Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Image of the living quarters for the crew on a barge in a Hong Kong harbour.Dear Gentle Reader,

It is 3WW.

This week the words are grave, lithe, and offend.

As usual, I present three haiku, each with an American Sentence title.

For those who don't know, the English haiku has stricter structural requirements than the original Japanese haiku format.

A Japanese haiku requires 17 syllables, in total, used in three lines.

An English language haiku requires three lines with 5 syllables on the first line, 7 syllables on the second line, and 5 syllables on the final line.

The American Sentence as a poetical form is far closer to the original Japanese haiku form than the English haiku is.

An American Sentence requires 17 syllables in one sentence. Fin. This poetical form was created by the American poet Allen Ginsberg.

Now, let the games begin with grave, lithe, and offend....

Her life had been bought and this was what it meant; she'd owed obedience.

Effendi's lithe girl
lay contorted in the grave;
don't offend your Lord.

Walking Johnny Plank in the theatre--again--choreography.

"Goslow. Slowstep. Step.
Stepoff...Offend!" The lithe lad
stepped, grave, off the plank.

It can't be cannabilism when one corpse eats another, can it?

Lithe graverobber caught,
interred in spite. Reoffends!
(...hungry zombie eats...)



ThomG said...

Your creativity with both forms is a delight.

Jeeves said...


anthonynorth said...

Enjoyed all of these, but the last has the edge.

Teresa said...

I loved the poems, Chris. Thank you for your clarifications about the poetry forms. And the zombies are wonderful.

Have you read "Pride and Predjudice and Zombies"? One of my friends is doing a paper on it. Although your last poem made me think more of Hamlet eating poor Yorick.

Crybbe666 said...

"Lithe graverobber"...what an image!! You have a brilliant ability with words. Highly impressive!!

Dee Martin said...

I love these American sentences - the creativity that you fit in the required confines is amazing!

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Thom,

Coming from you that is high praise indeed.

Dear Jeeves,

A bit forced, I know. I blame my brain.

Dear Anthonynorth,

I can see that.

Dear Teresa,

That wasn't so much for you. The Heroine thought that non-English as a first language people might not know; she didn't know what an American Sentence was, for example.

You I expect to know most things. :)

And who would believe that Pride, Prejudice and Zombies was real.

I thought it was a joke, then I went to Amazon. my surprise was complete and total.

Hello Crybbe666,

I try to get by with Thom gives us. I enjoy the game with structural constraints, including the imposed words. And thank you for your compliment.

Dear Dee Martin,

Thank you. I enjoy the playful nature of 3WW as I understand and use it.


Americanising Desi said...

are always interesting and delightful to read. I am glad you put up a critical front on my 3WW... I can't do justice with the explanation of limp and rigid which is a state of being for a body which decomposes itself first as it stiffens and then limps because the parts are falling off.

Thank you Chris!

Teresa said...

To be honest, I thought for the longest time that you were being perversely Canadian and calling your sentences American to remind us citizens of the USA that there are many other countries on the American continent, the citizens of which also produce American children, American foods, and even American sentences... I had a friend from Saskatoon once who used to do such things. She also did a wicked imitation of the queen.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Thanks for clarifying the American Sentence. You obviously got more playful with these as you went on. Your haikus are always good fun.

peggy said...

I am dizzy with counting syllables on titles and in haikus.

(that seventeen happened by accident but I will accept your praise)

S.C., your command of not only syllables but concepts, images, playfullness and eloquence leaves me speechless.

gautami tripathy said...

I like the way you manage to stretch our minds week after week..

gravely offended

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Americanising Desi,

You are more than welcome, AD. I would prefer to be intellectually honest at all times, so I say what I think. Within certain bounds.

Dear Teresa,

Ahem, Ahem, Ahem.

Don't get too comfortable on that sofa--it shall become a chesterfield, soon.


Teresa, I would rarely do that sort of thing. At least not post-undergrad...

Dear Ann,

Thank you very much. The playing keeps the sprockets running smoothly. I would say they are all playful, of course; it's just that some have more serious topics than others do.

And I don't know how to do what you do, although I would love to. You do what you do very well.

Dear Peggy,

No need to count, then. I do that a few times first... just in case.

I thank you for your compliment. I do note, of course, that you have an awfully good complement of the parts of spech, and vocabulary, too, for one who claims to be speechless... bereft of speech.

But, of course, I forgot... you are typing. :)

Dear Gautami,

Well thank you very much!


Tim Remp said...

Wonderful usage and command of language. Each one is a delight. The last is my favorite.

swapnap said...

Thank You for detailing on the Haiku, i failed miserably on my attempts.

You have used the words effetively.

Thanks for the long comment on my last 3www. Appreciate it a lot.

Tumblewords: said...

A fine manipulation of the weekly prompt - creative and concise layers of thought!

Cloudia said...

Aloha, PoetFriend!

Comfort Spiral

wordvamp said...

A stretch of the mind for sure - excellent work with each form.

MichaelO said...

Three excellent offerings this 3WW!

Who knew Effendi was a pretzel maker? He could find employ in waste management here in New Jersey, I should think.

I think my lithe 3WW graverobber should worry!

Ciao, Chris!

murat11 said...

Fine forms, as always, amigo. Off-end, indeed. Poor Johnny. Must have been the gin and tonics.

Michael Dylan Welch said...

May I suggest reading three short essays about literary haiku in English? Please read "Becoming a Haiku Poet" at, "Forms in English Haiku" at, and "What Is a Haiku -- And What Isn't" at

The truth is that American Sentences are farther from Japanese haiku than English-language haiku, because Allen Ginsberg had no intention for American Sentences to include a kigo (season word) or a kireji (cutting word or equivalent), nor much of the primarily objective sensory imagery that also characterizes haiku (in Japanese and English). This was by intention, but his insistence on seventeen syllables shows his indifference or lack of understanding of how Japanese and English differ (compare with Kerouac, whose haiku were rarely as long as seventeen syllables). In Japan, they count sounds, not syllables (the word "haiku" is two syllables in English, but THREE sounds in Japanese, for example), thus scholars have said that about 10 to 14 syllables is equivalent to the 17 sounds of Japanese. Furthermore, haiku are never titled, and I don't recall that Ginsberg ever titled his American Sentences, either (or mostly didn't).

Unfortunately, a lot of myths and misunderstandings are rampant about haiku. Quite simply, the notion of 5-7-5 syllables for English-language haiku is a sort of urban legend, despite widespread popular misperception, and is far from the reality of literary haiku. Just review the archives and Web sites of the Haiku Society of America, the American Haiku Archives, Haiku North America, or some of the leading haiku journals such as Modern Haiku and Frogpond.

For more on American Sentences, too, please visit

Michael Dylan Welch

Alan Summers said...

I'm pleased that you guys are enjoying your American Sentences.

Did you know that Allen Ginsberg used to tell Jack Kerouac off for calling his haiku "haikus as the word haiku is both the singular and plural spelling? ;-)

For a simple acclaimed overview of haiku check out: With Words haiku overview.

I would then recommend checking out Michael Dylan Welch's suggestions websites after that.

all my best, and I'd love to see more American Sentences, and haiku as well! ;-)