Sunday, February 04, 2007

This Week In Haiku1

Monday: On Passing the Same Group of Becak Drivers While Walking To the Bus Stop2

Each morning3 they shout:
"Mbak!4Mbak! Naik5 becak, mbak!6"
They should know by now.

Tuesday: On Asking a Listening Comprehension Question to 12th Graders

Silence in the class.
I wait. And repeat. And wait.
Nobody looks up.7

Wednesday: On Visiting the Gym

Seven employees
only to watch me work out
solves unemployment8.

Thursday: On Using the Public Bathroom At McDonald's

The Western toilet
has sneaker prints on the seat.
It's a squat pot now.

: On Finishing a Japanese Novel Highly Influenced by Haiku9

The snow is pretty,
But just description bores me.
That's haikus10 to me.

: On Being Asked to Guest Speak at a Teacher Training Workshop

Teacher talk for kids:
what do I know about it11?
Money12 for B.S.

: On Walking To Church Every Sunday Morning

As I pass the mall:
"Hey Mister! F***13 you!"
Who taught them English?14

1. Technically senryu, but haiku is the more well-known form, and I'm willing to sacrifice accuracy for recognition here.
2. Technically, it's not a bus stop, but simply "the place where I wait for the bus," or "in front of Papa Ron's Pizza," since the bus suddenly and erratically swerves to the side of the road to pick up anyone who looks like they might want a ride.
3. Technically, only Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday morning. But shouldn't that still be enough for them to figure out I don't want to hire them?
4. Yes, this is one syllable.
5. In standard Indonesian, this should be two syllables, but both monophthongization and diphthongization are common in colloquial Indonesian, and so this word is more commonly pronounced with a diphthong than as two syllables demarcated by a homologous glide. For the sake of the poetic form, though, let's pretend that becak drivers speak standard Indonesian and assign it two syllables.
6. "Miss! Miss! Ride a becak, Miss!"
7. I hate this.
8. If only it were so simple. In reality, Indonesia's unemployment rate is about 11.8%, according to the CIA World Factbook, 2006.
9. Snow Country, by Yasunari Kawabata. I don't really recommend it, Nobel Prize notwithstanding. Maybe it's better in Japanese.
10. This is not the proper plural, in Japanese or English. Japanese uses classifiers in its pluralization, and I don't know the correct one for "haiku." The preferred English form, according to Merriam Webster, is simply "haiku," but I added the "s" for the rhyme with "news." Again, I opted for humor over accuracy, and I'm really sorry. Hence the footnotes.
11. Nothing, for the record.
12. $50! That goes a long way here.
13. This is also one syllable.
14. This is a rhetorical question; were I to answer it, I would say, "movies." Or maybe "the internet." But it was certainly not me: I would have at least taught them "Miss" instead of "Mister."

1 comment:

Tolkien Boy said...

You are kind of really ridiculously amazing. I can't do haiku's...or what have all.