Haiku

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 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. They are listed alphabetically by first line.Two haiku won poetry prizes and were published in the Ottawa Citizen in June 1972, and these are marked with an asterisk. 

A cloud smothers the moon. 
From the sky, 
The cry of a loon. 

Across the vast dessert sky,
A little fly,
Seesaws along.

A cold day,
And yet, how warm
My dog's tongue.

A flower breaks through the pavement, 
A child dances, 
And the street becomes a theatre.

A gust of Autumn wind and suddenly, 
And a thousand falling leaves, 
Sparkle in the sun. 

After a shower, 
Seated motionless, and from my hair,
Water dripping.

Another summer gone. 
And to show for it? 
Hay fever again. 

Awkward, vulnerable and needy, 
Nature's newborns. 
Teaching us compassion. 

Barren branches, 
Skyward, 
In prayer. 

Because of you, firefly, 
The darkest night, 
Is magical. 

Before the onrushing headlights, 
The porcupine, 
Standing steady. 

Bicycling East, 
The wind blows, 
Always west. 

Carpeting the ground,
Like pink snow,
Cherry blossoms.

Contemplating the weariness of our days. 
From the street, 
A vulgar laugh. 

Crushing maple keys underfoot, 
Wondering, 
What might have been? 

Dead bird. 
By a stone, 
Water lapping. 

Decrying the infamy, 
Of the Nazis. 
Swatting flies. 

Do you blossom to please yourself? 
Or does it please you to delight others? 
Selfish cherry.* 

Fluttering in the wind, 
A discarded kleenex, 
So free. 

Heaven's
Moving furniture.
Thunderstorms!

How beautiful is
The frost,
On my window pane.

Idly imitating faces,
And suddenly,
Understanding them. 

In the cafeteria, 
Everyone sits alone. 
Dishes clatter. 

In the garden, 
Embracing the blossoms, 
Thorns. 

Looking at their reflections, 
In store windows, 
The ladies of Yonge Street. 

Milkweed seeds. 
And chasing them, 
I float away! 

My hot chocolate, 
This morning, 
Tasted lilacs. 

Never realizing she might, 
Little Laurie, 
Died in her sleep. 

Oh cherry! 
Would that you had ear to hear, 
Our praises! 

On TV, 
A melodrama. 
And outside is raining. 

Over the rugged mountainside, 
How smoothly we travel. 
The superhighway! 

Pigeons or snow on the hill? 
From a distance, 
Who can tell? 

Pine trees, 
Tickling, 
The sky. 

Pushing through,
The grubby sidewalk,
A tiny flower.

Rise and shine.
But also,
Reflect.

So no one can see it, 
Into my attache case, I place, 
An autumn maple leaf. 

Sanibel, seashell isle. 
Ocean's jewels, 
Crunching underfoot. 

Scorching sands, 
Sear the cactus. 
Shrivels, oozing slime. 

Skipping across the water, 
A tossed pebble dances for a moment,
And disappears. 

The Book of Knowledge. 
I finally finished, 
The first page. 

The moon, 
Making faces, 
In a mud pond. 

The old town,
Like the old dog's eyes,
Tired. 

Without thought, 
Or conversation, 
Dragonflies mating. 

Underfoot, stretched out, 
On the shiny pavement, 
A sticky worm.*

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