In 1999 I started a theme camp at Burning Man called Haiku4Beer. The concept is simple enough: you come to the camp and write a three line poem of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and I give you a cold Japanese beer.
The response was tremendous. I met hundreds of people at Burning Man who came and wrote haiku for the first time because they were seriously thirsty and hot. Had we not been in those conditions conducive to thirst and experimentation, I doubt many would have tried it.
The night of the burn, three beautiful volunteers (Sarah, Thia, and ?) copied down the haiku into notebooks before we burned the sheets in the fire, to the crowds’ chants of “Burn Haiku Burn!”. So, without further ado, here is the haiku from 1999.
Lighthouse in a dream Nightly I walk towards the green Surreally homeward Hemingway haiku: Men doing what men do; they drink, they go to Spain - There is no purpose My bike seat is hard Playa sex with no pillows Damn my ass sure hurts The beautiful boy The wind brought you from so far, What will take you now? There R those like us They R one there, damn few And next of them dead! Gambling and flogging Ahead at your right at the Monty Casino I'm thinking of one Because I want some damn beer! Oh, my aching head. Did not bring enough Odd paraphenalia Bigger truck next time Piss clear, they tell me. Easy for you to say, yet... Somehow - dust colored 2 and 1 is 3 And that makes more sense to me Than the other way I want to get high and float way up in the sky Don't ever look back My best friend Joe died And my Dad was really mean Now I must lift weights In het leven sta je gedachten dromend - in nel rond van heb je genoch water gedanlun zie How can you capture in seventeen syllables all of Burning Man? Drilling my brain rain Shit kick in X alert playa Live, funky fresh heat My cousin's daughter is called Haiku Rose Carter Friends all call her "Spit" The thirst for cold beer Brings out the inner poet in a desert lush. The man, no, the man Burning in the desert hotly Man, I need a beer. Filthy nostril hair Impairs my cocaine habit I must blow my nose What I write here I want that Japanese beer Mental block - fuck - fuck When in line to pee Most of requested you see Free Bird, go figure. Beer is for breakfast I really don't care because It soothes my dry throat. Comet split in four Hay-moon rose Big Cheese in sky Home to Jiffy-Pop St. James fate, Ireland Sectarian violence Make mine a Guinness His heart was encased in a hickory nut shell I couldn't crack it! The Burning Man stands at the center of the sun Burn, Burning Man, burn. Ik ben ver ran huis maar ik voel me totaal thuis I'm @ Burning Man High desert dryness dessicated idea glow Can't write a haiku! Freezing Monday night Icy toes in sleeping bag Let's burn the man now! Drinking in the sun Burning for fresh fried chicken Where's my fucking tent. White pipes strapped to roof Harmonics at 65 - Becky Fuller's didj. I drove from Vegas My fanbelt is in bad shape Man...help me get home. I would kiss every person on this hot playa for one drop of ber. I'm burning alive Because I forgot sunscreen Melanoma sucks. This camp - bright, windswept Must be very beautiful But now it is gone. Giant wooden man stands at the hub of the wheel Anchoring chaos Ah little Pastry Sweet frosty Pop Tart not eaten I have no toaster Summer day so hot Summer night frigid and cold Warm my lover's spoon Quit my job for good Packed my friends into the van Bound for Burning Man No doubt Mom would shriek At the dicks and tits and boobs Not in Kansas now. Burn lotus flower Spinning and spinning away Oh you sweet bus girl Happy dogs need meat Slippery cats eat fresh fish Meow, Meow, cat. Here we are: Friday So hot I could fucking die!! I want a cold beer! Technocrats say no This is not really haiku No! No beer 4 you! I'm a smelly fish I know that no one loves me... Maybe a little. My girlfriend passed out Ignoring the need to drink She didn't piss clear. I've never before Gotten free Sapporo beer By writing haiku! They won't speak it The desert smiles like secrets Lying in their months I sculpt, not Haiku But free beer for one sculpture ain't gonna happen My eyes are burning Man at the center of Sun Shines and my eyes sear. The playa is here Let's treat it well. Leave no trace. Traces on your heart. I trip over here Wandering in the desert Haiku tapestry. On the way to 'Man' Seduced by Reno's slick charm Lost our shirts quickly Midnight handlebar Journey to the center of Promise to be real A big urban ring A magnesium Oh me so horny Naked women adore me Feel my burning flesh! I am the center Beautiful love is within Here I have found love. Greetings ex-tenants The dirtiest rooms ever And we said - "No Pets" Ottawa borne "Burning Man!" We had sworn No ex here fornlorn Nude chi's in the street Lame lounge act by the toilet I love burning man. Pink flamingoes lurk hunting the ceramic dwarves Chaos on my lawn. Jenny looked up Yes No No Jenny looked up Yes Upward looked Jenny. Godzilla's bike ride Cool wind whistles through his scales He blows fire and laughs! Lovely orange bug sits waiting for her haiku Chicken hangs behind. Someone stole my bike They left a Cannondale there The Cannondale sucks. What's going on here? I can't believe I saw that. Holy Fucking shit! Female nekid butt I looked the other way and it was gone. My grief. Twenty thousand freaks heed the desert call to burn. They respond with love. I'd like a cold beer. I'm willing to be your friend if you give me one. What happened? to my camp it was here yesterday. I am here today. Van broke in Bishop. Hitched with our gear to get here Blue words for my beer. Beer is very good but it is not very cheap unless you haiku. Reality is a word that best describes what Burning Man is not. He's the Burning Man and he's got a burning plan He's the Burning Man. Big All Baboo knew the green Halva was half-price but it tasted good. Tripping with a smile, I'm reflected in others seeking peace inside. The sun is shining onto my naked flesh. (6) Put on the sun screen. Saturn and Seventh That's where I'm trying to go. To find someone cool. Dehydration suck. Got ran over by a truck. Peel me off the ground. Learn to burn hotly. Must burn to learn, knowledge earned. Yearn not to spurn. In the beginning there was a man and fire. Now we shall burn the man. Nakedness abounds. Here we are at Burning Man, burning to the ground. After these wild sights, confounding oddities all, my normal life pales. Wispy cloud Sky blue. No ones land this place of flesh. Leave me now to heal. Clear sky no wind now. Fire music Didj.Man drove on. Alkali desert day. (6) Summer bike riders, toasted tits, red lobster dicks. Ahh, rub on that salve! I had a young dog. Later, to my great surprise, I had an old dog. >From Los Angeles we have driven these highways so we can get high. This tie on my neck dictates my speech everyday. I still need a buck. The rhythm pounding, drums sounding in unity, unleash your spirit. Wonderful boyfriend became wonderful husband. Holy fucking shit. Sky immense azure. Night expectation new day. Myself thought friendship. Dusty tabletop. Canned bean encrusted saucepan. I need a clean sponge. The neighbors in town make you want to stay around. Too bad just a week. Very dusty place. Playa gets into all things and yet I return. Desert playa dust, poison ingested for fun. They don't understand. Repeat after me: Prepare for the sun and fly to the glowing moon. Yeast, hops, malt, water. Bavarian purity. Et tu, Budweiser? Souls lost in grey wells, trapped in languid prison cells, burning spirits free. Smoke follows beauty Dust clings to those most alive Feel it digging you. In the dust and wind is there a fire in your heart? Let it burn and brn. Smoke a lot of crack and be careless with your smack Your day shan't be black. I came, past intact existing in the moment faceless, now I am. Poetry for a bright and cold bubbly drink. Ahh, this is the life. Wind chills a black night Nomads huddle around fire Warmth flows in the air. I want a free beer. Leaves turn over to darkness. I'll get a free beer. Peaceful campfire light Little girl scouts singing songs Thirty-five to life. Playa dust is good Black gunk sticks in my nostrils Give me Kleenex, please! Have you ever been To a place in the desert It is Burning Man Haiku in Black Rock? Odes to playa -- dusty art -- Mt. Fuji in flames Monterey Coast noise Single engine going down Denver's finally dead. Monday wind and sun Thor's Day sun and more hot fun Saturn's day He burns Haiku for a beer Will it help keep my piss clear Beer, beer, please piss clear. I must kill these fleas My life is an itchy hell Ignite all my fur The holy mister replete with nature's nectar is my saving shell This I do for you A fancy desert haiku This we are into Only seven days So little time to get laid. Why must it all end? People taste like pork Burger King is closed today I will eat you now. Lights, action, madness (I'm what nothing else could be) Am I stoned again? Remembering not what came before or after Remembering now. Refrigerators Refrigerators are cold Refrigerators. By the railroad track Wet spot on the cycle seat Will we again meet?