January 4 (Willow Buds)

willow buds
chewing aspirin
for my heart


There’s nothing wrong with my heart, in case any of you are worriedly picking out “Get Well” cards to send me. This haiku is imaginary. Well, I do frequently take chewable aspirin, but only for pain and hypochondria. Otherwise, I made it all up.

A lot of my haiku are made up. I know some people think this is a no-no in haiku and you should only be writing from authentic personal experience or some such. Those people can do whatever they want, but I like my imagination and I don’t want to leave it languishing all alone while I sit around writing the scrupulously observed literal truth all day.

So what often happens when I’m writing haiku is, I’ll take some tiny little real part of my life — like my crunching on those bitter little orange tablets when I’m feeling anxious about some vague pain in my head that might be a brain tumor — and start to riff on it, hmmm, aspirin, chewing aspirin, bitter aspirin, chewable aspirin, aspirin for your heart, acetylsalicyclic acid, willow bark, willow trees, willow buds…

It’s all in my head (sort of like the imaginary tumor). I’m not looking at a damn thing except the computer screen and the pictures that scroll across my brain all day long. Pictures of stuff I’ve already seen in my life, things I’ve already done, or seen other people do, or read about. All the things that I know about in the world.

So … it’s not autobiographical. But it’s not fake, either. Imaginary things aren’t necessarily fake, just like stories aren’t necessarily lies. I like stories a lot too, especially the ones that are full of truth, which are not necessarily the ones that are most factual. I’m hoping that you agree with me that haiku drawn from the imagination can be just as full of truth as those that draw on what I like to think of as “mere reality.”

This is a completely separate issue from whether this particular haiku is any good, of course. So don’t make your decision based solely on your opinion of it. Here, for example, are some of my other haiku that are mostly not real. Maybe you’ll like some of them better. Or not.

The Only Noise

From the Branches

Blue Moon

Thanks. Giving.



28 thoughts on “January 4 (Willow Buds)

  1. I don’t know about the haiku either…though i liked it after reading the note, Melissa…

    and it was particularly interesting because when i was younger i would imagine a a pain somewhere in the chest to be fatal heart attack (i have my genetic reasons), a small headache to be fatal brain tumor — nothing less! 🙂

    but when a fatal nervous attack struck me down for about a year and a half at 23/24, i never knew its way….stopped all my fatal imaginations since then :))

    Congrats on the 400 mark, Melissa…hope to join 🙂


    • Well, glad you saw something in the haiku, Devika — I think this one needs considerable reworking to make it work, actually, but I liked the germ of the idea and I wanted to get it out there.

      I’m glad you managed to conquer your hypochondria. Mine is still in full swing, but I’ve mostly learned to live with it and laugh at it. 🙂 Chewable aspirin helps. 🙂

  2. I think you are right about crafting haiku, Melissa. There is seldom only one way to do it. I do find that a haiku that comes from personal experience is more precious to me. I treat them more like children or baby sisters. On the downside I find it more difficult to edit these. I am often rigid about the original words that I selected to capture the experience.


  3. You raise a good point, Melissa. As a basically nonfiction writer myself, my haiku are also mostly nonfiction. But that’s not to say that I don’t sometimes embellish facts or conflate events. That’s where the art comes in, I guess. In the end, I think haiku are more about emotional truth rather than literal truth.

  4. Interesting points.

    I love to hear from both Cara and yourself. I find that increasingly non-fiction has as much fiction in it as a novel. See ha ha autobiographies from media entities and politicians.

    As there’s so much fiction around, including poetry in general, I like to keep my haiku strictly non-fiction, as I can always use fiction/imagination for my other poetry and my children’s novel.

    There’s nothing wrong with imaginary haiku, but I find that with my own haiku, written about actual experiences, recall not only that particular experience, but many others on the day. This works even if I’ve just read a haiku I’ve written five or more years ago.

    I also teach haiku to novelists and non-fiction writers, medical staff and bureaucrats, who find haiku useful for their particular needs. A novel will be stronger if some of the material is based on fact and observations, and medical notes etc… can be more precise.

    all my best,


    • You make interesting points about the value of observation, Alan. I do want to make clear that I don’t think keen observation is unnecessary to the writing of haiku — I have definitely become much more observant since starting to write haiku and continue to work on that skill. And I do definitely write haiku that simply describe some experience I’ve had. I just don’t necessarily think that those haiku are any better or any more “truthful” in the emotional sense than those that combine observation with some imagined situation or memory of another situation. Plus, I personally just find it much more fun to use my imagination when writing haiku, but that’s a personal preference.

      • If haiku was written only one way it would be a very boring haiku world. 🙂

        The truth in the pudding is good writing, the best words, and in the right order, plus only enough words to convey that meaning, no under or over padding to fit a word or syllable count or anything else redundent.

        There has to be a genuine core in that haiku. After having read possibly 250,000 plus haiku over my 18 years, and judged competitions and been an editor etc… I can tell when something is made up and has no heart in it.

        Kokoro and/or ma are key elements in a haiku.

        Alan, With Words

        • Excellent point about the necessity of “heart” in haiku — I responded to Alegria below with some of my thoughts about that. Now that two of you have brought it up I will definitely write a post about it soon.

          And yes, haiku are about observation, and about heart, but also about words — they are a literary form after all and if you don’t get those words right it doesn’t matter how good an observer you are or how profound your sincerity, the ku won’t work.

          I am just beginning to explore the concept of ma, at least in a formal sense — I think I’ve been aware of it for a long time but didn’t name it that way. Material for another post …

          Also, as a point of interest, the haiku? tanka? I posted today (Jan. 5 — Dirty Snow) was one of the rare ones of mine that is actually a literally accurate description of one moment/thing/event I observed. One thing that I do find is that when I try to describe one experience like that it is frequently harder for me because I have to try to pick out the salient details in the experience that make the ku work — for instance with this one I kept wanting somehow to work in the fact that the cigarette was whiter than the snow, but finally I realized that that just wasn’t going to fit.

          • Did you notice that you didn’t really need to include that the cigarette was whiter than the snow? Haiku and tanka don’t need to repeat things, and as cigarette paper is usually white, and the snow would get slightly offwhite once the morning gets going, it’s repeating an observation that people would know, or should know.

            But then again, we are getting back into comments about observations. 😉

            Alan, With Words

            • Excellent point, Alan. I think maybe I hadn’t gotten so far in life as to notice that cigarette paper is usually white, since in this very well-educated, health-conscious, and politically and environmentally correct college town where smoking is forbidden in all public places, practically no one smokes and if they do you don’t see them doing it. My neighbor who is a chain smoker is a rare exception, but even he usually confines his smoking to his house. Plus I hate the smell of smoke so if I am walking by someone who is smoking I usually turn away my head and don’t look — but on this occasion the smoker was outside and I was inside, so I could stare at him and be impressed by the extreme whiteness of his cigarette and have time to contrast it with the dingy snow. That at first was the overwhelming impression the scene made on me.

  5. i’m not reading other comments until i say what i want to say. …just so you know in case what ever happens ~ happens.

    1 – i agree with you. imagination is real. you really are imagining when you imagine. traditionally in ku the writers dont say “Full” moon. it’s assumed it’s a full moon when ever the word moon is used. if it’s not a full moon then something can modify the moon – a quarter moon, that would be okay to write in a traditional haiku as i understand it. so i dont think we have to say in the ku that this ku is arriving now in my imagination. i think so i like what you’ve said.

    2 – even tho i may try to stick to concrete images, i’m sure i dont always. it’s not required even if i like it and try to do it. in this case as i see it each of your images are concrete even if you didnt chew on the willow buds.

    and the double meaning of aspirin for heart attack help and something to help a broken heart – that is beautiful. obviously both can be painful and wouldnt it be great if willow buds worked on both.

    one of the things i’m seeing now is that we are in a time of change (may be every life time is – or may be some are more so than others?). re-understanding what ku is to our world today – i mean the world we live in and experience, this is our experience – is part of that change. our world today is changing so fast, who can fully keep up with it? …or has ever kept up with the world for a life time? re-defining our re-understanding of ku – i think that’s a good thing. pushing edges and boundaries is clearly one of the ways to do that.

    i like the personal ku that you write – again even if i dont often go in that direction. i am learning to give it a try at least and sometimes i even like what i’ve tried. – thank you.

    3 – the lead off ku here, is one i clearly understand – at least from my own point of view. i think for most people there is a clarity to it that we all get. that clarity is a beautiful part of ku and you keep that in your ku well. cool on that. yeah, i like this ku. and i wont be sending you a get well card.

    okay i gave up numbering them. cool on the way you write ku.

    • p.s. any experience we have is our experience. i suspect we do a lot of imagining in the outer reality world we think of as reality – may be almost as much as we do in our inner world we think is our imagination. i dont think we can write in any other way than from our experience – and it’s all experience that is taking place all life long – inside of our head imagined or outside of our head with a layer of imagination over that world. our imagination may not be correct, but it’s still a part of our experience. sometimes all of it – both in our head and outside of it.

      if i write about an actual experience at a later date than the moment it happens, from my memory of it, it seems to me as faulty as my memory is, i’ve probably imagined something that wasnt there. even among good observers a few moments after something happens, they can disagree as to what actually happened. so it seems to me that all experience is biased according to the observer. it’s simply from their frame of reference, their version of the truth and accuracy.

      each haiku writer is giving their version of an experience, if it’s a version that is clearly like few others have seen it, readers suddenly say ah-ha.

      and… to write about an experience as it’s happening would alter the experience so that we’d always have to include the factual note that we are writing – in which case what we are experiencing is – writing. not the other thing we are writing about… i suspect very few people can write as fast as a moment and get the moment they are experiencing all in there – so they are choosing which things to keep in and which to leave out, how accurate is that?

      okay, this is just me wondering and probably wandering now. disregard this as well as anything that does not make sense. …because i’m just re-exploring this rambling write thing. again.

      • Interesting points Rick.

        Kinda confirms why I teach haiku the way I do, because people in general aren’t that observant.

        I’ve been lucky because I was trained in observational skills. As a kid, and right up into my teens, I wouldn’t have seen things in day to day life as accurately as I now know is important.

        Everything is maya, I think most of us know that, but within that maya we still need to visit the dentist, and can’t pretend the drilling part doesn’t exist, even if it doesn’t. 😉

        So I can only talk from the position of a professionally trained observer (my ex-security background) from the age of 21 years and just doing a bit of consultancy up to a few years back.

        Haiku really does heighten observational skills, I’ve seen it happen in minutes for some people at my workshops, including one quadriplegic lad who could hardly communicate in our so-called healthy lifestyle acceptance of communication. This lad spotted something while I was a haiku poet-in-residence at a zoo, that the zoo keeper hadn’t seen in the years he’d worked in that smallish area of the zoo. So go figure. 😉 I heard this from his carer who was very proud of him and pleased I spent so much one-to-one time with him.

        All students are worth the time, and to think I helped broaden his life just a tiny bit more is very humbling.

        Now as I’ve been a festival of nature haiku poet-in-residence, and also worked in inner-city rainforests, I see this happen regularly, that someone either working there, or visiting, will spot something overlooked. It happens too often to be a coincidence.

        This doesn’t mean everyone has to only write shasei all the time. Of course we can include our imagination into a haiku, and if we want to make something up, that’s okay, it’s done everywhere else including non-fiction.

        But the more truth there is, the stronger the haiku. So as long as a fiction haiku, or imagination haiku, has truth in it, it should be powerful, as Melissa’s haiku proves.

        Interesting that you use willow buds, as aspirin comes from the willow. Looking up some facts I noticed that both Aspirin ® and Heroin ® were once trademarks belonging to Bayer. So a lot of heartache has been caused by the latter. 😉

        all my best,

        Alan, With Words

        • cool, thanks and aloha Alan. yeah, observation skills help a lot in seeing. visual artists use seeing skills too.

          one of the things that helps me to see is the concept of looking without naming. once we name an object in our head – that is what we are doing, recognizing it and giving it a name most of the time when we are using our eyes (unless we have been trained otherwise or are learning the process)… once we name an object, as i understand it we then use a generic view of the object in our head and do not pay attention to the actual object or situation if that is what we are seeing – again i may be miss-remembering but i believe the object we use once we identify a thing is supposed to be the first one we saw in our life time or a composite of several of those early views. it’s something like if i say the word “shoe” to someone, the image of a shoe might pop into their head (may be this is only if they are visual – may be it’s a word for those who are verbal?). the value of this is that we dont have to re-understand the world around us every moment taking the time to actually see the entire object as it is. if we can name it, we know what it is and we can go on to what we dont know. which is why if we are in a place we know and there is something we do not recognize we tend to notice it. however if we intentionally stop this naming process we tend to look at the specific individual thing that is right before us. that’s one way we can see the actual thing and not just gloss over it as a recognized object. most people do not do this without some training or awareness of the process.

          i find in new settings i “see” a lot of things that people who are used to being there do not see. i think part of that is that everything is new, so i have to actually look at everything in order to know what is there. returning a second time i’ve noticed i’m not as observant of everything unless i make more of an effort, and i’ll often just return to seeing the things i want to see again – unless i intentionally look without naming. wow the world is a stunning place when i look without naming.

          it doesnt surprise me that a new comer might spot something that is usually there that others who have been there have not noticed. it’s more impressive to me that people who have been there a lot spot something they havent seen even tho it’s been there all along. altho again, bringing awareness to what we are doing helps a lot. attention attention attention, as the saying goes.

          interesting about the Bayer ®s. i knew about Aspirin and Willow bark years ago, so i understood that connection right away in the haiku. interestingly enough i bought some tincture of willow bark recently to see if it would work better than some other pills i take… it didnt for me, but it might for some (it wasnt for my heart tho). Coke-a-cola was originally a medicinal drink with – yep, cocaine in it. yikes. okay, off topic, just similar may be.

          thanks again for your time Alan. aloha – rick, who stumbles over his own words a lot most of the time. …it’s still fun tho.

          • Rick Daddario said:

            “once we name an object, as i understand it we then use a generic view of the object in our head and do not pay attention to the actual object or situation if that is what we are seeing”

            You’re right, people do that sometimes, or too often. 😉 Maybe it’s just me, but I often see something as if it’s the first time, regardless if I know the bird or object from a dictionary point of view. Everything is an individual or individual thing.

            When you mentioned about shoes it reminded me of this haiku I wrote a while back:

            beer forgotten
            the drunk looks deep
            within his shoe

            Alan Summers
            Publications credits:
            The Haiku Calendar, Snapshots Press (2004); Tinywords (2004); Beer Haiku Daily (2007)

            Award credits:
            Runner up, Haiku Calendar Competition, Snapshot Press (2003)

            If we don’t see something for the first time (to start with) then it can become mere reportage. Defining the object later might be useful, but first of all, it’s the childlike wonder that’s important.

            Rick says:
            “we dont have to re-understand the world around us every moment”

            I love that! Maybe some haiku, and some senryu, can come across like that, but it’s seeing something for the first time, and as you say above, that clinches most haiku for me.

            Rick says:
            “however if we intentionally stop this naming process we tend to look at the specific individual thing that is right before us. that’s one way we can see the actual thing and not just gloss over it as a recognized object. most people do not do this without some training or awareness of the process.”

            Or are overtrained in a bureaucratic manner and cannot see something for what it is. 😉

            Rick says:
            “it doesnt surprise me that a new comer might spot something that is usually there that others who have been there have not noticed. it’s more impressive to me that people who have been there a lot spot something they havent seen even tho it’s been there all along.”

            That would be my next aim. 😉

            Seriously, that is alarming that people might switch off so much, but I’ve met even the most enthusiastic person who’s like that. During one of my haiku residencies at the inner city rainforest someone did spot something, once they’d got into haiku, that they’d not seen in the years they’d been there.

            The haiku eye is really useful, even if the person doesn’t like poetry, and might not write many haiku. 😉

            > altho again, bringing awareness to what we are doing helps a lot.
            > attention attention attention, as the saying goes.

            If the tincture of willow bark was Bach Flower Remedies, the Rescue Remedy is worth getting. I used it a lot instead of grabbing for painkillers when I had a spate of headaches one year. 😉

            all my best,

            Alan, With Words

            • Hi Alan–
              I’m loving this discussion! You and Rick both have such interesting things to say and I have learned a lot and been given much food for thought this morning (yes, I know it’s evening for you. 🙂 ).

              Also, love that beer ku. I’m always amazed at how many of those beer haiku are actually really good haiku … I don’t know why I’m amazed, though, beer is a perfectly legitimate subject.

              There are all kinds of studies on attention that show that most people really don’t pay attention to much of anything most of the time, and this is even more true now that there are so many electronic things for us to pay attention to … reality is getting short shrift. So I guess it’s even more important for us haiku poets to pay attention and report back on what we see … maybe all those people surfing the Internet all day long (*waves hand in air*) will “see” something in our ku that they never would have seen otherwise. 🙂

              • And beer is such a good Summer kigo. 😉

                Plus Beer Haiku Daily seem to like it too! 🙂

                Yes, I’m constantly astonished how little some people see and experience. I remember being informed that dogs can only see in black and white; they probably have a richer visual and sensual experience than most humans! 😉

                Haiku on! 😉

                Alan, With Words

                • where to continue and where to begin. or wait. oh. wait. that’s me thinking, not me looking into the ku i want to write… or that is pressing me to get out of my fingers…

                  way fun beer ku Alan. i may have to try beer ku-ing.

                  how many beers do i get before i start? or…

                  inside my shoe
                  before i start looking
                  how many beers

                  nah. that’s a sentence. just unordered. oh, heck, i do that all the time. …unorder sentences i mean. thinking they are ku. i havnt had enough beers yet that i’ve started looking into my shoes. …or… at least i dont remember doing that. yet.

                  yeah, i do like looking at it all in that all new way – as you mentioned Alan – as a child. because it is so stunning to see that way and it is all new and first time – every moment is. and …because almost everything is new and first time for a child it is all stunning too. or at least until they figure out how to turn part of it off. which then can become a lot of all of it – off. and from there it may be off so much of the time, it becomes hard to turn it back on again. … however when it’s on… – a crack in the side walk and the movie Avatar (or any first movie experience) is wow…

                  one of the reasons i think people stop looking in this fresh and new way all the time is sensory overload. a loaded term, i’m sure. when a new born looks out into the world it’s all overload. it’s all stunning and fascinating. it’s all first time. in centuries past, may be decades. may be years. may be weeks. things didnt change as quickly once we became knowing about the area we lived in. edges were new but not the entire center of our universe (of course this is a guess on my part as i am not actually centuries old – yet. wait. i have lived in two centuries, does that count?). now the center changes almost as rapidly as the edges. …may be the center of the universe for all beings has always changed this rapidly and i just dont understand that yet…? to keep up with it all would stymie us if we stopped to wide-eye all the amazement that is constantly in the world around us. i think that does happen. i think it’s what happens when someone has their eyes opened and cant get back to being able to “know what we already know” – they are in a constant state of stunned amazement and in some cases to the point of becoming non-functional. it would take an hour to drive a city block. may be more. just like it may take a 4 year old half an hour to walk around to the back of the house to tell dad to start the barbecue. “but mom, there was this bug going down into a crack in the tree AND it was BLUE”. sensory overload happens if we try to pay attention to it all, all the time. walk in a super market and pay attention to every package screaming for attention – try the cereal isle – you may be a fast reader. i’m not. it would take me 3 days to read everything on every package on one side of the cereal isle. wait. may be longer. so there is a place for turning off the all information we can gather.

                  there is a very important place for turning on our attention too tho. seeing to actually see – at least at times – is one of them. i’m reasonably sure there are times for all the senses to be fully attentioned. to be able to do this at will, or to naturally to be able to do this when appropriate is awesome, not to mention awing and ah-ha-ing. yeah. the world is a stunning place, have i said that already? i’m sure i have. leaking memory.

                  wow. to this conversation. wow and thank you Melissa, Alan, Alegria Imperial and all readers as well. and aloha too. see fresh. see first time every time. …or at least at times and when ever possible or appropriate…

                  Melissa – if you (anyone) start to draw every few years, in general you probably have to go back to where you left off each time you start again. i have to go back to where i left off when i stop painting and then restart even a few weeks later.

                  adults will often say, “i draw like a 12 year old so i dont draw or cant draw” – i ask, “when was the last time you were drawing?” they often say, “when i was about 12”. so that’s where they start again when they begin again at age 23, or 34, or 45, or 56, or 67 or you get the idea. if you draw for 1 day or may be 7 days at each of thos ages… yeah. maximum days you’ve put in is about 35 days by the ages of 78. but you would have restarted each time. 35 days of sequential drawing would be better. just dont stop on the 36th day.

                  the ability to draw comes with constant practice – repetition – with or without instruction. i say this frequently you already know how to draw so someone can recognize what you’ve drawn if you can write or print your name so that someone else can read it. you practices making letters until you could do it so that others could recognize a D as a D and not an O. if you can do that you know how to make a line. and that means you can draw. if you want to draw a cat, you practice a cat until others recognize it as a cat and not a dog. okay, there are other bits of insight and information that will help speed your time to be able to do that. but you could do it on your own if you wanted to…. just like you could learn to write the letters of the russian alphabet on your own if you wanted to… just get a copy of their alphabet and start making lines like those. a little instruction can help – can actually help a lot if it doesnt also hinder us. mostly it has to be you doing it tho. daily. not necessarily for extended periods of time each day – but some, at least a little, every day. even 15 minutes a day. plus some insight and after a year, you’ll see a lot of improvement. if you’ve drawn daily.

                  drawing is about line – at least one definition of drawing is line – a drawing is a work made up of line as the main element (a second definition would be to include traditional drawing materials – if the work is mainly done with traditional drawing material – a stick of graphite for instance – then it’s a drawing – even if it has no line in it – but that’s getting way too far into thinking about drawing for now) . make your line interesting and you will have an interesting drawing (yeah, so figure out what makes a line interesting). your drawing does not have to look like any drawing you have ever seen either. you do not have to draw like a master in order to be able to draw, striving for the quality of a master drawing is okay, just do it your own way tho. that is what makes your work special – it is in your own way. no other person will ever be able to do it your way better than you. so become good at being you.

                  sheesh, im really over board here. delete this if you dont want it all under haiku.

                  okay so one challenge a lot of adults have with their own drawing is to accept that the way they draw is their way and that, that way is okay. it’s a lot like ku-ing. same practice. same effort. same sensitivities. same acceptance that the way you draw is the way for you to draw. get good at that. …just like getting good at what you do in ku. draw in the way that you are strong – and bring up any areas you’d like to incorporate into a strength by doing it – daily.

                  …okay. i’ll stop i’m already way over time on this ramble podium. bwahahahahaha. fun tho. thanks. aloha. fun ku talk on.

                  • Hey, I am all in favor of going off topic. You should have heard the conversation my husband and I had about this post this evening after he came home from work having read this discussion. It touched on the I Ching, meditation, and a science-fiction story he recently wrote about some aliens whose language’s basic grammatical building blocks involve the connections between things. Yes, my husband is cool, thanks for noticing. 🙂 Anyway, yeah, about drawing. I know full well that I need to draw all the time in order to get any good at it, I just have so many other things I want to do more that I guess I will have to accept for the time being that I am a writer and not a draw-er. (Or a drawer either.) Not that I couldn’t be a draw-er if I wanted to, just that I am not willing to put the time in right now. Too busy writing.

                    And YES thank you everyone for an amazing discussion! It allowed me to successfully procrastinate on several important tasks for yet another day. 🙂 But it was worth it.

                    • bwahahahaha. cool. and yeah, cool on your cool husband too. i’ve heard of some groups of people… may be south seas but that may not be right… who have terms for small and round or large and square. …yeah i may have that back words (backward) – the point is that if it’s small then it must be round, or if it’s round it must be small. and large is the other way – square. no i dont fully understand this, i just remember it from an anthro class or two. however a language built on relationship – yeah, that makes sense. …or… do we have that on this planet already? not being a language expert you could pull that one over my eyes with a transparent piece of plastic.

                      okay what i thought i’d mention (because we have touched on this and you’ve mentioned it again).. was that i didnt mention the meditation site (altho i thought about it) that has a few guided meditations of short duration that are a step in the right direction or a brief guided meditation when you need to clear your mind and refocus. or at least that’s how i occasionally use them currently. my usual or preferred practice is different.

                      a book i like as reference and introduction to meditation – because it is a survey of a number of kinds of meditation practices is by Lawrence LeShan – called How To Meditate. it’s excellent for beginners and the more advanced practitioner of meditation as well. it offers insight for those with knowledge beyond beginning but relates well to beginners and is easy to understand. it’s short. and well written (imo). many books have come out since it did in the mid 70’s but it’s still one i like a lot (and i have a number of others – i tend to buy LeShan’s when i find a used copy because i’m always giving them out and they dont seem to return). it’s basic and very clearly teaches you how to do it without championing one kind of meditation over another. so you can select what works best for you and then explore in more detail with other books or in other ways if that is what you want to do – or you can just meditate…

                      the site i found online (and there may be others, but this one has several short and simple, easy to listen to guided meditations) is:


                      i’ve only tried the 3, 7 and 11 minute meditations on that page (which is not the home page). they are all basically the same meditation with a little longer time involved in doing it. the way to breath on these is very clear and it’s easy to follow when closing your eyes. if you find other places on the net… let me know. yes, i’m working back toward meditating daily. not quite there yet, but it’s a goal i’m working on… i’m mentioning this because at one point i believe you asked me to let you know if i started meditating again. yeah, i’m attempting it. like drawing tho… daily is the key.

                      ..yeah, i know you know that.

                      and yeah, i know you can learn to draw and i know we have to chose what we want to spend our time on. no problem on that. fun on. fun is a good choice to …as far as i’m concerned. aloha.

                    • Another great link! Thanks, Rick. I have to say I have already missed a day or two of meditating and it’s, what, the sixth? But I will do better. I will do better. It’s never too late [drones on interminably].

                      Languages are totally fascinating. I don’t know if there is any human language that is like the one my husband made up. But there is an insane variety in languages. My sister was a linguistics major in college and is fluent in ASL — now *there’s* an interesting language. I wish I knew about twenty more languages. I learned most of the ones I know when I was young and my memory was supersonic. It’s not so good now, but I could probably whip it into shape to learn more. If I had time …

          • Rick — of course it makes sense that as an artist you know about this stuff — whenever I have tried to learn to draw (I do this every few years hoping something will stick but it seems I always end up in the position of a complete beginner every time I try again) the first thing the instructor or book I’m trying to learn from will emphasize is that you’re not looking at objects, you’re looking at lines, and shapes, and light and shadow. It’s so fascinating to me that you can’t really draw something well if you have the abstraction of it in your mind — you have to force yourself to deliberately just see the lines it’s composed of to get it right.

            It’s true that I tend to like words, and names, and concepts, often better than Things Themselves. So that is something I am having to train myself out of to a certain extent in order to write haiku. On the other hand … there are a lot of different kinds of haiku, and if my strengths lie more in the area of making emotional connections between things rather than describing them with scrupulous accuracy I guess I think that’s something I should go with.

        • Yes, actually the connection between aspirin and willow was the entire point of this haiku for me. 🙂 (Or maybe not “the point,” but what pulls it together and gives it resonance insofar as it does have resonance … I can’t imagine what the point would be of mentioning willow buds here if aspirin weren’t derived from willow.) Though I was aware that a certain percentage of my readers would miss this … but I think it’s fairly well known among reasonably well-educated people, which most readers of haiku probably are.

          I’m very interested in your haiku education endeavors, Alan. And I am definitely even more motivated than ever to improve my observational skills. 🙂

      • What you said, Rick. 🙂 No, really, I agree with all of it, and I probably would have said it all myself if I’d thought of it and if I hadn’t been trying to keep this fairly short. Thanks for adding to my thoughts.

        I particularly like the point that imagination *is* reality. Just because it’s going on inside your head where no one else can see it doesn’t mean it’s not real. Also, when I say “imagination” I’m usually talking about memories and facts, not unicorns and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow … so it is reality, just filtered through my brain for a while and then combined with some other reality rather than one complete moment of observation.

  6. Powerful lessons, here! It just proves that haiku is art more than craft. It lives and it does with each haiku poet. If not only a haiku-a-day but ten to fifty fall on a blank sheet or skitter on a computer screen, I imagine millions of ku must be whirling around. Still, often especially among those still learning like me, we ask with each one we write, is it a ku or not?

    I, personally, am in constant quandry until someone reads it (though I’m now reading more of mine as an outsider and know when it’s not haiku). The interaction happens in an instant–it’s what I love about haiku. The learning is fast but so can the failure. Until late last year, I gave in to the latter more often. Lately, I seem to have become a bit more persistent–though stubborn is more like what I feel.

    It’s true. Imagination cannot but descend on haiku lines. A point of obervation defines only the moment. But we know that a moment is a universe in itself made up of past images, even epiphanies, and future longings.

    At first, I wrote absolutely bland haiku, thinking that to be objective, it must be bare-boned. One day, in my ignorance yet delusion of knowing, I showed a batch to Mitsui, a friend of a Japanese frined. After reading these, she pushed away the sheet of paper I had laid out from across where we sat in a seniors center cafeteria, squinting like somethng had hurt her. When I asked her what’s wrong, she took long before she expressed it: “Where is your heart?” The haiku she noted was this: “hole in the night sky?/but/
    the full moon”. In searching for my heart, this haiku metamorphosed into something I never would have written. I’m writing haiku with my heart since then but still most moments, I feel uncertain about it. Endless learning with more haiku poets though and reading more haiku–that’s certain.

    I love the haiku here, Melissa. I like the image of willow buds as a pill! I should have written a comment on this but instead, I posted it in my blog(After Melissa …) and tried to do a ‘pingback’ but just can’t because I couldn’t figure out how!

    Thanks again for drawing more ‘sensei-s’ right here, for turning your blog into a classroom. Issa must be smiling!

    • Thanks, Alegria. I love what your Japanese friend said about writing with your heart. I too keep trying to do that, especially since reading in “The Haiku Apprentice” about a Japanese master who saw that as the one essential of haiku writing — I think I may have a post on this subject coming up sometime soon.

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