Heart Haiku issue 10: Our Hearts and…Animals!

A clipart style image of a Labrador-type dog staring at the viewer, with some doggy pawprints beside it. To the right of the dog is the following text: Heavy in my chair/ With puppy dog eyes on me/ Come on then, Let's go. By David Reynolds."

Is anybody else feeling excited that our collaborative zine is about to hit its tenth issue? Double figures! I’m excited! So many brilliant insights to look back on and (hopefully) many more still to come.

The theme of this month’s issue is **Animals** and was suggested by former haiku contributor and long-time patient advocate Sarah. Thank you, Sarah! I loved this theme as soon as Sarah suggested it and have been feeling inspired and excited to get started. Very annoying that we had to delay by a month thanks to COVID, but I hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait.

As usual, feel free to approach this theme in any way you like. The example at the top, by haiku regular Dave, appeared in the issue about exercise and shows one way that an animal might influence your experience of living with a heart condition. Dogs are the obvious motivators when it comes to exercise, but other pets might boost your health in other ways – lowering blood pressure when you stroke them; keeping you company without demanding too much in return; giving you a reason to get out of bed on a tough day when they demand breakfast. Maybe your heart condition means you have had to rehome a much-loved pet? Maybe your pet has gone through heart problems of their own? My elderly cat, Poppy, died just over a year ago and had suspected heart failure towards the end of her life. It was strange to hear the vet explain (in such negative terms) a condition that I had first-hand experience of.

An adult manatee and a manatee calf swim side-by-side underwater.
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

If you don’t have a pet, maybe you would like to write about an animal with an unusual heart? Some animals (worms, squid, octopi) have more than one heart; blue whales have truly enormous hearts, as seen in this museum’s display of a 440lb preserved whale heart; manatees (see picture above) and seals can slow their heart rate down to enable them to stay underwater longer; animals like the zebrafish and the glass frog have transparent bodies that enable us to see their hearts working inside them.

Maybe you would like to share your thoughts about animal testing, without which many of our heart treatments would not exist? Zebrafish (mentioned above for their transparency) are able to regenerate damaged heart tissue and the researchers studying them are bringing hope to millions of heart failure patients…but what do the zebrafish make of it? I don’t know.

Here’s a short video by the British Heart Foundation about the use of zebrafish in cardiovascular research.

You could even have a think about what your “spirit animal” might be, whether that’s a sloth or a tiger, or consider whether any particular animal represents your heart – strong and slow like an elephant or fluttery like a hummingbird. The world is your oyster (oyster’s have a small heart but no nervous system, by the way) and any approach that offers some reflection on your heart-based experiences via an animal theme is great.

Never written before? Don’t worry! Can’t spell? Don’t worry! You’re a professional poet? Don’t worry! Whether you take a month or a minute to write your haiku, I will be glad to receive it and the insight it gives into your unique experience. Just leave your contribution as a comment on this post.


THE FINE PRINT

A haiku has 17 syllables in all: 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. For our purposes, that’s really all you need to know – just don’t tell the haiku police I said so! Some contributors have said they find identifying the number of syllables in a word tricky. I do not mind if your “haiku” has the “wrong” number of syllables entirely, or even if you make no attempt to adhere to syllable count or three lines or whatever. You’ll notice previous editions of the zine feature contributions that are not (strictly speaking) haiku. If you respond creatively to the monthly prompt, I will be delighted to read it and consider it for inclusion in the zine, haiku or not. A bit more detail about writing haiku, should you need it, is available in this previous post.

All contributions left as comments on this post will be considered for inclusion in issue 10 of the zine, which will be made available for free download via the Creative Resources page towards the end of this month. As ever, please be mindful of protecting your own (and others’) identity in what you write. No slander, please!  (Can you slander your pet? I’ll let you decide!) In the zine, I’ll attribute the haiku I publish to whatever name you use when you leave your comment. A pseudonym is fine if that’s what you’d prefer.


So looking forward to reading what you all come up with!

5 comments

  1. The love is mutual
    Millie stops my heart aching
    Fun and walks each day

    My face is licked clean
    I tickle her upturned tum
    She sits at my feet

    A walk everyday
    Keeps my heart ticking away
    My wellbeing whole

    Liked by 3 people

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