Do You Baiku?

As the book reviewer for The Rider’s Digest ( ), I get to review a large amount of literature pertaining to motorcycles. The column is “really” about motorcycles and popular culture, but sometimes other things turn up: like motorcycle poetry in general (issue 173) and motorcycle haiku in particular.

The question with motorcycle haiku – or baiku as it is sometimes called – is whether it belongs in poetry or in motorcycle studies (literature or transportation).

In the case of motorcycle haiku, this is because not only does the result have to follow the loose rules of haiku, but also include something about motorcycling, motorcycles, and/or motorcyclists.

For example:

Both panniers packed
Deep breath, twist throttle
Tierra del Fuego or bust

Although not the classic 5-7-5 arrangement of syllables, its actual haiku crime is a lack of a seasonal reference. (It can be argued “twist throttle” functions as the pivot.)

Dia de los Muertos
Jolly Roger on the gas tank

That may be off the map as far as syllables per line goes, but does have both a pivot and seasonal reference in Dia de los Muertos. The skeletal imagery of the November holiday links to the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger.

Haiku (and baiku) of course are more than just that. Loosely, there are picture haiku and philosophic ones. The first is a nice image, not necessarily just pictorial; the second suggests the sublime.

Boy on a motorcycle
Riding where the road leads
Comes to a fork

Admittedly the “sublime” in this case is closer to existentialism for dummies, but it does take the reader out of the immediate image into some larger question.

While seasons and planets, flora and fauna, weather and Zen wit all abound in haiku, perhaps there is room for motorcycles as well.

Iron horse, iron rider
Which is the ride?
And which is the rider?


6 thoughts on “Do You Baiku?

  1. Hi Jonathan and welcome to haiku matters,

    Yes there is room for motorcycles…to mess about with Orwell “three lines good–two wheels better”
    I hope you enjoy your time here and look forward to some interesting posts and responses.

    col 🙂

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