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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Craft Essay: 408 words
By Peter Jastermsky

“Love Thing”: The Allure of the Split Sequence

 

Ah, the suggestiveness that can be expressed through senryu! And what if the first time with a lover could be shared through a new short form?

Sensuality, poetry, adventure: it’s all here in this linked format. In twelve lines, we can peek over the bare shoulders of the actors in this piece. Perhaps they should close the curtains! There’s much to reveal when it comes to split sequences. Let the seduction begin...

First, you need a three-line haiku or senryu. Here is my original poem, which will provide the structure:

blood rare
the richness
of a first kiss

Next, you literally split that poem into thirds. This creates the split-sequence format, and here the first senryu is then added:

blood rare

first slice
touching on
those tender places

the richness

of a first kiss

You’re starting off with a link between “blood rare” and “first slice.” And if you factor in “touching” and “tender places,” you’ve established a tone for the rest of the piece to follow.

Next, the second senryu is added, extending the mood of the overall piece:

blood rare

first slice
touching on
those tender places

the richness

butternut squash
how the butter
needs no excuse

of a first kiss

Well, why not? You set up a linkage between “richness,” “butternut squash,” and “butter.” There is also a bonus linkage between “no excuse” and Line 3 of the original poem, “first kiss.”

To complete the split sequence, add the third and final senryu, and a title:

Love Thing
blood rare

first slice
touching on
those tender places

the richness

butternut squash
how the butter
needs no excuse

of a first kiss

extra creamy
how she likes
to be stirred

The trick to ending a split sequence is to use an evocative closing poem. Your goal is to nail the ending.

In keeping with the theme of this piece, I added what is, quite honestly, a blatantly risqué senryu. I could have aimed for subtle, but I was having too much fun “going low.”

Who among us can miss the linkage between “first kiss,” “extra creamy,” and “stirred”? Perhaps there was even more, but the lovers aren’t telling.

The split-sequence format never changes, but, like our lovers, you never know where you’ll end up once you begin. So, lose yourself, as I did that first time, and uncover the pleasures of this exciting new form.

Peter Jastermsky
Issue 9, August 2021

is an award-winning cherita poet, a Best of the Net and Dwarf Star nominee, and the author of six books of haiku-based writing. Titles include Steel Cut Moon (Cholla Needles Press, 2019) and The Silence We Came For (Yavanika Press). His short-form writing has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Failed Haiku, Haibun Today, KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Aurorean, and The Cherita. In 2017, Peter invented a new linked form, the split sequence, which is haiku-centered. His latest book, Just Dust and Stone (Velvet Dusk Publishing, May 2021), is a collection of collaborative split sequences with Bryan Rickert.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Inheritance, a collaborative split sequence with Christine L. Villa, here in MacQ-9

 
 
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