So I’ve been on a bit of a haiku-kick lately, and decided to do something about it. The recent obsession started, I think, with my commute.

I commute 4.5 hours a day every day to work, round trip, and it’s really quite miserable. I can handle the drive to the bus station, I can handle the subway once I get into the city, but the bus ride itself can often be infuriating.

I don’t have many rules for my fellow passengers – only two really. Don’t touch me, and be quiet.

<rant>

Don’t touch me means that I don’t want to feel your overstuffed wallet digging into my thigh. It means that I know your testicles are not so huge that that you have to spread your legs all the way apart when you sit down, causing your leg to touch mine. It means I don’t want to feel the heat from your arm on my arm, and I certainly don’t want to feel your arm hair touching my arm hair. Don’t. Fucking. Touch. Me.

Be quiet means that if you’re going to use your cellphone, please do so quietly with respect for the fact that most people on the bus try to sleep. That also means that if you’re going to wear headphones, please invest in a pair that don’t suck, so I don’t have to hear your shitty music.

</rant>

I’d add rules like “Please try bathing once in a while”, and “Please do not drown yourself in enough perfume to make you stink like a French whore”, but considering the fact that the first few rules seem so impossible for people to follow, I think that might be pushing it.

Anyway, one of the ways I keep myself sane on the commute home, particularly if I’m stuck next to someone who is touching me, won’t shut up, smells bad, or some combination of the above, is to vent my frustrations on Twitter. Anyone who has followed me on Twitter for any amount of time has been witness to the torrent of furious tweeting that occurs when I’m sitting next to someone particularly awful.

I don’t know most of my fellow passenger’s names, so I make them up based on distinguishing characteristics. Some of you may have heard tales of Ethyl McChedderSnatch, an older woman who often sits next to me and who smells a bit like Clorox bleach and moldy Gouda. She’s a large woman, and she spills over into my seat, thus violating my first rule, and the fact that she smells bad only compounds the experience.

So one day at work, I decided that, to amuse myself,  I would try to speak only in haiku to my cow-orkers. I like where I work, despite the fact that the vast majority of the people I work with are marketing people, not techs – but I thought it would be fun to try anyway. It started simply with a tweet:

For today only
I speak only in haiku
Frustrate co-workers

My cow-orkers didn’t have nearly as much fun with it as I did, but it sparked some fun haiku entries on Twitter.

I had been collecting geek haiku for a while, and was surprised to see that the domain name geekhaiku.com was available. Simultaneously, it occurred to me that my cranky haiku were actually helping alleviate my stress. Twittering my anger and frustration was helpful, but somehow the act of thinking about it, and making it fit within the 5-7-5 format of a haiku was even more cathartic. For me, it turned a source of frustration into something fun that had the added bonus of making other people laugh – something that always makes me feel better and less stressed.

I enjoy seeing the responses from people, and knowing that I’ve been able to make my Twitter followers laugh. It’s my way of turning something miserable into something… well, less miserable.

So that the same time, GeekHaiku.Com and CrankyHaiku.Com were born. We’ve gotten some great submissions so far, and I’m excited to see where they both go.

GeekHaiku.com is (obviously) for geeky, often computer/gaming related haiku. Some of my favorites so far:

Inbox Zero
Oh InboxZero
The unattainable goal
Not getting things done

Gmail spam filters
Gmail spam filters
At one time you ruled email
now are made of fail

My Tiny Mage Friend
My tiny mage friend
Nougat-filled aggro-magnet
I wait by your corpse

Fabulously, ThinkGeek is holding monthly geek haiku contests, where the winning entry wins $50! Click here to learn more. I ended up ‘nicking a few of my favs from there and adding them to GeekHaiku.Com, just so I had them in the collection. They’re awesome. (And by the way, if you submit a haiku to GeekHaiku.Com, you’re welcome to submit it to ThinkGeek. I don’t know if they have a policy against it, but I certainly leave the author’s original copyright on their work and have no intention of claiming it.)

While there are some overlaps, as many things geeky also make me cranky, CrankyHaiku.Com is geared at non-techs with less-geeky themes. Some of the haiku submitted have been serious, some funny, but hopefully it’s all cathartic and helps the pissed-off poet diffuse a little anger.

Some of my favorites from there:

Dear Paul
Dear Paul, I’m sorry
The three-way didn’t work out
You made me laugh, though.

I could bang my dick
I could bang my dick
on the keyboard for an hour
and make better code

Pricey ivy league
Pricey ivy league
education at Stanford?
Still an idiot.

All day water flows
All day water flows
stupid desktop waterfall
I now have to pee.

You horrible cow
You horrible cow
put down the fucking cellphone
and die in a fire

In the process of finding additional haiku and resources for the sites, I came across from fun stuff you might enjoy. Unsurprisingly, twitter user @geekhaiku has some fantastic gems (which I have rather unceremoniously snagged and added to GeekHaiku.Com). He doesn’t tweet often, but when he does, they’re always quite good. Worth following.

Twitter user @twaiku aims to do something similar to what I’m doing, only they’re looking for serious poetry – actual haiku, as opposed to the bastardized senryū we’re doing – more on that in the final notes though. So if you’re feeling poetic, and would love to share your prose but its neither cranky or geeky, send it over their way to share it with the world.

Final Notes

Haiku is a mode of Japanese poetry, the late 19th century revision by Masaoka Shiki of the older hokku,the opening verse of a linked verse form, haikai no renga. The traditional hokku consisted of a pattern of approximately 5, 7, 5 on. The Japanese word on, meaning “sound”, corresponds to a mora, a phonetic unit similar but not identical to the syllable of a language such as English. (The words onji, (”sound symbol”) or moji (character symbol) are also sometimes used.) A haiku contains a special season word (the kigo) representative of the season in which the renga is set, or a reference to the natural world.

Haiku usually combines three different phrases, with a distinct grammatical break, called kireji, usually placed at the end of either the first five or second seven or last five morae. In Japanese, there are actual kireji words. In English, kireji is often repaced with commas, hyphens, elipses, or implied breaks in the haiku. These elements of the older haiku are considered by many to be essential to haiku as well, although they are not always included by modern writers of Japanese “free-form haiku” and of non-Japanese haiku. Japanese haiku are typically written as a single line, while English language haiku are traditionally separated into three lines.

The haiku here are not technically haiku. They’re more like faux-ku. Besides the 5-7-5 pattern (which doesn’t exactly match our version of 5-7-5, since in Japanese, some sounds count as more than one “on”, or sound unit, but only count as one syllable in English) traditional Japanese haiku will also generally make a metaphoric reference to nature or a season. Unless I’m bitching about commuting in the dead of Winter, most of the haiku there won’t follow the traditional rules.

If they fit into any classification (other than mental diarrhea), it would be most accurate to call these tiny works of art “senryū”, a poem that is written in a similar form and emphasizes irony, satire, humor, and human foibles rather than seasons.

With that said, we extend our apologies to any actual haiku artists that may stumble across this site.  We genuinely mean no offense or affront to what you do.

To learn more about real haiku, check out the Wikipedia article. To post your own geeky or cranky haiku, visit CrankyHaiku.Com and GeekHaiku.Com today!

(Please keep in mind that like most things I touch, GeekHaiku.Com and CrankyHaiku.Com are not always safe for work.)

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I’m a tech geek/dev/infosec-nerd/scuba diver/blacksmith/sword-fighter/crime fighter/ENTP/warcrafter/activist. I'm the CTO at Mass Mosaic and the CEO of Grokability, Inc. in San Diego, CA. Tweet at me @snipeyhead or read more...

  • Craig

    Millions of years of human evolution and the product is a highly-strung geek with an irrational fear of hairy arms.

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  • Hey man, I'm not proud of it. It is what it is.

  • Hey man, I'm not proud of it. It is what it is.