Let’s All Write a Lune!

by Paul Mathers

The Lune is a form concocted in the 1960s by poet Robert Kelly. He was upset over the Western version of the haiku, feeling that the rigid syllabic adherence detracted from the original flow of the form. Japanese, he said, uses more syllables than English. So, he devised a form of 5/3/5 syllables, a sort of English haiku form. He called it a Lune because the right side of the poems sort of resemble a crescent moon.

But then came a wonderful variation on the form. Poet Jack Collom was teaching poetic forms to schoolchildren. He misremembered the Lune as being 5/3/5 WORDS instead of syllables. Realizing his mistake, he looked at the poems that the children had written and found that the removal of the even slightly stricter rule of syllables freed them up to experiment with greater ease.

I tried both and found that the best ones came sitting in my front room, simply observing what was going on in the room. They do sort of have an English haiku feel to them I think. First, the syllabic form:


Black dog lies on side

hard wood floor

wheezing, paws twitching.


Black cat curled by dog

both sleeping

one paw on dog’s leg.


Day’s rain on pavement

pools in cracks

grass saturated.


And then I wrote some of the word variety.


He yawns, stares at her,

turns his head,

licks lips, looks at me.


Her socks are coffee cream

sweater and sweats

hair failed pulled from face.


Pickle snaps when teeth bite

vinegar numbs tongue

bottom soaks through paper towel.