The following is an actual Haiku War between my thirteen year old son Sam and his mother Sue that occurred around the end of February, 2009. The story is that we were driving somewhere at night and one of us in the car - memories are confused as to just who - referred to police cars as being `sharks cruising the asphalt'. Why, it might have even been me (although both of them deny it)!
Wherever the line came from, Sam grabbed it (or came up with it, depends on who you ask) and turned it into `sharks cruising the asphalt sea' (which did have a nice ring to it, whereupon his mother (who was popping out lines of her own around the same time) preferred asphalt jungle, and all at once a storm of I'm-one-up-on-you free verse haiku bounced around in the car, mixed with a certain amount of argument (in which I did not participate, it being beneath my dignity and besides I was mostly driving and trying to avoid the sharks).
Anyway, we came home and Sam was very quiet for a while we as we sat together in our den, then he grabbed a small pad of paper and scribbled and produced his version of the poem in Mike Myers I Married an Axe Murder style beat-poet haiku (as that was the rhythm they were both using, da-da, da da-da, da da da da da da da, da da da da da, complete with the attitude and an imaginary cup of espresso in hand).
silent and stealthy
the sharks cruise the asphalt sea
in the dark they wait
His mother applauded his efforts, but then grabbed the pad and wrote her version:
silent stealth in chrome
sharks cruise the asphalt jungle
silently they wait
This irked Sam, who grabbed the pad and promptly wrote on, triggering the following rather hilarious exchange:
my mother the thief
remora on my body
she stole my poetry
my son the ingrate
he sucks all my life juices
viper at my breast
we fight, we fight hard
but this jibe is pointless pain
I will win, you tramp
you insolent pup
you have met armageddon
your mistress owns you
Susan's writing was deteriorating as she was giggling, almost in hysterics over Sam's replies as she wrote, and the word ``pup'' above looked (on the paper) more like ``perp'', the ``you''s like ``yon''s, and the word ``owns'' was all but illegible o-something-something-s. Sam tried to read it, couldn't, and had to ask for a translation. Truly miffed at this point, Sam replied:
your handwriting sucks
I wish I could read it well
your nurse must hate you
at which point we all collapsed in laughter and the two of them finally quit. (My wife is a physician, in case I didn't mention that, and actually has very good handwriting for a doctor.)
There it ended (for at least that day), with Sam having the last word. And here I immortalize it. It is evidence of something that needs to be preserved. The literacy and surprising talent of youth? The strangeness of my family where we speak in rhyming couplets (or sometimes - as demonstrated above - in more complex verse forms) in everyday conversation? A bit of badinage exchanged by two people who deeply love one another and are willing to exchange crafty insults in free verse to prove it?
my family's odd
children duelling us both
in cruel haiku