04/06/2015 09:22 am ET Updated Jun 06, 2015

Airport Haikus

A haiku is a Japanese three-line poem, 17 syllables, written in 5/7/5 syllable count. After three hours on the runway, then a cancelled flight, followed by six more hours at the airport, it was time to devote myself to this ancient literary form.

They promised us free
Drinks after take off. I thirst
Because we did not.

Long since adopted by cultures outside Japan, the haiku can reflect the poet's own literature, culture and spirituality.

O'Hare my hell in
Ages past. My hell in years
To come. Time flies not.

Still, most people expect a haiku to succinctly capture and distill a common image from nature.

My date awaits me
In Minneapolis. Will
He sell flowers soon?

Japanese poets take "ginkgo walks" to find poetic inspiration in their environment.

Three hours on tarmac
Then six more at O'Hare.
Cinnabon mocks me.

But a true literary haiku includes a kigo, a two-part juxtapositional structure, and a shift in mood.

Re-boarding the plane
Nine hours late, I despair at my
First world problems

On the airplane, I felt that my time had been well-spent. I had mastered the haiku. It was time to turn my attention to an entirely different poetic form, but just when I was getting started, my plane took off.

My only regret is that I did not have time to finish this limerick: "There once was a plane like a bucket..."