May 29: 1-2: The Technique of the Riddle

(See this post for an explanation of what’s going on here.)


“[T]his is probably one of the very oldest poetical techniques. It has been guessed that early spiritual knowledge was secretly preserved and passed along through riddles….

“One can ask: ‘what is still to be seen’

on all four sides

of the long gone shack

The answer is:
calla lilies

“Or another one would be:

spirit bodies

waving from cacti

plastic bags

“…The more intriguing the ‘set-up’ and the bigger surprise the answer is, the better the haiku seems to work. … keep it true, keep it simple and keep it accurate and make it weird.

“Oh, the old masters favorite trick with riddles was the one of: is that a flower falling or is it a butterfly? … if you wish to experiment (the ku may or may not be a keeper) you can ask yourself the question: if I saw snow on a branch, what else could it be? Or seeing a butterfly going by you ask yourself what else besides a butterfly could that be?”

– Jane Reichhold, Haiku Techniques


chewing the stale crumbs
of my future
fortune cookie

new leaves stained with
gouts of fresh blood
first strawberries

3 thoughts on “May 29: 1-2: The Technique of the Riddle

  1. wonderful inspiration – i am surprised – and your art, and its tradition has changed my point of view! I did post about art as i mentioned i would…

    soft debris
    in the bedroom

    okay, it’s not haiku … 😉

  2. Elisabeth–I enjoyed your essay on art, maybe because that’s always been my opinion about what art should do as well. 🙂 I think what this whole project is about for me is learning how to see in a different way, and to use language in the most economical way possible to communicate what I’ve seen.

    Steve–Yeah, get working on that description of Zen for me, will you. 🙂 I keep using the damn word and not having any idea what I’m talking about. One of these days it will come back to bite me. 🙂

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