A lot of people have read On the Road (and for those of you who haven’t, you should get right on that) but not quite as many know about the amazing haiku Kerouac wrote during his lifetime.  In a style labeled “Western Haiku,” Kerouac paints miniature portraits – snapshots, really – of otherwise forgettable moments in his life, three lines at a time, 17 syllables total (although he suggests that this is not a steadfast rule).

My absolute favorite haiku by Kerouac (or anyone, really) is this:

When the moon sinks
down to the power line.
I’ll go in

I think what makes Kerouac’s poetry so refreshing to me is the fact that there isn’t really any hidden meaning to parse out after hours and hours of thought.  In fact, if Kerouac had an idea that you were spending that kind of time searching for a deeper message in this poem, he’d probably shake his head.  What I get from this haiku is that moment – likely in the summer – when the only pressing decision on your mind is when to go inside and get ready to face a new day.  It’s like holding on a little longer to a person you’re embracing because you don’t know when or if you’ll see them again.  I think that’s Western Haiku in a nutshell – describing indescribable feelings and unremarkable moments in an effort to capture them for all time.

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