Jim’s been sick and the weather’s been lovely, which brings all sorts of bugs to South Philadelphia, and so I posted this at Facebook:

One-line poem, called “Seasonal”:

     Husband with flu swats fly.

Or should it be two lines? 

     Husband with flu
     swats fly.

Poets 1 and 2 click “like.”

Philadelphia Inquirer Editor: “Either way, it’s great, though I lean to the second. Happy Sunday!”

Poet 3: “Perhaps ‘Husband with flu swats at fly.’?”

Me: “I think the fly doesn’t get hit with ‘at.’ And I want that fly dead. Even if it didn’t happen that way in real life."

Dancer-Choreographer Friend: “it should be two lines, with ‘fly’ as the second line.”

Me: “thus eliding the slight natural pause between ‘flu’ and ‘swats’?”

[‘Flu swats’ at the end of a line sounds like some sort of strange noun. Dude, I’ve got the flu-swats. It really sucks.]

Me: “Also, wouldn’t that de-emphasize the slant rhyme, flu-fly?"

Dancer-Choreographer: “I think it would emphasize the pun of ‘fly’ being an insect but also the opposite of lying in bed sick. The rhyme is still there, it’s just more Eminem than Peter, Paul and Mary.”

Poet 4: “Two lines…The Daisy version. Though I do like that putting only fly as the second line makes the fly seem more fly-like, and swatted.”

Fiction Writer: “Hmmm; I’m thinking three actually:

'Husband with flu

Same Fiction Writer: “You could play with the placement of “fly” within its horizontal line—possibly dropping it a couple spaces right of the left margin, and a period at the end to be sure.”

Poet 5: “and it’s all so fly.”

Poet 3: “’Or should it be two lines’ IS the second line. Nicely self-referential. Unless that’s too wry/coy/ironic/po-mo for what you want. I’ll ask Basho.”

Poet 6: “How about the chiasmus of ‘Flu-stricken husband/strikes fly’ (or ‘…husband strikes/fly’)?

Poet 7: “Number 2. 2 lines. I like flu/fly.”

Poet 8: “Actually it’s a (self-)reflexive or meta-haiku:

'Three-line poem: spring./Flu-struck husband swats the fly./Two-liner, wife thinks.'"

Poet 3: “One line: 'Fly. Flu. No matter.'”


Originally Published: April 9th, 2012

Daisy Fried is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013).