Haiku Battle in Six Movements

A Haiku BattleBefore I unleash this salacious battle into your computer screens, allow me to provide a back story.

Eric Morago is a wood nymph born in a wine barrel. Someone somewhere along the line has photographed him fiddling with straws and given him other instruments through which he plays poetry. He’s been recorded, printed, staged, and he’s even been given smallish children to teach. Through it all, he’s remained short.

Danielle Mitchell, on the other hand, outgrew her hand-me-down stirrup pants and cashed them in for hipster credit. She is often spotted at the city limits sneaking wine into town in her purse. She calls it “Purse Wine.” When not writing, Danielle enjoys planning evacuation routes & tea parties. She easily becomes dizzy because her head is way up there and because she is blonde.

Alternate titles for this battle include:

When You Find That You Have Nothing Better to Do Than an Eric Morago Haiku





It all started one day in 2010 when Eric wrote this haiku after my poem, Spoiled.

Oh horticulture
of the end. I eat my last
pineapple, crying.

My response was a bit raunchy and obtuse. And so, perfect. Thus began a haiku battle that spanned the following months.

Don’t lie, Eric, you
ate that pineapple to cure
your funky spunk. Ew!


At the launch event for Eric’s CD, Live Near the Circle K, I threatened to place straws in Eric’s whiskey. Eric has a thing about straws in his whiskey, which he wrote about in his poem, I Don’t Like Straws. (The first line is: “in my whiskey.”

Keep those straws away
from my Jack Daniels, or else
BAM! Boot to the head.

By “boot to the head”
I mean a rubber chicken
I bought just for you.

His name is Tyrone.
Haggled him off some gypsy.
She smelled of Bengay.

My rebuttal.

By “gypsy” you meant
hooker. We all know what you
use that chicken for.

Sometime in July
there was an epidemic
of rubber whackings.

Sadly, what was whacked
and why? I can’t say in front
of the small children.


Later, after I did, indeed, put straws in Eric’s whiskey.

Thank you for the straws.
No, really, you shouldn’t have.
Why are you so evil?

Why are you so short?
But we should not ask these things
of our friends, it’s rude.


Time passed and Eric grew restless with his losses on the battlefield, he wrote to me, “In retrospect,  our “haikuing,” I think needs to be more imagistic in execution. I’ll have to figure out a way to work in the image, ‘a mountain spring mist of spite.’”

I responded by quoting an entire ancient Chinese poem by Meng Hao-jan, then:

P.S. Fuzzy ducks
better than “mountain spring mist
of spite.” Black Rainbow.

I don’t have record of what Eric did on this specific occasion, I think it’s because he went home and cried.


Meanwhile, our friends began to notice the war raging just outside their Facebook walls, one said to me, “But Danielle, if Eric died, wouldn’t you be lost?” I responded,

Lost where exactly?
In space, the mall, Orange County?
Yes, all three. Snowflake.

Sensing that his demise was near, Eric began hitting me below the belt by attacking my idol, Starbuck from Battlestar Galatica.

Starbuck is so hot
I would almost break my rule
do her in the butt.

Then, our mutual friend Ben Trigg decided to help mediate.

Oh silly haiku,
so short, but big where it counts.
What’s that you’re packing?

Ben also offered a chance for reconciliation one night at the Ugly Mug when he asked everyone in the open mic to write a haiku and then it read when they came to the stage. Sitting on opposite sides of the room, without prior corroboration these happened.

Stop hitting me in the chin
every time we hug—damn you
are so short Morago!

Oh silly haiku,
so short. Maybe that’s why you
and I get along.


It all ended on  a Thursday afternoon, when Eric brought us full circle with another Haiku for my poem, Spoiled. He often repeats himself. (Old age).

I dreamt of pears and
nectarines screaming in pain
your poem killed them all.

He also created this gem around that time.

Oh pterodactyl,
if only you weren’t extinct.
There’d be less pigeons.

I was meant to respond, but was having trouble coming up with something equally “measured” and “appropriate,”  so Eric provided this additional inspiration.

Sad panda heart break
bamboo-laced with crystal meth
makes hurt better.

Finally, I made my strike!

I want to shave you
down like shawarma and eat
you in pita bread.

You will be warm and
cozy there, don’t worry, Turks
make it comfy. Yum.

(Yes, I wrote a haiku about shawarma years about the Avengers were eating it in a diner!) 

As crows scavenged the literary battlefield for dropped lines and discarded syllables, I wrote this to commemorate our wasted moments together.

It is very sad
that your life has come to this,


Over time, we went on to do other things, all but forgetting the war between us, the pillaged syllabic villages we laid to dust, the dreams of grandeur that died at our ignoble feet. The tears (mostly Eric’s), the bribes (mostly mine), and all the laughs we gleaned from our wild rumpus. And yet, if there’s a message of hope hidden somewhere among these lines, perhaps it is in this photo of Eric that I captioned with a haiku just last week.

(c) Eric Morago

Just farted, no one
knows yet. My life’s work is an
absolute success.

The end


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Watching the battle
    Brings laughter from the sidelines
    May peace never come!

  2. Eric Morago says:

    Farts are just like ghosts.
    Ethereal and haunting.
    Who you gonna call?

    1. Always wants to have the last word!

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