Variations on a Theme

I love Haiku Bob’s work. I want that said right up front. The poetry in his words and their arrangements are lace out. But whenever I read one of his haiku something in the back of my brain screams “but it’s NOT A HAIKU”

I’m a traditionalist. I was taught that a Haiku was an ancient Japanese poetical form that took the shape of 17 syllables outlaid in three rows of 5,7,5. Yes I know there is a modernized, westernized, and dare I say bastardized, definition that says any short piece can be called a Haiku. But I’m a traditionalist.


a rain sodden slog
the relentless pressure builds
josh kelly shines through


5,7,5 it defines a Haiku. Now if it had four lines totaling 26 syllables arranged in a 7,7,7,5 pattern…


treloar with fourteen tackles
to go with his thirty three
topped – right in front of us, by
his goal in the third


It would be called a Dodoitsu. Another Japanese form of poetry, less celebrated than it’s more famous cousin, but with a form that has been defined since the Edo period.

Some poetry has form. Some poetry requires structure and can be defined with a name. A sonnet has fourteen lines of ten syllables a piece. There are two main ways to structure the rhyming pattern and a hundred variations, but if the lines and meter are there, then it’s a sonnet.

A sestina has six key words repeated at the end of each line over six stanzas in a complex, but set, schedule; followed by a three line ‘tercet’ using all six words, middle and end, paired 2-5,4-3,6-1. It has a shape, and with the shape comes a name – sestina.

2,4,6,8,2 is a cinquain.


kicked two today
as did the general
we’ve more avenues to goal now



Richtameter, Nonet, Triolet, Fibinace, Than-bauk and dozens more – they all have form and definition and can be fun to write. A Than-bauk is a Burmese poetical form in three lines of only four syllables each, and there is a unique climbing rhyming requirement.


giants stand tall
while d’s fall down
a call to arms


The poetry of form can be beautiful.

I love what Haiku Bob does, which is write beautiful and evocative blank verse poetry.


umpire crashes out
bugger all scores in a half
fumbling gloom – dire day


It might not be as good as what Haiku Bob writes. But at least it’s a Haiku.

About steve duffy

is in no particular order....writer, artist, graphic designer, library technician, Giants fan, dad, husband, friend, brother, son, reader, lover of music, resident of Penrith, Canberra boy, Raider fan, Brumbies fan, Cats fan, right handed, white with two (coffee) black with two (tea), left of centre.....


  1. Nick Gibson says

    Poetry me thinks
    Is much maligned nowadays
    Bring it back I say

  2. Haikus at 20 paces then gents?? For the honour of becoming Count Haiku the Almanac Poet Laureate.
    And may the best simile win.

  3. Tom Martin says

    Haiku Bob’s set shot
    At the purist poet’s goal
    Missed by a meter

  4. Steve Hodder says

    No “Buddy Arc” allowed for Bob writing in English?

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