Haiku

In my late teenage years and young adulthood I was fascinated with Japanese Haiku, read many in translation and even wrote a few myself. My favorite Japanese poet was Issa and his “romantic” natural imagery greatly touched and influenced me. 

I never attempted to follow the Japanese three line, 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable format as it seemed foreign to English but did adopt a free, three line structure, and focused on natural images and moments of insight as did the Traditional Haiku. 

Below is a sampling of my Haiku. I have divided them into two categories: Those with natural and those with human settings, though the poems don't always fit comfortably into either category. Two Haiku won poetry prizes and were published in the Ottawa Citizen in June of 1972, and these are marked with an asterisk. 

Haiku with Natural Settings 

Oh cherry! 

Would that you had ears, 

To hear our praises. 

In the forest, 

The birds sing, 

In wrap-around stereophonic sound. 

Do you blossom to please yourself? 

Or does it please you to delight others? 

Selfish cherry.* 

Baby lamb,                                                                                  

So awkward, vulnerable, and needy, 

You steal our heart! 

In the garden, 

Embracing the blossoms, 

Thorns. 

Milkweed seeds, 

And chasing them, 

I float away! 

Crushing maple keys underfoot, 

Wondering, 

What might have been? 

The moon 

In a mud pond. 

Making faces. 

Barren branches, 

Skyward, 

In prayer. 

Before the onrushing headlights, 

The porcupine, 

Standing steady. 

Pine trees, 

Tickling 

The sky. 

The darkest night,                                                                            

Because of you firefly, 

Is magical. 

Heaven's 

Moving furniture. 

Thunderstorms! 

A gust of wind and suddenly, 

In the sun, 

A thousand leaves sparkle. 

Pidgeons or snow on the hill? 

From a distance, 

Who can tell? 

Dead bird, 

By a stone, 

Water lapping. 

Sanibel, Sanibel, seashell isle. 

Ocean's jewels, 

Crunching underfoot. 

Another summer gone. 

And to show for it? 

Hayfever again. 

Skipping across the water,                                                           

A tossed pebble. 

Plays. 

Scorching sands,                                                                               

Sear the cactus, 

Shrivels, oozing slime. 

A cloud smothers the moon. 

From the sky, 

The cry of a loon. 

With no thought 

Nor conversation, 

Dragonflies mating. 

Haiku with Human Settings 

Underfoot, stretched out, 

On the shiny pavement, 

A sticky worm.* 

Making my day, 

The dog's 

Warm tongue. 

Bicycling East, 

The wind blows, 

West. 

Captured,                                                                                       

In the tired dog's eyes, 

The old town. 

On TV,                                                                                                . 

A melodrama. 

And outside is raining. 

Contemplating the weariness of our days. 

From the street, 

A vulgar laugh. 

After a shower, 

Seated and wrapped in a towel, 

The water slowly drips from my hair. 

In the cafeteria, 

Everyone sits alone. 

Dishes clatter. 

Looking at their reflections, 

In store windows. 

The ladies that brunch. 

Decrying the infamy, 

Of the Nazis. 

Swatting flies. 

My hot chocolate, 

This morning, 

Tasted lilacs. 

So no-one can see,                                                                            

Into my attache case, I place, 

An autumn maple leaf. 

Fluttering in the wind,                                                                      

A discarded kleenix, 

So free. 

The Book of Knowledge. 

I finally finished, 

The first page. 

On the dirty window pane 

Frost gathers, 

In perfect geometry. 

After the concert, 

Rushing out into the street, 

To cry. 

Never realizing she might, 

Little Laurie, 

Died in her sleep. 

Imitating strangers' faces, 

I sense, 

The moods behind them. 

A flower brakes the pavement; 

A girl dances; 

The street becomes a theatre. 

Over the rugged mountainside,                                                      

How smoothly we travel. 

The superhighway!

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