Friday, April 18, 2008

a senryu by Alan Bern

the dogs bark louder
as someone passes by
we fuck faster


A haiku is about nature. The “plastic letters” haiku I quoted took place in nature (despite its focus on a human artifact) so I figured I might as well call it haiku. Senryu is about human beings and is frequently humorous. So I’ll call “the dogs bark louder” a senryu. Both forms have the same three line, syllable-counting characteristics.

Offering up a reading for “the dogs bark louder” seems superfluous. So let’s look at something not there – the punctuation.

How is the reading affected if you place a period after “louder”? Put the period after “by” instead? I think the second reads most naturally. But the line break (and reading that first line as a complete sentence, full stop) makes more independent the barking of the dogs; one doesn’t hear them as responding to the person passing. Rather, the dogs are merely background noise. Not that the beat can’t affect the motion.

source: “Secondi Passi” in Waterwalking in Berkeley, by Alan Bern

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