March 23: The Boys Emerge, from haijinx

summer dusk —
the boys emerge
with robots


(haijinx IV:1, March 2011)


For a fun time, you should all dial up the latest issue of haijinx. It was just sent out into the ether to seek its fortune yesterday, packed full of juicy and irresistible stuff. And I say this not just as someone who helped write it, but as an avid reader who is deeply impressed with the amazing work of all the contributors and of my fellow editors.

There are something like 36 pages of wonderful haiku, haibun, and haiga, there is phenomenal artwork by Kris Moon, there is a great writeup by Aubrie Cox telling you everything you ever wanted to know about NaHaiWriMo, there are reviews and articles galore. It’s nicely laid out, I love the color scheme, and it’s filled with great vibes because some incredibly nice people put it together.

Mark Brooks, our fearless leader, should get some kind of Herding Cats Award for spending the last couple of weeks chasing down the contributions of recalcitrant editors like, um, me, and forgoing vast quantities of sleep making sure every last detail was perfect and that his news editor didn’t get Newfoundland mixed up with New Zealand. (Look at how similar those names are, just look at them!)

I’m not going to quote anything from the issue here (well, except for my haiku above) because I don’t want anyone to think they can get away with skipping visiting it themselves. Go get a cup of tea, or pomegranate juice or absinthe or whatever it is cool people are drinking these days, and put up your feet for an hour or so and forget about the strange noise your car is making and the way it never seems to stop raining now that spring is finally here. There is poetry in the world. Do yourself a favor and read it.

6 thoughts on “March 23: The Boys Emerge, from haijinx

  1. I’ve read it all, Melissa! Great job–yours because it’s so extensive and the rest of the editors for high quality reading and yes, wonderful layout. I must wear a badge that says, “I’m a friend of Melissa Allen”! I’m so proud of you.

    • Thanks, Alegria. I don’t think there are too many people in the world who would have the slightest idea who Melissa Allen is or care if you told them, but I appreciate the thought. 🙂

  2. Melissa,

    What are the robots? We can all picture summer dusk – quiet, warm, peaceful coming of a soft night. “Boys emerge” – that resonates with loud screams, laughter, and reckless running about. And boys running wildly are part of summer dusk – they are playing and fit into the picture of a warm night. What are the robots?
    Robots are reason and ordered lives that do not fit into a dreamy summer’s night. They are part of the workplace, they are performing useful work. In the hands of children, boys, they are mechanical playthings. The boys with their robots disturb the summer dusk; and maybe because of the peacefulness of the waning light, the boys feel the need to fire up the robots, make mayhem in the waning light. The robots are super soaker water pistols, motorized scooters, anything to create mayhem. It is not the way a haiku mom would plan a summer night; but the writer knows that boys love their mayhem toys.
    This haiku speaks of tension between contemplation and training for the chaotic workplace. All this exists together, we just have to figure out the balance at an early age.

    Nice job for haijinx.


    • Sully … I absolutely love reading your analyses of my haiku. They’re thoughtful and brilliant and always completely valid interpretations of the text that give me a whole new level of insight into what I’ve written. It’s fascinating to me to see that (of course) this poem could easily be read the way you’ve described — although as a matter of fact this particular haiku mom actually loves robots, and loves it when the boys of her acquaintance come blinking out of the basement after spending the day building and programming them to test them out in the driveway before it gets dark. They don’t really create much mayhem, they are more a really delightful combination of intense concentration and joy in creation.

      Really, I like people more than “nature” (while fully recognizing the false dichotomy in that sentence), though in fact what I am most interested in the intersection between people and nature and how they influence each other. A robot being steered around in my driveway is more interesting to me than a squirrel running around in it or birds flying over it, but what I really love is the fact that boys, robots, squirrels, and birds can all be in the same place at the same time and interact more or less peacefully, all part of the same moving, thinking, being world. And dusk is such an intersection-y sort of time. Things meet and melt into each other in the dusk. The sky, the people, the robots — all part of the same world.

  3. Good response, Melissa, I think you make a lot of sense. It is interesting to know that there were real robots involved in the “creation” of the haiku. And there is something absolutely humbling getting a response back from the writer concerning a commentary. We do seem to mesh in the last two sentences: “all things exist together” and “all part of the same world.”

    I often wonder if a commentary is even needed for a good haiku. Why not just let the author’s words speak for themselves — commentary not required. But I seem to be drawn to thinking about a commentary and in a several instances actually trying to write analysis. Does anyone ever use the term “parsing the haiku?”


    • Just wanted to make clear that I wasn’t saying that your interpretation wasn’t valid, Sully — it is completely supported by the text, which is one reason why I love haiku so much, they are so open to varying interpretations depending on the mindset and experiences of the reader. It really doesn’t matter what I had in mind when I was writing this, what matters is what happens in the mind of the reader when they read it. And that will be different for every reader.

      I think it’s completely valid to write an analysis of or commentary on a haiku (R.H. Blyth wrote thousands), as long as you realize that it’s a commentary on what you personally find in the haiku and not what the definitive “meaning” of the haiku is, because there is no definitive meaning.

      I’d love it if other people commented on what they found in this or other haiku I write, I’d love to see a whole slew of interpretations of one haiku to see how much if any common ground people found when they were reading it …

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