Graffiti haiku don’t follow rules on syllable count – or any other rules. Even the spelling is uncertain. Merriam‑Webster says the word is plural, and spelled ‘graffiti,’ although opinions vary. Graffiti haiku are short, poetic, political, and pissed off.
The idea of graffiti haiku came from a couple of inner-city kids from Washington, D.C. They had come to check out a workshop on poetry at the Labor Arts Exchange at the George Meany Center in Washington, in June 2000. This is an annual get-together of labor organizers, union staff, folksingers, and artists of all kinds to discuss how art can be a part of organizing, especially union organizing.
Graffiti haiku are political tools, to write on on a factory wall or post in a restroom: tools for troublemakers.. Graffiti haiku may be on a strike picket sign, or anyplace unexpected or not permitted. Post graffiti haiku anyplace likely to incite people to think and to act politically.
Graffiti haiku were conceived as a few words along with a sketch any graffiti artist could do. Some of my possible graphics seem to call for a professional artist. Any volunteers are welcome to send me a version of my possible graphic, or of their idea.
YOU decide if something qualifies as graffiti haiku.
Budget cuts bleed.
They need more bandages,
and unity. (possible graphic — a bandaged wound)
Words Brigaded –
Color! Design! Songs! Dance!
Poems that march! (possible graphic — a picket sign) [Here, poem is one syllable]
Dawn; a pile of rags. Oops!
Someone sleeping (possible graphic — someone sleeping on the street)
Last year I could
just pay rent and buy food.
Now I’ll have less. (possible graphic – half a loaf of bread)
(possible graphic – two dead children)
The sign says
No Trespassing! But
trees can’t read. (possible graphic — a tree)
journalists provide war
pornography (possible graphic – maybe even a woman lying on a bed, with a rifle between her legs)
(possible graphic — a gun and a bottle)
Losing jobs moves folk.
Some vote angrily. Some march
Some just hop a freight. (possible graphic – freight car in moving train)
problems? We were here first.
And we’re still here. (possible graphic – tomahawk)
World Trade Center:
But who planned it? (possible graphic – lower floors of a destroyed skyscraper)
Fund the buses …
hitch-hiking (possible graphic – thumbing a ride)
Don’t just squawk. (possible graphic – chicken on a chopping block)
The bottom line
is only money. (possible graphic – small pile of bills torn in half)
We built it.
Now we occupy it. (possible graphic – hammer)