we proved recently, Lawyers Appreciate Humorous Pseudo-Haiku, too, with genre definitions violated openly, notoriously, and in the spirit of fun and misadventure.]

gullsSF Haiku Appreciates Lawyers:  Our favorite haiku-writing lawyer is Roberta Beary, who lives and practices law in the D.C. Metro area.  The haiku world definitely appreciates her work, as she has consistently won contests and acclaim in the past decade. Here are some of Roberta’s best (you can find more using the links found in our Roberta Beary Archive); the first poem is not necessarily about lawyers:

early spring walk
your hand
in my pocket



first snow snowflake
at every window
a child’s face


far from home
an empty swing
half my size


not hearing it
til the cat stirs

custody hearing
seeing his arms cross
i uncross mine

family picnic
the new wife’s rump
bigger than mine

snowed in
the dog clicks
from room to room


ice patch
the surprising strength
of mother’s grip


. . . by Roberta Beary  BearyRoberta


“far from home”: Published in Frogpond XIX:3 (1996) (for Anita Virgil) 
“not hearing it”: Honorable Mention, National League American Pen Women Palomar Branch, Vol. 8 (1997)
“first snow”: Published in Haiku Happens (1998)
“early spring walk”: Included in “A Kind Neighbor,” Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology (1997); and in Snow on the Water: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku (1998)
“custody hearing” – from pocket change & A New Resonance 2 
“family picnic” – favorite senryu award, modern haiku 34-3
“snowed in” – winner, Snapshots Press 2006 Haiku Calendar (February); “ice patch” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:4 (Dec. 2006)

snowflake By the way, all that attention to shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress by our Editor has won that weblog the title “Best Law Blog in the Public Interest” from the Blawg Review Awards 2006.  We (his many alter egos) expect him to remain as humble as ever, and hope he starts attending to f/k/a again.


December 21, 2006

in a family way

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 8:47 pm

twins51  Confession: I forgot, here at f/k/a, to wish my (twin) brother Arthur “happy birthday”, back on December 9th.    Granted, I was out of town and not in a weblogging mode that day, but I still feel bad.  Of course, birthdays are not exactly rare for gents born in 1949, and we don’t make a big deal about them.  However, I cannot let another milestone for the Giacalone brothers pass without noting it at this haiku forum:

twins01 Today, Arthur Giacalone joined the ranks of published haijin, with two of his photographs appearing in the journal HaigaOnline (Issue 7-2, Autumn-Winter 2006). haiga is a form of art in which an image is combined with a subtly-linked poem — complementing, rather than explaining each other. [See Aurora Antonovic’s Editor’s Introduction to Modern Haiga, at Simply Haiku.]  Even more exciting for me, Arthur and I collaborated on the haiga (our first joint venture in many decades), with me providing the haiku.  Please go see the fullsized works at HaigaOnline, where you will find many other great examples of this multi-faceted genre. 

Here are mini-versions of the photographs, with the accompanying poem:


morning shadows –
the gunslingers wait
for high noon
the view   HaigaHoopViewMM
from the sofa –
April madness


David & Arthur Giacalone, HaigaOnline Issue 7-2       gunN
morning shadows” – full-sized here  
view from the sofa” full-size here

HolyFamily   We’re all focusing on family these days, with only four days until Christmas.  In case I don’t get back to post more holiday haiku and senryu, here are more of my favorites from the f/k/a family of Honored Guest Poets:  


Christmas eve
in her pajamas all day
the youngest one

. . . by Tom Clausen – Upstate Dim Sum (2003/1)


home for Christmas:
my childhood desk drawer

. . . by Michael Dylan Welch – Open Window, with photo 


starlight   snowflake   
on the harp strings
Christmas Eve

. . . by Peggy LylesTo Hear the Rain (2002)


the frozen breaths
of the carolers   disappearing
among the stars

. . . by George Swede – Almost Unseen


Christmas dinner —
the handle broken off
a tradition

. . . by gary hotham The Heron’s Nest (July 2003)


praising the hostess
in his moustache

. . . by Randy Brooks – from School’s Out


cross words over turkey
over parenting–
the Yule log burns

. . . by dagosan 


silent night, holy night   HolyFamily
      at the bar

. . . by David G. Lanoue – from Haiku Guy, a novel  

feeding pigeons
on Christmas morning ~
the can collector’s red socks

. . . by Pamela Miller Ness         snowflake  


December 17, 2006

some assembly required

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 1:14 pm

    It’ s been more than a week since our last attempt to stimulate Goodwill Towards All here at f/k/a, but we still haven’t quite acquired that Holiday Glow.  Prof. Yabut even forgot to remind our faithful readers that two recent posts at shlep could help you avoid Holiday Shopper’s-Remorse Syndrome (see tips on avoiding gifting headaches and various forms of yo-ho-ho agita).

 snowflake  About the best we can do right now is to share some seasonal senryu with you:


wrapping and
she pastes on a smile


“easy to assemble” 
I put it back and
grab a teddybear


twelve days ’til Christmas —
the tree and the cat
both shedding

. . . by dagosan

laid off 
she asks the mall santa to
bring dad a job

laid off   SantaSleighN
she tells the mall santa
dad can make toys

……by ed markowski



first Christmas —
our baby sleeps through
the unwrapping of his gifts




Christmas Eve — 
bits of a price sticker
stuck on my finger


. … by michael dylan welch – “first christmas” – frogpond XXIX: 2 
 “Christmas Eve” – The Heron’s Nest (Sept. 2005)


a present, a present
a New Year’s present!
her pink cheeks




New Year’s gift of tea —   snowflake  
where did you go
on your jouney back to me?

. . . by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue  snowflake 

Christmas eve-
the row of cut trees
no one took home

…… by Pamela Miller Ness  santaList
from Modern Haiku XXIX:2 (Summer 1998)


red envelopes
the sound
of children’s laughter

. . . by Yu Chang – Upstate Dim Sum 2003/I

too tired
to untangle
christmas lights

. . . . by Roberta Beary  SantaSleighN

wrapping gifts
the dog stops panting
for a pet

. . . . by w.f. owen
“wrapping gifts” –  Mainichi News Dec. 5, 2005

snowflake  Happy Winter Solstice!

a candle
in every window —
strangers light our path

dagosan snowflake 


December 14, 2006

Exile: facts & fiction, Israel & Palestine

Filed under: Book Reviews — David Giacalone @ 7:13 pm

ExilePattersonNS Six months ago, f/k/a posted its first book review, taking a close look at Jeremy Blachman’s Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel (Henry Holt and Co., 2006), which we considered to be way too much of a good thing. Our negative opinion was clearly a minority viewpoint among webloggers. Therefore, because f/k/a is not a must-have internet forum for publishers, I was quite surprised when Holt’s Marketing Director sent me another book to review — this time, an advance copy of Richard North Patterson’s novel Exile, which is scheduled to be released on Jan. 9, 2007.

Richard North Patterson, Exile ExilePatterson

I’m a fan of both courtroom and international thrillers and was immediately interested in Exile‘s storyline: Thirteen years out of Harvard Law School, David Wolfe trashes a budding career in California politics and seemingly turns his back on his Jewish heritage, fiancee, and community, to defend a Palestinian woman (with whom he had a brief, secret love affair in law school that still haunts him), who is charged as the “handler” in the murder conspiracy of the Israeli Prime Minister, who was the victim of a suicide bombing in San Francisco.

Even more, I was intrigued by the publisher’s premise and promise: That the novel “has the power to teach people the nuances of the legitimate arguments on both sides” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while offering “a fair assessment of the genuine grievances, irrational blind spots, and historical justifications” of the combatants.

tiny check In August 2004, Evan Schaeffer wondered whether it mattered that the weblog version of Anonymous Lawyer was a “fictional “account of life in a large law firm. If Holt’s Marketing Director had read my response, he would know my predilection: As I noted then, “Me? I’ve gotten more truths from fiction than non-fiction.”

My state of ignorance or confusion concerning anything beyond the surface facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and my (self-assessed) lack of bias for one side over the other, probably make me a good candidate for putting Exile to the test as truth-illuminating fiction.

IsraelOne thing seems clear: deep understanding of this conflict, whose resolution seems crucial for creating any hope of stability in the Middle East, won’t happen from merely staying up with daily news reports. Just yesterday (Dec. 13, 2006), we outsiders could have read “Court Lets Palestinians Sue Israeli Military: Immunity Denied In Certain Cases” and “Palestinians Kill Hamas-Linked Judge” in the Washington Post; plus the Haaretz Editorial from Tel Aviv, “Iran grows strong, the world yawns” (about the conference in Tehran of Holocaust deniers), and the Boston Herald editorial “Another tradegy in Gaza” (calling for the Hamas government in Palestine to resign, after the slaying of three children of a Fatah intelligence officer), and not have any real idea of the human turmoil and the genuine and imagined historical grievances behind them. Following up by reading today’s coverage of retaliations, accusations, and new tragedies would also not help much [– update (Dec. 15, 2006): nor would more news like this, “Rival Factions Exchange Gunfire in West Bank, Gaza,” Washington Post].

That’s why i was willing to give fiction a chance to put this important conflict into a fuller context and better relief. It helps, of course, that I heartily agree with the statement of prominent Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, which appeared in yesterday’s Washington PostQ&A: Looking at Israel Through Many Eyes” (Dec. 13, 2006):

Q: What can fiction accomplish in portraying a conflict that is all around you that nonfiction cannot?

A: Fiction can bring up the complexities, give options that people would never think about. Fiction also introduces human beings. In my first novel, “The Lover,” there was an Arab boy who worked in a garage. And so many people said to me afterward, “When I see the Arab boy in the garage where I go, I look at him differently after reading your book.” . . . And I was proud I was able to bring Arab characters to my novels. Of course they are complex, they have problems, but they are real. Fiction can enlarge.

Indeed, to further test the fiction versus non-fiction hypothesis, I am — once I actually do review the novel, immediately below — also going to briefly discuss three non-fiction books that have recently been published about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

  1. PalestinePeaceCarter Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster, Nov. 2006)
  2. Jeffrey Goldberg’s Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide (Knopf, October 3, 2006)
  3. Ali Abunimah’s One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
    (Metropolitan Books, October 31, 2006)

tiny check In brief, I liked Exile a lot. Although I usually listen to action novels of this size (nearly 600 pages; 21 hours on audio), the story never got bogged down on paper. Exile works very well as a complex criminal courtroom drama, with Patterson demonstrating his background as a litigator, and presenting readers with interesting ethical and tactical issues (e.g., what do you do when interviewing witnesses targets them for immediate assassination?). The posture of the criminal case naturally leads the protagonist to travel to Israel and the West Bank in pursuit of evidence and background information.

The quick look behind the scenes of California politics is believable and interesting, as is the depiction of national security intrigue — in and between the USA and Israel — which pits worries about public image and political damage against the need of both prosecution and defense to learn material facts that go to the actual role and guilt of the defendant, Hana Arif, or the existence of an elaborate scheme to frame her. In addition, the protagonist’s romantic quandary, naivete and pain were well-drawn, as was his uncomfortable relationship with Hana’s angry husband, and her marital strife over how to raise their Moslem daughter.

ExilePattersonNS With some reservations, I believe Patterson achieved his wider goal, which he says was stimulated by his “friendship with two brilliant advocates and experts with very different perspctives” — Alan Dershowitz, impassioned defender of Israel; and Jim Zogby, head of the Arab-American Institute, who challenged Patterson to write a novel that “combines the absorbing qualities of good fiction with a nuanced portrayal of the tragic conflict”. I believe that I’ve learned much about this multi-layered historical, geo-politcal, and religious struggle, through the pages of Exile. The new non-fiction books that I also perused were not as helpful on that score.


December 8, 2006

gotta get a little holiday spirit

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 12:40 am


 snowflake  As the following dagosan poems indicate, I’m still not quite in the holiday spirit.  Maybe a few more haiku and senryu from my friends will help.  If not, I’ve still got a couple weeks.


setting up the creche —
the Baby’s name
uttered over and over

married a decade
she hides
the mistletoe

married a decade snowflake
he buys
new mistletoe

that godless salesgirl said
“Happy Holidays!”

[for Steve Bainbridge]


. . . . by dagosan/david giacalone


christmas morning
the old retriever gets
all the innards



christmas evening
the goose she raised
all summer

. . . . by ed markowski

Christmas pageant—                   snowflake  snowflake       
the one who had to get married
plays virgin Mary




another Christmas . . .
my parents visit
the son in prison


 . . . . by Lee Gurga from Fresh Scent (1998)


Christmas Day
  the exchange
    of custody

first snow…
settling into
old feelings

. . . . . by John Stevenson
“christmas Day” – from Some of the Silence
“first snow” – Upstate Dim Sum 2006/I


MomTwins50  Happy 80th Birthday, to Mama G!   snowflake

December 2, 2006

lawyers sentenced to haiku purgatory, without appeal

Filed under: viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 11:00 pm

update (Dec. 6, 2006): Motion to Reconsider received – see below Alamo

Early this afternoon, I discovered that Colin Samuels, of the Infamy or Praise weblog, would be hosting Monday’s edition of Blawg ReviewBR is a traveling compilation of the (purported) best offerings from law/lawyer-oriented weblogs over the past week; such weblogs have been damnably dubbed “blawgs”.  In his preview of Blawg Review #86, Colin warned us that “This edition will be based upon the second cantica of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Purgatorio.

Frankly, your Editor does not particularly like theme-based Blawg Reviews, and doesn’t believe in Purgatory, but he does indeed believe in both serendipity and duty.  It seems, therefore, that fate has condemned me to write this lengthy weblog piece on a Saturday night (instead of reading my advanced copy of Robert North Patterson’s very interesting novel Exile).  And, as an avid advocate of “real” haiku, I must make righteous judgment — as explained below — about the Texas Bar’s so-called “Appellate Haiku Contest,” consigning its perpetrators to the appropriate ring of Dante’s Purgatorio.

devilG As you probably know, purgatory is, according to Roman Catholic teaching, “the condition of souls of the dead who die with some punishment (though not damnation) due them for their sins. Purgatory is conceived as a condition of suffering and purification that leads to union with God in heaven.” (American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, 2005)

Although written in prose, rather than epic poetry, this posting tells of my own journey into the dark realm of Haiku Purgatory.

Immediately after reading about the upcoming BR#86 (and based on a pointer from Robert Ambrogi), I found myself scrolling down the 78-page pdf. version of the The Appellate Advocate (Summer 2006), which is a publication of the Texas Bar Appellate Section.   However, I never got to the intended article, “Legalese in the Age of IM,” by Roger W. Hughes.  Instead, my progress was stopped dead in its tracks on page 2, which was captioned, in large bold print, “Calling All Appellate Haiku Poets!” and which began with the words:

“The Appellate Section is pleased to announce its second Appellate Haiku Contest. A haiku is a Japanese poem of three lines, containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively.”

The announcement then gave a number of [so-called] sample haiku, which were “winners” from their First Appellate Haiku Contest in 2004.   Here are two of the “haiku” winners:

No reason no word
like a migratory bird
your case is transferred

Tarzan, J., concurs:  devilR
Result good; reasoning bad

Barely avoiding a heart attack or stroke, I continued reading, and encountered the Contest Rules, the first of which was: “All entries must comply with the structural requirements of a Haiku (3 lines, 5-7-5 syllables), and the content must relate in some loose fashion to appellate law, appellate courts, or the appellate community.” (Although you can find the results of the 2006 contest here, I must strongly caution against the viewing of them by the highly impressionable or the lover of genuine haiku.)

Fans of this weblog know two things about its Editor and his many alter egos: 1) we believe that “Lawyers and Haikushould go together very well; and 2) we are staunch champions of “genuine haiku,” and loathe the pseudo-haiku that is so rampant throughout the internet, and much of American society.

As confessed last year in the posting is it or ain’t it haiku?, “I’m always in anguish when I see the term “haiku” misused/abused by applying it to verse that don’t fit even the broadest definitions of the genre.” . . . [Here are two relevant Definitions:]

podium Quick Definition of Haiku:  Haiku is an unrhymed “one-breath” poem (no more than 17 syllables) that relates nature to human nature, and usually compares or contrasts a pair of images, which are separated by a pause.  At its best, haiku lets the reader share in the poet’s “haiku moment” — a moment of insight or awe.

Quick Definition of Senryu:  Senryu is a short poem similar in structure to haiku but featuring ironic, humorous and/or coarse observations on human nature.

That same piece, goes on to explain to another weblogger, who was about to hold a “haiku contest”: Not only is it untrue that haiku must be 17 syllables (in English-language haiku, shorter is better, and many of the best are 10 to 14 syllables), but it is especially untrue that any poem/verse set forth in the 5 – 7 -5-syllable format is haiku. [See dagosan’s haiku primer.] Most of what we see on the internet — even if quite funny and imaginative — is really very light verse, or doggerel.  It would be great if you could help correct the misconceptions by calling your next “haiku” contest by another name.  Maybe “lowku” or “hipKu” or “hypeKu.” (”ku” means verse or poem in Japanese.)  What we see at most internet sites are (at their best) “senryu.”

It doesn’t take a hot-shot appellate lawyer to know that the definition provided by the Texas Bar Appellate Section does not jibe with my haikuEsq definition of haiku, or even senryu.  Of course, getting the definition right — whether based on statute, caselaw, rule, of common law — is at the core of good appellate practice.  Their very own Standards of Appellate Conduct state that “Counsel will advise the Court of controlling legal authorities, including those adverse to their position, and should not cite authority that has been reversed, overruled, or restricted without informing the court of those limitations.”

devilF Apparently, the Texas Haiku Chainsaw Gang vaguely remembered a definition of haiku given to them by their 3rd Grade teacher, and then forgot her insistence that nature be part of the poem. (As haiku poet and theorist Michael Dylan Welch has written at begin haiku: “My schoolteachers meant well, but often presented only a superficial and sometimes misguided notion of haiku.”)  They surely forgot to Shepardize, or use some other citator system, to assure that their Rules were up to date (for tips on avoiding stale law, go to the Gallagher Law Library’s Guide for Pro Se Litigants).

The Texas Appellate Section also failed to seek an authoritative source for their definition.  They shouldn’t merely take my word on what haiku is (nor even that of the other sources quoted in the above post).  They should, instead, check out the definition of haiku promulgated by the Haiku Society of America (in 2004), along with its treatment of senryu.  And, because haiku is an evolving artform, they might take into account the opinion of modern, English-language haiku experts and enthusiasts, and (perhaps most important) should take a look at the best modern haiku (e.g., at The Heron’s Nest or Simply Haiku, in the Collections of HSA contest winners, and throughout this weblog, written by our Honored Guest Poets).

Not having done that, it seems our Texas legal colleagues have failed, at the very least, to live up to their Professional Responsibility under the Model Rules of Haiku Conduct.  Beyond the general obligation to bring no disgrace or ill-repute to the haiku genre or community, they have clearly violated:

podium Rule 1.1 Competence: A lawyer-haijin shall provide competently-drafted haiku to all contests, journals, or other public forums.. Competent drafting requires the knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the creation of genuine haiku or senryu.

Their failure is particularly disappointing, in light of the optimism we voiced in the posting Yes,Lawyers and Haiku?.   What are we to do, then, with this group of Appellate Lawyers who have so misinterpreted and misused the haiku concept, producing haiku abominations aplenty?  Fundamentalist or fanatic lovers of “true” haiku might speak in terms of blasphemy and descecration.  Imbued with the poetic muse, the f/k/a Gang is, of course, forgiving of human frailities and willing to assume good faith and potential for growth.   So, we’re thinking that venial, not mortal, sins have been committed, meriting consignment to a ring of Haiku Purgatorio, and not the Inferno of Hell.

Colin Samuels is, naturally, our expert on Dantenian placement.  If we had to pick a level of Haiku Purgatory for our Texan Appellate friends, we might go with the Fifth Terrace — which, according to Wikipedia, is one of the levels for “those who sinned by loving good things, but loving them in a disordered way.”  More specifically, the Fifth Terrace is concerned with those who are guilty of prodigality, by not “liv[ing] up to the expectations of those who have launched him or her into a life or career.”

Can the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas hope to make it to Haiku Heaven any time soon?  To do so, they must seriously look not just within, but without, for the true meaning of haiku. [M.D. Welch’s Ten Tips for Writing Haiku, can be found, along with guidance from other haiku poets, in our prior post on recognizing haiku.] The Appellate Section’s haiku infidels might have to confess that genuine haiku can rarely — and probably only by accident — be based on appellate practice.  Perhaps, with diligence, a form of senryu could be crafted that would fit their needs.  As we noted in the post senryu is not a typo, senryu “can be particularly enjoyable for lawyers — who are frequently far more attuned to human foibles than to nature’s essence.”

update (Dec. 4, 2006): Our Purgatory Expert, Colin Samuels, has confirmed the above sentencing decision in today’s Blawg Review #86: “It shall be so! Welcome to the Fifth Terrace, my Texan Appellate friends! Perhaps you would have been happier in Inferno, where barbeque is more plentiful, but here y’all are and here y’all will stay until you’ve atoned for your sins against “one-breath” poetry.”  The f/k/a Gang is particularly relieved that this posting didn’t land ourselves in Terrace I (Pride) or Terrace III (Wrath).

Although two of the following senryu were posted just last week, they are as close as dagosan has come to Appellate Haiku/Senryu:

mid-argument –
opposing counsel crosses
her legs

sua sponte
madame justice
catches me staring

two-minute warning —
the senior partner has
a senior moment

. . .  by dagosan devilG

p.s. While the f/k/a Gang is serious about its haiku, we are just as serious about having fun, and have not intended to violate the Texan Standards for Appellate Conduct, which state, “Negative opinions of the court or opposing counsel shall not be expressed unless relevant to a client’s decision process.”  If we have, please note that The Devil Made Us Do It.

alamoN update (Dec. 6, 2006): Although not captioned as a Motion to Reconsider, or as a request for en banc review, and despite our “without appeal” consignment order, f/k/a has received an apologia from Kevin Dubose, of Alexander Dubose Jones & Townsend LLP (Houston), an organizer of the Texas State Bar’s Appellate Haiku Contest.  Here is the conclusion of Kevin’s Reply.  You can read his entire message in Comment 2 below.

“[T]he point of this exercise was to create a comical juxtaposition of the somewhat dissimilar worlds of appellate law and haiku poetry.  We read the winners at our otherwise dry and boring annual meeting, and the audience was greatly amused.  We never intended for this to be a serious attempt at classical haiku, and we never envisioned this being disseminated on the internet where our abuse of the form would cause purists to be plunged into haiku purgatory.  If we offended you sensibilities we apologize, we were just trying to have fun, and we did.  Maybe we’re just easily amused in Texas.  At least it sounds as if you enjoyed your righteous indignation as much as we enjoyed our irreverent ignorance.”

Given his lucid writing style, persuasiveness, reputation for readibility, and apparent interest in the haiku genre, we can only repeat our earlier conclusion that the Fifth Terrace of Purgatory is the appropriate location for those who have not lived up to their expectations and abilities.   Of course, with sincere attempts at rehabilitation (and perhaps your prayers), Kevin and his co-conspirators may be able to greatly shorten their stay in Purgatory.

podiumF Meanwhile, Your Humble Editor has promised himself to try harder to make sure his attempts at satire, even when for an excellent cause, do not stray across the line into prolix and pontificating pedantry.   After all, I didn’t get into the haiku biz (nor weblogging) to give myself agita or to take myself too seriously.

afterthought (March 27, 2007): This morning, I was further scandalized by discovering that the 2nd result in the Google query /blog haiku and law/ was the post “We haiku. Do you?” at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (Nov. 30, 2006), which was directly inspired by the Texas Appellate Haiku Contest.  Had we known that our Texan respondents had led so many other lawyers down the path of haiku-parody perdition, their sentence would surely have been more severe.  As for the folk at WSJLaw Blog, we’re feeling non-judgmental this morning and can only say, “they know not what they do.”

Powered by WordPress