The flowers are hardening, tightening up. You look at them expecting to see their familiar open faces, warm-hearted smiles, but they look back at you stiffly, politely; the entire encounter is awkward. You avert your eyes, hurry by. Just last week you had a friendly conversation, they seemed to approve of you. Now you’re their son’s girlfriend from the other side of the tracks, the salesman who’s about to lose the sale, the kid no one wants to choose for their team. Cold. They’re cold. You can see the future, your future, and they’re not in it.
This whole side of the street–rust. That brick wall–crumbled. All the newspapers–faded. (And no one reads them anymore.)
You feel a pain you’ve never felt before and you know it’s just the first of many.
Andante, adagio, largo, decelerando, decelerando.
but the key still fits
in the lock
In this (extremely belated) edition of the Haikuverse:
Everything I see
– Takahama Kyoshi (tr. Geoffrey Bownas)
– Johannes S. H. Bjerg, 3ournals & Frags
for the light to change–
little chestnut moon
– Angie Werren (haiku and image), feathers
You are gathered to go,
Strip-lining phone wires,
Faced to the south,
After all that’s been said,
I wish I was with you.
– Matt Morden, Morden Haiku
the universe still
a thrown stick
–Rick Daddario (haiku and artwork), 19 Planets
in my pocket
a chain for the black dog
–Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Scented Dust
looking for paradise–
– Josh Hockensmith, No More Moon Poems
my friends say leaf-fall
but I say apple-fall
dull-drubbing the grass
– Marie Marshall, Kvenna Rad
(See also: Marie’s “Fragment 200“)
The casualty report,
made into a bag
for ripening an apple.
– Sanki Saito (1939), on R’r Blog
taiheiyô nomikomeba aki futto kuru
when I swallow
the Pacific Ocean… unexpectedly
– Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World
an octopus trap
in the pawn shop, still wet—
– Mark Harris, from Sea Bandits, edited by Aubrie Cox, downloadable from Yay Words!
Scent of burning leaves
the four chambers
of my heart
– Patrick Sweeney, on Issa’s Untidy Hut
invited to feel
the stubble on her legs
–Shawn Lindsay, on ant ant ant ant ant’s blog
This new venture looks interesting: Bones: Journal for New Haiku. Editors: Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Alan Summers, Sheila Windsor. They are poets whose work and taste I admire, and they have a manifesto that I like a lot. In part it reads: “Haiku that stands on the firm ground of tradition but has internalized it and is now written for today and the future.”
Fall is always a good time to start things, especially things that require a flow of brisk air to the brain. I hope this venture flourishes. I hope we all do. Have a gentle fall.
Photo by Rishab Mishra
through the skylight
Tommy Knockers: Mineral Point Retreat Anthology 2011
Go ahead, click on the picture to make it bigger and more interesting. I’ll wait for you to get back.
… Back already? Here’s the deal with this poem — I wrote it last summer at the Mineral Point (Wis.) Haiku Retreat, which was an extremely stimulating and relaxing weekend (what? Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself…) spent writing and reading and talking with other poets at The Foundry Bookstore, where Gayle Bull likes to invite people over in swarms and feed them a lot and make sure they have a good time, which they always do. One night I stayed up late with some people talking. There was lightning. I rarely write haiku that are such faithful descriptions of something that actually happened. Or, you know. Metaphorically happened. (Since conversation doesn’t actually strike.) But it seemed appropriate in this case.
The anthology contains one poem each from most of the retreat attendees, and great illustrations, by local poet and artist Charlie Baker, of Tommy Knockers, who are these sort of Cornish elves who live in mines and like to wreak havoc. (Mineral Point was settled by Cornish lead miners, so this is not a non sequitur.) The haiku describe the weekend, our surroundings, our activities, our quiet impressions and our loud conversations. (Not to mention the roar of the tractor parade that went by Saturday morning. What? Does your community not have a tractor parade on a random Saturday morning in July? Obviously you don’t live in rural Wisconsin.)
I was back in Mineral Point again this weekend for a shorter but no less food-and-conversation-filled event, and picked up this newly-published book. It was good to be reminded in frigid February of that warm (in more ways than one) weekend in July. A lot has happened since then. But friends, friends are still there. And books. And poetry. And Tommy Knockers. Thanks to all of you.
snipping out stars
for the children
(This haiga is a lot bigger and more impressive-looking at Kuniharu Shimizu’s blog, so click on that link up there to see it there. That way you can also see the whole sequence of haiga Kuni san did about children, and the related sequence he’s working on now, about toys.)
Sometimes 26 letters are not enough. Dr. Seuss fans will know what I’m talking about.
Anyone who writes seriously at all, I’m guessing, is frequently frustrated by the inadequacy of language to express the full range of things there are to express in the world. There aren’t words for everything. There aren’t even combinations of words for everything, although one of the things that great writers (and sometimes even we lesser writers) do is find new combinations of words to express things that haven’t been expressed before, or that have been expressed before but are in need of refreshing.
On my journeys around the Haikuverse that’s chiefly, I believe, what I’m looking for — people saying things in ways that are new, or new to me. I read a lot, I always have, so it’s not that easy for me to find words I haven’t found before. But it happens, still, many times each month. It’s one reason to keep going. There are others, but I keep coming back to words. I think language, for me, might occupy roughly the same space in my brain that religious awe occupies in the minds of many. We are endlessly finding new things to describe and inventing new ways of describing old things, as individuals, as a species; this seems like reason enough to believe in some form of eternity. Thanks to everyone who’s given me some reason to believe this month.
— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 2 tongues/2 tunger
It’s been a long time since we It’s already autumn here . . .
— Rafael Zabratynski, DailyHaiku, 12/21/11
うごけば、 寒い 橋本夢道
if I move, cold
– Mudo Hashimoto, trans. Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World
glancing back at
—Don Wentworth, Tinywords
(Also, you should read this lengthy interview with Don from Christien Gholson’s blog.)
crow watching –
the unseen tree branch suddenly
— Angie Werren, feathers
dusk at the beach
a stone and I
touch each other
— Dietmar Tauchner, International Second Prize, The 15th Mainichi Haiku Contest
fuyu-bachi no shini-dokoro naku arukikeri
a winter bee
continues to walk
without a place to die
– Kijo Murakami, trans. Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World
the TV ignores
— John Stevenson, ant ant ant ant ant’s blog
a scream beyond my range
– George Swede, Mann Library Daily Haiku
made to last
— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 3ournals and frags
hour upon hour
a veil of simple snow
falling without reason
I feel an urgency
to risk everything I know
— William Sorlien, Haiku Bandit Society
trailing my hand
through the water
for a moment
– Paul Smith, Paper Moon
Another grey day has fallen as a pall on the new calendar as if what makes a difference really doesn’t. Only the ticking clock and the distant squawking of a crow or better yet, complaint, as well as the deep sigh of engines passing by tell the trudge goes on. I look on the cypress with a creeping sense of sorrow. The deep cold has darkened its twigs. Gifts piled beside it now holiday debris. A black garbage bag rests folded in the bin. I gather the cards. The wishes slide off my fingers. A bag of pebbles waits to be planted on the vase. Like wishes that might take root, I would have to water them each day. But for now
blue notes waver under the lamp
– Alegria Imperial, jornales
No, It’s Not Japanese Short-Form Poetry, But It’s My Blog And I Can Do Whatever I Want
five forty five a.m.
close to a heater
night like wind
In the movies
of the beautiful things
has led me
And this poem
— Aditya Bahl, dipping butterflies
Gene Myers, the blogger over at The Haiku Foundation, asked a bunch of poets in December what their hopes were for English-language haiku in 2012. One of my favorite answers to this question, part of which I’ve quoted below, came from Scott Metz:
“One of my hopes is that the aesthetics and techniques—the poetics—that have become traditional (classical?), and entrenched, in English-language haiku (with all its wonderful and creative misreadings, limitations, misinterpretations and ahistorical stances) continue to flourish and intensify, and deepen. With an emphasis on transparency (and directness) of language, simplicity, plainness, literalism, direct experience, season words, and ‘ordinary reality,’ a remarkable, timeless foundation has been created.
“Another one of my hopes for English-language haiku is that it will continue to diversify and evolve; that poets will continue to play (the hai in haiku) artistically (with language, modi operandi, imagery, structure, culture, media, history, literature), go where they need to go—go where they must go—and continue to question and resist. …
“I look forward to the craft and artistry and invitations in everyone’s poems: all the doors and windows left open and/or cracked, all the lights on in the attics, all the latches and locks left undone. I hope for more of all of it and thank everyone for sharing it.”
– Scott Metz, Hopes for English-Language Haiku in the New Year
Alan Pizzarelli and Donna Beaver, the team behind the haiku-podcast goodness of Haiku Chronicles, have once again teamed up with the astounding Anita Virgil to produce something amazing: a video exploration of the many dimensions of modern English-language haiga, narrated by Anita and set to music. You need to spend half an hour watching this: Haiga Gallery.
ant ant ant ant ant 12
Contact Chris Gordon at email@example.com for a copy of the most recent issue of his intermittently-published and mind-altering journal, featuring the poetry of the great Jack Galmitz. [Apologies to Jack for leaving his credit off the original version of this post. All I can say is, I need new glasses.] I highly recommend the ant ant ant ant ant blog too.
The Heron’s Nest
to hold you
— Dan Schwerin, The Heron’s Nest, Dec. 2011
Amongst the usual THN goodness in the most recent issue was this haiku? senryu? which was discussed at length at the most recent meeting of (one of) the real-life haiku groups I attend, during a session on senryu led by the great Bill Pauly. The author, Dan, a wonderful person and poet, is a member of our group — he drives two hours each way to join us every month, which makes us all feel very lucky. This poem of his is so light and deft and well-constructed that it reminds me of a paper kite; I keep expecting it to lift into the air any minute.
bottle rockets #26
as if a second thought
starts to turn it
– Satoru Kanematsu
One day in December when I was feeling very gloomy Peter Newton’s new book showed up in my mail, with a cover illustrated by Kuniharu Shimizu and an interior designed (oh, and written, of course) by Peter, with the kind of attention to detail that one normally associates with the finer still-lifes of the Flemish Old Masters. Or, you know, something like that. What I’m trying to say, in my usual pretentious way, is that this book is a lot of fun to hold. And page through. And look at. And read. Plus, there aren’t enough orange books in the world.
on my ceiling
the untraceable wanderings
of an ant
someone’s words carved deep
on a tree in my mind
blackbirds on the moon…
Every once in a while someone makes you an offer you can’t refuse. This happened to me not long ago when John Hawk, who is a wonderful poet whose poetry I have featured in the Haikuverse, asked me to become the haibun editor of a new journal he was starting, called Multiverses.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to take on this challenge. Haibun have a special place in my heart because I started out as a prose writer and have been wrestling with that craft for so long, and then along came haiku to become my new obsession. Combining the two forms skilfully, imaginatively, and artistically is a goal I have been working toward for quite a while now. (You can read some of my efforts on my “Site Archive” page, in the “Haibun” category.)
I love to read what other people are doing to shape the relatively new form of English-language haibun and I’m looking forward to being part of the process of putting some of that work out there in the world. I’m also looking forward to working with the great crew of editors that John has assembled from around the world (see below). Send us what you’ve got, we can’t wait to read it!
Here’s John’s announcement:
It is my honor to announce the launch of Multiverses, a new online journal dedicated to publishing modern English haiku and related forms of Japanese poetry, as well as to make an initial call for submissions for our first issue (due out in Spring of 2012). From our editorial statement:
“Each moment of our lives is a haiku waiting to happen. The unique way in which we experience these moments creates an authentic and personal reality known only to ourselves—our own little universe, so to speak. Yet we are all part of the same sum. By sharing our individual experiences and observations, we gain perspective and insight into the world of others, therefore becoming better attuned and more intimate with our own. It is with this idea in mind that Multiverses happened into existence.”
We are so excited and pleased to have an incredible team of editors, including:
Paul Smith, Tanka Editor
Melissa Allen, Haibun Editor
Alexis Rotella, Haiga Editor
Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Features Editor
Please feel free to share this post and spread the word about our launch. For more information about Multiverses, including details on submitting your work (deadline for our inaugural issue is February 15!), please visit www.multiversesjournal.com. We’re all looking forward to reading your work!
Founder, Haiku Editor
I know, I know. I said I wasn’t going to do this again for a while. But I’m so used to it! I keep reading haiku I love! And then I cut and paste them to a document and then I paste them into WordPress and then I fiddle with the formatting a little and then I press “Publish” and you get to read them. It’s not really that hard. No, really! It’s not! I totally can do it… at least one more time. Right? Please?
drawn on a map
— William Sorlien, Haiku Bandit Society
hiding their faces well snowflakes
de skjuler deres ansigter godt snefuggene
— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 2 tongues/2 tunger
change of seasons
I catch myself talking
to the wind
— Margaret Dornaus, Haiku-doodle
in the clouds
how small we are
— Alegria Imperial, jornales
in the second-hand book shop, the purr of the three-legged cat
— Mark Holloway, Beachcombing for the Landlocked
千の矢の描く千の弧師走空 青柳 飛
sen no ya no egaku sen no ko shiwazu-zora
one thousand trajectories
of one thousand arrows—
Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World (her blog’s 1000th post)
me o tsumuri seitaa nugeba hakusei desu
taking off a sweater
with eyes closed
I am a stuffed specimen
— Yoko Watabe, tr. Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World
the trip we were planning
— Roberta Beary, Tinywords
itallcomestogether in the darkness for the owl
— Johnny Baranski, Monostich
des lunettes pour mieux voir
a long search
for glasses, the better to see
— Vincent Hoarau, La Calebasse (dubious translation by me)
she envies her her boyfriend that never fools around and her cherry-red convertible that never needs repairs and her outfits (complete with shoes and accessories) that can be had for less than ten dollars and the perpetually-shining plastic sun outside her practically-immaculate plastic house but most of all she envies her her god-damn nearly-perfect never-faltering ability-to-smile . . .
“we can’t help who we love”
to no one
“all guys are assholes”
— Eric L. Houck Jr., haiku
Kindly click on the links to see the haiga that are not posted here.
mouth of the cave
we enter as eagles
exit as sparrows
— an’ya, DailyHaiga
opening emergency door,
head-on spring moon
— Kikko Yokoyama, with haiga by Kuniharu Shimizu, see haiku here
— Aubrie Cox, Yay Words! (Click on the image [or the link to Aubrie's blog] for a larger, more legible version)
Chen-ou Liu posted a great essay recently on his blog Poetry in the Moment (originally published in A Hundred Gourds 1.1) about the phenomenon of “deja-ku”: “Read It Slowly, Repeatedly, and Communally.” Here’s a sample, but please go read the whole thing, it’s fascinating and there are lots of great examples.
Today, high poetic value placed upon originality remains ingrained in the Western literary culture. This fear of unknowingly writing similar haiku or the reluctance or disuse of allusion proves that Thomas Mallon’s remark still holds true: the poets live under the “fearful legacy of the Romantics.” Could those poets or editors who are constantly worried about “not being original or fresh” imagine that a poet deliberately using a direct quote as the first two lines of his haiku can achieve a great poem?
– Chen-ou Liu, “Read It Slowly, Repeatedly, and Communally”
Hey, thanks for indulging me. I feel better now.
I keep reminding myself
I’m a poet
So: number 26. If I’d been lettering these editions instead of numbering them, I’d be up to Z by now. And Z, as we all know, is the end of the alphabet. This is convenient for me, because circumstances are such in my life right now that I am afraid I must put the Haikuverse on hiatus indefinitely. The blog, too, will probably be seeing far less frequent postings for a while.
I will miss you guys. Spinning around the Haikuverse, taking in the sights, shooting the breeze… it’s been fun. I’m not planning on disappearing completely, but I have things to tend to in other corners of the universe at the moment.
Stay in touch.
of the poem
an imaginary frog
slows its heartbeat
I’ll ever be
a room full of hats
— William Sorlien, Haiku Bandit Society
spring cleaning . . .
the rhythmic sound of her
—Kirsten Cliff, DailyHaiku
lark’s song -
in an old landscape
I part my hair to the left
i et gammelt landskab
laver jeg skilning i venstre side
– Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 2 tongues/2 tunger
Turning on the light I become someone alone in the house
— Sam Savage, ant ant ant ant ant’s blog
autumn leaf already i am attached
without permission part of me starts to bloom
winter day barely one language
winter night she knowingly reveals another arm
another day of snow my jurassic layer
the only sound that’s come out of me all day firefly
at this point i just assumed they come alive at night
– Scott Metz, ant ant ant ant ant’s blog
he thinks again of turning leaves her hands
– Angie Werren, Tinywords
autumn days straying from the text to marginalia
— Mark Holloway, Beachcombing for the Landlocked
hito hito ni oboreru kotomo mizu sumeri
a human wallows in
clear autumn water
– Rie Hosaka, translated by Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World
if you found God
in your body you’d die
– Anonymous (“Jack Dander”), Masks 2
on 60 televisions the scissors hesitate
– Anonymous (“Bridghost”), Masks 2
haiga and other art
— Aubrie Cox, Yay Words!
two red butterflies
play strange attractor
in the garden
— Kris Lindbeck, haiku etc.
– Rick Daddario, 19 Planets
if we had known
this would be
our last winter
when we professed
our love for the bomb
into light at the end
of the tunnel
echoes of the conductor’s
for the apocalypse
from now — a cherry tree’s
– Aubrie Cox, Yay Words!
hand in hand
a teenaged boy and girl pass
back and forth on their way
to being twenty
– David Caruso, DavidHaiku
I thought I had been sucked into the past. That sort of thing happens from time to time. I sat on the train on the way to the big city – well, as big as they come in Denmark – when a hippie-looking guy boarded with his monstrous Big Dane dog. My thoughts went in two directions. I thought: now, there’s a weirdo, knowing very well that in this part of the country many “off-siders” have found a cheap place to live as it’s rather poor. And I thought: great!!! Nice to see a flash of the past, and my nose replayed all kinds of smells associated with the early -70′s. Patchouli, sandalwood, fenugreek, hashish and wet and dirty “Afghan” fur coats, which was a bit of a turn-off, that last part. After having put his corn-pipe away he sat himself down in a very upright position: straight back, both feet on the floor and looking us, the other travellers, straight in the eyes. I nodded. He nodded. Dog said nowt. Then he padded the seat at his left side (he’d taken the window seat) and the dog, big as half a horse, jumped up and sat perfectly cool beside him, straight as a statue. The dog had a colourful tie as leash. We bumped on while I was listening to Incredible String Band.
a mirrored swan
– Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 3ournals and frags
Dead Tree News
Some gems from the most recent edition of the always stunning Acorn (No. 27):
the moon rises
out of the sea
— Francine Banwarth
isolated showers —
the genes that matter
the genes that don’t
— Michele L. Harvey
his own face
— John Stevenson
all night love
— Jayne Miller
a ladder folded
in the shadows
— frances angela
from each shell
a different ocean
— Mary Ahearn
the feel of a dozer
— Ron Moss
to feel so much
of what we touch
— Peter Newton
I cut my tofu
smaller and smaller
— Fay Aoyagi
Hey, seriously, I meant that about staying in touch. Drop me a line. Send me a poem. Tell me how your day went and where your life is going. I’m interested.
away from the window
hearing the rain
trickle down the window