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Ten Haiku

One of the things that has been keeping me busy this year is that I am taking a class in Canadian Design History. I had hoped that the fallout from my assignments would ultimately benefit this largely American audience more than it has, but here at last is something I can share.

Our 3rd assignment was to write a poem on the subject of Canadian Identity. I decided to write 10 poems: 10 Haiku, one for each provincial flag (I skipped the 3 territories, sorry), from west to east.


squashed Britannia on
wavy ocean lines under
inept rising sun


field of blue around
mountainous pictoral crest
illegible parts


red prairie lily
dominates three wheat bushels
oddly missing sky


conservative red
ensign plus lonely bison
trapped atop a rock


rejected logo
canada’s three maple leaves
and used British parts


four fleur-de-lys for
a big divided province
pushed to four corners


ancient nordic ship
invades black east coast waters
yawning and stretching


generic gold shield
covers the intersection
of blue X on white


abstract what the fuck
is that Romulan star ship
made from Britain’s flag


another lion
over sadly stunted trees
with busy borders


Fun, huh? So dear Speak Up readers, should you feel so inclined, I invite you all to write Haiku* for your own state, provincial, municipal or whatever flag, right here, right now.

*Where Haiku is defined loosely as a 3-line poem with 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second and 5 on the 3rd.

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PUBLISHED ON Feb.15.2006 BY marian bantjes
marko savic’s comment is:

By far one of the best posts! It makes me proud to be a Canadian. Marian, I applaud you.

My poem,

we stole from the swiss,

as alberta, and 'toba

unionized maple

On Feb.15.2006 at 05:02 PM
Corey Holms’s comment is:

gated estates to

tree shaped cell phone towers

the bear looks lonely

On Feb.15.2006 at 06:24 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

This is very interesting. Has Canada not ever gotten over being colonies? Are these flags a visual representation of Canada's struggle for a Canadian identity that I hear about now and again?

Quebec's flag is very French, and the rest are seriously British. The Union Jack is obvious. The white with the red cross is England's flag. The lions are taken from Edward I's three lions, which were taken from the lions of Gwynedd (in Wales). Nova Scotia's flag is the Scottish flag with the blue & white reversed with the Scottish crest slapped on.

The left out flags of Yukon and Nunavut are the only ones not without major British or French elements.


I've never written haiku. Tonight's not the night to start, so instead I submit my favourite Canadian Anthem from the good ol' days of Ren & Stimpy: The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen

On Feb.15.2006 at 06:36 PM
Tom B’s comment is:

Red cross for England

Irish and Scottish crosses

But what about Wales?

On Feb.15.2006 at 06:44 PM
Elisabeth Waltz’s comment is:

naitive heritage

shielded in blue, sword above.

seeking peace, latin.

or, written from the perspective of a true bostonian:

"dood, i gotta hit

a packy if you want to

pre-game before bars."

On Feb.15.2006 at 07:25 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

These are great! Keep 'em coming.

and Tom B: Fucking brilliant.

On Feb.15.2006 at 07:48 PM
jenny’s comment is:

Another California:

Seeing the lone star

the grizzly thinks to himself

shouldn't that be blue?

This is fun!

On Feb.15.2006 at 08:14 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Yikes... I had never seen the New York state flag:

I won't get the syllable count right, but here goes:

Luscious draped ladies

Ships sail sun shines eagle flies

All balancing our beliefs


Yo gurls

I got somethin' else you can poke

Bring that blindfold


On Feb.15.2006 at 08:43 PM
Jeff Bonker’s comment is:

French flag recycled

Added eagle with ribbon

Then spell our name out

On Feb.15.2006 at 09:12 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

I think that NY state flag requires a Sonnet. Waaay too much for a Haiku to handle.

On Feb.15.2006 at 09:15 PM
jenny steele’s comment is:

autumn centrepiece

on a long white tablecloth

syrup anyone?

On Feb.15.2006 at 09:34 PM
Matthew Rodgers’s comment is:

State of Georgia


thirteen stars, three bars, no latin,

committee design.

No, I don't want a confederate flag, but is it too much to ask for some balance and style?

On Feb.15.2006 at 09:52 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

two nice jersey girls

beat up New York's flag ladies;

ride off on Khartoum

buff colored blandness

works for Jersey flag, but not

on my Camaro

which one came out first?

is New York flag a copy

of the garden state?

On Feb.15.2006 at 10:07 PM
Feldhouse’s comment is:

just because...

On Feb.15.2006 at 11:11 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

the snow is higher

than we thought was possible

soft and so fluffy

On Feb.15.2006 at 11:26 PM
Steve’s comment is:

British Columbia (Vancouver Island)... (Victoria in particular)

Real estate is prime,

And drugs keep the kids smitten.

The ocean smells neat.


Ugly whale statues,

What the hell is going on?

Concerning design.

On Feb.16.2006 at 05:15 AM
nick shinn’s comment is:

the deeper I gaze

complexities multiply

pure simple icon

On Feb.16.2006 at 10:54 AM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

Sorry Marian, no haiku today. But I do need to mention that Nick's scan is amazing. I'm a big fan of Fleming's CN logo.

On Feb.16.2006 at 11:21 AM
Jeremy Fuksa’s comment is:

Oklahoma flag

Full of Indian symbols

Typeface is oft wrong

On Feb.16.2006 at 11:30 AM
Jeremy Fuksa’s comment is:


What's a damn haiku?

I'll kick your ass smartypants...

I'm watching NASCAR.

On Feb.16.2006 at 11:31 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

I hope my first post

Didn't come across as rude

I'm just wondering

On Feb.16.2006 at 11:57 AM
oo’s comment is:

Manitoba is

***king cold right now minus

forty five degrees

On Feb.16.2006 at 12:07 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Jeff, no, not rude at all. Like most flags, the provincial flags are pretty old. Before Canada adopted the familiar red maple leaf in 1965 (a design which, I have to say, I think is wonderful—and compared to other flags around the world is a very, very nice piece of graphic design), we had a "red ensign" which was very similar to the Ontario or Manitoba flag (red flag, union jack in the corner, crest in the mid-right). So, far from being a struggle for Canadian Identity, they are relics of our largely British origins. The Scottish and Welsh influences back east are particularly appropriate, especially if you've ever heard a Maritime accent.

On Feb.16.2006 at 12:24 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Yikes... I had never seen the New York state flag

I was born in New York and moved to California with my family when I was 9. I don't ever remember seeing an actual New York state flag — only reproductions in books. In California, the state flag is almost always flown along with the U.S. flag. I remember thinking that was odd when I was a kid.

On Feb.16.2006 at 12:41 PM
danny’s comment is:

Don't worry Texans, I'll save you the trouble ...

Texas, Texas, um ...

Texas, Texas, Texas, uhh ...

Go Texas! Texas?

On Feb.16.2006 at 12:47 PM
kd’s comment is:

Why, Pennsylvania,

do the horses wear iPods?

We are not that hip.

On Feb.16.2006 at 12:53 PM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

The Swiss flag is square

We — bird beak and awkward stripes

I think we might win

On Feb.16.2006 at 12:53 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

I fucking love this

I am rotfl

more pretty please, more!

On Feb.16.2006 at 01:00 PM
Ravenone’s comment is:

Ages since I looked;

Placed on a mail-box high.

Too busy, no trout.


On Feb.16.2006 at 01:38 PM
Lisa Barker’s comment is:

Blue field, wide white road

Red Pacman swallows gold pill

Health through chemistry

On Feb.16.2006 at 02:00 PM
lauren e.’s comment is:

For my birth state -- Wisconsin:

Forward! Industries!

Hey sailor -- a fine looking

badger you got there.

For my current home state -- Missouri:

Grizzly bears -- attack!

Quick! Encircle them in stars!

Whew, that was close, huh?

On Feb.16.2006 at 05:49 PM
lauren e.’s comment is:

PS. I love kd's Pennsylvania haiku.

On Feb.16.2006 at 05:51 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

dragon, white and green

makes a nice flag and the worst

tourist kitsch on earth

On Feb.16.2006 at 07:26 PM
Plamen’s comment is:

white above the green

the difference to russian

plus red to all bore

On Feb.17.2006 at 06:58 AM
DutchKid’s comment is:

Ah, this is fun :-) Here's mine to the flag of The Netherlands:

Lines as flat as the

Dutch horizon. Missouri

copied our flag, look!

On Feb.17.2006 at 07:57 AM
Eric Stewart’s comment is:

For Virginia:

Forget John Wilkes Booth

For real tyrant butt-kicking

Check out hot mama

On Feb.17.2006 at 08:30 AM
Zoelle’s comment is:

After the blizzard we had yesterday I feel like an honarary Canadian.

Thirteen inches snow

Highs in the single digits

Work cancelled, er no?

No more new Star Wars,

at&t death star gone,

Wisconsin, whooo-chaahh

On Feb.17.2006 at 10:08 AM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

Here's another for Wisconsin:

Severed arm on shield,

with outdated tools of trade.

What? No wheels of cheese?

On Feb.17.2006 at 10:27 AM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Eric—you're killin' me!

and, I have to take a crack at (awesome) Wisconsin myself:

pussycat, kill kill

darth vadar stands idly by

what a bunch of tools

On Feb.17.2006 at 11:08 AM
Zoelle’s comment is:

what a bunch of tools

You're kill'n me.

These haikus are addictive. I have to restrain myself from making my client's Google Adwords ad into a haiku.

On Feb.17.2006 at 11:37 AM
Stephanie’s comment is:

these haikus are so funny

Here's an attempt at my home state:

Hail Connecticut

we are the farming police

plants stay in the badge

On Feb.17.2006 at 12:22 PM
John S’s comment is:

Detroit's City Flag:

Space lions attacking!

Good job we've got five ships left

Go get the mothers!

On Feb.17.2006 at 12:55 PM
Josh B’s comment is:

for New York too...

Eagle says proudly,

"I caught a planet this big."

The ladies are pleased.


Excelsior means

"Slender, curved wood shavings

used for packing stuff."


Cruisin' up river,

girls get their toga on,

raisin' roofs and jibs.

On Feb.17.2006 at 01:57 PM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

Another one for Wisconsin:

Two guys just standing --

must be government work crew.

Time for coffee break!

On Feb.17.2006 at 03:52 PM
Sarah B.’s comment is:

New York:

Eagle sits on top

too many colors for me

Who designed this flag?

On Feb.17.2006 at 04:30 PM
JenB’s comment is:

For my home state:

Bah! Kerning Schmerning

Sailing ships fly for Oregon

The only sun you will see

On Feb.17.2006 at 05:55 PM
JenB’s comment is:

and for my residing state:

George! I emplore you.

Step away from tan lotion

Peach is just not you

On Feb.17.2006 at 06:02 PM
sarah n’s comment is:

I'm branching out to coat of arms. This is the Halifax, NS coat of arms:

Angry horses drown,

their hooves are laden down, their

shield has run aground

On Feb.17.2006 at 06:36 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

JenB! JenB!

And sarah has employed the rhyming haiku!

On Feb.17.2006 at 06:58 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:


I had actually written a chi•ku — a haiku about chicago — when I was designing the shirt for the j3tlag site.

There's some weird humor in this. And it's not for the state, but without Chicago, Illinois would be a very different place anyway, so here it is.

city on the lake

windy hot dog lake short drive

chicago is home

On Feb.17.2006 at 07:57 PM
Tan’s comment is:



KABLAAM!! Missed the quail,

but Cheney nailed friend Harry

on Lone Star State hunt.

Quick! Call a doctor!

And have the lobbyist host

talk to media.

But let's wait a day...

Why? We'll never really know.

Shot men tell no tales.

On Feb.17.2006 at 08:10 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Tan, YOU WIN!!!!!!

On Feb.17.2006 at 08:24 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Aw shucks, thanks Marian.

Years ago, I used to participate in a Haiku group about Spam. Yes, Spam, as in the luncheon meat. There were a ton of good ones sent out to the group every week. My favorite submission:

Pork Vader to Spam,

"I'm your father!".."Noooo!!!" cried Spam.

"That's impossible!"

Haikus are oddly fun. Lots of great ones in this thread. Keep going everyone! Bring it on!

On Feb.17.2006 at 11:16 PM
Ravenone’s comment is:

One more for Michigan

Waving man boxed in

Watch out for monster deer or

perhaps eagle poo.

On Feb.20.2006 at 03:43 PM
stella bodoni’s comment is:

an alternative for the California flag:

Once a republic,

Now so few Republicans!

I guess I ate them.

On Feb.20.2006 at 05:52 PM
rich melcher’s comment is:

a couple subtle variations...

shirtless and stogied

“out of my way, girliemen”

arnold’s republik

On Feb.20.2006 at 06:44 PM
Sat Dharm’s comment is:

eagle on nopal

eating that poor snake why not

a taco instead

three colors overused

don't they know something else than

green, white and bloody


On Feb.21.2006 at 02:04 AM
Sat Dharm’s comment is:

Inspite of my haiku on the mexican flag, I actually like my flag against others. I just wish the colors weren't those. It's like 80% of the world's flags use them.

Great post, I had the best laugh so far this week.

On Feb.21.2006 at 02:10 AM
jenny’s comment is:

No one's done one for my home state of Maryland yet, so...

crazy checkerboards

medieval crosses... but then,

the state sport's jousting!

On Feb.21.2006 at 12:24 PM
Tiffany’s comment is:

Washington State Flag:

On Feb.21.2006 at 03:28 PM
rich melcher’s comment is:

Okay...broken link first time, let's try this again.

cali, rebranded...

shirtless and stogied

“out of my way, girliemen”

arnold’s republik

On Feb.21.2006 at 03:38 PM
Tan’s comment is:

One more for Washington

Oh, Evergreen State,

land where mountains meet the sea,

what are you known for?

Apples and Starbucks,

Birkenstock-clad liberals,

and billionaire geeks.

On Feb.21.2006 at 04:01 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

I'm pretty surprised that it took 60 comments before someone tackled the US flag. Thanks Tiffany, you brave soul.

On Feb.21.2006 at 05:18 PM
Tiffany’s comment is:

Happy to oblige Marian Bantje.

Of course I just realized my syllables were off (silly American!).

Here is my modified version:

Just like small children

shiny stars boost our egos.

Blood falls in valleys.

On Feb.22.2006 at 03:16 PM
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On Apr.12.2009 at 01:52 PM