Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Guest Slapper of the Month IV

Tania of Brain Trapped in Girl's Body took part in NaNoWriMo last year and wrote over 50,000 words in 30 days (in between waxing lyrical about rare vintage perfumes – her other passion) so my little assignment must have been child's play for her. Here's her Slap:


The Commuter's Slaphappy Haiku

In response to Bela's invitation to be her guest slapper for the month of May, I offer you this brief percussive piece: small slaps delivered on my way to work.
—Tania


*

Train in the station:
SWIPE AGAIN AT THIS TURNSTILE.
Were tokens so bad?

*

Thump of busker's drums
marshals citizens to war:
no dollar for you.

*

Young nonchalant man
embracing the subway pole,
how can I hold on?

*

The perfume you wear:
white flowers pile close like snow.
Next time put on less.

*

The small, tinny cry
of your headphone discothèque—
aren't you embarrassed?

*

Poor immigrant man
sells "battery, one dollar!"
Of course, it's worth less.

*

It's true man must eat;
fried chicken is delicious.
Just not on the train.

*

Bright as a rainbow,
Dr. Z's fruit acid peels.
Why do I read this?

*

Small mouse trapped among
the stampeding elephants.
Don't you see me here?

*

Single salmon fights
downstairs, blocking upstairs hordes:
You could wait a sec.

*

Impatient lady,
Jostling like trash in the tides,
You're not important.

*

Slow elevator:
Yes, I find it annoying.
Do not talk to me.


17 comments:

  1. Heh, what a delightfully inventive technique for delivering somehow quite graceful slaps.

    I'm afraid old Porland would be a horror for you in some ways re: elevators. If you don't say hi or make eye contact and nod, or in some way acknowledge the only other person in the elevator, then you are the weirdo, not the person who tries to talk. Heh. We're a pretty casual city, but a bit too annoyingly friendly for vistors' tastes sometimes ;)

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  2. LOL! Wonderful! As someone who only visits cities with subways, I felt these as the disdainful glance of a jaded commuter. Perfect.

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  3. Yep. London is exactly the same. And it's true, a rush hour tube journey is a series of small, momentary annoyances, a string of petty jabs to the mind and spirit, rather than one continuous suffering. Glad I don't have to do it regularly any more.

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  4. A round of applause! This is so great. These two were my favourites:

    It's true man must eat;
    fried chicken is delicious.
    Just not on the train.

    *

    Bright as a rainbow,
    Dr. Z's fruit acid peels.
    Why do I read this?

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  5. Katie: That would be torture. I read somewhere (don't know if it's true) that there's a law on the books somewhere in the New York city codes that makes it illegal to do anything in an elevator other than stand facing forward, saying nothing. That is the act of a rational legislature.

    Red-Queen: Thanks! I could probably also write a Whitmanesque ode to the vibrant energy of public transport, if I wanted, but this isn't the forum. :)

    Lulu: I have never been to London, but I take strange pleasure in knowing that we do not suffer alone, and that underground travelers everywhere are joined by this common urban experience.

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  6. This is so original! :-)

    I used to travel to work by bus: much more civilized, except I had to fight with the conductor practically every time not to be sent to the top deck, where smoking was allowed. I really hate the tube; I'm mildly claustrophobic, anyway. Working from home is not all that, but not having to commute is a bonus.

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  7. These are fabulous. You should write a whole chapbook of subway haiku!
    :-)

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  8. T, these absolutely cracked me up. Another round of applause...

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  9. This could be published! Wonderful.

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  10. I love your pensive haikus and your capacity to transfigure mundane details into something original and beautiful. Hope you'll be able to publish them.

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  11. More applause. You very eloquently put into words some of the things that subway riders (or ex-subway riders) such as me experience. It would be cool if you could get this published :)

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  12. Where did you learn Haiku (I really like this) and are there any specific book(s) you could recommend for learning more about it? Thank you, and good luck with any publishing efforts.

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  13. Hi Bela :). Please check your posts on this entry. I posted two complimentary posts for your guest poster and one contained a question about Haiku. Either they are *disappearing*, via some computer glitch or Tania (who is vey talented) is too shy for any more compliments ;-)Thank you.

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  14. Hi, T! Your lovely comments didn't disappear. I'll tell you how it works with comment moderation: I get comments as emails in my Inbox and I 'publish' (as Blogger calls it) them. I'm afraid I didn't have time to check my emails yesterday. I'm sorry about that. Your comments are now on this page. It's up to Tania to answer them. I'll let her know she needs to come back and see. :-)

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  15. Thanks for the explanation Bela. It makes sense. No need to be sorry. Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me :)

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  16. BdJ, Kate, NST, TLP, Mimi: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. As far as I'm concerned, these are already published, right here. :-)

    Tinkerbell: One of my elementary school exercises (shortly after we first amphibians lurched out of the primordial sea) was to write haiku. American "haiku" are certainly not like Japanese haiku, but there are certain rules.

    Formally, a haiku consists of three lines, of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables in length. There should be a major grammatical stop or break at the end of the first or second line.

    Traditional Japanese haiku often focuses on images from the natural world. The most famous writer of traditional haiku is the Japanese poet Basho.

    Japanese haiku inspired English modernists like Pound, whose poem "In a Station at the Metro" has the aesthetic, if not the form, of a haiku. Later on, Americans latched on to the haiku as a form that in its brevity could be used for both profundity and light wit—especially because, as a syllabic instead of a metric form, even schoolchildren can manage it. Try writing some yourself! It's lots of fun.

    And many thanks to Bela for offering me the chance to appear in this space!

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  17. Ab fab - your imagery cracks me up! I really like
    Thump of busker's drums
    marshals citizens to war:
    no dollar for you.


    However, I hate to burst your bubble, but you are continuing a strange parallel amongst people whom I know - but who don't know each other - writing haiku! Yours are much better, but I feel a sense of duty to note that my friend Hank wrote the following haiku on March 31st, when the underground SF MUNI broke down for hours (no joke):

    Pacing back and forth
    There's no muni train in sight
    Soon we'll all be mad

    Damn you muni train
    We stare down a black tunnel
    The crowd grows larger

    Contemplate walking
    Stairway seems cold and windy
    Return to platform

    Distant light appears
    Platform begins to rumble
    Muni has arrived

    Take flight through tunnel
    Such sweet joy my dear muni
    West Portal seems near

    I'm still in darkness
    Treacherous bastard this train
    The tunnel mocks me

    The train emerges
    Cell phones beep, riders breath deep
    Freedom is a gift

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