February 1: The Cold (sequence)




the cold
our shadows


a field
of wind and deer
the cold


the cold
and snowlight


First published in LYNX, XXVI:1, February 2011


8 thoughts on “February 1: The Cold (sequence)

  1. Mellisa,

    I have some thoughts rattling around in my feeble brain this morning. I can respond or go shovel the driveway. I choose the warm alternative. Your winter sequences have intrigued me, here goes.

    The January 7th post of a haiku sequence about icicles begins a theme of cold/warm, outside/inside, unruly/rational.

    the fight over
    all night long
    icicles shatter

    his absence
    the shards
    of the icicle

    the icicle

    Icicles hang on the roof outside. They fall and clatter through the gutters and downspout. A warming spell begins to thaw the ice. The fight is over and warmer temperatures finally dominate and melt the icicles. Rationally icicles should not be hanging from the roof, but they had a beauty all their own.

    On another shadow level a reader might interpret this haiku collection as a fight between a husband and a wife. The shattering icicles are the harsh words of an argument that goes well into the night. The husband leaves and the wife ponders the sharp shards of the argument. The thaw haiku gives some resolution, most arguments do end and the bad feelings melt. The verb mourning suggests two things: the thaw came in the morning and (here it gets a little dark) the writer mourns the icicles, misses the sharp arguments. Maybe a version of we argue because we care.

    This is an excellent set of haiku that can be read on at least two levels and I am sure there are other interpretations.

    The January 26th post of three winter haiku continues the theme of wild unruly winter and a warm rational inside.

    all winter
    the cold outside
    the robot inside

    cloud drift β€”
    a robot wonders
    where it’s going

    heat β€”
    an afternoon spent
    with robots

    The robot is inside in the warmth and full of brain power and wonder. The outside is cold and full of clouds drifting aimlessly. I maybe reaching but I am beginning to see a conflict between nature and man. Conflict may be too strong, a tension for sure. The writer is drawn to the uncharted clouds that drift in the wind as well as the safety and rational procedures of inside. The last haiku suggests the writer sides, at least for this afternoon, to spend time inside, warmth wins.

    Given we know that the writer is a haiku poet, student, and blogger, we might consider a shadow interpretation centered around a writer torn (again the tension) between the exhilarating experience of a pure and unexpected haiku in nature as opposed to spending time inside with editing, studying, and blogging. The rational side of poetry is warm and comforting with strong feedback, but it is rote.

    The third sequence today returns to winter and cold.

    the cold
    our shadows

    a field
    of wind and deer
    the cold

    the cold
    and snowlight

    This sequence is cold numbing. The cold penetrates our inner self so much our shadows shiver, the cold blends the objects in a field, the cold melts moonlight and snowlight into one. Nature unifies in an unruly way. It would appear that cold wins this struggle. The rational is not part of this sequence. Outside dominates, it is where life is felt and experienced and it may not be comfortable.

    So for the three sequences we have the author writing about winter and struggling with the answer to how are my relationships and who am I. These simple winter haiku get complex and they should.

    A big fan,


    • Wow. Wow. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply to this but my brain has been exploding a little. First at the very flattering concept that anyone would take my poetry seriously enough to analyze it in this way, second at the profound intelligence of the analysis.

      I mean, okay, I didn’t deliberately put any of this into my haiku (well, except for the fight stuff in the first set you discussed, and the very deliberate attempt I made to make those “cold” haiku as bone-chillingly cold as I could). But it’s all there. It’s all there.

      Human brains are amazing things. The way they do some things consciously and some things unconsciously. The way they dream, they tell themselves stories. Even waking you’re dreaming, especially when you’re writing or doing something else in that creative, self-forgetting way; your brain produces ideas you don’t know about and commands you to write them down. I sometimes think my hands are robots themselves.

      I will be thinking about these ideas for a long, long time, Sully. It’s made me self-conscious in a way; am I really that transparent? What else am I revealing about myself that I didn’t intend to? But I don’t think you really choose what to reveal. You can choose to be silent but even that’s revealing something.

      I can never decide whether I should be more or less intellectual in the way I approach my haiku. On the one hand I am profoundly impressed by commentaries like yours and by the explosive, exciting analytical approach of people like Jim Kacian and Chris Gordon. Fundamentally I am an intellectual and not very trusting of things like intuition and emotion. On the other hand I think I have to have a certain level of naivete about process and product in order to write haiku effectively. I mean, obviously haiku is something I think about and read about constantly, but still, when I go to write it, it really is more of an intuitive approach for me. I read as much good haiku as I can and try to feel what works. I try to see things and feel things. I try to strip away thought as much as possible, because I’m afraid that if the process is too conscious for me my haiku will be too derivative, too rule-bound, and too dead.

      But that doesn’t mean that my brain isn’t working away creating meaning and layers in what I write, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the minds of my readers should stop looking for it and finding it. To have someone show me after the fact what depths there are in what I’ve written is a great and thrilling gift. Thanks.

  2. Wow!!! We should have more of this! It’s the kind of discussion or analysis readers and struggling writers of haiku need or even hanker for. Thank you, Sully! I’m quenched for the day.

    And thank you Melissa for your relentless re-creation of this space! I read somewhere that haiku cannot be written unlike other poetry that are composed in isolation; haiku can only rise out of an interaction with nature–man is not only just Nature. The history or haiku bears out this truth. And we who have been struck by its spirit live it like we do right now for instance, thanks to you, in this blog.

    • I agree, Alegria — how exciting to have these ideas on the blog! And yes, I completely believe in the idea of haiku (maybe all writing) as a collaboration between writer and world. writer and reader.

      I try to do new things on the blog all the time partly because I get bored easily, and partly because I want this to be an exciting place that people are drawn to, old readers, new readers, so that the mix of ideas and personalities here can create even more amazing new things, new works of art, commentaries, community. This (blogging) is by far the most exciting thing I have ever done. Because this blog has become a whole world in and of itself. I feel responsibility now to make it the best world I can. πŸ™‚

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