#ZenTao Update

A few years back, I fell into the habit of writing a daily haiku and posting it on social media. The first year, I called it the #joyproject and for the last two I’ve called it #zentao (after the old joke, “That was Zen; this is Tao.”).

It didn’t start out to be a foray into poetry. Rather, my purpose was to sit quietly for a few minutes each morning and come up with something that conveyed my mood or something else that needed to be said. I fell into haiku because the project seemed to need a form.

This year I discovered that most of what I was writing wasn’t exactly haiku. Or, as I put it in my #zentao:

It seems my poems
Are not (usually) haiku.
I’m writing senryu!

According to Terri Glass, in her book The Wild Horse of Haiku, senryu corresponds to haiku in form, but is usually about “human nature and human relationship” and is often humorous.

I’m pretty sure this one meets that definition:

If aliens saw
our traffic jams, they’d conclude
we aren’t civilized.

Maybe this one is, too:

Will AI decide
to have gender? Or is that
a carbon construct?

Hmm. Both of those seem to be science fictional as well. It’s hard to keep those ideas from slipping in.

It comes as no surprise to discover that a lot of what I’ve written in the past year is political. Sometimes it’s a reminder to keep my center amidst the chaos:

Breathe deep. Get centered.
Turn anger into action.
Don’t tolerate hate.

Sometimes it’s more forceful:

We can’t tolerate
white supremacists’ evil.
Time for them to go.

Or it takes a slightly different form:

It seems fascists hate
white women who don’t have kids.
Proud to be childless.

Those were all written within a couple of days of each other after the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville.

Here’s one written in reaction to a business’s sign suggesting people with anxieties needed its services. It took a political turn:

Overwhelmed? Anxious?
Worried? Want to change all that?
Try revolution.

And here’s my response to those who thought things were going just fine in this country until we let a con man into the White House:

Some just discovered
they need to fight. I welcome
you to the struggle.

I suspect most of those don’t fit under either senryu or haiku. This next one strikes me as more of a senryu:

If a book’s about
“no fucks,” why does the title
use an asterisk?

And this one is as close as I get to traditional haiku (about nature, with a turn):

A long-eared rabbit
bounds through the grass, up the hill.
Oh, to feel such joy.

Ultimately, a lot of what I write is an expression of my personal philosophical approach to life. The cascade of hurricanes and fires we had in the US this fall, coupled with the incompetent responses in so many places, led me to this one:

Disasters happen
everywhere. Earth and her folks
always shake things up.

And this one sums up both my core philosophy and my political beliefs:

To live free, we must
live connected with others.
We’re not here alone.


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