December 30: First Snow

first snow
I finally
track you down


first snow
we’re warm
under that blanket


first snow
you’re starting
to drift away


By now here in Wisconsin, our first snow is a long distant memory — I think we’re about on our ninth. But “first snow” sounds, you know, more poetic than “ninth snow.” Although now that I have written this I think I will go off and write some haiku about snows other than first snows, because they deserve a little attention too.

24 thoughts on “December 30: First Snow

  1. yeah, i was thinking along with reading. only to find you’d gotten there first by the tracks that you left. so… here… let’s met in the corner of the snow field. if you get there first i’ll know by the tracks in the snow. if i get there first, i’ll rub the tracks you left out. that way we’ll know to keep moving toward the hot chocolate so we’ll both stay warm.

    ninth snow
    where are the mittens?
    the mail is out there

    • The last few days I’ve been out in the middle of the country surrounded by snow fields. Maybe I’ll take a trek out to the corner of one tomorrow and see what happens. πŸ™‚ I could definitely go for hot chocolate. I believe a bonfire is on the agenda for New Year’s Eve … that should help.

  2. Definitely look forward to seeing some attempts at “other snows,” as this was a problem I found myself running into earlier this winter. It’s become one of those overused kigo that make me cringe when I read them (and even more when I use them). Nevertheless, it’s effective.

    One I’ve tried to use instead is “last snow,” but I find the idea of “second snow” to be endearing as well, since this is the snow that covers the marks made in the first snow and some of the enchantment from the first snow is gone.

    • Hit the post button too soon!

      I like the last haiku you’ve got here. Just a small edit suggestion:

      first snow
      you start
      to drift away


      first snow
      you’re drifting

      Perhaps too minimal, but this also came to mind

      first snow

      • Yeah, I also considered

        first snow

        first snow
        you drift

        first snow
        I drift

        first snow
        we drift

        first snow
        … oh, you get the idea. Seriously, I’ve got like twenty of these things. I don’t know why I like the version here the best. (If I do.) For some reason it seems more like something someone would actually say, or think. Also I like the rhythm of it, which is always a big thing for me for some reason, maybe because I have spent so much time scanning and reciting iambic pentameter in the form of Shakespearean verse. Things that are closer to iambic pentameter sound better and more natural to me. Though I do like really brief haiku as well, maybe because I’m not expecting them to have any particular rhythm, and also because I find it so amazing when you can pack a lot into a tiny number of syllables. I don’t know, so much of this stuff is so subjective (though if someone wants to try to convince me there is some objective reason to prefer one or the other of these versions over another I’d be thrilled to listen — I’m always thinking maybe I’m missing something really obvious).

        • Sometimes I’ve filled half a page in my journal with variations of one poem. So I know where you’re coming from.

          I tend to be somewhat attentive to rhythm in haiku. Usually I try to make it as brief as possible first, then make sure it flows. I’d say it’s fairly important, because it helps in editing. Just may not be as obvious as it is in other forms (such as tanka, a lyrical verse). Mainly, to me, it’s not about finding the meter but just making sure it doesn’t sound awkward.

          As for why you prefer the originals better than these just posted in the comments, my speculation would be the way “drifting” versus “drift” makes you feel. In some cases, I think the the -ing brings you closer to the moment, it feels like you’re in the middle of it happening.

          • I find balancing the “keeping it brief,” “saying it right,” and “making it sound good” aspects of haiku fiendishly challenging. Yeah, I think I have more stringent requirements for what the rhythm should be than most haijin. I frequently get annoyed when people revise my haiku for brevity, etc. if the revisions sound clunky to me. (I mean, “annoyed” not in the “don’t suggest revisions to my haiku” sense, but in the “why do I have to be so picky about rhythm” sense. πŸ™‚ )

            I also am frequently willing to sacrifice a little brevity to say something exactly right. But I do like playing with making haiku as brief as possible — often it’s a matter of deciding to say something slightly different so it can be shorter … this is another reason why I often have a zillion slightly different versions of ku … It’s kind of annoying because sometimes I’ll have two different versions that are not quite the same in either meaning or phrasing, but are also not different enough to “sell” as separate ku.

            and yes, I often tend to prefer the participle form of the verb over the indicative even though I know it’s longer … not just because of the immediacy but because to my ear it’s less clunky …

            I think I need to do a more scientific study of exactly what is going on when I find ku more or less rhythmically appealing. I don’t know if I’m too fussy or the rest of you are just Philistines with tin ears. πŸ˜‰

    • I have now written a bunch of ku about later snows and they are, of course, so much better and interesting than the “first snow” ku … they need a little more work before I reveal them to the public, though.

        • LOL. What, you’re trying to get around the embargo? πŸ™‚

          I’ve been at a folk dancing festival the last four days and have just had time to scribble things down in spare moments (and, you know, reply to blog comments and post on Facebook and Twitter πŸ™‚ ). This stuff has not even been entered into the computer yet (and I hope my original impression that the later snow ku are a lot better than the first snow ku was correct πŸ™‚ ). (My posts for the last few days were scheduled to post a long time ago …) Maybe, like, Sunday when I get home and get my head screwed back on straight …

          Happy New Year! Hope you’re doing something fun tonight.

          • Shamelessly trying, yes. Absolutely shamelessly.

            Just got back from the latest Narnia movie. Hopefully by the end of the night I will have accomplished two things before the end of the year: cleaning my room, and something haiku related. Unfortunately, been mostly fussing over grad school apps.

            Happy New Year to you as well!

  3. Hi again Melissa

    To add my two cent’s worth, I agree with aubriecox’s first suggestion that

    first snow
    you start
    to drift away

    works best.

    Now back to perusing your essays – keep up the good work!


    • You and Aubrie may have converted me to that version, Matt. πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much for sharing links to my essays on Twitter, by the way. It’s kind of fun because I have not read most of those in months myself so I’m getting something out of them too. πŸ˜‰

      • my nickle: i agree with mattm.

        first snow
        you start
        to drift away

        i prefer that over the “are + ing” ending. some how ing endings are not as ever present as without ing to me. hmmmm… is that it? i’m not sure. i do know that when possible i try to get rid of ing words. and almost always especially if they are the last word of the last line (which is not happening here, but just to be clear).

        and… on another note… since you liked the Christmas in Hawaii ku… i thought i’d mention that i’d created one as haiga too. because there are orchids blooming outside of the kitchen window. …and today, i noticed another step of blossoms on another orchid. …cool holiday blossoms.

        seasonal blossom
        a ninth snow orchid
        rocks in the wind

        • Yeah, I know a lot of people don’t like participles in haiku. I think someday I am going to do a post quoting all the warring opinions on this matter. I am so entertained by haiku syntax smackdowns. πŸ™‚

          That is a great haiga. I am jealous of outdoor orchids in any season … they usually get relegated to the status of permanent houseplant around here, they’re like tchotchkes. Which is a terrible thing to do to a creature like an orchid.

          And a big πŸ™‚ to that ku.

  4. i have no idea what a tchotchkes is. yeah, i do like the orchid closet that is outside the kitchen window. i just keep it going tho (by accumulating them at times). the people who lived here prior to my living here knew enough to put it in.

    yeah too, i do use ing words occasionally. participles – sounds like people who participate. …that should be a good thing. okay, it’s still 2010 here. i can leave all of this behind. …in a little while. i’m learning to do a lot of different things with my ku. on that – way cool. particularly way cool on your haikuniverse. fun on in the new year. aloha.

    • Tchotchke is just a Yiddish word for knick-knack, you know, the useless things that you keep around the house to collect dust and never really look at properly after you bring them home from the tchotchke store and plunk them down on your end table. If I had an orchid I would like to have an entire room devoted to it and just go in there to look at it and, I don’t know, do orchid meditation. Maybe when I’m old.

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