The kids bring home mounds of paper from school everyday. Right before they toss their backpacks to the floor in the kitchen, they each throw a (sometimes huge) pile of papers onto my computer keyboard. The pile consists of the usual school information: don't forget to bring extra clothes on Field Day, here's a list of symptoms that mean don't send your kid to school, please send in donations for the silent auction, and completed school work.
Jack's completed work is, frankly, pretty boring. Math and social studies worksheets and the like on which the questions are answered mostly correctly. Sam's school work, on the other hand is very entertaining. On his spelling tests he's drawn stick figure men shooting each other and screaming "Die!" to which the teacher marks in red, "Draw at home, please!" One day he wrote Jack's name at the top of all his papers to which the teacher marked in red, "Don't do this again!" He's very, let's call it inventive, when it comes to his writing assignments. "My dad is my hero because he saved me from drowning." or "On Spring Break in Texas I got to drive a truck!"
Yesterday in Sam's pile of papers was an assignment which read, "Write a haiku about where you live and what you like about it." There was a reminder of a haiku's formula: 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third line. Sam's haiku was:
I like it here, dude.
This place totally rocks, dude.
It is awesome, dude.
Next to his haiku on the page, the teacher had written a small "ok" as if this wasn't exactly what she was looking for. As if she didn't want to give him credit, but, technically, it followed the rules. (Which, come to think of it, is a line Sam often walks, technically following the rules.)
I told him that, aside from the 5-7-5 rule that defines the form of this type of poem, there aren't really rules in poetry and it can be whatever you want. And then I taught him this haiku I learned on the Internet a few years ago:*
Haikus are easy.
But sometimes they don't make sense.
He was practicing it in the car on the way to school so he could tell his friends. I'm pretty sure his teacher is really looking forward to the end of the school year.
*I guess you really are strange if you have at least two favorite haikus. Here is my other favorite one. Imagine a Venn diagram where one circle is Spam fans (the meat- not the email), one circle is Shakespeare fans and one circle is haiku fans. Where those three things overlap is where this haiku fits:
Man wearing white shirt
Drops meat, causing greasy stain;
Cries, "Out, out, SPAM dot!"