4 Levels of Squirrel Haiku

While watching Epicurious’s 4 Levels videos and cleaning out my closet, I remembered that throughout elementary school I had written variations on the same haiku about a squirrel. (Why a squirrel? I can only assume I was staring out the window when inspiration scampered by.)

Partly because it was easier than coming up with 10-20 poem subjects every year, but I’d like to think it was also partly because I wanted to look back on them someday and see how my style had changed. Which is exactly what I’m doing today!

Please don’t judge me too harshly; I was young and poor choices were made.

NB: As with Epicurious’s food series, the “4th level” is not a fourth poem but instead commentary on the other three levels. Because no one can roast my younger self more thoroughly than my current self. 

2nd Grade (2007)

“Haiku”

Moving up a tree

Look over there, a squirrel

Near the falling leaves

.

This is the first poem that appears in my 2007 poetry collection, which was compiled as a project for class; it’s typed in Blackadder ITC font and accompanied by the above clipart image of a squirrel [source]. I remember being really excited to play around with Microsoft Word, so really we’re just lucky that this booklet doesn’t have any WordArt.

Honestly, it’s really not that bad. There’s no depth to the poem, and I remember agonizing over whether “squirrel” was two syllables or one, but it is indubitably a haiku.

3rd Grade (2008)

“Autumn Squirrel”

Moving up a tree

Look! A tiny brown body

Scampering away

.

This version appears on the last page of another compiled-for-class poetry collection, about a year after the first. It shares page space with a haiku about a creek (a variation on a haiku about a fish, also from the 2007 collection). Both poems feature my terrible third-grader handwriting and cartoon drawings — not shown here because they’re so embarrassingly terrible.

I vaguely remember my teacher telling me that putting the subject in the haiku itself would be a waste of syllables since the reader could infer it from the title, hence the substitution in the middle line. Overall the poem is probably a lateral movement rather than an improvement, but at least I didn’t just shamelessly plagiarize myself?

5th Grade (2010)

“Haiku Cluster: Squirrel”

Climbing up a tree;
Look over there, a squirrel
Gathering some nuts.

When the winter comes,
The squirrel will hibernate,

Until spring returns.

Once spring comes again,
Squirrels wake from their deep sleeps.
They’ll scamper around.

The [sic] will gather food:
Lots of nuts, and berries too.
They will run from us.

Just like all Nature,
Several squirrels lost their homes,
Because of humans.

People steal their food,
As well as their habitats.
Our race is selfish!

Do respect Nature:
There is lots of beauty here.
Least of all, our squirrel…

.

This set of haiku appear about halfway through my 2010 poetry collection, yet another project for class. (Shoutout to my fourth grade teacher, who had us write stories instead.) It is accompanied by no visuals, just plain centered text typed in what is probably Verdana, which was my favorite font at the time.

Ironically, I think this poem might be the worst of the bunch. Someone had apparently taught me to put punctuation at the end of every line, which I followed faithfully; yet this page was not proofread before it was printed. It’s disorganized, somewhat repetitive, and self-righteous, as my eleven-year-old self definitely was. But she had fun in the process, if memory serves, and her heart was probably in the right place.

  • Should I attempt a ten-years-later version to add to the set?
  • Were you also assigned to write poems in elementary (primary) school? Do you still have them somewhere, or has it been “lost” over the years?
  • Do you like to look back on your old writing/art/etc., or does it make you cringe? (Or maybe both?)

6 thoughts on “4 Levels of Squirrel Haiku

  1. We didn’t write any poems in elementary school but I vaguely remember writing one in 8th grade. It’s definitely lost but I think I’d like to read it again someday.
    And a ten year version would definitely be great to read! I hope you do post it!

    Liked by 1 person

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