5 Went Out, 4 Came Back: Mermaid Haiku Taken by Star*Line

I don’t usually call them haiku myself, though some euphemize them with genre portmanteaus like “scifiku” or Horrorku” — rather I think of them, in English, as 3-line epigrams that just happen to borrow an approximately 5-7-5 syllable count (which isn’t really exactly what defines the Japanese form either).  As such I generally title them too,

A Mermaid - John William Waterhouse (1849 - 1917)

A Mermaid – John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917)

which purists would not do with real haiku.  But, hey, it’s having fun, no?  And if a title gives it another half-twist (or even not), well, what’s the harm in it.

Thus it happens that I e-sent five of these 3-liners to STAR*LINE a little while back.  And then, today, only four returned, the first retained by Editor Jeannie Bergmann, but with this proviso:  “I like the first poem quite a lot, but would you consider replacing the first line with the title?  I’m not crazy about titled haiku, and not attached to the 5-7-5 form either.  . . .  Let me know if that works.”  Or, in a sense, make it a little more like an actual haiku (though not with a seasonal tag or a sharp descriptive image), a least in form.

Well, in this case, okay so I sent back my nod.   The missing line gave an opening description of sorts but one implied by the rest of the poem, the titleless form fits with STAR*LINE style . . . so what’s the harm in it, eh?  Other than that, all I will say is, as noted above, it has to do with a mermaid or mermaids.

Also, being a horror poem, its conclusion is not nice.

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