Murder Mystery Haiku (and a Giveaway!)

This seems to be a week for poetry on the Chicks! Today, I’m discussing the fun, Japanese poetic form of haiku.

I was first introduced to haiku back in 1977, when my law professor father initiated the Federal Jurisdiction Haiku Festival at the UCLA School of Law, inviting students and professors to submit original poems on this arcane subject. This was long before I became an attorney, and at the time I knew nothing about “fed. jur.” (as it is fondly referred to by those of the legal persuasion). But I was much taken with the elegance and simplicity of the poetic form. Here’s an example of a haiku my dad composed for the festival:

Legislative courts
Are but agencies in drag;
Glidden is but paint.

—Kenneth L. Karst

(Click on this Wikipedia entry if you want to learn about the joke contained within the poem.)

Haiku consists (in English, anyway) of three unrhymed lines of poetry, of five, seven, and five syllables. Though not required, these poems commonly contain an image depicting a specific moment in time.


I was thinking about my dad’s festival recently, and it occurred to me: If you can compose haiku on a theme as dry as federal law (no offense, Dad), why not also on the captivating subject of a murder mystery? Would it be possible to reduce a mystery story down to a mere seventeen syllables?

I decided to give it a try. Here’s the plot—or at least the set-up—of my latest Sally Solari culinary mystery, Death al Fresco, set as a haiku:

The body lies still:
Gray hair tangled in green kelp.
Who killed the old man?

Hooked (yes, that’s a pun, since the dead guy is an old Italian fisherman), I penned another, this time a tad sillier:

Bloodstains on white gloves,
A silver salver missing.
The butler did it.

I had so much fun with these that I asked my fellow Chicks if they wanted to give it a try, and several of them said yes. Here are their entries:

Seven ticked-off Chicks,
Feathers and claws in the coop.
Eggatha nails wolf.

—Lisa Q. Mathews

Writers make stuff up,
But sometimes lies tell the truth
Better than the facts.

—Vickie Fee

Fear creeps up slowly.
Terror because once again,
My word count is low.

—Ellen Byron

Okay, readers, now it’s your turn: C’mon and try your hand at the game and leave a murder mystery haiku of your own below in the comments!

And to sweeten the pot, one randomly chosen person who comments with a haiku by midnight on Sunday, Nov. 4, will win an e-book of the Sally Solari culinary mystery of their choice!


48 thoughts on “Murder Mystery Haiku (and a Giveaway!)

  1. Oh my gosh I had fun reading what you guys came up with, mine will be terrible! Ok here goes: “Love cozy authors; they really know how to write; humor…murder…yeah!” And…this is why YOU ladies do the writing and I just read it (and write about it in reviews but that kind of writing is something I can do lol)!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Love this post, Leslie! I’ve loved haiku since second grade (or whenever it was they taught syllables). We had to illustrate them, as I remember. (And I did check out Glidden. A little over my head, but I kept looking for paint?)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Body floats in lake
    Victim former swimmer who
    Won at the wrong race

    (Is there high stakes betting in swimming?)

    Loved this post. After years spent working on Haikus, it’s always nice to see them mentioned.

    (I’ve read all your books
    I don’t need second copy
    Please let others win.)

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Love this post too! Have been so busy this week that I couldn’t even think straight, much less compose a poem on time. But you’re all very inspiring, so…

    How to handle this:
    Sky falling on cluttered desk.
    Need more coffee now.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This is such a great way to get the poetic juices flowing. When in college I took Exploratory Prose, we had to use 20 lines and every other line had to rhyme in sonnet form. I loved it then and still try to do it with what is going on in my life now. Thanks for the memories of that experience.

    Liked by 2 people

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