unamerican sentences

I was just checking out Paul Nelson’s website, American Sentences (website designed by the aforementioned Denise Enck), based on Allen Ginsberg’s idea of making the haiku American.

Nelson has posted some delightful American sentences by Ginsberg:

1.02.01 — Alternating oil massage, we decide against greasing up the cat.
1.03.01 — Bruxism she says, is like sleeping next to a running tractor.
1.22.01 — Just beyond a thin layer of plastic feel the warmth of the dog shit.
1.27.01 — Outside ritzy Pine Street shops, two legless men among those seeking change.

So I started wondering. What about the 6-word hay(na)ku, which is based, partly, on making the (Americanized?) haiku Filipino, but at the same time, retains enough slipperiness to slide out of such geographic categories? UnAmerican sentences? I don’t mean in the sense of “unpatriotic,” but more the sense of not adhering to labels like “linear” or “vertical,” or, well, “American.” Which means what, exactly? Ask someone from Colombia. A sentence based on hay(na)ku is brief; it would slip by with perhaps less of a sense of “finish,” yet it has a certain impact, I think.

Here’s one: Primaries are over; the crows alight.

Anyway, I’m just playing around with that idea today.


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