the queen

The Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, CA


shipping containers
stacked up on the horizon
hollow cries of gulls


Haiku North America (which ended two weeks ago) took place this year on the Queen Mary. If you were there, I’m glad to have seen you, and if you weren’t there, I’m sorry. Try to imagine it: A ship full of haiku poets, stalking around the decks with bags full of paper (books, notebooks, free poetry samples, lecture notes) and sitting in grandiose parlors clamoring about kigo and Basho and meditation and translation.


the jellyfish and
their bioluminescence
a long summer dusk


I was feeling old-school while on the Queen Mary, which after all is a very old-fashioned ship and reputed to be haunted (by the ghosts of those slain in haiku wars past?), so I wrote some 5-7-5 haiku. I actually find doing this somewhat addictive and oddly satisfying, like doing crossword puzzles. I’m not sure I would call it so much writing poetry as completing a linguistic exercise, but maybe that’s what all poetry is? Hmmm.


a day with no breeze–
I doodle on a napkin,
forget to keep it


It’s actually kind of amazing I’m writing anything at all. I hadn’t for months. On the second day of the conference I started writing again and now I can’t shut up. Sorry if you were enjoying the silence.


late summer. a storm
so far off that all we hear
is our hearts beating.


7 thoughts on “the queen

  1. Many of us started off doing the “linguistics” and, yes, it is fun (and safe). I remember the soul-searching that preceded my own move into free form. Once out of that ginko frame, though, all was well. . .

    late summer storm-
    our beating hearts
    far away

    (With apologies to the original author’s fine idea.)

  2. aloha Melissa. no. i prefer your words to silence in this case by quite some distance—and i’m way glad you are writing. yeah, i’m sorry i missed HNA too. maybe next year. maybe some day. i thought about asking you if you were going and if you’d carry one or two of my haiga with you for the show. that’s about as far as i got with that idea, thinking about it. i think i’m like your silence with my effort to show. strange words for a visual artist. yeah, maybe next year. maybe some day. regardless, it’s way good that you are writing (imo). now keep up. or have fun. one or the other.

    these floating poets
    the babble of a long sea
    on the Queen Mary

    aloha rick.

  3. hey, Melissa, love the photo! as the photo goes, so do your poems! definite! there! long halls, carpeted. [rick–love “the babble of a long sea”]
    in Sandra Simpson’s super report for the NZ newsletter, I love the photo of you & Richard Gilbert-two non-gendai smilings.

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