nothing in my mind that was not there before the moon
he tells the story without remembering it longingly
no longer afraid of mice I look to see what you’re afraid of
Not haiku, not really American Sentences … I think what I’m calling them is “the things I write when my brain hurts too much to write haiku but I feel guilty if I don’t write anything.”
closet space looking for something inside that isn’t there
I step to the side as the sky comes crashing to the ground beside me.
the cat yowls on the porch he can’t get off — sun moving across the sky
spitting watermelon seeds the dark spits back
the grasshopper rises so slowly — I think I must be dreaming
the Buddha hides behind the fence where the chickens peck feed
stones on my tongue I try to explain the stars
we settle down to talk and suddenly wasps are everywhere
paper cuts I drop your letter and watch them bleed
1. a red wheelbarrow this time there’s no significance
2. that last shriveled orange those last two drops of juice
3. he never trusted yellow until he tasted lemonade
4. asking for green and being given an uncertain shade of blue
5. there will always be more blue than anything else
6. the indigo pods that shake in the autumn wind beetles dying
7. trying to revive her the child holds violets to her nose
I can’t remember where I got this scar, or that one, or that one.
streetlights switch on the child runs away from his mother
Cassiopeia she refuses to stand next to her lover
Over at Troutswirl right now there is a great discussion about one-line haiku.
There are links to several other discussions of the subject, and several enlightening comments. Among other interesting points:
- The late, great Bill Higginson seemed to think that if there were spaces in your one-line haiku, it wasn’t really a one-line haiku (because you were indicating, apparently, where a line break could go, and so why not write it in more than one line). To me, this seems to ignore the visual advantage to displaying a ku all in one line — it can be scanned more rapidly by the reader so gives more of a sense of wholeness or urgency, yet sometimes you still want to give a visual cue as to where a pause should occur.
- Marlene Mountain has a page where a number of her ku are displayed both as three lines and as one, so you can decide which way you think works better.
- Jim Kacian categorizes several of the effects that can be achieved by English one-line haiku (“one line–one thought,” “speedrush” and “multi- stops”). (Click on the big X:2 on the linked page to download the issue of “Roadrunner” this essay appears in.)
- Charles Trumbull, in a July 29 comment, makes the sensible observation (I say it’s sensible because it’s what I think myself) that “[b]ecause of the internal rhythm of the material, sometimes one line works best. Period.” (He is slightly cranky about people imitating Japanese poetry or referring to historical precedent to justify their one-liners.)
I keep finding more and more that if I am having a great deal of trouble with a ku, transforming it to one line frequently instantly solves my problem. This is when I say that the ku “wanted” to be one line.
Also, I think I am still treating American sentences and one-line haiku as more or less interchangeable, though they’re not, really. I mean, number 1 above seems clearly to be an American sentence to me; the other 2 one-line haiku. Must think more about this …
A few weeks ago Angie Werren, in one of her comments, pointed me to a fascinating essay about American sentences, which she writes a lot of on her wonderful blog feathers. I don’t know if these strictly qualify, but I’ve been enjoying writing some as a break from haiku — sometimes trying to think in three carefully balanced lines is more than I can handle when my brain is especially fried. I just want some nice, normal English syntax. But, you know, poetic…or at least as close as I can get on four hours of sleep.
The birds have stopped calling warnings now that the fledglings are gone.
My sense of wonder is growing again — is this middle age?
Waiting for my son, I see that he’s dancing to a song I don’t know.