This is why I’m here, after all. This is why I left. This is why. Do you understand now?
Do you want to go? Of course, do you? Should we go together? When should we go?
Voices on the train. At first we understand them only in theory. Stand very still, listening. Look at each other, calculating.
What are they saying?
They’ve closed the metro stations all around Red Square.
Why? I guess to make it harder to get there?
The train stops short, and we see it has no intention of proceeding. All the passengers get off and walk away in the same direction. It’s as if the world has ended and everyone understands it but us, everyone else knows the way to the afterlife.
Do we really want to do this? How will we get there? Is it this way? Well, that’s the way everyone else is going, right?
There are a million people in the street — not hyperbolically, but literally. One million people with no concept of personal space. Two million feet, just missing mine. I feel like a stick that’s fallen into a swollen stream. I feel like a penny tossed in a jar and shaken. I feel like a stranger. I feel like someone who left home and isn’t sure how to get back.
Hold my hand. We don’t want to get separated.
I’m terrified of being lost. I’m holding on tight, being pulled along. I remember this feeling. Do I want to feel like this again?
Can I trust you?
Up ahead, someone is calling for freedom. He shouts so loudly that the voices in my head quiet in response. He shouts so loudly that I understand everything he says.
the first taste
I am taking the many helpful suggestions on my last haibun into advisement. Feel free to dissect this one too. I still feel like I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing in the haibun arena, so I am just throwing things up against the wall to see if they stick.
This one’s connected to the last one, obviously — actually it comes right before it in the sequence. How does that work out for you? Are you mystified? Do you mind being mystified? (I often quite enjoy it, but I find that most other people are far less tolerant of the sensation.)
I am foreseeing that all these haibun will end up looking very little like their original versions — when I get them into something more like a final state I’ll put them all up together in order. Then you can tell me what’s wrong with them as a whole instead of just individually.
Happy Independence Day, to all the Americans out there. And to all the rest of you … enjoy your freedoms too.
In that vein …
“fireflies are indeed a fascinating topic. of course, they allow total freedom.”
— Scott Metz
on the same wind
as if you weren’t there
spending the night
for the first time
waxing and waning
never to know
a thousand fireflies
the consolation of
imagining the afterlives
spitting out the seeds
at the breakfast table
last night’s fireflies
a hand cupped
around a firefly
the light from
(See this post for an explanation of what’s going on here.)
The Technique of Close Linkage
“… In making any connection between the two parts of a haiku, the leap can be a small and even a well-known one. Usually beginners are easily impressed with close linkage and experiment first with this form. …
finding on a beach
an open knife”
The Technique of Leap Linkage
“Then as a writer’s skills increase, and as he or she reads many haiku (either their own or others) such ‘easy’ leaps quickly fade in excitement. Being human animals we seem destined to seek the next level of difficulty and find that thrilling. So the writer begins to attempt leaps that a reader new to haiku may not follow … I think the important point in creating with this technique is that the writer is always totally aware of his or her ‘truth’. … Usually, if you think about the ku long enough and deeply enough, one can find the author’s truth. …
the early spring sunshine
in my hand”
– Jane Reichhold, Haiku Techniques
Okay, the problem I had here is that although I (think I) understand very well what Jane means by the difference between close linkage and leap linkage, and I have certainly seen many ku where the connection was either invisible to me or I had to think really hard to figure it out, I didn’t actually consider the connection in her second ku here to be any more of a leap than the connection in her first ku. So either I’m unusually perspicacious or I didn’t really understand the second ku at all, or maybe even the first.
I’m actually very interested in this because it does seem to me that how and whether people understand haiku depends much on their experiences and frame of mind, and what one person considers to be an obscure connection can be completely obvious to another. I also frequently wonder whether people get a lot of the connections in my ku at all, and whether, if they don’t, it’s my fault or theirs. I think I’m just going to throw a bunch of ku down here in order (more or less) from what I consider closely to distantly linked, and you can tell me whether you agree with me.
pins and needles
she sews a quilt for
the first baby
lines of code
ants march over the
eggshells float in
the hair-clogged drain
she whispers something
he can’t hear
speeding up to pass
we never eat anything
he doesn’t like
will her mother give her
I’ve been telling people a lot lately that I have writer’s block. Then I come here and look at how much I’ve been posting, and laugh at myself. I don’t have writer’s block. I just don’t want to write my damn term paper.
It’s strange to be living part of my life in this haiku-world of stylized poetics and Zen moments, and the rest of it in the considerably more demanding and less dreamlike state required to cope with graduate school, teenage children, a husband with job stress, iffy finances, a house that would probably not withstand a stringent inspection from the local health department, the pace of 21st-century social networking, and a midlife crisis. As you might imagine, at the moment I’m prioritizing haiku over all these other things in my life. Wouldn’t you?
I think that probably to be the kind of haiku poet I would really like to be (not to mention the kind of human being that I can imagine tolerating, if I weren’t her), I will need to better integrate these two parts of my life, starting soon. Preferably before my term paper is due. After all, examined from a Zen standpoint, isn’t a term paper really just a 20-page haiku?
Okay, maybe not. But you see what I’m saying here. Haiku is life, life is haiku. They flow into and out of each other, they aren’t separate rock pools with their own ecosystems. Time to find the current and travel the whole length of the river…
but after I hand in my term paper, I may grab a low-hanging branch and linger around here a bit more again. And report back on what I saw in my travels.