Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Written by Chel Owens

Chel is a person, much like you. She also writes occasionally, reads often, mothers daily, and sleeps and eats in her free time.

May 3, 2021

Howdy! Welcome to another month of Anyone Can Poem.

I enjoyed reading what y’all wrote last month, when we explored poetic parody. If’n you’re still in the mood, check it out and write to the challenge.

Now, on to more fun! Dust off your chaps and boots and cinch up your saddle straps. We’re going to jump into common poetry forms, beginning with haiku.

What is haiku?

Haiku is one of the most basic forms of poetry you can write, with the exception of replicating Ogden Nash’s “Fleas.” Despite this simplicity, an excellent haiku can still produce serenity of mind.

Furthermore, YOU can write an excellent haiku.

  1. Think of a subject. It’s traditional to use something from Nature, but no one says you can’t poem about ice cream.
  2. Frame your subject into very, very simple terms. If your subject is ice cream and you want to write about its melting, think, Cream hot melt. That’s right: I want you to jot down words like someone writing a telegram who only has seventeen cents to do so.
  3. Start writing! Actually write Cream, Hot, Melt. Write more; why not Chocolate Desires Now Sidewalk? Or, Mint Chip Pavement?
  4. DO NOT HESITATE. DO NOT ERASE. There is no wrong way to do these steps, apart from skipping out from fear of mistakes.
  5. Look over what you’ve got, and open your fingers. Count the syllables of your chosen words and split them into three lines of 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables.
  6. Look over what you’ve got again, and edit as needed for clarity. Some haiku are rather nonsensical while others form a complete phrase or thought over the course of the three lines.
  7. Try to avoid rhyming. It is not necessary; plus, readers will assume you know what you’re doing if you don’t…

Repeat these steps as needed. Write several poems if you’d like! Who’s stopping you?

After you’ve had your fun, send your creation(s) my way through the form. You may also share a haiku or two in the comments for all of us to enjoy.


Cream hot melt pavement
Chocolate sidewalk desires
Mint chip dreams now gone

ยฉ2021 Chel Owens

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  1. floridaborne

    Nature roars birdsong
    Haiku words mimic Tarzan
    jumble jungle talk.

      • floridaborne

        Good one!

    • Chel Owens

      Excellent, Floridaborne! It works as a rather humorous haiku; my favorite is the last line.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. ????

        Yep — it was supposed to be sarcasm and humor.

  2. Norah

    I love haiku. It’s one of my favourite forms.

    • Chel Owens

      Excellent! It can be a wonderful form to express with.

      • Norah

        It is!

  3. Doug Jacquier

    Yes, I’m incorrigible, I know but, like Oscar, I can resist everything but temptation. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Scottish haiku

    Coos graze on highlands.
    Night brings soprano mooin’
    for they are high coos.

    Australian haiku

    Roos graze on farmland.
    Night brings spotlights and rifles.
    Tomorrow night’s stew.

    Cockney haiku

    Buffalo? Bison?
    Wash your face in a bison,
    not a buffalo.

    French haiku

    A rhinoceros?
    Swimming here, is he in Seine?
    Or existential?

    Carrot Ranch haiku

    Riders saddle up.
    They reign cos they never pause
    moovin’ on past yer.

    • Chel Owens

      Incorrigible? You? I’d expect nothing less. Thank you for having such fun with the form.

  4. joanne the geek

    As someone who has been published in actual haiku journals the 5/7/5 format is not true. In haiku you’re trying to capture a profound moment, rather than writing a poem with 17 syllables… but this seems to be a losing battle on WordPress at least.

    • Chel Owens

      Believe you me, Joanne, I have issues with how everyone interprets and writes haiku. I decided to keep it simple for this challenge.

    • Jules


      There is debate on the 575 form – the newest hoopla is 4 lines totaling 12 syllables. So when I use the 575 form I attempt to remember to include that it is the American haiku form. But then I’m not a big fan of haiku societies anyway…

      Really though, it does boil down to what one was taught and how comfortable they are with it. I did a series of the 4 line 12 syllables here:
      five May firsts

      It really isn’t just WordPress… it is I believe a generational thing. And some folks won’t budge. Still it is a nice form though – perhaps it just needs renaming? America’ku maybe?

      • Jules

        I write because I like to.
        If one person likes something I’ve written, even if that person isn’t me (or especially so?) then it was worth writing. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Jules

        Oh, also, Doug: for me and haiku – it’s a “Frankly Scarlett… ” situation. I really don’t give a shift. But I try to play nice ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Chel Owens


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      What a great discussion.
      Yeah, an actual count of words and or syllables is a might silly, but to keep count helps one to distill their poem. I think it’s about that, keeping it brief, focused and distilled with a Ha! or an Ah! in there too.
      I find I work harder on haiku than most any other writing I do, finding the right words and the right arrangement. I don’t write a lot of haiku…

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Not silly silly, I mean no disrespect, and as I say it is a focus and a fine structure to grow in before breaking the rules. Choose any constraint, number of syllables, and stick to it because the piece will be better for what got tossed than for what was allowed to remain. I don’t mind 5-7-5, and realize it is an American approximation at a Japanese form with too many nuances to get into today.

    • joanne the geek

      I understand you’re trying to keep it simple, it’s just I have misgivings about how haiku is approached on WordPress. I’m not trying to be critical of you, I’m just wanting to make people aware there is another side to it all. In it’s truest form haiku is notoriously difficult to write and yet is also one of the most popular forms of poetry in the world. It has great popularity in the States, but also in Eastern Europe, and even here in Australasia. Essentially you are capturing a moment in as few words as possible (English can be quite a concise language and seventeen syllables is often way too many) but which contain layers of meaning and resonances, and to see it reduced to just a seventeen syllable poem can quite hard to take at times, especially when I’m reading the daily feed on WordPress at night…

      I was introduced to haiku when I was still a teenager by an internationally respected haiku writer who judged international competitions and edited journals. It took me years to write a haiku I was proud of: morning sun:/a shadow/crosses the street. I can still remember the precise moment when I wrote that. I was standing at a window and someone was crossing the street, but all I could was their shadow as a tree was in the way. In the actual haiku it can mean someone crossing the street, but also other things moving such as bushes or lampposts due to the movement of the sun. When my haiku began appearing in the haiku journals, the man who introduced me to it all said: “Your haiku is starting to look like haiku” which was a compliment coming from someone who never went out of their way making compliments. Haiku teaches you to be concise, and this has had flow on effects on my other forms of writing.

      One site I follow (and often share on Twitter) on WordPress is She often reposts journal-quality haiku. Worth checking out if you an interest in this form.

      • Chel Owens

        Thank you, Joanne. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • pedometergeek

      Thanks Joanne the Geek for stating this. It needed to be said. English language haiku does not adhere to 5/7/5 any more; they can be, but they don’t have to be. Rarely, does my haiku have 5/7/5 any more. It is more about that haiku (aha!) moment. ~nan

  5. Jules

    Hi, Chel – here’s two for one sort of and there is an image at my post:

    nosey โ€˜ku

    nosey โ€˜ku

    3 lines 575 syllables

    without sunscreen; burnt
    to a crisp and fallen off
    oh, where is my nose?

    Or for the โ€˜Newโ€™ traditionalists; 4 lines 12 syllables

    too long
    lost in sand
    my proboscis’
    gone missing


    • Chel Owens

      I read them at your site, too, Jules. ๐Ÿ˜€ Great fun.

      • Jules

        I remember reading about the Sphinx – that maybe originally there was a lion head on it. Anything that huge though – the manpower, craft and skill to build and alter it…

      • Chel Owens

        Egypt’s ancient construction is mind-boggling.

  6. Charli Mills

    Howdy, Chel! I’ll be wandering around out back of the barns, prepping rawhide as you poets saddle up. I’ll be thinking of haikus…

    • Chel Owens

      Howdy! I ‘spect a rawhide haiku when you get back…

  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    above late spring clouds
    sun shines golden bright unseen
    snow veiled daffodil

    • Chel Owens

      ???????? Excellent, as usual, D.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Different experiences, different knowinโ€™s
    But the point remains, anyone can poem
    An open place to opine or oโ€™pun
    A place to play and just have fun
    No matter the label and definition applied
    Play at poeming, seriously give it a try
    Thank you Chelsea for this poetry prompt
    Where folks can write, read, and stay for the chomp.

  9. trentpmcd

    Crab Apple

    Spring bright tree
    Dressed in white and pink
    Bitter fruit

    OK, that’s the 3-5-3 style, but…

    • Jules

      No ‘but…’ necessary. There are different haiku structures and there are different people. so it is really all OK.

      I think the whole point of Chel’s post is to poem and be creative.

      • trentpmcd

        Yes, I agree that was her point, so I wasn’t too worried. I was good and did not get involved in the discussion on what a “real” haiku really is (truthfully, I don’t have a strong opinion anyway…)

      • Jules

        If “Real” Haiku Societies want to keep changing the definition, it doesn’t bother me. Since I will most likely never be a member of one. And I will continue to write what I want ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • trentpmcd

        Yep, agreed. It is nice to have options when writing, but the word “options” is important here ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Jules

        I’ve been using my ‘options’ for over 50 years ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Chel Owens

      Love it, Trent. The syllables, as you clearly know, seem to make poeming more approachable. Yours is just fine.

      • trentpmcd

        Thanks, Chel. Yeah, I get the entire syllable thing and do write the 5-7-5 when the mood takes me there…

  10. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View

    Yes Anyone can Poem
    But you don’t have to do it reverently
    Chorale For nature
    Dripping Harmony In Song
    And Messy Droppings
    May the Farce be with us

    • Chel Owens

      ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh dear. A definite side effect of Nature, in such a lovely form.

  11. reading journeys

    Hi Chel

    This is great!
    OK – quick! tell me how many syllables in “evening” ????
    I went with 3 – according to Syllable Counter WordCalc website.

    Here’s the haiku:

    evening trees dark
    wind picks up golden clouds in
    setting sun spirit

    Hope to write some more!

    • Jules

      Saifun, syllable counter has evening going for two syllables.
      Frankly I don’t think it matters unless you are entering some kind of contest that has rule restrictions. I think for the quest of this ‘poeming’ post your haiku is a beautiful capture of nature.

      • reading journeys

        Thank you! I enjoy reading your poems at Carrot ranch – many of those have nature in them one way or another.

      • Jules

        Carrot Ranch is a good place for good friends ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Chel Owens

      Hello, Saifun! Many poets and laymen slur ‘evening’ to two syllables, but the reader chooses whether to draw it out or not. I think it works as both.

      In terms of meeting a supposed haiku standard, a haiku in English cannot actually fit the stress/non-stress of the
      Japanese ‘on’ so -again- you’re perfectly fine. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I would remove the “in” and that’s it. Yours paints a beautiful, calming feeling; that is the most important element of a nature haiku.

  12. H.R.R. Gorman

    Thanks for writing a primer! As long as we have fun writing a poem, it’ll be great!

  13. reading journeys

    Hi Chel

    Here’s another haiku :

    Listen to desert
    No way May cherry blossoms
    Thorny pear cactus

    A lot of fun – thanks!

    • Chel Owens

      Great, Saifun! I’m happy you are inspired to write these lovely haiku. ?

  14. Writinginthedeep

    Breeze kisses my skin

    Goosebumps rise to kiss the wind

    Seasons are changing

    • Chel Owens

      ???????? Very nice! I love where my mind went in picturing the breeze kissing, then the goosebumps kissing.


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