A "honku" is a haiku poem about cars and traffic.
Haiku is a traditional Japanese form of poetry. As it's typically written in English, a haiku consists of three lines written in a 5-7-5 format, totaling 17 syllables. A good haiku is subtle. It makes a simple and direct observation of something in nature, often leading the reader to a larger observation about the world as a whole.
Below is a classic haiku by the Japanese master, Basho. I believe this may be the world's first honku:
This road -
no one goes down it,
The 17th century Japanese poets who began writing haiku found inspiration in the details of their immediate surroundings - the mountains and streams, the plants and creatures, the changing of the seasons. Similarly, the 21st century Brooklyn poets who began writing honku closely observed the flora, fauna and phenomena of their natural environment - the Mountaineers, Explorers and Escalades, the horn blasts of impatient cabbies, the wail of the 3:00 a.m. car alarm. Basho would have had a field day with this stuff.
Anyone can write a honku. Anything that drives you crazy while in or around cars, traffic, and the American motoring experience is fodder for a honku.
Honku is a road rage anger management technique. The next time some jerk cuts you off or steals your parking spot, rather than succumbing to the rage, take a step back. Separate yourself from the moment and try to observe it with clarity and perspective. Then boil it all down into crisp and pithy 5-7-5 gem. That's a honku.
Copyright 2003 Aaron Naparstek