Epic poet and poetry video maker Andrew Benson Brown created a bit of excitement with his invented sonnet-haiku or haiku-sonnet published earlier this month—what poet Michael Pietrack has coined as “the sonku.” It turns out that, unbeknownst to Benson Brown, this form was already invented by David Marshall over twenty years ago, as seen here; though it did not have the intricate and demanding rhyme scheme. At any rate, poet Paul A. Freeman invites you to try your hand at this 21st century form. Post your sonku in the comments section below. Note that there are different opinions as to what should happen in the final couplet. This is your chance to experiment and see what you think works.




The Fall of Time

by Andrew Benson Brown

Thinning coat of frost
Whitening the ground with grief—
Love forever lost

Wrinkles on the leaf
Yellowing a lawn undone—
Beauty all too brief

Spots upon the sun
Reddening a field long dry—
Ripeness on the run

Cracks along the sky
Blackened by heaven’s treasons—
Bluer days gone by

Why keep growing on? Sprinkles of reasons:
Her smiles renew the seasons




What’s a Sonku?

by Paul A. Freeman

A sonku is a form
of seasoned sonnet-haiku—
a melting spring storm.

Four haikus will do,
a twelve-line starting quartet,
with a couplet due.

A rhyme scheme? You bet!
Though you may need to tinker,
but then you are set.

If you’re a drinker,
stay sober, or you might write
a frightful stinker.

The couplet to finish, shouldn’t be trite;
pen something profound, nostalgic or light.


Post your sonku in the comments section below. 



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53 Responses

  1. Alison Jennings

    Sonku for Lao Tzu (Starry Crown)

    So said Lao Tzu:
    If you’re depressed, you live in
    the past. Also true:
    If anxious, you are
    stuck in the future. But then
    wish upon a star—
    if you can find peace,
    you’re in the eternal now.
    All joys are released;
    lay your burdens down.
    Follow this philosopher;
    find the starry crown—

    Let’s come on down to the river to pray;
    go studying about that good old way.

  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Getting Fresh

    Bluebells splash the ground
    Flooding shady glades with sky –
    Hints of Winter drowned

    Skittish lambs skip high
    Silky, milk-blitzed piglets squeak –
    Ill winds flutter by

    Birds flirt beak-to-beak
    Buds are slick with licks of dew –
    Violets sneak a peek

    Tulip noons are blue
    Jocund jonquils kiss and sway –
    Gaia’s billet-doux

    Sassy Spring is here to play –
    Seize this fresh and frisky day!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Andrew, thank you. I think the 7/7 ending is easy on the ear and doesn’t detract from the flow of the previous stanzas – just a personal take. Your sonku is beautiful and inspirational. I drew on your prime example.

  3. Gigi Ryan

    A Sonku Inspired by Psalm 150

    All ye bless the Lord!
    In His temple ye devout
    Let your love be poured.

    Worshippers cry out!
    Of His power and wonders sing,
    Let the happy shout!

    Hail with trumpeting,
    Let the harp and psaltery sound.
    Timbrels jingling

    Join the people found
    Dancing, twirling with their praise.
    Cymbals shake the ground!

    Everyone, your hands now raise,
    Sing to God with hearts ablaze!

    • Mia

      Dear Gigi

      I really love this and I hope that you see this as a compliment but I was inspired by you to do the same with my favourite psalm,
      Psalm 23

      Now I shall not want
      For the Lord is my Shepherd
      He comforts my soul

      The valley of death
      I do not fear, for he is near
      He sustains my life

      My enemies hate
      He turns to blessing, He grants
      Forgiveness to me

      I live amongst green
      Pastures and I long to live
      In His house forever

      Praise the Lord, for His
      Mercy endures forever.

      • Gigi Ryan

        Dear Mia,

        I do take it as a compliment. I loved reading your Psalm 23 Sonku.

        Last year I decided to assign myself to write poems for the Psalms, just for practice. It turns that it is a spiritual exercise as well since I spend a lot of time meditating on the Psalm at hand.

        Note – I did use 150 for this exercise because I have nearly completed my project. Haha. It just happens to be a favorite.


    • Mia

      Thank you so much Gigi both for your wonderful sonku and very kind reply. What a great spiritual exercise, and to have done this with so many psalms. It must have been difficult to choose one to post as judging by this one I think all the others must be exceptional too.
      I think that psalm 23 was the first one I learned so remains a favourite but all the psalms are beautiful and I will keep on reading.

      • Gigi Ryan

        Dear Mia,
        I must beg your pardon! Somehow I missed a word in my reply to you. I meant to say that I have *NOT* nearly completed my “Psalms to poems” exercise. I think this is going to take me a decade to do. 😉
        Are you familiar with Psalters? Entire hymnals of Psalms to verse with meter for singing. There are several. The Scottish Psalter, The Book of Psalms for Singing, The Book of Psalms for Worship, and no doubt others that I don’t know about yet.
        Of course, The Psalms are poems in the first place.
        Have a great day!

    • Mia

      Dear Gigi,
      not to worry. No apology needed. I have just had to make some corrections to the sonku below. Sometimes mistakes happen. . I don’t know any of the psalms set to music although I think I may have listened to one or two in the past on YouTube. But I do try to read a few psalms regularly.
      I wish you all the best in all your endeavours ,

  4. Alan Orsborn


    Varied thrush scatters
    The song sparrows scratching seeds.
    Pine squirrel chatters.

    And those eyes, red beads,
    There where the spotted towhee
    Crouches in the reeds.

    Flickers sport showy
    Breast medallions, and flash red.
    Juncos flash snowy.

    Red alder branches,
    Where chickadees flip and swing
    And the nuthatches.

    By evening, all the birds have given wing,
    And crooning frogs make sunken woodlands ring.

    • Cheryl Corey

      My favorite so far; but then, I’m always partial to bird poems. Nice rhymes with “showy” and “flash snowy”; “branches with “nuthatches”.

      • Alan Orsborn

        Thank you so much Cheryl for the compliments. I intentionally tried to follow what I understood to be the original traditional haiku subject of some aspect of nature.

        I agree that bird poems are certainly delightful, their full common names are in themselves short poems. I’m also holding out for more poems about frogs, salamanders, snakes and lizards. 😉

    • fred schueler

      here’s Varied Thrush poemlet from before I understood the 5-7-5 rule for haiku –

      Razor-voiced Ixoreus
      Slices the day
      Like night.

      – 29 May 1989, Kagan Bay, Graham Is., Haida Gwaii

  5. Paul A. Freeman


    I sit on a wall,
    thinking, making up my mind;
    below me they call

    urging me to find
    substance, logic, in their views,
    to join at the hip

    either reds or blues,
    let my liberty slip
    when I should be free

    to take or leave it,
    to agree or disagree.
    So here I shall sit.

    The purpose of a wall is to divide
    and from both sides a fuller picture hide.

    • Mia

      This is very good and very well written. So the following is not a criticism , just adding to free thought..
      For some reason, as soon as I read it I thought of the nursery rhyme
      Humpty Dumpty which up until now I thought of as a nonsensical nursery rhyme. But your sonku has made me see it in a different light. Thanks for that.
      Now I can’t understand why I did not see it before. That’s why we all love SCP.

  6. Mia

    Barren Ground

    Scanning vacancies
    A pile of dusty letters
    Tedious morning

    Midday sun blazing
    A hungry stomach growling
    A threadbare cupboard

    Dripping with syrup
    Sticky hands smudge white pages
    Afternoon napping

    Haunting lucid dreams
    Of forbidden juicy fruit
    Longing for summer

    Sleepily, spring slips away
    Thirsty, tender shoots search for succour.

    • Mia

      just a couple of changes, don’t suppose they will make much of a difference anyway but it is better to do and learn than not do at all.
      but you might not agree, but thank you for your patience.

      Barren Spring

      Scanning vacancies
      A pile of dusty letters
      Tedious morning

      Midday sun blazing
      A hungry stomach growling
      A threadbare cupboard

      Dripping with syrup
      Sticky hands smudge white pages
      Afternoon napping

      Haunting lucid dreams
      Of forbidden juicy fruit
      Longing for summer

      Sleepily, spring slips away
      Tender shoots search for succour.

  7. Angel L. Villanueva

    Flooded rivers rise
    Rippling surface water roils
    Waiting is the sea

    Trees are downed as spoils
    Sediment follows below
    Estuaries fed

    Fish obey its flow
    Birds in wait begin to feed
    Life begins anew

    Water steam is freed
    Clouds return to wet the land
    Rivers gorge and flood

    And so have flowed the years of humankind
    When life begins anew, as it’s designed

  8. Patrick Murtha

    “Haiku!” Don’t spread germs!
    So “Gesundheit,” I replied,
    Taking foreign terms

    For an English sneeze.
    Students snicker. Think me snide.
    Not intending tease.

    “Sonku!” you grumble.
    “Yeap.”—You’re welcome, I implied.
    Another fumble.

    “Sonnet-like haiku!”—
    So Basho and Bill collide.—
    “So you said sonku?”

    A fourteen-lined haiku? Is that the fuss?
    Multiculti words nonplus.

    • ABB

      I think this is my fave so far—hilarious way of using the form to poke fun. Like the ‘Basho and Bill’ phrase especially.

      • Patrick Murtha

        ABB, thank you. It was fun, and meant in good humor. It was also harder than I thought it was going to be.

  9. Stuart Jay Silverman

    leaves fight the noon heat
    a clover petal looks up
    something in the grass

    sounds of rain repeat
    the sounds of rain yesterday
    had given a pass

    the dog worries meat
    even the crows do not touch
    what will it excrete?

    dusk welcomes the sheet
    lighting to be expected
    the sky looking beat

    darkness wakes up, as expected
    a touch later than yesterday

  10. Roy Eugene Peterson


    In my fields of snow
    Luminescent afterglow
    When the moon is low.

    Tracks made by a bunny
    That look like liquid honey.
    Night scenes are funny.

    Big bird on the prowl.
    Perhaps it is a night owl.
    Not a friendly fowl.

    Flying without fear,
    Since the nighttime air is clear.
    No sound can I hear.

    Soaring by the creek
    Alas I hear a loud shriek.
    Talons and a beak.

    Some seek sweet serenity in a snowy scene.
    Others opportunities senses contravene.

  11. Mia

    Golden leaves tremble,
    Turn crimson as icy gale
    Whispers of freedom.

    The song of the free
    So soon detached from the tree
    It knows it must sing.

    A leaf on its own
    Wrenched from its life giving hold
    Flotsam and jetsam.

    The song of the leaf
    Drifts to the tune of the wind
    Poignant and lilting,

    A song well sang, it succumbs
    To the hum of the rooted tree.

  12. E Kraft

    Smelly Dog

    Mud clings to his fur,
    Fragrance filled with earthy musk,
    My dog wears with pride.

    Yet love still endures,
    Though odor follows his stride,
    Forever my friend.

  13. Linda Marie Hilton

    A Groundhog’s View

    winter is still here
    full of lovely snow so sheer
    birds eat at feeders.

    snow reflects sunlight
    moon adds its glow: earth stays cold
    deer eat the tree bark.

    flora sleeps away
    during the year’s shortest days
    mammals gestate young.

    tilting more the earth
    shifts seasons tween north and south
    snowdrops do delight.

    so winter will release its hold
    for spring will be a’ cumin’ in.

  14. Carolyn Mack

    Of Zahori

    To fondle warmly
    like many another day
    I call you sweetly

    so light to the touch
    back from the field of sweet grass,
    dandelions blown. Such

    as you, small, soft, smooth
    then fall onto the duff couch.
    Those mirrors of the

    azabache stone
    dark as your eyes, Zahori
    yours and yours alone

    Like magical black onyx,
    at night the mythic Strix.

  15. ABB

    Thanks to Paul for issuing this challenge, to Evan for sponsoring, and to everyone participating and submitting their excellent pieces. It is heartening when one’s creative projects find resonance with others.

  16. kathy bahr

    Dip down hanging last
    Heavy tones left alone
    An hour fell to pass

    Don’t know where they are.
    undertones moaned in the past.
    Stars know where they are.

    Rain falls, the night calls.
    Splayed to the earth, undertones.
    Stars lost in the vast.

    Rain thousand moon blast,
    heavy heartbeat lulling fast,
    darkening tone blast.

    Brought lulling thousand miles just ahead,
    where dreams and memories are spread.

  17. Erin B

    Three Weeks in Summer

    Oma’s omelets left
    For my mother’s waking.
    Salt and pepper, deft.

    Legs of a poor sort,
    Shakier now. The postman
    Meets us at the porch.

    She’s walking softly.
    Plink. Pass–before he sees. At
    Opa’s plate his coffee.

    “The dinner–real nice!”
    Said distinct for dulling ears.
    Compliments said twice.

    Sunday sees me sitting. The priest telling tales–
    Yes Father. I know. Love never fails.


    Art is as strong as death

    Spring arrived once more
    orchids love such paradise
    like Eden’s days of yore.

    Snow returned just twice
    interrupting as you paint
    flowers free from ice.

    Brush strokes were left faint,
    outlines like the melted stone
    of a garden saint.

    Now our flesh and bone
    model how you can derive
    loveliness alone.

    Friends you paint remain alive.
    Art we see makes them revive.

  19. leo

    [may showers]

    gentle night in may
    the summer showers lighten,
    zinnia in sway

    if the moonlight danced
    like a ripple across skies
    with you, i’m entranced

    light drizzle, loose soil
    may breaks the ground and the sky
    we plant figs, we toil

    few years down the line
    i wish to see your fingers
    fig-red in a shine

    more mays, figs and summer-end
    may we stay together, friend!

  20. Ken Gosse

    I’ll post four Sonku separately, each created from a previously published sonnet.

    The Politely Politic Bard or How to Respond to the Demand in the Doug Savage Chicken Cartoon: “Write me a sonnet or I’ll blow your damn head off.”

    I prefer to keep
    a sonnet in my bonnet,
    awake or asleep.

    You might wonder why.
    I have a ready answer,
    so here’s my reply.

    Should villains demand
    an instant sonnet from me,
    I’ll have one on hand.

    My life or my verse.
    Which one would I rather lose?
    It could be much worse.

    Yet etiquette demands its ease—
    I’ll ask politely, “Please, say ‘Please.’”

    • Ken Gosse

      The new, improved volta:

      Yet etiquette demands ease—
      I’ll ask politely, “Say ‘Please.’”

  21. Ken Gosse

    The second of four Sonku based on a previously published sonnet.

    Understanding Ampersanding

    Often in demand,
    just what is the “&”?
    Is it out of hand?

    Used instead of “and,”
    an accident poorly planned?
    Should its use be banned?

    It’s an “and” that’s canned,
    yet some desire to command
    the ampersand brand.

    More readily scanned,
    it’s my preference to expand,
    to help understand.

    And yet, its placement, like a cat,
    may be stealthily where it’s @.

    • Ken Gosse

      I noticed a typo in the last line, where “stealthily” should be “stealthy.”
      However, an improved couplet would be:

      And yet, when placed like a cat,
      may be stealthy where it’s at.

  22. Ken Gosse

    The third of four Sonku based on previously published Sonnets.

    Bardleby Sonnetry

    A sonnet askew—
    meter, form, and rhyme subprime?
    I’d prefer not to!

    Flow and rhythm scarred,
    slant rhyme tread by broken feet
    bring tears to a bard.

    Stanza counts flaunted,
    Iambic pentameter
    grievously taunted.

    Call it what you will,
    but calling Hades Heaven
    only brings a chill.

    The fault is not cured by the name.
    A thorn and rose are not the same.

    • Ken Gosse

      Six hours later, I changed the volta:

      These faults aren’t cured by its name.
      Thorns and roses aren’t the same.

  23. Ken Gosse

    The fourth of four Sonku based on previously published Sonnets.

    Verbena by Any Other Scent Would Smell as Sweet (from Guy de Maupassant’s story “A Bad Error”)

    Her maid fully clothed,
    though in her mistress’s gown,
    serving my betrothed,

    I gently crept in,
    stealthily and unannounced,
    conscious of my sin.

    Standing near the bed
    I approached with due care where
    angels fear to tread.

    Lifting skirts to plant
    a gentle kiss—surprised by
    ravings of a rant!

    Instead of verbena, my betrothed’s perfume
    filled the room where my fate met its doom.

    • Ken Gosse

      Aha! An improved volta:

      Not verbena, the perfume
      of my betrothed sealed my doom.

  24. Vince Gotera

    I actually invented the terza rima haiku sonnet around 1978. Here’s one I wrote in 2013 (published 2015 in the Philippines, so available in the US).

    “After Dashing Home Through
    a Rainshower Thirty Years Ago”

    —a terza rima haiku sonnet

    Rainy light filtered
    through those gauzy, sheer curtains.
    Kath, when you entered

    the bedroom, wearing
    only rainwater sheen, I
    fell in love again.

    Such a cliché, my
    bookish mind says, but it’s true.
    You slipped me a shy

    glance with those green-blue
    eyes, slid into bed with me.
    In rain-streaked light, you

    closed my eyes, kissed each one. We
    live there still . . . fragile memory.


  25. Vince Gotera

    “Remembering You Laying Out
    on the Eigenmann Dorm Roof”

    . —terza rima haiku sonnet

    Hello bikini.
    I’m ashamed to say that’s all
    I recall: teeny

    knit, jade, halter style.
    Jade green so aflame your eyes
    would match. And freckle

    galaxy! — that was
    your body. I admired you
    but couldn’t say — hush.

    So slim I called you,
    like it was fifth grade again,
    chicken legs. But you

    know, I loved your legs, so tan.
    All of you sun-drenched, golden.

  26. Jennifer

    Sonku-When Winter Offends Spring

    You are a mean one
    A cold-hearted icy guy
    Just go home winter

    Time to hit the road
    It’s another season’s show
    Spring wants her abode

    She’s fierce in her way
    So, don’t tempt her by staying
    Wise to fly away

    Spring isn’t as tame
    As many suppose, it’s true
    But she’s not to blame

    Winter offered doom
    But Spring really doesn’t care
    She’s burst into bloom

    Do the seasons show up regularly? Of course, we know it’s true.
    Every season has its position with colors of different hues.

  27. Vince Gotera

    Jennifer: interesting that you added another haiku stanza so that the lines add up to 17 lines rather than the usual 14 for a sonnet. A bit like the stretched sonnet, which has 16 lines.

  28. Kathy Bahr

    White Sea

    Fallen like
    Invite play

    Frantic rain
    Scattered sun

    Misty stars
    Falling stars

  29. Ruddy Gordon


    The morning sun bright
    Like a light in the dark sky
    Turns the sky dark blue

    And in the midday
    You can feel the summer haze
    Floating through the day

    And when that night strikes
    You are eased into the still
    State where your brain plays

    And in that morning
    You wake and have forgotten
    What you had to say

    Of the trials and tribulations
    That you faced yesterday


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