Aaron Naparstek is one of the people behind the popular NYC transit media site called Streetsblog. He's also the author of a book called Honku that updates that ancient Japanese poetry form, the haiku, by using the very contemporary theme of automobiles; or, more specifically, how f*@#$ing irritating they are.

From the publicity site for the book: "Honku is a road rage anger management technique. The next time some jerk cuts you off or steals your parking spot, rather than succumbing to the rage, take a step back. Separate yourself from the moment and try to observe it with clarity and perspective. Then boil it all down into crisp and pithy 5-7-5 gem. That's a honku."

So simple, and so brilliant. On a personal note, I took a few poetry classes in college. As a result, I now find reading poetry as enjoyable as rubbing sandpaper over my corneas. Still, a quick, pithy haiku always puts me in good spirits. There are a few "favorite" honkus published directly on Naparstek's site, so I decided to pull a few of my own favorites -- the best of the best of the best, if you will -- and re-post them here for your enjoyment. Take a read through, and if you like what you see check out the site for more.

Gruesome hit and run
fatalities up ahead
how awful - I'm late.

Drove six hours to
the Mall of America
got some McNuggets.

Atlanta traffic
easy to see why Sherman
burned this city down.

There's a great little story on the Honku site about the inspiration for the book. As it turns out, these literary zingers started off as a a community art project. Enraged by inconsiderate, horn-honking drivers disturbing the peace in his Brooklyn neighborhood, Naparstek started writing the honkus and taping them to lightposts in the area. Soon, honkus written by other residents started popping up. The city council rep took notice, as did the police, and the local media. Of course, in New York, the "local media" is the New Yorker and the New York Times. That was probably somewhat helpful in getting this project to really take off. Heh. At any rate, all of the attention fixed the problem: the cops started ticketing honkers and the noise dropped dramatically.

So the next time you're confronted by a problem in your neighborhood, remember that the annoyances we assume to be unavoidable can be remedied through unconventional solutions. You can't fix everything with a haiku, but if someone had told you this story before it had actually happened, you'd probably have laughed at them. We big city folk have a tendancy to mistake cynicism for common sense. We need to stop that.

One more for the road, from yours truly:

Leaning out windows
drivers scream for green. A train
rumbles overhead.

Honku.org (Photo Credit)


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